Depending on your life, lunch during the week may be grab-and-go or going out for a sandwich. On the other hand, if you work at home, or telecommute, these lunch recipes for one person are just the thing. Many of them can be put together in just a few minutes. A few are best for the weekend when you have more time and want to treat yourself (try the shakshouka for that).
Some of these recipes require cooking, and some just need chopping and tossing. There are also a few that you can make with leftover (or even a rotisserie) chicken from a different recipe.
Summer tomatoes are (finally!) here and I am soo glad to be rid of the sad supermarket versions! I had some stale bread, and inspired by a friend, I decided to make a simple panzanella salad for one.
Panzanella is a classic Italian dish made from day-old crusty bread, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. After that, you can add more veggies (such as bell pepper or zucchini), toss in olives, and either a simple oil and vinegar dressing, or a full-out vinaigrette.
This one is adapted from Ina Garten’s version. Her recipe was for 12 people! It is traditional to let the whole salad sit for 30 minutes. That allows the bread to soak up the flavors. It also gives you soggy bread. Since I prefer it crisp, I ate it right away. Besides, that way there’s no waiting to eat!
I’ve cut her recipe for the vinaigrette in half and substituted white wine vinegar for Champagne vinegar. I have six or seven kinds of vinegar, and enough is enough! You can use the champagne version if you have it. This is a bit more dressing than you need for one salad, but it will keep and you can use it for something else (or more panzanella another day).
This Dijon mustard vinaigrette potato salad is different from the usual potato salads. Since it’s French, it’s got no mayo. Instead, there’s olive oil, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard for a bit of bite.
It’s a rare treat for me to get avocados at a decent price here in NY. We always see them during the Super Bowl (for guacamole), but really the best time to buy them is now. But, I got a great deal at Imperfect Foods on both limes and avocados the other day. So, I decided to take advantage and create a chili citrus avocado chicken salad.
I must say it was a smashing success. The sweet limes, velvety avocado, bright and crunchy veggies, and the spicy chicken combine for a carnival of flavor and color.
The chili citrus chicken recipe is one I already had (here on the site). Adding the veggies and the dressing transformed it into a completely different meal.
Great for hot weather. Make extra chicken the night before for dinner and you don’t have to cook at all the next day.
Forget the classic steak sandwich for a minute and use your leftovers to make this salad instead. Chop some veggies, add goat cheese, and make a quick red wine vinaigrette. A full meal with no cooking! Ta da!
Apple almond chicken salad is an easy lunch that’s full of flavor, without a lot of bother. You can either start with rotisserie chicken from the store, or roast your own. The flavor comes from sweet apples, crunchy almonds, and tangy sour cream.
Switching from all mayo to half sour cream and half mayo adds more zing, and makes the salad a lot less heavy. I don’t just mean calories. I find all mayo is just too greasy. If you don’t have sour cream, Greek yogurt works really well too.
This recipe was inspired by an online food group I belong to. There are themes most months and this time it was apples. So I decided to switch my usual chicken salad up a bit. Goodbye grapes and hello apples!
Use a rotisserie chicken and this recipe is done in five minutes. Or, do it yourself (think of this as two recipes in one). The roast chicken is delicious for dinner too.
If you want to roast the chicken yourself, mix up 1 tsp olive oil, a small clove of garlic (chopped), and 1 tsp rosemary in a small ramekin. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and then coat it with the olive oil mixture. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
Then let it cool, and remove the skin. Eat the skin as a chef’s treat (this is an important step!). Shred the chicken, and prepare the rest of the salad. Roasting at a higher temperature keeps the meat juicy while the skin gets crispy and golden brown.
I confess I’d never heard of Belgian potato salade liegoise until recently.It may make you think at first of French salade niçoise, but there’s no tuna or olives. And definitely no anchovies! Instead, this is a traditional Belgian warm potato salad made with green beans, and bacon! It’s all topped with a quick vinaigrette that takes only seconds to make.
Well, you’re supposed to use bacon, but I had none so I substituted kielbasa instead (which June, who wrote the original recipe said was just fine).
It’s an easy lunch or light dinner without a lot of fussing. Just the thing for this time of year when you need a bit of a break in between stuffing yourself for all the holidays. The salad comes together in about twenty five minutes, which makes it perfect for a relatively quick meal. Serve it warm and eat it right away, or save it for another time and eat it cold. It’s good either way.
Plus, it only requires one pot! Yes!
I used frozen green beans, since that’s what I had, but you can use fresh as well. Just cook them a bit longer, just enough so they’re tender/crisp. You want them to retain a bit of crunch.
I confess I did think about getting fresher beans and the bacon, but I’d already been up and down twice that day and that was enough! Living in a walkup does make you think about how often you climb all those steps.
This warm salad is a meal all by itself. Flavored with salty, savory bacon or sausage, green beans, and potatoes.
Note: you can make the potatoes, eggs, and string beans all at once, or make extra for some other meal and save some for this. That makes it even easier and faster, because then it’s just the bacon (or sausage) and the vinaigrette. Which means lunch in five minutes.
2 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes
1/4 C frozen green beans
2 inches of kielbasa, cut up into coins (or use 1-2 strips of bacon)
1 T plus 1 t olive oil
1 T white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 T onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Scrub the potatoes (you don’t have to bother to peel them), and then cut them up into chunks.
Add to a pan of water large enough to hold the potatoes (2 quart or small Dutch oven should do it) and add a pinch of salt. Then add the egg.
Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil.
Cook for 10 minutes and remove the egg with a slotted spoon. Set it aside in a bowl to cool slightly so you can cut it up later.
Check the potatoes. If they are tender, remove them with the slotted spoon and add to the bowl with the egg. They may need an additional five minutes to cook.
Add the green beans to the hot water (same pot) and cook 2-3 minutes for frozen, 5 minutes for fresh.
Once done, put them in the bowl with the potatoes and the egg.
Now, drain the pan and add the bacon or kielbasa. Cook on medium heat until crisp or cooked through. Add the meat to the bowl.
Slice the egg.
In a small dish, mix the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and onion together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix everything well to coat.
Like starch? Like fried foods? Want to be a bit more healthy about eating them? Think of these zucchini carrot fritters as “healthy veggie” potato pancakes. Except, instead of potatoes, this recipe uses zucchini (or yellow squash) and carrots (for vitamins!) and is topped with a yogurt mint dip instead of sour cream or applesauce. You end up with tiny, crispy, slightly salty fritters which you can gobble down in two bites.
I got the recipe from the NY Times (which I would link to, except they now hide everything behind a paywall). I’ve cut it in half, to make it more suitable for one person. The recipe writer developed them for her picky daughter. It was something she’d eat, and a semi-sneaky way to get in some veggies.
I confess this is a bit messier than usual, but they do taste good! And most people probably have a dishwasher and don’t fuss about cleanup as much as I do.
1/2 large egg (break the egg, scramble it a bit, and pour off half)
1/8 tsp lemon zest
Pinch black pepper
1 large carrot, finely chopped (about 3/4 C)
2 small yellow squash, finely chopped (about 1 C)
1 small garlic clove
1/4 C thick Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 1/2 tsp olive oil, plus more for frying
Combine the baking powder, coriander, flour, and a pinch of the salt in a medium size bowl. Mix together thoroughly.
In a small bowl, mix the milk, egg, lemon zest, and pepper.
Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture, and stir until everything is mixed together. It should be roughly the consistency of cream. If it's too thick, add a bit more milk. If it's too thin, add more flour.
Dice the carrots and zucchini in a food processor or mini-chopper. Add the veggies to the flour/milk mixture and let it rest for half an hour.
While it's resting, make the yogurt dip (see below).
Fill a wide, shallow frying pan with about 1/2 inch of oil olive. Heat until the oil reaches 375 degrees (if you don't have a frying thermometer, test it with a drop of water or batter; it's ready when it sizzles).
Line a flat platter or plate with paper towels.
Drop the batter into the pan, one tablespoon at a time. Don't overcrowd the pan (make maybe four or five at a time).
Fry, for about 4 minutes, turning the fritters after two minutes or so, until they turn golden brown. Transfer to the plate to drain the oil. Serve with the yogurt dip.
Smash the garlic clove and a pinch of kosher salt with the flat side of a wide knife (or some other handy heavy object) in a bowl. Whisk that together with the yogurt, mint, and the teaspoon of olive oil. Refrigerate that until ready to use.
This weekend is the unofficial start of summer here in the US, even though actual summer doesn’t start for another month. This quick and easy summer pasta lives up to its name. It’s great for hot, sticky weather (which we always get plenty of here in NY).The dish can be eaten hot or cold, and since there’s no mayonnaise, it’s perfect for picnics or traveling. And, it’s good either for a quick lunch or a light dinner.Pairs beautifully with a cold glass of Chardonnay.
I’ve adapted this dish from a recipe for summer pasta in Jacques Pépin’s Fast Food My Way cookbook.The only thing you have to cook is the pasta. The rest is just a bit of chopping and maybe shredding or grating the cheese.I’ve used parmesan, but put in anything you like that works. It could be mozzarella, or Fontina too.
He says to warm the veggies first, but I didn’t. I don’t like freshly cooked tomatoes; they taste odd to me (kind of like some people think coriander tastes like soap).If you don’t have that issue, go right ahead and heat the veggies, for thirty seconds or so, in the microwave.
The original recipe called for zucchini, but having none, I went with some bell pepper instead. So, use whatever vegetables you like or have handy. For example, use zucchini, carrots, some cooked eggplant, a handful of spinach, or a mixture of bell peppers (I love the mini ones). This is not baking, so exact ingredients and careful measuring aren’t crucial.
One more thing, as is, this is a light, easy meal. If you want to make it heartier, add some protein to make it more filling.
This recipe is inspired by…a mystery. Seems Robert B. Parker liked to cook. So, he included this in one of his novels. Not the usual source for a recipe, but quite good, and a nice change from pricey pine nuts.
So here we are again with two major holidays on the same weekend.And, they’re two holidays with entirely different food requirements!One traditionally goes for brisket and matzo; the other gets lamb or ham. However, there are two common themes. The first one is eggs.Lots and lots of eggs.The second is everyone stuffs themselves silly at either one or two big dinners.But, you still have to eat something in-between all of that. Eggs with spinach and chili peppers is just the thing. It’s quick, and easy to make. And, it’s not a big, heavy meal.It’s essentially a sort of egg pancake or frittata, except with South Asian flavoring.
The other nice thing about this recipe, is it’s done in two stages, but you only need a single skillet to make it.First you cook the veggies, garlic, and ginger, then add the eggs to the same pot.Let those cook, and you’re done.Add the yogurt (or not) to serve.Depending on your affiliation, serve with toast, matzo, or just some fresh fruit. Or, you can cut it into strips and serve it rolled up inside a tortilla. If your chili is super hot, the sweetness in the fruit will also help reduce the burn from the pepper.
Oh, and a third thing. It’s ready in about 15 minutes.So, if you’re hungry, and it’s late (as it was the first time I made this), you don’t have to wait long for a hot meal.
I adapted this from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking.In addition to reducing the amounts, I replaced the coriander with spinach. I don’t particularly like fresh coriander and I know lots of other people don’t care for it either.And, since my jalapeño pepper turned out to be really, really super hot, I added a dollop of Greek yogurt to cool it off, even though that wasn’t in the recipe.I found I liked it better that way too.
This recipe for eggs with spinach and chilis is an easy light meal, with earthy spinach, a touch of ginger, and garlic for kick.
two pinches of salt (divided)
1 T vegetable oil
1 scallion, chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
2 T chopped spinach
1/2 jalapeño pepper, sliced into thin rounds (keep the seeds if you prefer your food spicier, remove them if not)
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat them with a fork. Add one pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper.
Pour the oil into a medium size skillet and set it over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot (it will sizzle if you add a drop of water), add the scallions.
Stir the scallions in the pan with a wooden spoon and let them cook for a minute until they brown slightly.
Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds more.
Once the garlic softens, add the spinach, jalapeño pepper, ginger, and turmeric to the pan and stir briefly.
Add the lemon juice and the rest of the salt and stir that into the spinach mixture, spreading everything evenly over the bottom of the pan.
Now pour in the eggs. Pick up the pan and swirl it around so that the eggs cover the pan from side to side. It should look like an egg pancake.
Put a cover over the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for two or three minutes, until the eggs are firm on the edges and cooked through. They may be slightly brown and crispy on the edges.
Cut into wedges (like a pie) and serve topped with yogurt (if you like).
OK, two confessions. The first is that this spaetzle recipe is nearly identical to Tyler Florence’s spaetzle recipe. Also, his version claims it’s six servings. I suppose that’s as a side dish. Or maybe it’s a typo. My second confession is that it was soooo good I ate the whole thing. All at once.
First of all, it was delicious! But that alone wouldn’t make it something I’d normally share, especially since I made so few changes. The important thing about this recipe isn’t that I adapted it or altered it. What I did do was figure out a way to make it without any special equipment.
I hate single use gadgets and while the recipe is really good, I wasn’t going to go out and buy a special spaetzle maker. Besides my dislike of one-use gadgets, there’s just no place to keep the thing. Tyler’s recipe, as well as many others, suggest using a slotted spoon or a cheese grater instead of the spaetzle machine. I tried both of those. They just didn’t work very well.
Then I had a brainstorm. The potato masher! It worked perfectly! Just hold it in one hand, scoop up some batter with a spoon in the other hand, and scrape the spoon back and forth over the masher (like you were grating cheese). Ta da!!!
You want the flat-bottomed sort of masher, with lots of holes, not the squiggly kind that looks like a bicycle rack.
There’s no brand name on the one I have, so I don’t know exactly what it is, but the masher on the top is the closest I could find. The holes on mine are rectangular, not round, but I think that will be OK, since real spaetzle maker holes are round. The key is that there’s a flat surface, with lots of holes in it.
I included the image below so you could see what it should look like. That design will work fine. The one on the bottom will mash potatoes, but will be useless for spaetzle.
A super-easy way to get your noodle fix. And, with my method you don't need any special tools either.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Get two bowls, one large, and one medium. Put the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in the larger bowl, and mix them together.
Now get the smaller bowl and whisk together the milk and eggs.
Make a depression in the center of the flour mixture and pour the milk-egg mixture into it.
Push the flour in from the sides toward the milk-egg mixture and then gradually mix everything together to form a dough.
It should be fairly smooth and thick. Let the mixture rest for at least 10-15 minutes.
While the dough is resting, fill a 3 quart saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer.
Now, grasp your potato masher by the handle with one hand, holding it with the flat mashing side down. Pour a spoonful of batter over the mashing head. Then scrape it back and forth with the spoon (like you were grating cheese). This will make your spaetzle.
Do it in batches, so the pot doesn't get too full. Cook the spaezle for three minutes or so, until they start to float to the top. Stir every once in a while so they don't stick. Then remove them with a slotted spoon, drain, and set aside while you make the next batch.
Once the spaetzle are cooked, heat the butter in a large skillet. Or be lazy and reuse the saucepan. Add the spaetzle, and turn and toss them so they are coated with the butter. Cook for a couple of minutes, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
The name is a little risqué, but this pasta has nothing to be ashamed of. The briny capers, salty olives, and sweet tomatoes meld together in your mouth. It’s spicy, zesty and takes very little time to prepare too.
This super-easy smoked salmon artichoke salad requires absolutely no cooking. And it’s ready in about 10 minutes. It not only looks good (check out all those beautiful colors: green, orange, pink, and red), but it’s got the zing of citrus, smoky, salty salmon and zesty marinated artichokes. The balsamic dressing and the parmesan add a savory flavor. It’s a great combination because the bitter greens from the spinach play off against the sweet oranges, the salty parmesan, and the smoked fish.
It’s a great lunch just for yourself (especially if you’re hungry and in a hurry). Or, scale it up and serve it to company. It’s elegant enough for a party if you’re having one.
Since we’re not catering, or necessarily fancy, this version will just cut everything up and serve it all together in a single bowl. You can use blood oranges if you like. I went with the regular navel oranges, since they seem to be particularly good this year.
I also used smoked salmon bits (which my grocery store sells for less than the carefully sliced kind). Look for it in your local store, and save a bit of money. Lastly, I substituted spinach for arugula, since I prefer it, and it’s more readily available.
I know, I’m internet recipe changing my own recipe. However, some smoked salmon will make this even better and add a touch of salty smoky goodness. Or simply add some of the smoked salmon to scrambled eggs (cook the eggs, then toss in the salmon for a few seconds, to heat it up)
There are three holidays this weekend: two big ones and one silly one. The big ones are Easter and Passover and since each holiday has entirely different traditions and foods, I was initially stumped. What do I post that works for both holidays? Then it hit me! These holidays do have something in common: eggs. This egg and tomato gratin is just the thing.
I adapted this dish from a recipe by Jacques Pépin. It’s from his Fast Food My Way cookbook. I haven’t changed much, other than the quantities, and using canned tomatoes instead of fresh. The fresh tomatoes aren’t very good this time of year, and besides, I dislike fresh-cooked tomatoes.
The eggs are mixed with tomato and onions, garlic, and thyme. The thyme adds a slightly spicy flavor and pairs beautifully with tomato. The whole thing is then finished with grated, slightly nutty Swiss cheese. Delicious!
And it works whether you’re on Team Pesach or Team Easter. Not to mention that whether you observe Easter or Passover, you’re likely to want a light lunch before your big meal(s) or want to take it easy the next day. This egg dish is relatively light and won’t fill you up too much before or after all that heavy food. I’ve listed it as lunch, but it would also make a good breakfast or light brunch.
The third holiday? That’s April Fool’s. There’s no specific food for that (except in France maybe when they call it April Fish), but somehow the tomato cheese mixture on top of the eggs looks like bacon if you squint (or, if you are a photo AI and someone asks you to search for photos of “meat”). April Fool’s!
Adapted from a Jacques Pépin recipe, I've cut the quantity to make the grain suitable for one person. Eggs, thyme, and tomato mixed with a generous grating of cheese for a quick, light and satisfying lunch or brunch.
1 quart water
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, sliced (about 2/3
of a cup)
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped (roughly one clove)
pinch dried thyme
pinch black pepper
1/3 C canned peeled tomatoes
2 T plus 2 tsp grated Swiss (or Emmenthaler or whatever mild cheese you like)
Heat the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, gently poke the rounded end of the eggs with a pin or a thumbtack.
Once the water is boiling place the eggs on a large slotted spoon and add them carefully to the water, one at a time.
Let the water come back to a boil, and cook the eggs for 10 minutes. When they're done, remove them with the slotted spoon and place in a bowl of cold water to cool.
Then peel the eggs and cut them into wedges.
Add the egg wedges to a small casserole or baking dish.
Heat the toaster oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the oil in a small skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for a minute. Then add the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and tomatoes. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the tomato mixture over the eggs in the baking dish. And sprinkle the cheese on top.
Put the baking dish into the toaster oven and bake for 10 minutes.