Simple meals for teens | Ask Sonya

My parents are going away for a weekend, leaving me in charge. Having had limited experience of cooking meals, could you suggest some easy vegetarian meals that aren't pasta?
Nathalie Bienfait, Kent

Here are a couple of tasty suggestions that anyone can be confident in attempting. And not a pasta packet in sight ...

First up: fried cauliflower cheese fritters. Take half a medium cauliflower and cook in boiling salted water until soft. Drain, then chop. Thinly slice a small onion and fry in a hot pan with a little oil for about a minute, stirring continuously. In a bowl, mix the onions with the cauliflower, add some thyme, chopped coriander, a tiny pinch of dried chilli flakes and about 50g finely cubed cheese: emmental or gruyere work well.

To this, add 100g gram (chickpea) flour with half a teaspoon of baking powder and mix well. Gradually add cold water until you have a thick, evenly mixed batter. Season with a little celery salt and pepper. Shallow fry dollops of the mix, turning once, until crisp and nicely brown. Serve with your favourite relish.

Or how about a fancy jacket potato? Score the potato and microwave on full power for 8 minutes. Transfer to the oven (30‑40 minutes at 190C/375F/gas mark 5) to finish cooking. When you can handle the spud, cut it in half and scoop into a bowl. Add some soft goat's cheese, chopped cooked asparagus and some caramelised onion (you might find a jar of this in your fridge). Mix and pile back into the skins. Bake until browned and the skins and crust have become slightly crisp. Have fun!

Sonya Kidney is a chef and the owner of Soda Delicatessen in Oxfordshire

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