Moussaka Without Bechamel Sauce Recipe

I just love moussaka, but the traditional version is just too much work for one serving. I had a recipe for a Jewish Eygptian version of moussaka without bechamel,(or messa’aa) but the first try needed more tweaking. Back to the drawing board! This version uses more spices, has better flavor, and is much easier to put together.

There’s Middle Eastern flavor from spicy/warm cinnamon and nutmeg, the bite of garlic and onion, tender eggplant, and tomatoes. You can make this either with ground lamb or ground beef (whichever you prefer).

Many of the recipes I saw required first making a tomato sauce, then a meat mixture, then the eggplant, and finally assembling the entire thing together. Too much work and too many pots and pans to clean up.

My way is easier. First salt and fry the eggplant (or broil if you’d prefer), then cook the onion and garlic, add the meat, tomatoes, and seasoning, layer it all together and bake it. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen, you can have dinner ready in about an hour.

Or, make it all ahead of time, up to the point of putting it in the oven.  Then, put the baking dish in the fridge, and cook it when you’re ready. Just take the dish out about fifteen or twenty minutes in advance so that it isn’t ice cold when you put it in the oven. Make a quick salad or some rice and you have dinner.

This recipe is also a product of a bit of advance planning.  The trouble with cooking for one sometimes is that even if you make one serving you still have more ingredients left.  However, a little menu planning can go a long way toward fixing that problem.  You end up with several delicious meals,  a lot less waste, and it’s far more budget friendly too.

For example, this recipe uses the rest of the eggplant from rosemary olive oil broiled eggplant and the remaining crushed tomatoes from tomato artichoke pasta sauce recipe from two weeks ago. I’ve now used up the eggplant and the can of tomatoes. There are more recipes at the bottom of the post to help with the beef.




Easy Moussaka Without Bechamel

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Category: dinner

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

one serving

Easy Moussaka Without Bechamel

Ingredients

  • 12 thin slices eggplant (about half a small eggplant)
  • kosher salt
  • 2 T plus 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1/4 lb. ground beef or lamb
  • 4 T crushed tomatoes
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch allspice
  • generous grinding of pepper and salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cumin

Instructions

  1. Preheat the toaster oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the sliced eggplant on a cutting board and sprinkle it with kosher salt. Let sit for fifteen or twenty minutes. Then rinse the salt off and pat dry.
  3. Heat 2T of the olive oil in a frying pan large enough to hold the eggplant in one layer.
  4. Add the eggplant slices to the hot oil and cook for a minute on each side (it should be lightly colored, but not brown).
  5. Remove the eggplant, place on paper towels, and pat dry.
  6. Add the onion to the pan, and add the additional 1T of oil. Let the onion cook for five minutes on medium-low heat, until it softens and the fragrance starts to waft through your kitchen. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  7. Now add the ground beef or lamb, the tomatoes, and the spices.
  8. Cook for 10 minutes until the meat is browned.
  9. Layer the bottom of a small (6 inches or so) baking dish with half the eggplant. Add the cooked meat mixture on top. Then arrange the remaining eggplant on top.
  10. Put the dish in the toaster oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Moussaka Without Bechamel Sauce Substitutions and Variations

  • Pan fry some almonds in olive oil and add that to the meat mixture in the pan
  • Toss in some raisins
  • Top the moussaka with a mixture of yogurt, garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, and chopped cucumbers (sort of a tzatziki without the dill)
  • Substitute potatoes or zucchini for the eggplant
  • Add some chopped green pepper to the meat mixture

Moussaka Without Bechamel Tools and Ingredients

HIC Square Baking Dish small porcelain baking dish

I use this dish all the time.  It’s great for mini-moussaka (like this recipe), mac and cheese, peach crumble, triple chocolate cake, brownies, or ginger pear bread. You could even make quiche or a mini-meatloaf in it. The dish goes in the oven, the microwave, or the broiler and it’s dishwasher safe too. And since it’s pretty, you don’t need an extra serving dish (one less thing to wash).

Simply Organic Allspice

Despite the name, this isn’t a spice mixture; it’s from a berry.  Allspice is great for moussaka, and indispensable for meatballs, pies (pumpkin season is coming!), and chicken. Like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves it’s one of those warm/spicy ingredients that can add a little kick or a savory flavor depending on how you use it.  It’s sort of a cinnamony, clove, nutmeg taste.

More Beef Recipes

Use up the rest of the package of beef with these recipes.

Sloppy Joe Recipe for One Person

Small Batch Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Compound Butter Cheeseburger

Easy Italian Meatball Recipe for One




Pasta with Tomato Artichoke Sauce Recipe

Shortcut your dinner cooking routine with staples you already have in your pantry. This tomato artichoke pasta sauce recipe (also called Pasta Sauce Raphael) is ready in less than half an hour.  The original called for fresh tomatoes and hours of simmering. My version is faster and tastes just as good!

It’s flavored with rich, sweet tomatoes, a bit of earthy oregano and summery basil, plus a gentle kick from red pepper flakes and plenty of black pepper.

The only thing you need to get is the jar of marinated artichoke hearts. You likely already have the rest of the ingredients in  your larder (yay!).  Since the basil and oregano are dried, you don’t have to go and get fresh herbs.

The best way to approach this is to begin by making the pasta. Set the pasta pot on the stove with water and start to bring it to a boil. While that’s heating up, start working on the sauce.

Save the rest of the artichokes to make the recipe again, or add them to an antipasto platter with salami, fruit, olives, and cheese on a night you don’t feel like cooking.

The remaining tomatoes can go for Pasta alla Norma with Eggplant or Small Batch Spicy Stovetop Chili




Tomato Artichoke Pasta Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Category: dinner

Cuisine: Italian

one serving

Tomato Artichoke Pasta Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • Pasta
  • 4 oz. short pasta or tortellini
  • 2 quarts of water
  • pinch salt
  • Sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • generous pinch red pepper flakes
  • generous grinding of black pepper
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 6.5 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts (with marinade)
  • 4 tsp grated Romano cheese

Instructions

  1. Pasta
  2. Measure out the water into a large pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the pasta and salt and cook for about 8 minutes, until al dente.
  4. Sauce
  5. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium size saucepan.
  6. Add the onion, garlic, dried basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
  7. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the grinding of black pepper, the tomatoes, and a pinch of salt.
  9. Simmer for about 8 minutes.
  10. Add the artichokes and marinade and simmer another minute or two.
  11. If the sauce gets too thick, add some of the pasta water. This will also add extra flavor to the sauce.
  12. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the sauce.
  13. Add 3 teaspoons of the Romano cheese to the sauce and toss everything together so that the pasta is completely coated with sauce. Taste and correct seasoning (adding more salt and pepper if needed).
  14. Pour the pasta and sauce into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

Tomato Artichoke Pasta Sauce Recipe Substitutions and Variations

  • Add a spoonful of capers to the sauce
  • Intensify the tomato flavor with sun-dried tomatoes
  • Try Manchego or Parmesan cheese instead of Romano
  • If you don’t have the marinated artichokes, use the canned kind with some olive oil and white wine
  • If you don’t like artichokes (or have them handy) replace them with mushrooms and a tablespoon of Italian dressing

More Pasta Recipes

Pasta with Olives Tomatoes and Capers or Puttanesca

Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce

Penne with Feta Cheese, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Olives

Linguine with Garlic and Olive Oil




Cold Leftover Steak Salad with Goat Cheese and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Ever get stumped by what to do with leftover steak?  Steaks aren’t sold for one person, generally. The portions are too big!  It’s not enough for another steak dinner, and too much to toss without guilt.

You could make a steak sandwich, or try something a bit different and toss it into a steak salad. Add some veggies, goat cheese, and a homemade red wine vinaigrette and you’ve got a delicious dinner without any cooking.  Cold leftover steak salad is the perfect solution for hot summer days when the thought of turning on the stove is too much to bear.

This recipe is inspired by a steak salad on Food Network.  I liked the basic idea, but wasn’t about to buy three kinds of greens, extra red onions, or bleu cheese (since bleu cheese and I don’t get along).  I used just one kind of lettuce (green leaf) instead and swapped the bleu cheese for herbed goat cheese.

This is best with leftover steak (since it’s already cold), but you can pan fry a small piece if you want and let it rest (or chill in the fridge) while you do something else. Use the rest for a steak sandwich or in a stir fry.




 

Cold Leftover Steak Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Category: dinner

Cuisine: American

one serving

Cold Leftover Steak Salad

A great way to use up leftover steak. It's also a good way to get dinner fast, or on a hot day, without cooking anything.

Ingredients

    Salad
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups green leaf lettuce (or mixed greens)
  • 2-3 campari tomatoes, cut in wedges (or 4-6 cherry tomatoes)
  • sliced cucumber (about 1/4 cup)
  • one or two mini bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 oz. herbed goat cheese
  • 1/4 lb. leftover cooked steak, sliced thin
    Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 2T red wine vinegar
  • 2 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4C olive oil

Instructions

  1. Add the greens, tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper to a medium-size bowl.
  2. Toss everything together.
  3. Add the goat cheese and the steak.
  4. Put the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl or ramekin. Whisk together with a fork. Slowly add the oil, and mix everything together.
  5. Pour over the salad.

Notes

If you don't have leftover steak, pan fry it with salt, pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Cook for 5-8 minutes until desired doneness (depending on how thick the steak is).

Cold Leftover Steak Salad Substitutions and Variations

  • Add a bit of Dijon mustard to the vinaigrette
  • Go for the bleu cheese if you like it
  • Use a handful of mixed greens (or make the entire salad with them)
  • Add half a sliced scallion
  • Saute some shallots and add them to the dressing

More Salad Recipes

Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

Chopped Israeli Salad for One Person

Mixed Greens Egg Potato and Chicken Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

 




Cherry Tomato Basil Frittata

There are times when a simple recipe is just the thing. This cherry tomato basil frittata takes only a few minutes to prepare and only requires four primary ingredients (eggs, cheese, tomatoes, and basil).

Despite its simplicity, it’s full of flavor, even though it only has a few ingredients. You don’t necessarily have to fuss for hours or use a long list of twenty ingredients to get something delicious to eat.

The other nice thing is that it uses ordinary pantry/fridge staples you probably already have in your kitchen. No special shopping trip required!

This is adapted from a recipe I cut out from The New York Times (I think) long ago. I added the goat cheese, since I had a little bit left I wanted to use up. If you don’t have goat cheese, use something else. Any relatively mild cheese would do the trick.

I also reduced the servings, and adjusted the cooking time. The beauty of single servings is that it takes a lot less time to cook and prepare. The original recipe called for 6 eggs and a pound of tomatoes!

This is a great quick lunch, weekend brunch, or even breakfast. It only takes a few minutes to make, so it’s great when you’ve got a bad case of the “hungries.” Add a chunk of crusty bread and you’ve got a meal.




Cherry Tomato Basil Frittata

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 7 minutes

Total Time: 8 minutes

Category: lunch

Cuisine: American

one serving

Cherry Tomato Basil Frittata

A quick, easy light lunch or weekend brunch that's ready in under 10 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 T goat cheese
  • 4-5 basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3-5 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Instructions

  1. Break the eggs into a bowl, add the salt and pepper and mix together with a fork.
  2. Add the goat cheese and basil and stir gently.
  3. Add the oil to a small frying pan and heat on medium heat.
  4. Pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pan.Let it cook for 30 seconds to one minute, until the sides of the frittata start to set and look more solid. Pick up the pan and swirl it around so that the eggs cook evenly.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and cook for additional 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes, and gently remove the frittata from the pan with a spatula.

Substitutions and Variations for Cherry Tomato Basil Frittata

  • make it with mozzarella cheese or monterey jack instead of goat cheese
  • add some fresh spinach
  • use a pinch of red pepper flakes in addition to the black pepper
  • swap the plain goat cheese for herbed goat cheese
  • mix up the tomatoes: try one of those yellow/orange/red tomato blends

More Egg and Frittata Recipes

Frittata Recipe for One Person

Spinach and Egg Frittata

Shakshouka for One

Egg Chili Cheese Burrito Recipe




Easy Mediterranean Fish Stew

There are probably hundreds or thousands of variations of this easy Mediterranean fish stew. In San Francisco, they add shellfish and clam juice or fish stock and call it cioppino.  Sicilians make it with sea bass or orange roughy.  The Greeks use dill and potatoes, while the Portuguese add sausage.

This particular version has tomatoes, potatoes, and some citrus zest.  I adapted it from a New York Times recipe (which made a big pot of stew, enough for 6 people, and included the dreaded anchovies).  I also threw in some mushrooms (mostly because I wanted to use them up).  There’s no shellfish, and I made it with cod (which is more sustainable and budget-friendly than orange roughy or sea bass). I also swapped the chopped tomatoes they called for with tomato puree (that’s what I had, and it cooks faster).

There are two nice things about this recipe.  The first is that it’s super-easy to make.  Just make the stew, and then add the fish at the very end. Don’t overcook it!

The second is that you can make it in advance up to the point where you add the fish.  When you’re ready to eat, reheat the stew and add the fish once it’s hot.





Easy Mediterranean Fish Stew

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: Mediterranean

two or three servings

Easy Mediterranean Fish Stew

Easy Mediterranean fish stew with potatoes and tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 2 large mushrooms, sliced, about 2/3 C
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C pureed tomatoes
  • 2 C water (or a combination of water, white wine, and fish stock)
  • 1 medium potato, cut in chunks
  • 1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, 1/2 inch strip of orange zest, 1 sprig thyme, or about half teaspoon dried, pinch red pepper flakes), tied together with kitchen string or put in a tea ball
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 pound cod, cut into large chunks

Instructions

  1. Mash up the garlic with a pinch of salt. You want it to turn into a paste.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven.
  3. Add the onion, carrot, mushrooms, and salt and cook on medium-low for five minutes until the vegetables soften.
  4. Add the mashed garlic and cook for a minute.
  5. Add the tomato puree and cook 10 minutes. Add the water or wine , the potatoes, more salt and pepper to taste, the bouquet garni and bring to a simmer.
  6. Reduce the heat to low so the mixture just barely bubbles, and let that cook for 20-25 minutes. Taste it and adjust the seasonings.
  7. Remove the garni/tea ball. Now add the fish and simmer 5 minutes.

Substitutions and Variations for Easy Mediterranean Fish Stew

  • Replace the water with fish stock, clam juice, or white wine
  • Add some capers
  • Double the garlic and add some pepperoncini (Italian hot peppers)
  • Vary the fish by adding some seafood such as clams, mussels, or shrimp
  • Make it Portuguese style with chicken broth (as the liquid), green bell pepper, potatoes, and sausage

More Mediterranean and Fish Recipes

Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes

Pan Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

Salmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

 




 

Pasta with Olives Tomatoes and Capers or Puttanesca

In a hurry for dinner?  Pasta is your friend.  This pasta dish with olives, tomatoes, and capers (or pasta puttanesca) has a slightly racy name.  Nobody really knows why.  One theory says the dish was popular with the ladies of the evening because it was easy to cook and the ingredients were cheap.  Another says that the sauce’s aroma helped lure in customers.

Whatever the reason, it certainly is budget friendly and you can make it in about 20 minutes.

Whoever is responsible created a dish that’s packed with flavor.  There’s pungent little bits of garlic, slightly briny capers, and Niçoise olives. 

Capers, in case you don’t know, are the buds of a Mediterranean plant that are picked and then pickled (try to say that three times fast).  I always thought Niçoise  olives were a variety, but I found out today that they’re really called Le Calletier.  Niçoise is just the method of curing them.

I adapted this recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. They suggested using whole canned tomatoes, and then squeezing them out and chopping them up.  That’s too messy for me. You can use crushed tomatoes, purée, or even tomato sauce in a pinch.

Traditionally, this recipe also includes anchovies.  However, I am a fish wimp. The strongest fish flavor I like is salmon.  Also, anchovies were $32 a pound.  Nope. Not happening. Nuh uh.

The other great thing about pasta puttanesca is that you can use canned tomatoes, jarred capers, dry pasta, and spices you probably already have sitting on your shelf.

Save the rest of the tomatoes for pasta alla norma.

The rest of the capers will keep indefinitely in the fridge once opened.  They’re great with smoked salmon, lemon, and dill for a weekend brunch.




 

Pasta Olives Tomatoes Capers or Puttanesca

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: Italian

one serving

Pasta Olives Tomatoes Capers or Puttanesca

Pungent, earthy, and ready in minutes, this pasta puttanesca goes great with a full-bodied red wine. Pour yourself a glass and enjoy a great meal.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb spaghetti, linguine or long, dried pasta (about the diameter of a quarter)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 can (use half of the 15 oz size if you can find it), otherwise 1/4 of a 28 oz can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch dried red pepper flakes
  • 2T black Niçoise olives
  • 1T drained capers
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

Instructions

  1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a wide saucepan (or a Dutch oven)
  2. Add a pinch of salt and the spaghetti; cook the pasta until al dente (tender, but not mushy). Drain right away and transfer to a small pasta plate or bowl.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, combine the tomatoes and the olive oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  4. Once the tomato/oil mixture is boiling, individually add the oregano, pepper flakes, olives, capers, and garlic. Stir after each additional ingredient.
  5. Turn the heat down a bit and keep cooking the sauce until it thickens. Adding a bit of the pasta water will help thicken it.
  6. Pour the sauce over the pasta and serve. A chunk of crusty bread will help sop up the sauce.

More Pasta Recipes

Pasta with Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Chicken Sausage

Pistachio Pesto Pasta Recipe

Penne with Feta Cheese, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Olives

Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce




Shakshouka for One

Shakshouka doesn’t roll off the tongue when you try to say it.  Maybe it’s a Middle Eastern market?  Or a new folk dance?  It is Middle Eastern spicy poached eggs, either Tunisian or Israeli (depending who you ask, or which ingredients you use). Make it with onions and bell peppers, it’s Israeli.  Serve it up with feta or potatoes and it’s Tunisian.

This shakshouka for one recipe is actually two recipes that I mind melded together (one from column A and one from column B) to get what I wanted.

Also, for some reason, I thought it had spinach.  So, I washed and chopped 1/4 C of spinach. Only to find there was no spinach in either recipe.  I added it anyway. Why waste perfectly good spinach?

The real recipe ingredients are poached eggs, tomato, onions, bell peppers, and some cayenne for kick.

I’m calling it lunch here, but it works well as a light dinner too. You can put the whole thing together in only 20 or 25 minutes.

So, easy, and no fussing. The hardest part is making sure you don’t break the egg yolks.

Serve it with lots of crusty bread to sop up the sauce.




Shakshouka for One

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

one serving

Shakshouka for One

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • generous pinch cayenne
  • 2 mini orange bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 C pureed tomatoes
  • 2 T water
  • salt to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C chopped spinach

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a medium size frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring every once in a while. The onion should be soft and slightly browned (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the chopped garlic, cumin, cayenne, and chopped bell peppers.
  3. Cook, stirring, until the garlic gets soft. This should take another minute or two.
  4. Add the tomatoes and the water to the pan. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until it gets a bit thick.
  5. After the mixture has cooked about 10 minutes, season with salt.
  6. Carefully break the eggs over the tomato mixture. Cook until the whites set (this should be about 5 minutes). Spoon the sauce over the white part of the eggs. Be careful not to break them.
  7. Sprinkle the spinach over the eggs and cook for a minute.

Substitutions and Variations for Shakshouka for One

  • Slice and fry up a potato in some olive oil, then proceed with the rest of the recipe
  • Add some sliced spicy sausage (merguez would work beautifully)
  • Sprinkle it with some feta cheese
  • If you do break the eggs, just scramble them

More Egg Recipes

Spinach and Egg Frittata for One Person

Egg Chili Cheese Burrito Recipe

Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person




Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

After all the soup, turkey, and holiday food, it’s time for something a bit simpler. Until, of course, the next holiday comes along.  The market had some beautiful Campari tomatoes on sale, right next to the fresh mozzarella.  I couldn’t resist.  So, I put that together with some basil, leftover roast chicken, and a fresh loaf of ciabatta bread. Voila! The chicken caprese panini sandwich.

This is more of a guide than a recipe.  There’s not a lot of measuring.

I started with leftover roast chicken, so I didn’t need to make the chicken.  If you already have cooked chicken, just pop it into the sandwich.  Some leftover rotisserie chicken would work nicely. All you have to do now is grill the bread, melt the cheese, and add the tomatoes and basil.

If not, see the substitutions and variations section below for ideas on how to cook the chicken,

The bread does tend to slurp up the olive oil, but really it’s worth it! The sandwich gets golden brown, and the cheese is gooey and melty. It’s your favorite childhood grilled cheese sandwich for grownups!

Do use the fresh mozzarella if you can get it. It’s far more flavorful (and I think it melts better) than the pre-packaged kind.



Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 13 minutes

Category: sandwich

Cuisine: Italian

one serving

Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Turn a caprese salad into a full lunch with some chicken and grilled bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 slices ciabatta bread (or a small baguette, you want something crusty)
  • 1/4 C shredded cooked chicken
  • 1-2 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 1 Campari tomato (or half a small beefsteak tomato), sliced
  • 2-4 basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a small frying pan
  2. Add the two slices of bread, side by side.
  3. Let the bread cook until it turns golden brown (about 3-5 minutes).
  4. Add the cooked chicken and the mozzarella cheese. Put the second slice of bread on top of the first one, to make a sandwich. If you like freshly cooked tomato, add it with the cheese. If not, slide it in after you remove the sandwich from the pan.
  5. Cover the pan and let the sandwich cook for 30 seconds or so until the cheese melts.
  6. Add the tomato (if you haven't already) and the basil.

Substitutions and Variations for Chicken Caprese Panini Sandwich

  • Saute some mushrooms (do that first) and add them to the sandwich at the end.
  • Start with fresh chicken breasts (season with salt/pepper/balsamic vinegar/olive oil) then gently cook in olive oil
  • Or, season the chicken with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Cook that in a bit of olive oil
  • Add some avocado
  • Get an extra serving of veggies and put in a few spinach leaves
  • Or, try cooking it in the broiler instead (less oil needed)

More Sandwich Recipes

Bacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich Recipe

Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

 




Chopped Israeli Salad for One Person

Chopped Israeli salad isn’t quite what you might assume. It doesn’t have lettuce or carrots.  It’s not even eaten when you’d expect.  Israeli salad isn’t for lunch or dinner. Instead people eat it for breakfast with eggs, hummus, pita bread, fish, and olives. Not being much of a standard American breakfast person, I approve!

Of course, all of those things make a great lunch too, especially on a hot day when  you don’t want to get anywhere near a stove or an oven. I adapted this recipe from a comment on Tori Avery’s web site. 

She had a recipe for Israeli salad, and a commenter, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, pointed out that there’s a Persian version called “salad e-shirazi.”

She said it calls for red onion and parsley (neither of which I had).  However, I did decide to follow her suggestion and use lime juice instead of lemon juice and add mint.

Make sure to use either Persian cucumbers or English cucumbers (rather than the standard kind).  The Persian (or mini) cucumbers are shorter and thinner than standard cucumbers and usually sold in sealed packages.  The English (or hothouse) cucumbers are the long, skinny ones individually wrapped in plastic wrap.

They’re easier to cut up and you don’t have to peel them! Also, the standard cukes tend to be more bitter.

I cut everything up, mixed it together, and left it out on the counter for a couple of hours (there’s nothing to spoil quickly) so that the flavors would blend.  Also, if you put tomatoes in the fridge, they start to lose their flavor.

You can serve this salad with the pita and etc. I mentioned above for a light meal or as a side dish with a sandwich or some eggs. You can make plain scrambled eggs, a frittata, or keep the Persian theme going and serve it with Persian eggs. I added about 1/4 C of eggplant I had left over (recipe here and it’s even for one person).

There’s no picture of the eggs because I was hungry and started eating before I remembered to take one!





Chopped Israeli Salad for One

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

one serving

Chopped Israeli Salad for One

A versatile salad that works for breakfast, as a side dish with a sandwich, or with pita, feta, and olives for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 C Persian cucumber (about half a cucumber)
  • 1/3 C tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes, you can use beefsteak)
  • 1 tsp onion, diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper
  • sprig of fresh mint (mix a few leaves in the salad, use the rest for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Cut the cucumber and tomatoes into small chunks. The smaller the better. I cut the cucumber in half, then cut the half lengthwise, then gradually smaller dice. Do the tomatoes the same way.
  2. Dice the onion.
  3. Add the vegetables to a small bowl.
  4. Add the olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper and mint.
  5. Toss to mix thoroughly.
  6. You can eat this right away, but it's better to let it sit for an hour or two to let the flavors blend.


Substitutions and Variations for Chopped Israeli Salad

  • Try the full standard Persian version, “salad-e-shirazi,” which is made with seeded cukes and tomatoes, red onion, parsley, mint, salt, pepper, lemon juice (or lime juice) and a bit of olive oil.
  • Make it more filing with some crumbled feta cheese.
  • Add some red bell pepper (or try orange or yellow for more color), cut into tiny pieces
  • Chop some radishes and add them to the salad
  • The Book of Jewish Food has a variation popular with Baghdadi Jews in India: add grated ginger and some chopped chili peppers.

Ingredients and Tools for Chopped Israeli Salad

Oxo Lemon/Lime Reamer

You can squeeze the lime with your hands, but it’s a bit messy.  It’s much easier (and neater) to use a reamer instead. And since it’s made by Oxo, it’s comfortable to use.  Tip: Leave the fruit out to get to room temperature (or zap it in the microwave for 5 seconds). It will juice more easily.

Oxo Salad Chopper (mezzaluna) and bowl

You can use a sharp knife to cut up your salad, but it’s even easier with a salad chopper.  The double blades chop the salad, veggies, cheese, etc into tiny little pieces. And it takes a lot less effort. Just rock your hand back and forth.

More One Person Salad Recipes

Mixed Greens Egg Potato and Chicken Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Blueberry Spinach Salad with Feta Cheese and Walnuts

Cottage Cheese Yogurt and Fruit Salad

Chicken Salad Recipe with Greek Yogurt and Dried Currants




Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes for One

The source of this recipe for chicken with olives and tomatoes will probably surprise you. It’s a North African recipe from a Jewish cookbook.  You probably think of lox and bagels and matzo balls when you think of Jewish cuisine, but it’s really far more varied than that. This is just one example.  My recipe for Moroccan chicken and bean soup was adapted from the same cookbook.

This recipe looks a bit complicated, but it really isn’t.  The flavors of the chicken, olives, garlic, and a bit of ginger make it rich and delicious (with a hint of spiciness).  It’s not a quick meal though, so save it for when you have more time (or on a weekend).

Try to use pitted olives, it will make the whole thing much easier!




Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes for One

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Category: entree

Cuisine: North African

one serving

Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes for One

North African chicken recipe with olives, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. It's probably not what you expect from Jewish cuisine!

Ingredients

  • 1T olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 2T pureed tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
  • tiny pinch powdered saffron
  • 3/4 C water
  • 5-6 green pitted olives
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • pinch coriander

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Cook them until they wilt.
  2. Add the garlic and the ginger and stir thoroughly.
  3. Next add the chicken, turning it regularly, and cook for a minute or two until they get slightly brown.
  4. Add the tomatoes and the saffron to the pan..
  5. Season with salt and pepper (not too much salt, because the olives are salty)
  6. Pour in the water (it should just cover the chicken)
  7. Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes.
  8. Turn the chicken every ten minutes or so and check to make sure the water hasn't evaporated. Add more water if necessary.
  9. While the chicken is cooking, heat some water in a small saucepan. When it comes to a boil, add the olives. Cook for 30 seconds or so. Then drain them and add to the chicken mixture.
  10. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  11. Add the lemon juice and the coriander and serve.

Notes

A note about the saffron. I realize it's hideously expensive. Someone brought me a container of saffron threads rom the Middle East (where it's dirt cheap), so I don't mind so much. The powdered version is a bit cheaper though.

More Recipes with Olives or Chicken

Penne with Feta Cheese, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Olives

Summer Pasta with Green Olives and Feta Cheese

Chili Citrus Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

Chicken Thighs with Peaches and Ginger Recipe for One

Tools and Ingredients for Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes


Spanish Saffron

Soak this in a bit of hot water before you use it. Saffron adds a flavor that’s hard to describe, as well as beautiful reddish-yellow color. Use it for Moroccan dishes (like this one), or for Indian food. Just a tiny bit will do the trick.


Pitted Castelvetrano Olives

Buying pre-pitted olives saves a lot of time (and waste). Use this for this chicken dish, serve them with an antipasto platter, or put them in pasta. Or, add some olive oil, garlic, and rosemary, and marinate them. Serve that with a cheese platter.

The Book of Jewish Food

This is part cookbook and part travel diary. The author includes brief histories of the communities that created the dishes, and how they adapted local cuisine to suit religious restrictions. There’s recipes for the expected kugel, split pea soup, and chopped liver. But then it goes off to Spain, Baghdad, and India. From there you get leek meatballs, eggplant fritters, chicken with rice croquettes, borekas, lamb with raisins and almonds, and pumpkin kofta curry.