Whilst students often look forward to the freedom they’ll have during their first semester away from home, in truth, for many, learning to get by without any parental support will prove to be a pretty major transition, especially for those who were very fond of their parents cooking!
However, to survive life on campus it is vital that student’s are capable of preparing a roster of at least a few, easy to cook, relatively healthy dishes. Developing a dependency on take out food will see you pile on the pounds, whilst, by contrast, your bank balance will be left looking a lot leaner…
As if you needed any more motivation, being able to cook probably won’t hurt your popularity amongst your new friends.
Mushroom risotto is a classic dish that ticks all the boxes you look for when preparing a meal; the ingredients are cheap, the preparation is easy, and it tastes phenomenal. Perfect!
There are added bonuses on top of this. For one thing it’s a vegetarian friendly, widening its appeal. Secondly, for some reason, people tend to think of risotto as being a tough dish to cook, and are usually impressed by it, even though it’s really very easy. (Of course you don’t need to tell them that…)
Here’s what’ll you need to prepare enough for two. (If you’re dining alone, simply half the quantities);
- Two cupfuls of rice (look out for arborio rice, as this works better than the standard variety).
- Roughly two handfuls of grated cheese (parmesan is the best option).
- Half of an onion.
- A garlic clove.
- Half a pint of vegetable stock.
- One or two large portabella mushrooms.
First make up the stock. This simply involves mixing a stock cube with boiling water (you can also make it from scratch, but why make things harder?) Pour about half of your stock into a sauce pan, heat until it reaches a simmer, then lower the heat to keep it hot.
Whilst that’s heating up, crush your garlic (to do this, chop it with a knife a then push the blunt side down on the pieces), chop up your onion, and throw both into a frying pan, using vegetable oil, olive oil, butter or whatever cooking oil you have handy to gently fry them. Be sure to use a low heat though, or they’ll burn. Once the onions are soft and golden, add your mushrooms, having first cut them into generously sized slices.
Meanwhile cook you rice in the simmering stock. Wait until the grains seem to have absorbed the liquid, then add them in to the sauce pan with the vegetables. Give everything a good stir and as soon as the rice seems dry and some more stock and continue to stir. Whenever the rice appears to be drying out, add more stock and keep stirring. When you only have a little stock left, add in the cheese. When the rice is tender but still firm, serve it up.
Will Kerr writes articles offering various nuggets of advice for students, from tips for simply surviving, to living it up.