Most dinner recipes are for two or four. It’s too much food for one person. Making extra is fine at times (especially for soup or chili), but extra servings aren’t always ideal. These dinner recipes for one person make just enough for a single serving.
No leftovers. No fussing. And every recipe has links to similar recipes (so that you have ideas for the rest of the package of chicken, the carton of eggs, or the eggplant you bought. I, for one, hate having food go bad because it didn’t get used.
I tried this Peruvian roast chicken in green sauce recipe for the first time last week, and I can’t stop eating it! It’s not just the chicken either, it’s the sauce. I loooove the sauce. I made enough to have extra, and I’ve been putting it on everything. It’s tangy, spicy, garlicky, and just spectacular. And the chicken is lip-smackingly good too!
There are two stages to this recipe, which I adapted from Epicurious, but since we’re only making it for one person (instead of a whole chicken) we can cut some steps and speed everything up. The reviews on the original commented that it was a lot of work (but worth the trouble). But, my way, it isn’t a lot of bother at all. There’s a lot less to chop and a single chicken thigh cooks a lot faster than a whole bird. You wait less and you don’t have to baste as much either. No need to butterfly/spatchcock one piece of chicken!
First you mix up a spice rub for the chicken and spread it on the meat. While the chicken cooks, you make up the sauce, which is essentially tossing ingredients in a mini chopper or blender and then mixing them together with some mayonnaise. Baste the chicken once and then serve it with the sauce.
The chicken cooks at a higher temperature than usual, so it ends up with crispy skin, while still retaining its juices. Plus, it’s ready in 35-40 minutes instead of an hour and a half.
If you like, you can add a salad of cucumber, avocado, lime, olive oil, and scallions on the side.
Tangy, garlicky and spicy, this chicken ends up with crispy skin outside and juicy meat inside. It looks so good (and tastes better) you can serve it for company. You may not want to share though.
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp tablespoon paprika
grinding black pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
3/8 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 fresh lemon
1 chicken thigh
1/4 C spinach leaves, packed
1/2 medium jalapeño, chopped (keep or remove the seeds depending on your spice tolerance)
1 small clove garlic, chopped fine
3/4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
Preheat the oven to 400°F and move a rack to the center of the oven.
Mix the spices and half the salt together in a bowl, and cut the lemon in quarters. Add the zest from one of the quarters (about 1/4 teaspoon) to the spice mixture. Then squeeze the second quarter to get about one and a half teaspoons of lemon juice. Add that to the spice mixture.
Rub chicken thigh on both sides with the zested quarter and squeeze the juice over the meat.
Loosen the skin on the chicken thigh and rub half the spice mixture both over and under the skin. Then season with the rest of the salt.
Place the chicken on a small roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Then brush the skin wit the rest of the spice mixture and the juices from the pan. Roast another 20-25 minutes. Check to see that the juices run clear and the chicken is fully cooked.
Remove from the oven, and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Purée the spinach, jalapeño, garlic, oil, lime juice, and remaining salt in a mini chopper or blender until thoroughly mixed.
Add mayonnaise and purée until well blended. Transfer to a small bowl and serve drizzled over the chicken. This will keep in the fridge for several days.
If you don't have a fresh lemon, you can use dried lemon peel and bottled lemon juice instead.
Peruvian Roast Chicken with Green Sauce Substitutions and Variations
Unlike the usual changes, this list is largely focused on the sauce, rather than the chicken.
Try different herbs or combinations of herbs and leafy greens instead of the spinach. You could use basil, coriander (the original recipe), or some sage
Instead of mayonnaise, try Greek yogurt or lebne
Serve the sauce over eggs with crusty bread
Use the sauce as a dip with fresh cut up carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumber wedges
if you don’t have fresh lemon, use dried lemon peel and bottled lemon juice
Sometimes you get recipes from a cookbook, or online, or from a friend. This recipe for spinach lamb meatballs started in a cookbook in NY, bounced to the US West coast, and then back again to NY. It was a cross-country collaboration!
Here’s what happened. A friend had some ground lamb and was looking for dinner ideas.I mentioned a spinach lamb meatball recipe I had and gave her the ingredients.
She wanted to serve her meatballs with marinara sauce, so I suggested she might want to change it around a bit (the original recipe called for nutmeg, which wasn’t going to work with marinara sauce). Also, while the recipe I had fit her requirements, it was, honestly, a bit bland, and needed more punch.
She added her own spin, then told me what she did. I made a few more changes, and ended up with this recipe.
Red wine vinegar stands up to the lamb’s assertive flavor, while cumin adds a warm, nutty, slightly spicy bite. The spinach adds color, and those all important vitamins and iron too.
It’s pretty easy to put together too. First, you sweat the onions (cook them over low heat for a few minutes, until they become transparent). Then wash and dry the spinach (this is important, otherwise the meatballs will be too moist and won’t hold together). The rest is simply measuring, mixing, and rolling.
The great thing about pork tenderloin is that it’s fancy enough for guests, but so easy and quick you can serve it on an ordinary weeknight. Adding mushrooms and a bit of sour cream transforms the pork from plain to elegant. And, it’s done in about twenty minutes or so. There’s very little fussing. The only thing you have to cut up is a few mushrooms (and then slice the pork at the end). You get a rich, creamy sauce boosted by the bite of Dijon mustard and piquant capers —both of which complement the pork beautifully.
Add some rice (I always make extra so I can just reheat it) and a simple salad and you’re ready to eat. In this case, I went with just some spinach and cucumber, topped with baslamic vinaigrette. And now, that I think of it, the balsamic vinaigrette would likely work well with the pork too. That’s really easy!
Make sure to get the pork tenderloin, not a pork loin roast. The tenderloin is long and skinny and weighs about a pound each. You cook it fairly quickly on high heat. Think of it as the filet mignon of pork. The loin roast is closer to a pork version of roast beef. It’s much larger and rounder and you cook it low and slow.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, on to the recipe. This is adapted slightly from an old New York Times Menu cookbook recipe. The recipe in the book called for pork chops (which you can also use if you like). If you do that, cook them 2-4 minutes per side, depending on how thick they are. The original recipe called for a much longer cooking time, but the chops then were much fattier.
Great for a weeknight dinner, this Vietnamese baked chicken with lime is an easy meal that requires very little active work.Measure, mince, and pour, then let it sit.Once it’s finished marinating, all you have to do is cook it for half an hour. The ginger and garlic are warm and spicy, while the chili garlic sauce has a bit of a kick. The lime adds brightness and a citrusy tang that complements the spicy flavors and cools them down.
The original recipe called for chili garlic paste, palm sugar, and fish sauce.And, it’s true, those ingredients would be more authentic. However, they also violate my own rules about avoidinghard-to-find or one use ingredients.I don’t want to buy an entire bottle or brick of something (like palm sugar) just to have it sit there. And where would I even find palm sugar? Nope.
So, I cheated.I used chili garlic sauce (not paste), swapped brown sugar for palm sugar, and ditched the fish sauce in favor of Worcestershire sauce (which does have some anchovies in it). I also wanted (for personal preference) to avoid all the salt in the fish sauce.
Marinating, even for a short time, helps the chicken absorb lots of flavor. Just don’t let it sit too long or it will get mushy from the citrus.
When you’re ready to start cooking, just pour out the marinade, pop the chicken in the oven, and wait half an hour. Dinner is done!
1 chicken thigh (leave the skin and bone in place)
1T soy sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce (if you like fish sauce, use that)
1 T brown sugar
3/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp lime zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T cooking oil
lIn a small bowl, mix the marinade ingredients (soy sauce, Worcestershire, sugar, ginger, chili garlic sauce, lime juice and zest, garlic and oil). Pour that into a zip lock bag, and add the chicken. Close the bag, and shake it around so the marinade covers the chicken.Let that sit for half an hour, or up to four hours (in the fridge).
About fifteen minutes before you’re ready to cook, remove the tray from your toaster oven and line it with foil. Then preheat the toaster oven to 425 degrees. Also take the chicken out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
Take the chicken out of the bag and set it on top of a wire rack, skin side up, and then place the rack over the lined toaster oven tray. This will reduce cleanup a bit and help keep the chicken from getting soggy.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let the chicken rest for five minutes. Serve with rice and garnish with lime.
Vietnamese Baked Chicken with Lime Substitutions and Variations
add some soy sauce to the marinade
swap the lime zest for lemongrass (you can buy lemongrass paste, which is easier to find in western markets than the stalks)
chop up some cilantro and add that to the marinade
if you do like fish sauce, I’m told Red Boat and Three Crabs are good brands (avoid the Taste of Thai, it’s full of sugar)
Since it’s spring and everything is turning green (and yellow and pink), it’s time to take advantage and turn from heavy food to something lighter and fresher. Spaghetti with green olives and lemon panko hits all those buttons. It’s light, it’s green, and it’s a bit of a flavor bomb that will wake up your taste buds.
It’s got zesty garlic, and earthy fresh spinach, paired with tangy capers, briny olives and a burst of citrus. Crispy, golden-brown panko crumbs mixed with dill and lemon zest add a bit of crunch.
In fact, I shared it with some friends and one of them said, “Oh I want that! I want it now! But I’m at work! Sob.”
I hate that the internet doesn’t include a “push here for spaghetti option”!
I found the original recipe on Bon Appetit, but I changed it a bit. First, it had anchovies. Nope! Nope! Second, I swapped the original parsley for some spinach instead. One, I had lots of spinach. And two, I don’t like parsley all that much, so there’s no point in buying a whole bunch of it. The spinach I will use for other meals.
One more small thing. The recipe said to cut some of the olives in half and then chop up the rest. It may have said to chop up the capers too (the instructions were a bit unclear). I started to chop the olives and then decided it was silly, so I stopped.
It also occurred to me after I made it that I could prepare the pasta first, then keep it warm while I cooked the panko and mixed everything else together. Just drain and wipe the saucepan, add the oil and panko, and proceed with the rest of the recipe. That way it’s only one pot!
I used ordinary green olives (because they were handy). I think I will try it next time with castelvetrano olives instead, since they are my favorite olive (and taste great with pasta).
Oh dear, I’m revising and internet commenting my own recipe! Ha!
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp dried dill (or 1 T fresh)
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
3 ounces spaghetti
1 garlic clove, mashed
1/4 C fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 T chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup green olives, pitted, halved
2 1/4 tsp drained capers
2 T grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium size skillet.
Add the panko and cook stirring, over medium heat, for a minute or two. Watch it closely so it doesn't burn. Once the panko turns golden brown, remove it from the pan and spoon it on a paper towel so it will drain. Add salt and pepper and mix in the dill and lemon zest.
Boil water in a large pot, add salt, and then add the spaghetti. Stir the pasta when you add it, so it doesn't stick. Once the spaghetti is done (about 8-10 minutes), remove from the pot and drain nearly all the water. Keep about 2 T of the water in reserve (this will help thicken the sauce).
While the spaghetti is cooking, mash the garlic. Use the broad edge of a wide knife to smash it, and then smear it around on the cutting board with the side of the knife to make a paste. Put the mashed garlic, spinach, basil, olives, and capers in a large bowl. Now add the rest of the olive oil. Toss it all together and season with salt and pepper.
Add the pasta and the half the reserved cooking water to the spinach olive mixture. Mix it all together so that the pasta is covered. If it's too dry, add more of the pasta liquid.
Squeeze the lemon you used for the zest and add 1 1/2 tsp of juice to the sauce.
Top that with the panko mixture and more Parmesan cheese.
Spaghetti with Green Olives and Lemon Panko Substitutions and Variations
like anchovies and parsley? Go for it!
use castelvetrano olives instead, they are firmer and more buttery
top the whole thing with some red pepper flakes
add more garlic
use the sauce over cooked fish (such as cod or tilapia)
I usually plan my meals, not precisely, but generally write down six or seven entrees and build from there. But, I had some ground lamb in the freezer and didn’t quite know what to do with it. My first thought was shepherd’s pie.But that requires first making mashed potatoes and then making the meat mixture. Too much work.Then I dug into my bookmarks and found a recipe for keema (or kima).She says it’s her most requested recipe! Keema is, roughly speaking, Pakistani shepherd’s pie (or maybe cottage pie, since the original is made with beef). It’s got ground meat, potatoes, and some veggies.And, best of all it only requires one pot!That’s my kind of cooking.
I’ve seen this spelled keema, and kima or called keema aloo (for the potatoes).However you spell it, you get a savory, not too spicy all-in-one pot meal. A meal which is ready in about half an hour too.
I used ground lamb, but ground beef is fine if that’s what you have.You could probably even make it with ground turkey if you wanted to. Chicken would probably be a bit bland.
Don’t be put off by the ingredients list. It’s mostly just adding small amounts of spices into the pan. You don’t even really have to measure.Just shake the jars a couple of times (if you have the kind with the small holes in the lids) or grab a pinch.
This is generally made with peas, but I didn’t have any so I tossed in some frozen broccoli instead. You could use the peas or whatever other veggies you have such as: cauliflower, cabbage, or peppers. I used Yukon gold potatoes, but regular russet potatoes will work too. You could even substitute sweet potatoes if you like.
As written, this recipe is relatively mild. If you want more heat, increase the curry, and/or add some fresh hot peppers or red pepper flakes.
If you want to go all out with the starch, you can serve this with rice or naan.I just made a side salad (trying to get my veggies in!).
Stuffy head? Allergies starting to act up? I’ve got the creeping crud, so this szechuan chili noodle recipe immediately caught my attention. It’s a cousin to Dan Dan noodles, but a lot simpler, with ingredients that are easier to find if you live in a western country and far fewer steps. Dan dan noodles require making the chili oil, then the meat mixture, and finally noodles and vegetables. For this recipe, you only have to make the oil and the noodles. Call it Chinese-inspired.
You can make this with ground chicken or pork, or leave it as is (fewer things to buy and cook) and have it as a vegetarian dish. I didn’t have any ground meat handy (it was all in the freezer) so I went without. If you don’t have baby bok choy, green cabbage will do just as well.
You can get pre-made chili oil, but (at least the brand I got) has an odd metallic taste that I don’t like. It’s easy enough to make yourself, and only requires one extra small bowl (no additional pots!) to hold the mixture while you make the rest of the recipe.
Now about the actual noodles. The recipe I adapted this from used what she called “wide Chinese egg noodles.” I had never seen that. I looked and couldn’t find anything easily. Then in the comments she said it was really pappardelle. OK! Easier to find (and I love pappardelle). Plus then I get to make White Ragu Pappardelle with the rest of the pasta. If you want to be more authentic, use real Chinese wheat noodles or rice noodles.
One final recipe note. The original calls for chili paste (sambal oelek), which is essentially just a jar of spicy, ground chilis. You can get it online, or check your grocer. If you can’t find it, substitute garlic chili sauce (and possibly remove the garlic clove from the recipe, depending on how spicy you like your food). If not, then substitute sriracha or even hot sauce instead.
The whole thing comes together in about 30 minutes or so.
1/2 cup baby bok choy, chopped (or use cabbage if you prefer)
Fill a 2 quart saucepan (medium size) with water and bring to a boil.
First start by making the chili oil. You’ll need a good sized (large) skillet. Heat that over medium heat. Then add the oil, garlic, ginger, and chili. Cook, or about 5 minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Stir it occasionally and keep an eye on it so the garlic doesn’t burn.
Add the sesame seeds and stir, cooking about another 30 seconds. Then carefully pour the mixture into a bowl.
The water should be boiling by now, so add the noodles and cook according to the package directions. Packaged pappardelle noodles should take about 7-10 minutes to cook. Fresh ones will cook faster, about three or four minutes.
While the noodles are cooking, in a separate, small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste, and water.
Add the scallions to the skillet you used to cook the chili oil and cook for two or three minutes. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the skillet and add the box copy. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Stir the mixture occasionally so the box chop gets coated with the sauce.
Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet as well as half of the chili oil mixture. Stir everything to coat. Pour into a bowl and serve with the remaining chili oil and extra scallions.
Szechuan Chili Noodles Tools and Ingredients
Huey Fong Sambal Oelek Chili Paste Made by the same company that produces the wildly popular sriracha sauce. This is spicier, since it has more chili in it. Put it on noodles, in omelettes, or in soup.
The same great chili paste, plus extra garlic! Use it in Pad Thai, mix into eggs, stir fries, soups, or any food that needs a kick of flavor. I sometimes put it in my caldo verde. Doesn’t have sugar (unlike the sriracha sauce) so it’s more potent (also good if you want to avoid extra sugar).
Adapted from a Jacques Pépin recipe, chicken with balsamic vinegar sauce is an easy and satisfying one pot meal. There’s also a secret ingredient you might not expect (especially from someone known for French cooking). It’s…ketchup! It deepens the flavor and provides just a little hint of spice and sweetness. The balsamic vinegar adds a slightly tart, fruity tang that complements the sweetness of the ketchup and the cooked onions.
He used chicken breasts, but I find those tend to dry out (unless you’re really careful). Not to mention they’re costly, and don’t pack nearly as much flavor as chicken thighs do. So chicken thighs it is. Changing the type of chicken I used also meant altering the cooking method a bit. Instead of baking in an oven, I did a fricassee, meaning brown the chicken, add the liquid, and then let it cook on the stove top.
Chicken thighs have to cook longer than breasts do. However, doing it my way means you only need a single skillet. There’s no putting anything in the oven and no need to use two different pots (or worry if your skillet is oven safe). That also means there’s a lot less cleanup. Less cleaning up is always a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.
Two more slight twists. The original recipe called for shallots. I never have those around, and I wasn’t about to buy them for one recipe (you know how I hate that). So, I cut up some garlic and onions instead (since they’re kissing cousins so to speak). If you have shallots, or don’t mind buying them, go right ahead and use them. He also said to sprinkle the chicken with chives. I didn’t have that either, so I used some fresh rosemary.
As I type this, I’m wondering if I’m spiraling into Internet recipe comment territory: “Great recipe! I changed X, and Y, and Z, and then I didn’t follow the directions at all, but it turned out great!” Well, it did turn out great, so I guess it’s OK.
The whole thing is done in about 35 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight meal when you don’t want to fuss (because you just want dinner).
Need something simple, yet elegant for dinner? This feta brined roast chicken is easy to make, but looks like something from a fancy restaurant. Brine the chicken, let it sit overnight, and then mix a few ingredients together and bake.
The brine helps infuse the chicken with flavor, and (as a bonus) keeps it from drying out. It works just like the brine for a turkey, except this will taste much better! Feta cheese is particularly effective as a brine since it is packed in water, so it’s already moist. Blending it together creates a smooth, creamy brine that penetrates the chicken, keeping it tender and moist, even under high heat. The finished chicken doesn’t have a strong feta taste, but it will be rich, tender, and delicious.
Once the chicken is brined, you create a quick and easy spice rub from lemon zest, pepper, and oregano, blend that together, and spread it all over the chicken. The feta cheese adds salty savor, the lemon a hint of tartness, and the oregano and spinach give the dish a fresh, bright flavor. The original dish called for arugula, but I’m not a fan, so I used spinach instead.
Taking the chicken out early before you cook it helps it dry out and allows the skin to become crisper when the chicken is roasted.
Huddled up in the cold? Want dinner that’s both comforting and easy? Kielbasa with Sauerkraut and Apples is just the thing. It’s filling, it’s quick, and it’s dinner all by itself. All in one pot. Some say this dish is German, others call it Polish. Whichever, it’s delicious!
I adapted this recipe from one I found online. That recipe called for first cooking the kielbasa on a grill, then putting them in the oven, while starting the onions on the stove, and making the rest of the recipe. That would leave you with a grill, a baking sheet, and a frying pan to clean. No! No! No! Not doing that way.
Plus, it’s too cold to grill anything here. Even if I had a grill. This way is much easier.
My version only uses a single pan. And, it’s ready in about 20 minutes. Much better!
The kielbasa makes this dish filling, while the sauerkraut adds a little bite. Cooking it mellows out the sharpness (a bit like cooking onions or garlic), and the apples give it a bit of sweetness and balance the richness of the sausage and the sourness of the kraut. The honey mustard horseradish sauce is also sweet/spicy so it complements the rest of the dish perfectly.
Use apples that are slightly tart (I had Crimson Topaz, but a tart apple such as Granny Smith would work fine).