To some people I know, cooking a meal just for themselves seems a lot harder than, say, cooking for four. It can be intimidating to look at a recipe that serves four to six and try to figure out how to scale it down…or decide what to do with all the leftovers. What I've learned over the years as a foodie (and chronic dieter) is that cooking for one is actually a much bigger joy than cooking for four (or more)!
The best part about cooking for one is that you only have to take into account your food preferences. Think about it: no worrying if someone doesn't like something or is allergic to it. No wondering if they had Asian food last night if you're wanting to cook up a stir-fry, or if they had Italian for lunch when it's chicken piccata you're craving.
As a singleton, I'm pretty busy with my bustling social life most nights (if you count the contestants from So You Think You Can Dance
as your social life), but I still like to sit down and have a real dinner while my dog pants in my face. A real dinner, to me at least, usually consists of a protein source, good carbs and a green veggie. Cooking that for yourself every night can seem daunting at first, but with some strategic planning, you can make it all come together rather easily.
In this and future blog posts, I'll share some great ideas for cooking for one, including single servings as well as my favorite trick of cooking something once and then using the leftovers creatively. This week, I'll start with one of my favorites and a staple around my house, Thai Red Curry. This dish is perfect for using those little leftover bits of veggies or proteins that you've got on hand and don't want to waste.
I really like how you can vary the protein source to accommodate whatever it is you have around. Leftover cooked chicken, beef or pork all work well. For seafood like shrimp or scallops, instead of pre-cooking you can let the broth cook them until just opaque. For tofu, seitan or tempeh, you can sauté in a bit of olive oil for a nice texture before throwing it in the pot.
Vary this by serving it over different grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa or farro. You can even change the flavor completely by going with green curry instead of red.
Thai Red Curry
1-2 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 14-ounce can 365™ lite coconut milk (you can use regular if you prefer)
1-3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup 365™ low-sodium chicken or veggie stock
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 small red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 small zucchini, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 lb. diced cooked chicken, beef, pork, mixed seafood, or firm tofu
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine curry paste (I like it very hot so I use the full 2 tablespoons) and coconut milk, continuously whisking, for about 5 minutes. Add fish sauce (I use 3 Tablespoons), stock and brown sugar, along with veggies and simmer over medium for about 10 minutes. Add protein and simmer until just heated through. Serve over brown rice and top with chopped fresh basil.
If you're really hungry, this will make enough for a meal, plus leftovers the next day (which means either no cooking that night, or something great for your lunchbox). If you're not so hungry, this freezes really well for one of those nights when you're just not up for cooking. I hope you enjoy this. If you have challenges cooking for one, let me hear about them and I'll try to address in future posts.