Written by Vidal D’costa.
It’s funny how this lockdown has made most of us who didn’t even know how to boil an egg rather productive in the kitchen. Midnight cravings are obviously on the rise and I’ve taken to easy microwave and no-bake options to satisfy them.
If you are like me and have loads of readymade pasta that you bought but never got around to eating, then there’s a treasure trove of ideas out there which you can try your hand at with ease!
Most of these recipes consist of pasta, canned tuna and some other ingredients which I have lying around in my bunker (just kidding about the bunker) so it’s even easier. Let me share some of these recipes with you and you can try making them with the ingredients you have on hand.
1. No Hassle Pesto Pasta
I was having a major missing for the food truck at my college that serves delicious pesto pasta, but thanks to the internet for coming to my rescue!
First, of course, we need to make the pesto and for that, you’ll require basil (you can also substitute with coriander), chopped garlic, roasted pine nuts or cashew nuts, olive oil, salt, cheese and a bit of water. Blend all the ingredients till it forms a paste and there are no chunks.
You can easily cook pasta in the microwave if you are deathly afraid of stovetops and gas leaks like me which is one reason why I prefer a good old microwave recipe. That been said, I’m also a bit lazy.
All you need for your pasta is to put it in a microwave-safe dish/mug with water, a tablespoon of olive oil and pinch of salt to taste and microwave it for about 5-10 minutes (depending on the wattage of your microwave. It took me 8 minutes). Keep an eye on it and stop to check if it’s soft when done.
Once your pasta is cooked, take it out of the microwave and add your pesto & cooked chicken/tuna to it and mix it well.
P.S. I’ve discovered that adding crushed Doritos over it takes it up a notch (I’m an unhealthy child).
2. No-Bake Raspberry Cheesecake Bites
Sometimes all you need to do is follow the right food account on Instagram to get your hands on the easiest no-bake cheesecake recipe.
I was feeling pretty glum when my microwave cheesecake failed to rise (on the day of my birthday too, no less!), so it was just great when I came across this no-bake, non-microwave recipe by Joshua Snyder on Instagram (fun fact: He is married to Angela Kinsey who played Angela on the US remake of ‘The Office’ and they both run a food blog called ‘Baking with Josh and Ange’ which you can check out as well). I tried it out on ‘Mother’s Day’ for my mum and finally managed to successfully make my first batch of no-bake raspberry cheesecake bites.
All you need to make these by yourself is graham crackers or biscuits of any kind, some cream cheese (I made my own by whipping some curdled milk, but store-bought works just as well if you have it) and raspberry jam or syrup as a topping.
I started off by crushing the biscuits/crackers into a fine powder (use a mallet or any heavy object, but be sure to encase them in plastic first or it gets messy), added some powdered sugar to the crumbs and mixed them in a bowl.
Then, I greased up a tray with butter to make it non-sticky (you can also use butter paper) and spread the fine biscuit crumbs over it. Top this biscuit crumb layer with a layer of cream cheese and top that off by drizzling some raspberry jam or syrup.
You can also use peach or strawberry jam or any other flavour if you like. Pop that in the freezer to chill for about an hour or till it’s set. I also zested a lemon over it for additional zing. And et voila! A sweet and savoury treat for the taste buds awaits!
3. Cheesy Stuffed Baked Potatoes
I’ve always wanted to try baked potatoes, but I always assumed you needed an oven for that. But apparently, you can bake them in a microwave just as well. So, yay!
For this, you require a potato (any size, don’t discriminate), oil (I used olive oil but any kind will do) and pepper to season. You’ll also need a fork.
Wash and scrub the potato well and prick as many tiny holes as you can into it with the fork. This is so that you don’t end up with a ‘potato explosion’ in the kitchen when microwaving it. Next, lather it up with oil and pepper and place in a microwave-safe dish.
Microwave it for 4-5 minutes. It’s easy to burn a potato (as I’ve found out the hard way) so keep an eye on it. Stick a fork in it and if it’s soft, it’s baked.
Now divide the baked potato into two halves, then scoop out some of the pulp and make a hollow for your stuffing to sit in. For my stuffing, I used canned tuna, onions, coriander (optional), cheese and mayo (which is a spread I’ve loved since I was a kid and as a starving college kid, I swear by it. It even goes with burnt toast, I kid you not!) which I mixed in a bowl before stuffing the potato with it.
Top the stuffing with the leftover potato pulp which you scooped out earlier and pop the stuffed baked potato into the microwave for 1-2 minutes. And Bon Appetit!
P.S. Tuna can be replaced with cooked chicken/egg/veggies.
4. Piping Hot Spaghetti Carbonara
I remember relishing spaghetti carbonara at a Romanian restaurant on my trip to London a while back and I fancied some recently, so I decided to browse the net for some easy recipes on the same. I came across one that was hassle-free and went with it.
First, cook your rice noodles or spaghetti in the microwave for 5-10 minutes. Drain some of the excess cooking water, but save a bit for later.
Beat egg, milk and grated cheese in a bowl and saute some garlic and onion (it takes 1-2 minutes to saute in the microwave with just a tablespoon of oil). I’m planning on using sautéed onion and garlic as an air freshener now because it’s just that flavourful, by the way!
Mix the egg mixture and sautéed onion and garlic in with your spaghetti/rice noodles and combine it with canned tuna or any other pre-cooked protein of your choice. Microwave it till it’s cooked (takes 2-5 minutes, depending on the wattage). Et voila, an Italian delight without even having to visit Italy!
P.S. Microwave some bacon for 1-2 minutes till crispy and crumble it over the dish just to add more flavour and crunch to it.
5. 3- Ingredient Chocolate Fudge
This is a good one if you’re craving an instant sweet dish! All you need is some condensed milk, sugar and chocolate syrup. Mix all the ingredients in a cup with some melted butter. Spread this mixture over a tray or some butter paper and stick it in the freezer till it sets. You can sprinkle some nuts on it later if you like. Instant fudge in minutes!
6. Crunchy Tuna And Remoulade Sandwich
Remoulade sauce is a substitute for when you don’t have enough ingredients to make tartar sauce and it tastes just the same. It goes best with fish, just like tartar sauce.
For the remoulade, you need finely diced onions, mayo (you can make your own mayo at home by mixing together vinegar, mustard and egg yolks), parsley (or coriander as a substitute), salt and vinegar. Mix all the ingredients before tossing into the blender with some water till it forms a paste without clumps in it. Remoulade can be stored in the fridge for a week.
Add canned tuna to your remoulade sauce along with some cheese and onions and mix well. Spread it over sliced bread or any other bread you prefer and microwave for a minute till the bread turns crunchy and the cheese melts. This is a great afternoon snack or teatime snack or even an appetizing breakfast meal.
7. Idaho Sunrise
I found this recipe on a lovely little food blog run by a mother-daughter duo called ‘Like Mother, Like Daughter’ (they also have an Instagram page you can follow: @lmldfood) and thought I’d give it a try at breakfast time.
For this, refer to the baked potato recipe that I mentioned here earlier to know how to bake a potato in a microwave. Halve the baked potato and scoop it out to form a hollow. Save the potato pulp for later.
Stuff it with cheese, pepper and egg yolk (use a bigger potato otherwise the egg yolk might run over). Top it up with the leftover potato pulp and pop it into the microwave for 2-3 minutes till fully cooked. Enjoy with a cup of tea!
P.S. You can crumble crispy bacon bits over it just for the added crunch.
8. Fish Pie In A Mug
I tried this recipe just last week for dinner and it was just heavenly. I used canned tuna, but it works just as well with any frozen or fresh pre-cooked fish.
Boil a potato (5-10 minutes in a microwave with just water and salt) and mash it with some butter, fennel seeds, milk and lemon zest. Sauté onion and garlic in butter and oil in a microwave for a minute or two depending on wattage.
Mix the tuna in with a tablespoon of mustard and place it into a microwave-safe mug. Top this mixture with the mashed potatoes and some grated cheese.
Pop it into the microwave till it’s piping hot. Takes about 2-3 minutes but it’s absolutely lip-smacking and worth the bit of effort put in!
9. Easy-Peasy Mac N’ Cheese In A Mug
For this one, you will require milk, cheese, macaroni and corn flour (or cream if you have it).
First, boil the macaroni in the microwave (5-10 minutes). Mix macaroni, cheese, milk and corn flour/cream in a microwave-safe mug and place it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready to eat when the cheese starts to bubble. This is especially great for parents whose kids are fussy eaters.
10. Rigatoni in a Mug
If you don’t have rigatoni pasta, fret not, because you can use elbow macaroni or any other tube-shaped pasta for this dish.
Firstly, cook the pasta in the microwave for 5-10 minutes (see previous pasta-based recipes here to know how to do that).
To make the marinara sauce, mix together coriander (parsley and basil work too if you have them), chopped garlic, tomato sauce/puree, pepper and olive oil and blend it all well.
Now, pay close attention to how to layer it. Put some marinara sauce into a microwave-safe mug and top it with some cheese. Add your pasta above this layer of cheese and sauce. Try to make the pasta stand up horizontally if you can. The mug also aids in structuring it properly.
Top the standing pasta layer with some more marinara and cheese and pop it into the microwave for about 2-5 minutes or till it’s cooked and you can plop it onto a plate without it falling apart (that’s a little fun test to do whenever cooking rigatoni). Plate it up and you’re good to go!
So, there you go, my top 10 microwave and no-bake recipes which will make any amateur cook or starving college kid come out of the kitchen feeling like Gordon Ramsay, but without the swearing, maybe. Try them out yourself and feel free to let me know how it went in the comments below!
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Vidal D’costa is a self-published author on Amazon in the sci-fi and romance genres & amp; currently an English major. She loves to write about anything and everything. She’s into a lot of authors but could read Wilde, Poe, Dahl and Ruskin Bond till the end of time. She is also a movie buff who hopes to hit it big as a screenwriter someday.