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Simple Vegetarian Student Recipes

Results day has been and gone and there are lots of young people out there who are now preparing to leave home for the first time and head off to University! We thought a handful of simple vegetarian student recipes to help them on their way would be very handy! Student cooking doesn't need to be just peanut butter sandwiches and it needn't be complicated or daunting - practise a handful of simple vegetarian student recipes at home before you go and you are guaranteed to be the most popular person in your flat!

A good basic tomato sauce is an essential - of course you can buy it in jars but it's expensive and the flavour is nowhere near as satisfying. This fabulous sauce base from our tutor, Lydia, is packed full of veg to help you get your 5 a Day and can be embellished to make pasta sauce, to top pizzas or as a base for warming stews, casseroles and curries. It takes no more effort to double the quantities here and freeze it and you have instant, healthy food readily to hand!

‘5 A Day’ Tomato Sauce Base

Makes 11/4 litres (approx 6-8 ladles)


  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced small
  • 2 sticks celery, diced small
  • 1 red pepper, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tins tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • Prepare all the vegetables.
  • Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over a medium heat.
  • Fry the onions for 2-3 minutes till soft, but not brown. Stir from time to time to move them around the pan.
  • Add the carrots, celery and peppers, and fry for 5 more minutes till the peppers are beginning to soften.
  • Stir in the garlic and fry for a minute more. Don't allow the garlic to brown!
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, turn up the heat a little, and allow to come to a simmer. Let the sauce bubble for approximately 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low and place a lid on the pan. Cook gently for a further 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
  • Remove from the heat and blend till smooth with a stick blender. Alternatively, if you don't have a stick blender, mash the vegetables with a potato masher which will give a rougher, chunkier texture.


  • To make an easy tomato soup you can thin 1 ½ ladles of this sauce down slightly with a little water, season with a little salt and pepper, and maybe some spices, and eat straight away with crusty bread. To make a more substantial soup add a cup of cooked lentils or ½ tin of ready cooked lentils to make it really easy.
  • This sauce will keep for 1 week in the fridge, or can be portioned into freezer containers or bags, and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Pasta Sauce

To serve 1


  • 1 ladle of tomato sauce
  • Pinch dried oregano or a few basil leaves, torn up
  • Vegetables to add: any combination of mushrooms, spinach, peppers, courgettes, aubergines
  • Olive oil for frying


  • Slice the vegetables or chop into fine dice.
  • Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan or frying pan, and cook the vegetables to your liking, though if using aubergines, start with them first- they will need longer and a little extra oil as they are best when golden brown and very soft.
  • Serve with cooked pasta of your choice or couscous, ‘Veggie Balls’ and grated cheese.

Flatbreads are simple to make and go with so many easy dishes - you can dip them into soups, serve them with curries or load them up with tomato sauce, veggies and cheese - making your own pizza has to be worth about a million kudos points in any student household!

Simple Quick Flatbreads


  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 100ml warm water
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or olive oil


  • Place the flour in a bowl and add the salt. Make a well in the centre and add the oil. Stirring with one finger gradually add the water until you have dough which feels soft and pliable-if it is too sticky add more flour, if it is too wet add more flour. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it is really soft and then divide into 3 or 4 balls.
  • If you have time, cover with a clean tea towel for up to half an hour to rest the dough.
  • To cook the flatbreads, sprinkle a clean surface with flour and roll out a dough ball approximately 3-4 mm thin.
  • Heat a large frying pan and add 1 tsp oil.
  • Place the flatbread into the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes then turn over and cook the other side. Each side should have a few golden brown spots in places. Reduce the heat if the breads are blackening at all in places.
  • Keep the cooked breads warm under a tea towel or in a warm oven until they are all ready. Eat straight away, or once cold, store in a plastic bag or wrapped in foil for up to 3 days. Otherwise freeze straight away after cooking once cold.
  • Serve with curry, chilli, or with Veggie Balls, salad and hummus.

Easy Pizza


For each pizza:

  • 1 cooked ‘Easy Flatbread’
  • 2-3 tbsp Tomato Sauce (depending on the size of your flatbread)
  • 1/2 mozzarella ball, or a handful of grated cheese of your choice
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • A few mushrooms or ¼ red pepper sliced thinly, or wilted spinach (see note below)


  • Heat the grill or oven to 200°
  • Spread the sauce on the flatbread.
  • Tear or chop the mozzarella into small pieces, and arrange on top of the sauce.
  • Scatter over the mushroom slices, and sprinkle the oregano over.
  • Drizzle over a little olive oil if you like, and place on a baking tray and into the hot oven, or under the hot grill and cook till the cheese is melted and bubbling.


  • To wilt spinach, heat 1 tsp oil a frying pan over a medium heat, and gently stir a handful of fresh spinach leaves until they release their liquid and wilt down. Allow to cool a little, then squeeze excess liquid out of the spinach with your hands (or the back of a wooden spoon in the pan) before using to avoid the spinach being soggy on your pizza.

If you are heading off to Uni, or you know someone who is, we are running a Vegetarian Student Cookery Course on 1st September where you can learn simple skills and recipes to help you make the leap from home to University. We will be teaching knife skills and simple time saving cookery techniques and sharing lots of ideas to help you save time and money. You will learn how to make authentic curry, tasty pasta dishes, stir fries and quick snacks - everything to keep your tummy full and your body healthy!

Photo by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures

Do talk to us about cooking skills and easy vegetarian student recipes, we have lots of ideas and useful tips to share! Leave a comment or question below or come and chat to us on social media!

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