Three delicious and easy student recipes: baked gnocchi, loaded vegan nachos and chutney chicken

Three delicious and easy student recipes: baked gnocchi, loaded vegan nachos and chutney chicken

If it’s your turn to cook for your new university housemates or friends, you can’t go wrong with one of these simple-to-make recipes

Baked gnocchi alla norma.

For many new students, the first few weeks of university are all about friendships, fun and having a fabulous time. But you do need to make time to eat, and not just cereal or a slice of toast. So why not get your new friends round to share a bite, while you get to know each other better?

Nobody wants to be tied to the kitchen when there’s so much going on, which is why these recipes are so perfect for any cook, expert or otherwise. They are done in less than an hour, and can be scaled up to feed a crowd. Bon appetit!

Baked gnocchi alla norma

Prep 20 min
Cook 35 min
Serves 5

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large aubergine
, roughly chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, grated
Pinch chilli flakes (optional)
3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
500g gnocchi
1 small bunch basil
, torn
1 x 120g balls mozzarella
30g grated parmesan or a veggie alternative

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Season the aubergine with salt, add to the pan and fry over a high heat for five minutes, stirring regularly until brown and beginning to soften. Set aside on a plate.

In the same pan, add the remaining oil and the onion and fry with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and chilli, and cook for one minute. Stir through the tinned tomatoes, sugar and a pinch of salt, bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Heat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8. Mix the gnocchi with the sauce, aubergine and basil. Tip into an ovenproof dish, tear the mozzarella and dot it over the top of the gnocchi and finish with the parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Vegan loaded nachos

Vegan loaded nachos

Prep 20 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4-5

1 large sweet potato, diced into 2cm cubes (250g)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
100g unsalted cashew nuts
120ml plant milk
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Pinch of paprika

1 x 400g can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
½ small red onion, finely chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 x 200g bag tortilla chips
½ small bunch coriander
, roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the potato with the oil, smoked paprika and ground coriander. Season with salt. Spread out the potato on a large roasting tray and roast for 30 mins, tossing half way.

Place the cashews in a bowl of boiling water, fresh from the kettle. Leave to sit for 15 mins to soften then drain. Tip into a blender with the plant milk, nutritional yeast, paprika and half a teaspoon of salt. Blend until smooth and creamy.

In a bowl mix together the black beans, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, lime juice and some salt.

Pile the tortilla chips into a large bowl. Top with the sweet potato, black bean mix, cashew cream, and, if you like, some coriander.

Mango chutney chicken and spiced potatoes

Mango chutney chicken and spiced potatoes

Prep 10 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

600g new potatoes, halved
1 tbsp medium curry powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
Pinch chilli flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 skin-on chicken thighs
3 tbsp mango chutney
½ small bunch coriander
, chopped
150g frozen peas
Yoghurt and garlic naan
, to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook for six minutes. Drain and leave to dry in the colander for five minutes. Toss the potatoes in a roasting tin with the curry powder, cumin seeds and chilli flakes as well as one tablespoon of olive oil.

Mix the mango chutney with the remaining oil and liberally coat the mixture over the chicken pieces. Nestle these into the potatoes and roast everything for 40 minutes.

Cook the peas in boiling water for four minutes. Toss the peas through the potatoes. Serve everything scattered with coriander and with yoghurt and naan, if you like.

For more guidance on the right course for you, check out the Guardian university league tables for 2022. The Guardian league tables for 2023 will be out on 10 September in print and online.

For more helpful advice and student news sent straight to your inbox, sign up to the Guardian’s student newsletter.