When I moved off-campus at the beginning of last semester, I was so excited to finally have my own kitchen. After two years of eating nothing but lukewarm carbs in the dining halls, I could bake treats and cook healthy (and varied) vegetarian meals to my heart’s content, and I promised myself that I would do just that.
Unfortunately, I found out pretty quickly that college students don’t have a lot of time to make elaborate meals each day. When I did find the time to cook hot meals last semester, it always ended up being one of three things: pan-seared vegetables, grilled cheeses or pasta.
These are all delicious meals, but their repetitiveness left me facing a harsh reality about vegetarianism in college students.
Even in the comfort of your own kitchen, variety for vegetarians pales in comparison to the variety of meat eaters.
I am not a fan of eating the exact same thing every day, no matter how easy it might be — and I know that other vegetarians off-campus are probably struggling with finding quick, cheap vegetarian recipes that make you actually feel like you are cooking instead of just throwing some food in a bowl and calling it a day.
Hence, welcome to “The Weekly Veg.”
Every print edition, I’ll be trying out a new vegetarian recipe from somewhere on the internet that 1.) is not just pasta or vegetables and 2.) takes less than 30 minutes to make, then reviewing it here.
Have a recipe you’d like to see on The Weekly Veg? Email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to test and rate it.
For the first installment, I figured we’d start off strong with a creamy one-pot spinach and tomato gnocchi from the online food blog “Fork in the Kitchen.”
Yes, I know it’s pasta right off the bat, but this recipe is not your typical college pasta for two reasons. First, it’s gnocchi, which is a potato-based dumpling pasta instead of your usual wheat spaghetti or semolina linguine. Even better, in this recipe, you make the sauce yourself, completely from scratch — no jarred marinara here!
While it’s not as cheap as a basic boxed spaghetti and jarred marinara, it’s infinitely more delicious — and only takes about 25 minutes.
In addition to some basics like butter, olive oil, garlic, salt and others, you’ll need leeks, cherry tomatoes, spinach and — the star of the show — the gnocchi itself.
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Some changes that I made: this recipe called for refrigerated gnocchi, which I couldn’t find at Kroger, but I used shelf-stable gnocchi instead and just had it cook for a little bit longer. Also, I used vegetable broth instead of the called-for vegetable stock or white wine — and I found no difference in the finished product.
Here are this recipe’s problems:
It assumes you know how to cut a leek. I did not know how to cut a leek, but a quick Google search solved that problem. (Fun fact: you have to wash your leeks after cutting because of how much dirt gets in the layers.)
The tomatoes didn’t quite “blister” or char in the pan on medium heat, but that may have just been because of how janky my stove can get. I had to turn up the heat to get this effect.
I would recommend adding in the spinach a little earlier than what the recipe calls for because the finished product wasn’t quite wilted. If you want the softness of cooked spinach, let the pan simmer for a minute or two longer.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this recipe. The sauce was creamy and flavorful, the spinach added a nice healthy touch of green and the gnocchi made it feel upscale instead of like a typical college-student dinner. I will definitely be cooking this again at some point!