It's dinnertime and you're hungry — but the idea of cooking just for you leaves you less than enthused. Sick of spaghetti? Tired of doing higher math to figure out how to scale down recipes for four? Before you pick up the phone to order take-out or search the freezer for a frozen dinner entree, read this. You can make yourself a flavorful meal quickly and easily.
Just because you are cooking for yourself doesn't mean you shouldn't eat well. Some might say you have all the luck: you can eat what you want, when you want and indulge yourself. And, you only have to shell out cash for one steak — not four.
These techniques make cooking for one a snap:
Learn to love your sauté pan. It's perfect for cooking individual-sized meals like a single steak, fish filet or chicken breast. Make a zesty sauce, steam some asparagus or green beans, and dinner is served. You can also sauté the veggies in the pan for a one-pot meal that is tasty and easy to clean up.
These sauté recipes make one or two servings, so you won't be awash in leftovers.
- Seared Ahi Tuna and Salad of Mixed Greens with Wasabi Vinaigrette
- Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Sauce Pinot Noir
- Sauteed Veal with Lemon on a Bed of Broccoli Rabe
- Marinated Salmon Seared in a Pepper Crust
- Pan Cooked Chicken with Asparagus, Pancetta and Olives
Grilling, Broiling and Roasting
Quick-cook methods like grilling, broiling and high-heat roasting are perfect for solo cooks because they deliver fantastic flavor, fast. Try these recipes for an easy dinner:
- Petite Filet with Gorgonzola and Porcini Mushroom Sauce
- Lamb Chops with Olive Salsa
- Grilled New York Strip Steak with Salsa Verde
- Roasted Salmon
Foil or Parchment Packets
Another great method for solo chefs is cooking en papillote. The technique has a fancy French name, but it's simple: wrap a bunch of food in aluminum foil or parchment paper and pop it in the oven. You can make fish or chicken together with veggies in a single-serving sized packet. When you're done you don't have any pots to scrub — you just throw out the paper or foil.
The idea of en papillote is to steam food in its own juices. Wrap the meat or veggies tightly, forming a seal that locks in moisture and flavor, and then bake it (you can even do this in a toaster oven). You can use different combinations of meats, vegetables and herbs, and even add some wine or lemon juice to the packet for more flavor. (Note: some recipes call for cutting heart-shaped pieces of paper; this is unnecessary. Just make sure you have enough paper or foil to seal the sides.)
Here are some recipes to get you started. Some serve more than one but can easily be modified (or you can savor the leftovers the next day!).