Lemon Cumin Mint Chicken

Lemon Cumin Mint Chicken is a quick  and easy Middle Eastern-inspired meal that uses ingredients you likely already have. The cumin and lemon add a spicy, citrusy flavor. Think of it as the sort of meal you might have sitting outside at a café along the Mediterranean sea.

I’ve adapted this from Epicurious but made several changes. First, since it’s one person, we don’t need a mixture of chicken pieces. Second, I don’t like the boneless thighs (I want the bones to make chicken broth).

The original recipe also called for lemon-infused oil (which takes three weeks to make).  Probably good, but that’s too long to wait, and I suspect it would overwhelm the chicken.

Third, the instructions said to reserve some of the garlic and scatter it over the chicken. I didn’t do that either, as I didn’t want raw garlic. And, I upped the cumin a bit.

Lastly, instead of broiling the meat, which tends to lead to dried out food (especially chicken), I simply baked it instead. About 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then baste, then another 25 minutes or so until the chicken is done and the juices run clear.

The potatoes are crispy garlic basil potato bites (without the basil).  Tomatoes were fresh from the Greenmarket.

Don’t be put off by the “prep” time. It’s really five minutes of prep, and the rest is waiting for the marinade to flavor the chicken.

Lemon Mint Cumin Chicken

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Category: Dinner

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

one serving

lemon mint cumin chicken


  • Zest of  1/4 lemon, grated
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 T olive oil (or lemon oil, see substitutions and variations)
  • 1 tsp shredded  fresh mint leaves, plus 1//2  tsp  whole leaves for garnish
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • generous pinch paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch salt
  • grinding of black pepper
  • 1 chicken thigh


  1. Mix together the lemon zest, juice, half the mint, the garlic, and the remaining marinade ingredients (everything except the chicken) in a small bowl.
  2. Add the chicken to the bowl and spoon the marinade over it, turning the chicken so it gets covered on all sides. Leave the mixture out on the counter, and let it marinate for about half an hour. Turn it every once in a while. (Or alternatively, put everything in a plastic baggie and shake it around).
  3. Heat the oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees. Put the chicken on the toaster oven pan (or a small baking pan) and cook for 15 minutes. Then brush the skin with the marinade and the pan juices. Roast for 20-25 minutes more and check to see if the chicken is ready. The juices should run clear.
  4. Remove to a plate, and sprinkle with the rest of the mint and the reserved garlic.
  5. Mix all the ingredients (except the chicken) together in a small bowl or plastic ziploc bag. Add the chicken and turn or shake until the chicken is coated with the marinade.
  6. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for half an hour. Shake or turn it occasionally.
  7. Preheat the oven (or use a toaster oven) to 400 degrees. Place the chicken in a small pan or on the toaster oven pan and cook for 15 minutes. Then baste the chicken with the marinade. Cook for another 20-25 minutes until the chicken is done. Remove to a plate and garnish with the rest of the mint.

Lemon Mint Cumin Chicken Substitutions and Variations

  • Try coriander instead of mint (or a mixture of the two)
  • If you have time (and patience, make the lemon oil: 1 cup oil with 3 T of lemon zest, kept refrigerated for 3 weeks, then strained).
  • Swap the lemon for lime
  • Layer portobello mushrooms and thinly sliced potatoes under the chicken

More Lemon Chicken Recipes

crispy lemon chicken thighCrispy Lemon Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

Crispy, lemony, with just a touch of sweetness from brown sugar. Think fried chicken with a lot less oil and bother.


Jewish chicken curry chitarneeJewish Chicken Curry Chitarnee

A one pot meal with chicken, lemon juice, tomatoes, and potatoes. All simmered together until they become sweet and aromatic.


homemade chicken shawarmaHomemade Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt Sauce

Transport yourself to a NY schawarma shop (like the Avengers movie), without leaving home. You don’t even need a rotisserie.


feta brined roast chickenFeta Brined Roast Chicken Recipe for One

Elegant enough for company, this chicken requires only a few simple ingredients. The brine keeps the chicken juicy and flavorful.

Peruvian Roast Chicken in Green Sauce Recipe

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.

Peruvian Roast Chicken in Green Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Category: dinner

Cuisine: Peruvian

one serving

peruvian roast chicken with green sauce

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
    Green Sauce
  • 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


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and move a rack to the center of the oven.
  2. 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.
  3. Rub chicken thigh on both sides with the zested quarter and squeeze the juice over the meat.
  4. 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.
  5. Place the chicken on a small roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Then brush the skin with 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.
  6. Remove from the oven, and let it rest for 5 minutes.
    Green Sauce
  1. Purée the spinach, jalapeño, garlic, oil, lime juice, and remaining salt in a mini chopper or blender until thoroughly mixed.
  2. 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

More Chicken Recipes

crispy lemon chicken thighCrispy Lemon Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

Great hot or cold, this is perfect for picnics. There’s three kinds of lemon (don’t worry, nothing unusual), and a crispy crust that tastes like you fried it (but you won’t have to).


chili citrus chicken thighChili Citrus Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

The flavors of Buffalo wings, without any frying. The garlic adds zest and the chili packs the heat (but not too much heat). Cheaper than wings too.


feta brined roast chickenFeta Brined Roast Chicken

Bathed in a briny blend of of feta cheese and lemon to keep it moist, and lock in flavor. Serve the finished chicken on a bed of earthy spinach.


honey sticky garlic chickenHoney Sticky Garlic Chicken

Delight your taste buds and fight colds with this crispy/sweet/spicy chicken. Ready in 30 minutes, from pantry ingredients.


Oven Roasted Lemon Garlic Broccoli

I know, broccoli is controversial (though not quite as much as brussels sprouts). Some love it, some hate it.  If you’re not a broccoli fan, this recipe for oven roasted lemon garlic broccoli might change your mind. Roasting helps reduce the bitterness and gives the broccoli a nutty flavor (from the caramelization).  It also makes the broccoli crispy outside, tender and sweet inside.

I have used frozen broccoli florets, because they cook more quickly (and I had a big bag of them). This is also more practical, since it’s tough for one person to eat an entire head of broccoli all at once!  This way I can take out just what I need and the rest can stay frozen until I want it for something else.

Plus, frozen vegetables often have more vitamins and better nutrition than fresh vegetables do.  That’s because the frozen version has been picked and then preserved (by freezing) immediately, while fresh produce may have traveled for days from some other state (or even country) before it gets to your supermarket.

If you have fresh broccoli (or a farmer’s market nearby), you can use that too.  Don’t toss out the stems, they are just as good as the florets.  They do cook faster (and better) if you remove the tough outer layer from the stems first. A vegetable peeler will work just fine for this.

You’ll also need to cook fresh broccoli a bit longer (since the frozen broccoli has been blanched first).  Roast the fresh broccoli for about 25 minutes. If you like it super-crispy, roast it for half an hour (turning it once).

Oven Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Category: side dish

Cuisine: American

one serving

oven roasted lemon garlic broccoli

Roasting broccoli adds sweetness and nuttiness. Lemon, parmesan, garlic, and olive oil make a classic combination.


  • 1 cup frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 T olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • small pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper (which is dried lemon peel and black pepper)*
  • 1 garlic clove, slivered
  • grated parmesan
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat the toaster oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Toss all the ingredients (except the cheese and lemon juice) together in a small bowl.
  3. Spread the mixture on a small baking sheet and put in the oven.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with the cheese and add the lemon juice. Toss to combine.


* If you don't have lemon pepper you can use dried lemon peel (and add some pepper), or about a half to three-quarters teaspoon of fresh lemon zest.

Oven Roasted Lemon Garlic Broccoli Substitutions and Variations

  • Toast some breadcrumbs or panko and sprinkle them over the broccoli
  • Sprinkle some pine nuts or chopped walnuts over the broccoli
  • Make it a full meal by topping it with a fried egg or mixing the cooked broccoli with some pasta
  • Use the same roasting technique and change the seasoning to make it Asian with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil

More Vegetable Side Dishes

Honey Mustard Glazed Carrots for One

Roasted Cinnamon Nutmeg Butternut Squash

Sauteed Garlic Parmesan Spinach

No Mayo Healthy Cole Slaw Recipe for One

Greek Lamb Breast Recipe

Great for a cold weekend, this Greek lamb breast recipe requires very little active preparation time.  Just make the marinade, zip it in a bag, and let it sit.

The longer this marinates the better.  You can leave it for an hour (if you don’t have lots of time), but it’s better overnight, or all day while you do something else.

I let this sit in the fridge for two days (because I unexpectedly ate out), and it was divine.

It cooks slowly in a low oven, just enough to heat the house a bit, but not so much that you’ll overheat yourself (this is, incidentally also a great way to cook roast beef, low and slow).

The recipe is adapted slightly from a recipe I found on Epicurious.  That was for lamb chops or a leg of lamb.  I reduced that marinade recipe and substituted the NY Times’ lamb riblet slow roasting technique instead of grilling.

If you don’t have breast of lamb, you can use a lamb chop instead.  Just let it marinate, then broil the chop 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how thick it is.

Greek Lamb Breast Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 5 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: Greek

one serving

greek lamb breast

Greek-inspired slow roasted lamb breast.


  • 2T olive oil
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • lamb breast (bone-in) about 3/4 lb.


  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Put the lamb breast in a plastic ziploc bag.
  3. Pour in the marinade, close the bag, and shake it to distribute the marinade evenly over the lamb.
  4. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 225 (yes, that's 225) degrees.
  6. Open the bag and remove the lamb with a pair of tongs.
  7. Place it in a shallow roasting pan, fat side up.
  8. Pour the marinade over the lamb.
  9. Roast the lamb, slowly, for 3 hours.
  10. Remove from the oven and cut the lamb into riblets to serve.


Note that prep time is for making the marinade. It does not include marinating time.

Tools and Ingredients for Greek Lamb Breast Recipe

Cuisinart 12-Inch Pan with Glass Cover

This pan is shallower than most roasting pans, which means it’s easier to remove your food. The relatively small size makes it a great option for smaller portions (and smaller ovens). It’s also great for pan pizza for one (the pizza fits perfectly).

While I don’t usually like nonstick surfaces, this one has held up nicely since I bought it two years ago. I haven’t used the glass cover with the pan, but fits over my other pots and pans (so I can see what’s cooking).

Oxo Good Grips Kitchen Tongs

A good pair of tongs is invaluable when cooking.  These are easy to hold, and they lock back together for storage.  Use them to turn meat, or pick up and turn food in the oven, without burning yourself.

The ends are nylon so they won’t scratch your nonstick pan. Dishwasher safe if you have one.  I’ve had mine for eight years (!) and they’re in perfect condition. Worth every cent I paid for them.

More Lamb Recipes

lamb breast provencale with rosemaryOne Person Slow Roasted Lamb Breast Provencal Recipe

About 15 minutes prep, then a slow roast in the oven yields tender, moist lamb, topped with garlicky bread crumbs.


leftover roast lamb eggplant spinach saladLeftover Roast Lamb, Eggplant, and Spinach Salad

A salad of earthly delights, with luscious lamb, tender eggplant, earthy spinach,  and crisp cucumbers. Served with a garlicky lemon mayonnaise.


spinach lamb meatballsSpinach Lamb Meatballs

A bit of serendipity and some cross-country collaboration and poof! Meatballs! Made with cumin, spinach, and just a touch of piquant vinegar to balance the flavors.


lamb kofta meatballsLamb Kofta Meatballs

Don’t like eggs? Or don’t have any? These meatballs hold together with no eggs, and no bread crumbs.

Flavored with toasted nuts, cumin, and sweet minty green cardamom: a feast both for your mouth and your eyes!

Crispy Lemon Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

I adapted this crispy lemon chicken thigh recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. If you love lemon, this is for you. It’s full of lemon flavor from lemon juice, lemon pepper, and lemon zest. Even if you don’t love lots of lemon, don’t worry. The lemon is balanced by brown sugar for sweetness and a touch of paprika for a hint of bite.

It’s also quite versatile. Eat it hot right out of the oven, or make extra and have it cold for lunch the next day.  It’s also good for picnics when the weather is good.

I cut the original recipe down to serve one (instead of six), but also made a few other small changes.  The cookbook recipe called for lemon extract. It’s an ingredient I’m never going to use up (unless I make lots of lemon chicken). So, I increased the lemon juice a bit.

I then swapped the plain black pepper for lemon pepper. Lemon pepper is a bit exotic, but I do use it for other things (try it on string beans or broccoli). This way, I kept the lemony flavor without having to buy a special ingredient only to use a spoonful or two (which annoys me).

You end up with a crispy crust, almost like fried chicken, except there’s very little oil, and a lot less mess. You start it in a frying pan to get crispy and then finish by baking it in the toaster oven.

Incidentally, the recipe on the facing page of the cookbook is for Chicken Monterey, made with orange juice.  I haven’t done it, but I bet orange juice and zest would work for this too.  You might try a bit of orange juice concentrate, or upping the zest to substitute for lemon pepper/extract. I’d also reduce the brown sugar, since orange is sweeter than lemon.

For the best flavor, let the chicken marinate overnight (or all day) in the fridge. If you don’t have that much time, let it sit for at least half an hour.

If you can’t have flour (or gluten) substitute potato starch or rice flour instead.  It might even be good with almond flour.  That way it’s gluten-free (and Pesach-friendly).

Crispy Lemon Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: American

one serving

crispy lemon chicken thigh

Crispy lemon chicken thigh recipe with three kinds of lemon, plus brown sugar.


  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 heaping T flour
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • 2 T neutral oil (such as canola or sunflower)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp chicken stock
  • one slice lemon


  1. Pour the lemon juice in a bowl and add the chicken. This is best if you let it sit in the fridge overnight (or do it in the morning). If not, let it sit for half an hour.
  2. Preheat the toaster oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Discard the lemon juice and dry off the chicken with a paper towel.
  4. Take a small plastic zippered bag and add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, paprika, and lemon pepper). Add the chicken to the bag, zip it shut, and shake thoroughly until the chicken is completely covered with the flour mixture.
  5. Heat the oil in a small skillet and fry the chicken (turning once with kitchen tongs) until it gets brown and crispy. This should take about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken from the skillet and place it on the toaster oven tray. Sprinkle it with the lemon zest and the brown sugar.
  7. Pour the chicken stock around the chicken (not over it). Put the lemon slice on top.
  8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.


I served this with a baked potato, so I put that in the oven first, while the chicken sat in the lemon juice.

More Chicken Thigh Recipes

Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes for One

Sichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

Chicken Thigh Recipe with Peaches and Ginger


Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

I seem to be making a virtual trip around the Mediterranean. This week, instead of Israel, we’ve “landed” in Greece. This recipe for Greek fish with lemon and tomatoes is adapted from a recipe in The New York Times.

The Times recipe is good, but a bit too fiddly and time consuming. It also requires a whole fish. That’s generally too much food for one person.  And, it has to be cleaned, then stuffed, and finally baked. Probably delicious, but too much trouble.  So, I decided to make it easier and faster and used fish fillets instead.

Plus, the original recipe requires that you cook the tomatoes. I love fresh tomatoes, and tomato sauces, but don’t like the taste of freshly-cooked tomatoes. So, I simplified everything and added the tomatoes just at the end.

In my version, you make the marinade, leave out the tomatoes, and let it sit for a bit so the flavors combine. Then season the fish fillet, pour the marinade over it, and cook it. Add the tomatoes at the end, and serve. Also, I didn’t make it in the oven (too hot!). I grilled the fish in a pan instead.



Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: Greek

one serving

greek fish with lemon and tomatoes

A fast and healthy tilapia recipe with lemon and tomatoes.


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • generous pinch of hot pepper flakes or 1/4 tsp chopped fresh jalapeño
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound fish fillet (like tilapia or cod)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to season the fish
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (or use cherry tomatoes and slice them in half)


  1. Combine the olive oil with the lemon juice, hot pepper, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl or a ziplock plastic bag.
  2. Let the marinade sit for 15 or 20 minutes.
  3. Season the fish with salt, pepper, and thyme.
  4. Add the fish and the marinade to a small frying pan and cook, about four minutes per side.
  5. When the fish is almost cooked, pour in the chopped tomatoes. Leave them in for two or three seconds, just to get them warmed up slightly.
  6. The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
  7. Remove fish with a flexible spatula and serve.

Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes Substitutions and Variations

  • Follow this suggestion from the comments of the original recipe: fry the fish for a minute or two with olive oil.  Then add the marinade, a splash or two of white wine, and simmer (covered) for 5-10 minutes.
  • If you don’t mind cooked tomatoes, add them to the marinade at the beginning.
  • Try cod instead of tilapia.  Or, use a small whole trout.
  • If you want more lemon flavor, slice some lemon and squeeze it over the fish.
  • Add some olives or capers to the marinade.
  • Add 1/4 C sliced zucchini to the pan when you start cooking the fish.

More Quick Fish Recipes

Pan Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

Salmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

Easy Canned Tuna Curry


Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce

This recipe for spaghetti with spinach and lemon cream sauce was a bit of an accident. I innocently ordered a bunch of spinach (along with other groceries) from Fresh Direct.  I expected, well a standard bunch of spinach. What I got was a “spinach tree.” It’s enormous. It’s so large I had to prop it up against a bottle of seltzer and a plant to take a photo of it.

spinachSo, if anyone from Google noticed a spike in searches for  ‘spinach recipes’ over the last few days, it was me.

I adapted this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen. She used basil (or arugula), and while I have basil growing in my window, I don’t have arugula.

Besides, there’s that enormous bunch of spinach to use up!

So, I combined the two.  A bit of basil, and a handful of spinach, some diluted Greek yogurt instead of the heavy cream (didn’t have the cream and couldn’t leave to get some), and dinner is served!

Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: Italian

one serving

spaghetti spinach lemon cream sauce

A great summer pasta dinner with fresh lemon, spinach, and a bit of cream.


  • one handful spaghetti (about 4 ounces), it should be about the diameter of a quarter
  • salt
  • 1 lemon (for juice and zest)
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit more when you serve the pasta
  • 1 T heavy cream*
  • 2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more when you serve the pasta)
  • Handful of spinach, washed thoroughly, shredded, or chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll them up so they look like a cigar, and then chop them cross-wise)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Boil a pot of water (a dutch oven will work nicely because it's wide enough to hold the pasta).  Salt the water and then add the pasta.  Cook about 8 minutes until it's al dente.
  2. As you wait for the pasta to cook, zest the lemon (you'll need about 3/4 of a teaspoon of zest). Then, squeeze the lemon to juice it (this works best if it's warm; if you had it in the fridge, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it up). You'll get about 1-2 tablespoons.
  3. When the pasta is ready, drain it, keeping about 1/3 C of the water.
  4. Take a small saucepan and heat the olive oil, cream, lemon zest, and about half the reserved water.  Cook that on high heat for a minute.  Put the pasta back in the larger pot, add the lemon zest mixture, and stir until the pasta is coated with it.
  5. Add the parmesan, and half the lemon juice.  Stir and toss together thoroughly (I used a spaghetti spoon and a standard fork ) until the sauce is distributed evenly over the pasta.
  6. If you want your pasta "saucier" add more of the cooking water. Taste and add more lemon if you like.
  7. Stir in the basil and the spinach. Season with salt and pepper.  Top your pasta with extra olive oil and parmesan cheese and serve.

Substitutions and Variations for Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce

  • If you don’t have heavy cream, melt 1/3 C unsalted butter and add 3/4 C whole milk. This makes about a cup.
  • Use plain Greek yogurt and thin it out with a little milk. If you do this, add a little hot water to the mixture first, before putting it in the pasta. This will prevent it from curdling.
  • Use frozen peas instead of spinach (add to the pasta while it’s cooking and save yourself an extra pot to clean; put the peas in for about 3 minutes).
  • Add some leftover cooked chicken for more protein.

Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

I love the Smitten Kitchen blog (as does a friend who is a professional chef). Deb’s recipes are consistently good. And, her original kitchen was nearly as small as mine. Which just proves you don’t need a lot of space, drawerfuls of gadgets, or an enormous pantry to create delicious food.

Everything is made from real ingredients, and ingredients that are easy to find. I know it really bugs me when some recipe calls for a teaspoon of some exotic ingredient I’ll never use again! One thing about this book is that the format spreads the recipes over more than one page, so it can be a bit hard to follow.

Spaghetti Spoon

It’s a small thing, but this spoon makes it much easier to toss your spaghetti and coat it with the sauce. It’s also a lot easier to get it out of the pot and into a bowl for serving. And because it’s OXO, it’s comfortable to hold too.

Microplane Zester

This is one of my favorite tools. It’s just the thing for zesting lemons (and getting only the zest without the bitter pith). Hard cheese can be tough to grate with a box grater, but this produces perfect little curls that practically melt into your pasta. It’s also ideal for grating nutmeg, ginger, or even garlic. Since it’s long and thin, you can just perch it right on top of the bowl while you grate. Note that it’s sharp, so be careful!

More Recipes for One Person with Spinach or Spaghetti

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Balsamic Dressing and Feta Cheese

Spinach and Feta Cheese Omelette

Spicy Sesame Noodles Recipe for One Person

Single Serving Recipe for Singapore Noodles with Chicken

Pan-Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

This single serving of pan-fried tilapia with lemon butter sauce is quick, easy, and delicious. I was never a big fish fan growing up, but I’ve grown to like it as I have gotten older.  If you’re a bit wary of fish, tilapia is a good “starter fish.” It has a mild flavor and doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds (or your kitchen).

I got the idea from someone who said she made tilapia with butter, lemon, and rosemary.  I thought that sounded good, but that it would be even better with some olive oil and mustard powder (it was).

You can put the whole thing together and have dinner on the table in less than fifteen minutes. Make the fish, steam (or zap) some veggies and you’re good to go.

I made this recently (just as spring is finally showing signs of arriving, after a truly nasty winter), but it would be great in the summer when you want something fast.  There’s no need to heat the stove or the oven for an hour.

By the way, the fish came from Trader Joe’s.  They have great frozen fish. The tilapia was in a package with individually-wrapped fillets. Normally, I don’t like extra packaging, but in this case it was perfect, since I only had to defrost one fillet, instead of the entire bag.


Pan Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: American


pan-fried tilapia with lemon butter sauce

A quick fish dinner for one with lemon, a bit of mustard, and rosemary.


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch dried rosemary
  • 1 pinch mustard powder
  • 1 tilapia filet
  • healthy squeeze lemon juice (preferably fresh)


  1. Heat the olive oil and the butter in a small frying pan.   Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  2. Sprinkle the tilapia with the mustard and rosemary on both sides.  Add it to the pan.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish. Cook until done, about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on how thick the fish fillet is).  It should be lightly colored, but no longer pink.
  3. Serve immediately, before the fish gets cold. I steamed some Trader Joe's string frozen beans and cut up some fresh carrots to serve with it.  I felt so healthy and virtuous.

Substitutions and Variations for Pan-Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

  • If you don’t have tilapia, use another mild, white fish such as cod, flounder, or Dover sole
  • Swap the rosemary for some capers
  • Skip the mustard and the rosemary and use dill instead


More Easy Fish Recipes

Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

Salmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

Salmon in Foil Packet with Potatoes