Dinner for One?

Move over TV dinners, check out these gourmet recipes fit for one

You’re worth it. You really are. You’re worth the time and effort to cook for yourself and eat well as a party of one. As a young professional, college student or empty nester, you know it can be a challenge to cook for just one or maybe two. Admittedly there are nights when you get home and the time or energy just isn’t there, or your math skills are on hiatus while you try to cut down a familiar recipe to serve one.

Katie Desin, Health and Wellness Coordinator for St. Vincent Healthcare says planning is key. She works one-on-one to improve people’s lifestyle with exercise and what they eat. Her top tip? Make larger meals, a.k.a. batch cooking, and put the cooked meals in individual serving size containers in the freezer. When your energy for cooking is low, dinner is just a few minutes in the microwave away. A slow cooker, she says, is another ally in the kitchen. Make dinner for one night and sock away the extras in the freezer for future meals. Buying in bulk is another valuable tip. Buy larger quantities of chicken or beef and divide up the bounty when you get home from the store, placing single size servings in freezer bags to have at the ready.

Produce can be trickier. Desin, again, suggests a little planning, coming up with different ways to use the produce over several days. When in doubt, she says bags of frozen vegetables are also a solo cook’s good friend.

On those days when you want to indulge, fear not, top caterer Marcella Tatarka of Beyond Basil Catering, has done the math and created a quartet of solo meals that will have you swearing off frozen entrees for life. And a nice twist to these solo meals, they can be doubled when the occasion might arise when you can cook for two.
Recipe By: Marcella Tatarka, Beyond Basil Catering

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
3-4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 c. sun dried tomato in olive oil
2 T. toasted pine nuts
3 T. sliced mozzarella
1 T. (or less) flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and pat dry chicken. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit halfway through chicken breast to create cavity for the stuffing. In a bowl, mix basil, tomatoes and pine nuts. Add more pine nuts or basil to your liking, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle chicken breast all over with salt and pepper. Dust outside of chicken with flour. Stuff chicken cavity with basil/ tomato mixture. Tuck the sliced cheese inside cavity. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in oven-proof skillet. Cook chicken breast until browned on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Place skillet in oven and cook until chicken breast is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before eating.


Recipe By: Marcella Tatarka, Beyond Basil Catering

4 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 lime -juiced
2 ounces of diced green chilies
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. ancho chili powder
1/2 c. spinach - rinsed and julienned
Sour cream
1/4 avocado (sliced)
2 whole wheat flour tortilla shells

Cut up chicken into chunks and brown in a pan using cooking spray or olive oil. Add lime juice, chilies and spices and continue cooking chicken until done.  Heat tortillas in a skillet or microwave until warm. Build your tacos! Chicken, spinach, tomato, cheese, sour cream, and avocado. Don't forget a cold Margarita! Cooking tip: This recipe is also great using fish. Just be sure to pick a white meat, flakey fish. Cod is a great choice.


Recipe By: Marcella Tatarka, Beyond Basil Catering


1/4 lb. dried spaghetti
1/8 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic cloves, peeled
2 T. prosciutto
1 t. red pepper flakes, plus more if desired
2 T. chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 t. chopped fresh basil leaves
1 t. chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 c. Parmesan Cheese, shredded

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain pasta in a colander, reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. The reserved pasta water will help create the sauce. Do not rinse pasta with water – you want to retain the pasta's natural starches so that the sauce will stick. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and prosciutto. Sauté until light brown and fragrant. It's important not to burn the garlic or else it will become bitter. Remove and discard the browned garlic. Add the red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute. Carefully add the reserved pasta water and stir to combine. Place the spaghetti into the pan and mix well for 1 minute. Toss with Parmesan cheese. Remove pan from heat and top with fresh herbs.


Recipe By: Beyond Basil Catering
Editor's Note: This recipe actually can serve up to 4


1 carrot, coarsely shredded
1/4 c. shredded Diakon Radish
1/2 Serrano chili
2 T. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 t. sugar
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 t. Sambal Oelek (chili relish in a jar)
1 t. tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 oz. ground pork
1/4 t. lemon grass
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 t. fresh ginger, grated
1/2 t. curry powder
2 t. vegetable oil
2 t. unsalted butter, softened
1 French roll, split
4 cilantro sprigs

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, toss the carrots, radish and chili with the rice vinegar and sugar and let stand for 10 minutes; drain.  In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the Sambal Oelek, tomato paste and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mix pork with lemon grass, ginger, green onion and curry powder. Form the meat into 6-inch-long oval patties, about 1 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Cook the patties over moderate heat, turning once, until medium, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, spread the butter on the cut sides of the baguette. Set the bread cut side up on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Spread the Sambal-spiked mayonnaise on the bread and top baguette section with a burger patty, pickled shredded carrots, and cilantro sprigs. Close the sandwiches and serve hot.

TIP: The make-ahead Tabasco mayonnaise and pickled shredded carrots can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

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