Whole Story

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Cooking for One: Summer Veggies

By Jaye Joseph, July 30, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Jaye Joseph
I’m a big swimmer, especially in the summer. It’s a great way to unwind from a hard day at work, and I usually swim for at least an hour every evening. By the time I’m done, I’m ravenous and it’s late, so I turn to my trusty stash of summer vegetables for a delicious, simple dinner for one. With such gorgeous, sweet tomatoes in season, I enjoying slicing one and topping it with salt and pepper. Add to that some fresh summer field peas I cooked up on the weekend (usually with an onion and sometimes a smoked ham hock) eaten cold with a splash of vinegar and half of an avocado with a squeeze of lime and you’ve got a healthy, filing summer meal that requires minimal work with great rewards. Need a little more protein after a vigorous swim or workout? On the weekend, I like to roast a chicken or pork tenderloin or maybe boil some shrimp so I can have some with my assortment of summer veggies for an extra boost all week long. Kept in the fridge already sliced or peeled, these simply prepared proteins make a quick, easy addition to a weeknight meal of summer vegetables. Some other great ideas for summer produce:
  • Don’t forget the okra! If you think the only way to eat okra is breaded and fried, or even boiled and slimy (although, I must admit, I like it that way), think again. For a couple of interesting ways to cook okra, slice and sauté in a little canola oil until just brown and crispy or slice it in half and grill it on each side until crispy. The “slime” disappears and you’re left with a unique, satisfying treat.

  • Zucchini and squash are available in abundance all summer long and taste great when sautéed in canola oil with a little onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Feeling decadent? Try topping it off with a handful of panko bread crumbs mixed with grated Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over the top and broil until brown. I do it all in an iron skillet and it takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. One medium yellow squash or zucchini is usually plenty for me as a meal or a side, depending on my hunger level.

  • Watermelon can be savory too! A little chopped red onion and crumbled feta combine with cut watermelon to make an awesome salad. You can usually find all of the ingredients on your Whole Foods Market salad bar and toss them together yourself. Add a little freshly chopped mint if you have it on hand or in your garden for some extra zing.

  • Don’t forget dessert! Cut a peach in half, discard the pit and brush with some melted butter and brown sugar.  Grill cut-side down for about 3 or 4 minutes. Serve with ice cream or just eat them by themselves.

  • A container of cut, seedless watermelon in our produce session is always a great treat for one since buying a whole watermelon for one person is a little intimidating, to say the least!

Now that I’ve given you some of my favorite summer produce favorites, what are yours and how do you prepare them when cooking for one?
Category: Food & Recipes




Camille Funk says ...
I appreciate this entry devoted to cooking for one. I'm always looking to learn more, especially from a whole food platform. I just wrote a cookbook for one titled: "Table for One: Perfectly Portioned Meals for the Single Chef." In the back I have an ingredient index, which show other recipes using each ingredient. This helps the single cook know how to maximize their store dollars, especially when you have to buy in bulk. Maybe this will encourage singles to cook with more fruits and veggies.
07/30/2010 4:25:21 PM CDT
Sandy says ...
Really appreciate the good ideas for cooking/eating for one...and their simplicity! I like it! Thanks. Looking forward to using them this month.
08/01/2010 11:14:43 PM CDT
Cooking4carnivores says ...
Fried green tomatoes - http://www.cooking4carnivores.com/2009/07/carnivore-and-i-have-not-only-planted.html Blackberry mint margaritas - http://www.cooking4carnivores.com/2009/05/blackberry-mint-margaritas.html
08/02/2010 4:56:34 PM CDT
Harvey Gregoire says ...
Being single, it is nice to find ideas for cooking for 1. Most recipes are created to serve 4 and are not always easy to convert for 1. I cook simple fair but it gets tiresome doing the same thing all the time.
08/04/2010 6:09:38 PM CDT
Stef says ...
One summer fav I enjoy: a quick sautee/stir fry of corn, baby tomatoes (halved), pea pods, spinach, sesame oil, and tofu or sietan (+ dash of salt at the end). Another good one is corn, baby tomatoes (halved), avacado, sietan, and salt - all mixed together and eaten cold. Yum!
08/05/2010 7:52:36 AM CDT
patricia devine says ...
?? suggestions on vegitatian meals ... I'm not a vegitarian but would like to reduce my meat consumption .... any suggestions are appreciated...
08/05/2010 4:53:46 PM CDT
Meg Bressette says ...
Great time of year to whip up a batch of ratatouille - freeze in single serving portions. With all the amazing fresh tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and herbs this recipe comes out amazing!
08/06/2010 2:03:20 PM CDT
catcat says ...
Great ideas! Thank you!
08/08/2010 10:06:25 AM CDT
val says ...
My favourite zucchini recipe: slice 1 zucchini into 1/2 in slices chop 1 tomato slice 1 onion place zucchini in bottom of casserole dish. top with layer of onion and layer of tomato Sprinkle with dried basil or oregano (your choice) to taste and fresh ground pepper Cover and micro 2 min stir micro 2 min Sprinkle a good amount of fresh grated parmesan and let stand 2 min. Serves 2 Enjoy! It's also really good the next day as a pasta topping!
08/10/2010 12:38:09 AM CDT
Joyce Cox says ...
How delighted I was with your Cooking for One blog. It is so difficult to find ideas that don't result in endless leftovers. Thank you.
08/11/2010 4:51:26 PM CDT
Carol Gardner says ...
I can't tell you how exciting it is to read about ways to eat veggies that don't require many ingredients or much effort and time! I can't wait to try these out, and please please continue with this approach. Very easy and quick! Thanks for these ideas!!
08/12/2010 7:56:50 AM CDT
T says ...
I roast beets in batches then wrap to store in the fridge. I can than use them in salads or as a side dish- hot or cold. An easy lunch for one is two roasted beets sliced, 1/2 avocado sliced, red onion slices and drizzle with a mix of nayonnaise and red wine vinegar. Fresh chopped dill and cracked pepper tops it off!
08/12/2010 8:04:47 AM CDT
Cyndy says ...
Last night I lightly sauteed fresh yellow and green zucchini, and sweet onions in lemon infused olive oil till crisp tender. Then stirred a chopped tomato, kalamata olives sliced, leftover brown rice, scallions, and about 1/4 C sweet hot chili sauce. It was so good I couldn't stop eating it! And no guilt.
08/12/2010 12:31:23 PM CDT
Miriam L. Jones says ...
Avocado (Haas) is particularly good with lemon or lime juice on it for some tang. I found sumac in a Middle Eastern store one time and asked what to do with it. They didn't particularly want to give cooking lessons, so I was on my own. I took a package home and tasted it. I have been sprinkling it on the top of a cut-up avocado with Realemon juice ever since that time. The guy who ran the store told me that they were heading into Michigan on I-75 when his father said to pull over. There were lots of these sumac trees and they collected the cone-shaped pods from them. He said you turn them upside down and shake the seeds from them and then grind them. It's not the poison sumac that we are accustomed to hearing about. Whew! Anyway, I understood a long time ago, that the human diet should be more like a squirrel's diet. So many spices are actually seeds ground into a powdery form to make it easier for us to ingest them. More nuts and lots less meat are also a healthy choice.
08/13/2010 9:26:30 AM CDT
Miriam L. Jones says ...
Patricia Devine: I got updates right in the middle of this, so let's start over again. I start nearly everything in a Dutch oven with cut up onion, garlic, XVOO or walnut oil, Himalayan salt, and several skinned chicken thighs with some water. The meat eventually falls off the bones, but a little more help cutting it up works fine. Add lots of veggies, even some canned ones, herbs and spices. You feel satisfied after eating this type of dish, you get lots of veggies and not so much meat. Also, my cheapy dish is Maruchen brand ramen noodles (pronounced rom-yen). I prefer chicken flavored, but anything will do. Beat the package on the kitchen counter with the handle of a butcher knife to smash the noodles into tiny, edible bits. Add package contents to 2 cups water and the bouillon flavor packet (foil) inside. While it is cooking in a saucepan, drain a can of mixed veggies (Aldi's is cheap and well-packed). Cook 1 or 2 of Kahn's Big Red Smokies (not hot)in the toaster-broiler oven on foil or in a skillet. It is easier to slice them into thin pieces first before cooking. This gets a lot of excess grease out of them and adds flavor. Put the cooked meat slices into the pot of noodles and veggies. It's an attractive 1-dish meal for a couple of people or a couple of times yourself. I watch for a BOGO free sale on the Big Red Smokies and then toss them into the freezer. I think there are 8 per package and are not too cheap unless you get a BOGO free sale on them. It satisfies your meat taste buds without overloading you on cholesterol. Enjoy!
08/13/2010 9:53:37 AM CDT
Michelle says ...
My summer favorite is fresh asparagus tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper then grilled. While the grill is still hot I throw on a grass fed beef steak.... YUMMY!
08/13/2010 11:14:52 AM CDT
Miriam L. Jones says ...
Patricia Devine: I cut back meat consumption by not serving individual portions of meat at least very often. Generally, I skin chicken thighs, toss out the skins and cook them by sauteeing XVOO, salt, onions and garlic. Then, add the chicken and water. Add lots of vegetables, whatever you prefer. The chicken gets tender enough to cut off the bones and return to the pot. Don't forget spices and herbs of your choice. A whole potful of whatever you want to call it only takes a few thighs. You're satisfied when you're finished eating and you haven't consumed tons of meat. Also, this is my cheapy, quicky meal -- 1 pkg. Maruchen ramen noodles, chicken flavored (my favorite)with 2 cups water. Before you open the package, pound
08/13/2010 12:18:14 PM CDT
Dr. Josh Axe says ...
Some fresh tomatoes sound delicious right about now!
08/13/2010 2:56:31 PM CDT
GoPower says ...
Another okra suggestion: stirfry with tomatoes, onion, and add some cilantrolater on. The high heat makes the slime disappear.
08/15/2010 9:50:14 AM CDT