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).
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 no 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.
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).
I adapted this crispy lemon chicken thigh recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. It’s full of lemon flavor from lemon juice, lemon pepper, and lemon zest. The lemon is balanced by brown sugar for sweetness and a bit of paprika for a hint of bite. You can eat it hot, or cold for lunch the next day. It’s also good for picnics while the weather is still 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, less mess, and you can bake 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.
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
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.
Preheat the toaster oven to 350 degrees.
Discard the lemon juice and dry off the chicken with a paper towel.
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.
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.
Remove the chicken from the skillet and place it on the toaster oven tray. Sprinkle it with the lemon zest and the brown sugar.
Pour the chicken stock around the chicken (not over it). Put the lemon slice on top.
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.
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.
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)
Combine the olive oil with the lemon juice, hot pepper, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Let the marinade sit for 15 or 20 minutes.
Season the fish with salt, pepper, and thyme.
Add the fish and the marinade to a small frying pan and cook, about four minutes per side.
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.
The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
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.
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.
So, 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!
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
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
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.
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.
When the pasta is ready, drain it, keeping about 1/3 C of the water.
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.
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.
If you want your pasta "saucier" add more of the cooking water. Taste and add more lemon if you like.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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)
Heat the olive oil and the butter in a small frying pan. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
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.
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