Cooking for yourself doesn’t have to be a sad affair, filled with Lean Cuisines, instant ramen or whatever you can scrounge from the depths of the fridge. Eating is one of life’s great pleasures, and just because you’re single or home alone for the night, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t sit down and enjoy a nice home-cooked meal.
To help you learn to appreciate the pleasures of dining solo, I’ve chosen dishes that are comforting, ever-so-slightly elegant and dead easy to prepare—because let’s face it, you probably don’t want to spend hours rustling up dinner for one (even though you are worth it).
The Cacio e Pepe—Italian for “cheese and pepper”—is a simple and delicious staple that I’ve amped up a bit by adding just a touch of bacon. The Creamy Cheater’s Chicken Caesar is not something you eat before committing adultery; rather, the “cheater” here refers to the fact that the dressing is made with Greek yogurt, rendering this a much healthier version of the classic salad.
Because it’s for one, my version of Shakshouka uses a soft-boiled egg rather than the traditional egg that’s poached right in the (usually copious) sauce. The Coconut Curry Chickpeas, meanwhile, are an incredibly filling and flavor-packed vegan option. With dishes like these, you’ll be glad that every bite is all yours.
½ small shallot, minced
¼ green pepper, chopped
½ spicy sausage, such as hot Italian, merguez, or Andouille, removed from casing and crumbled
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
⅛ 1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 soft-boiled egg
In a small saucepan, sauté the shallot and green pepper in the olive oil over medium high heat until soft. Add the sausage and cook until browned. Add the tomatoes and spices and simmer gently until the sausage is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the soft-boiled egg on top and toast or pita points.
Cacio e Pepe with Bacon
2 ounces spaghetti
½ tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon crumbled cooked bacon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish, optional
Cook the pasta until al dente and toss while hot with the butter or oil, cheese, pepper and bacon. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
Creamy Cheater’s Chicken Caesar
½ cooked boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced (see method below)
2 cups of romaine lettuce, chopped
For the dressing:
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon Parmesan cheese
¼ to ½ garlic clove, minced
For perfect juicy chicken breasts, pound to an even thinness, generously salt and pepper both sides and lightly dredge in flour. In a skillet, cook on both sides in ½ tablespoon butter or olive oil over high heat for 1 minute per side. Turn the heat to low and cook, covered, for 10 minutes; turn the heat off and allow to sit, still covered, for another 10 minutes. Slice when cooled.
For the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the romaine and croutons, and arrange the sliced chicken on top.
Coconut Curry Chickpeas
½ shallot, minced
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ 14-ounce can diced tomato
¼ can coconut milk (full fat)
½ teaspoon Madras curry powder
¾ cup canned chickpeas
Cilantro, for garnish
In a medium saucepan, sauté the shallot over medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with Basmati rice.