Our first Night Shift Cook-Off is between two dishes which have been tried and tested by their creators on many night shifts. Now they've decided to let our Very Hungry Nurse test them out and crown a winner. The Golden Rule of the test: if a Snickers is eaten throughout the night then a point is automatically dropped.
Our first dish is from Amy, a surgical nurse who lives in the Midlands.
"Get some rocket, grated red cabbage, cucumber, chopped green beans, tinned chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, chicken or smoked salmon, dried prunes, and toss all of the ingredients in sesame seed oil. It's tasty, healthy and filling, and it doesn't make you feel too tired after eating it. You can mix up the ingredients and substitute the chickpeas for mixed beans, the rocket for other leaves or add some different seeds or nuts like pumpkin or pine nuts, as long as the basic formula is the same."
TASTE: Our Very Hungry Nurse enjoyed the taste of the salad overall, though commented; "because it had been made hours earlier and kept in the fridge until break time, some of the flavours got lost and began to merge into one". The sesame oil adds a really interesting kick, and the prunes bring a lovely sweetness which works well alongside the savoury sesame taste.
NUTRITION: This is a healthy, balanced salad. You get protein from the chicken, the beans/chick peas and the sesame seeds. Carbohydrates come from the starchy vegetables, and fat from the sesame oil. The vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and the prunes are a great source of fibre. If you want to cover all the food groups then to get your dairy you could add some cottage, feta or goats cheese. For the grain group you could always bring some wholemeal pitta bread - this also might help to fill you up a little more.
EXTRA SNACKING: Our Very Hungry Nurse confessed that this salad did not fill him up for very long. As well as the salad he had to eat two sandwiches and....a SNICKERS. Point automatically dropped.
EASE OF MAKING: The Superfood Salad is easy to throw together and requires little skill from even the most nervous chef. The chicken is the only ingredient that requires cooking, and while you're doing this then you can assemble everything else. All together it took around 30 minutes to grill the chicken and put the salad together. It's a good idea to let the chicken cool before adding it to the salad as the heat can wilt the rocket.
FINAL SCORE - THREE OUT OF FIVE.
NIGHT SHIFT COOK-UP
This recipe was sent in by Zoe, an A&E nurse from London.
"You need minced beef, tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, veg of choice - i.e. carrots, peas, kidney beans, peppers, onion, courgette, broccoli, spinach, baby corn, asparagus, salt, pepper, all cooked in one pan and divided into little pots for the freezer.
Take out a pot a night and have on it's own or pour over pasta, rice, jacket potato or in desperate times, toast.
It's cheap, quick, gives all the nutrition you need in a pot (easy to accidentally live on coco pops and cheese sandwiches), but will probably offend those amongst us who actually enjoy cooking!"
TASTE: This has a warm, comforting taste, and a shake of smoked paprika adds a subtle fiery kick. Our Very Hungry Nurse found it to be not unlike Chili Con Carne - which he loves - so was very happy overall. As the base of the Cook-up is tomato, you can build flavour with different herbs, spices and vegetables and make it as tasty as you like.
NUTRITION: This is packed full of nutrition and covers most of the food groups aside from dairy - though a dollop of yoghurt or sour cream on top of the Cook-up will add a creamy finish to the dish. You can have it with a different type of carbohydrate depending on what you prefer - our Very Hungry Nurse had rice on this occasion.
NEED FOR EXTRA SNACKING: This was very filling and our Very Hungry Nurse needed no extra snacking at all. If he had one criticism, it's that the Cook-up was a little too heavy with rice, and he he felt quite tired after eating it. Perhaps a less heavy carbohydrate would be better for a night shift.
EASE OF MAKING: This takes a little longer to prepare and cook, so could even be made a day prior to the night shift and as Zoe suggests, could be frozen into little pots. There isn't much skill required in the cooking of the Cook-up, and it tastes better if it's left to simmer for a while so all the flavours are brought out.
FINAL SCORE - FOUR OUT OF FIVE
So our Very Hungry Nurse has awarded the first Cook-off prize to the Night Shift Cook-up. The Superfood Salad was healthy and tasty but unfortunately not very filling. As a Snickers was eaten, it automatically dropped a point, and therefore the Night Shift Cook-off has been crowned the winner.
Thanks very much to Amy and Zoe for sending the recipes in to PRN. Zoe will receive a PRN mug and the esteemed prize of Cook-off champion. If you would like to take part in the Night Shift Cook-off then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org