In our house, egg salad sandwiches make an appearance for lunch and sometimes for dinner when weeknights are looking a little harried. On those occasions, I like to think of interesting ways to dress it up, to make it a touch more special and interesting. Sundried Tomatoes? Cornichons? Mushrooms? Yes, please.
My friend Aura is a very good cook. She lives in Florida with her husband, Leo, and two adorable (I do not use that word glibly) children. When I think of Aura's cooking, I think of fruit salads, smoothies, and the freshest dishes from her native Guatemala — light, healthy, and driven by Florida's tropical fruits and vegetables. So I was surprised, one winter evening a few years ago, to sit down at her table and find a big, bubbling casserole of chicken wrapped in bacon. "It's Leo's favorite," she said, with a grin.
This South American soup holds many good and tasty things, from the tender pieces of potato to sweet nibbles of fresh corn. But let's be real: the best part is the cheese. Queso fresco to be exact, which doesn't fully melt but rather softens into chewy morsels in the warmth of the milky broth. So good.
To me, at this moment in time, hiyashi chuka just makes sense. Not only is the Japanese chilled noodle salad absolutely refreshing – a must during these sweltering days of summer – but it also features the sweetest, crispest vegetables available at the market right now: tomatoes, corn, cucumbers. Plus a light and tangy sauce that takes no time to whip up.
The rice bowl is perhaps the perfect Cooking for One dish. Besides the fact that it is assembled in individual portions, it offers variety and versatility and a fantastic opportunity to clean out the refrigerator. Read on for a roundup of rice bowl recipes.
This is the mac and cheese that I grew up on—creamy sauce, chewy pasta, and don't spare the cheese! It always felt like a special treat to us kids, though I suspect that my mother liked it more because it was an easy stove top dish that required almost no thought to pull together at the end of a long day. Whatever the reason, whatever the occasion, a bowl of this mac and cheese will always spell comfort.
My favorite I'm-dining-alone-at-home-tonight meal is a classic dish that's quick, thrifty and elegant. The basic setup is simple: A cheese omelet with some buttered toast and a glass of dry Alsatian chablis. If I'm feeling like I need some vegetables, I might add a few spears of roasted broccoli or asparagus (if it's in season) or a sliced tomato sprinkled with chives and a few drops of balsamic. Served on a pretty plate and perhaps taken out to the garden if the weather permits, this meal nourishes, refreshes and delights on many levels.
It took me a long time to warm up to quinoa. I felt like I was the only one not on the super-grain-(that's-not-really-a-grain-but-who-cares) bandwagon. But my attempts at quinoa had all turned out sticky and faintly bitter, a health food to choke down. So how did I get from there to here, to this lemon-scented golden salad with crunchy bits of cucumber, radish, and almonds? (There are dates, dill, and Parmesan in there too, plus a secret ingredient that really makes it sing.) It only takes one quinoa dish, it turns out, to make a difference.
A package of instant ramen is perhaps the biggest cliché item in the solo cook's cupboard. It often symbolizes depression or extreme indifference, the meal one cooks when one has hit rock bottom. Of course, none of this is necessarily true. Ramen can be delicious and good for you as well as a quick, fun thing to make. Read on for a review of the three ways a single diner can approach instant ramen.
Simplicity, elegance and deliciousness are especially important for the solo cook. Not that these qualities aren't also applicable those who have regularly have company at the table, but the solo cook may have particular challenges if eating and dining alone is a frequent event. It's shockingly easy to slip into the realms of frozen pizza and take-away, even if you love to cook and eat well, so it's good to have a few things on hand that bump an everyday dish into something sublime. It's for this very reason that I always keep a package of smoked salmon in the refrigerator.