Flying solo? Four single-serve midweek dinner recipes for when you're cooking for one

Treat yourself: Philly-style broccolini, mushroom and cheese sandwich.
Treat yourself: Philly-style broccolini, mushroom and cheese sandwich. Photo: Nikos Frazier/TNS

When I was single, I usually cooked enough food for at least two meals – dinner one night and leftovers the next.

It was easier that way, and more economical. Also, I'm lazy, and getting more than one meal out of one day's cooking appealed to my slothful side. A dinner of corned beef turns into corned beef sandwiches the next day and corned beef hash for breakfast.

But sometimes you just. Don't. Want. Leftovers.

Sometimes, you truly want to cook just one meal for just one person: you. And cereal doesn't count.

So I decided to explore four takes on cooking for one: beef mince, pork, salmon and vegetarian.

Salmon Fillet with a Lemon, Tarragon and Garlic Sauce. Single serve recipes for Good Food via TNS portal. Please credit Nikos Frazier. Single use only.

Photo: Nikos Frazier/TNS

Salmon fillet with a lemon, tarragon and garlic sauce

I sauteed my salmon in a frypan, giving it a delicious, crispy sear. But the sauce is so great you could also bake the salmon, or even poach it. I'm sure it would go well with other fish and even prawns. For that matter, it would probably be excellent with chicken, too.

INGREDIENTS

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1 salmon fillet (about 115g)

salt and pepper

1½ tbsp mayonnaise

1½ tsp Dijon mustard

3 tsp olive oil, divided

¼ tsp garlic, finely diced

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 tsp lemon juice

1½ tsp chopped fresh tarragon

METHOD

1. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

2. Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, 1½ tsp of the oil, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, tarragon and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Put the remaining 1½ tsp oil in a cast-iron or nonstick frypan over medium-high heat, and heat until the oil shimmers. Cook the salmon flesh-side down for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how well-cooked you want it to be. Flip and cook the skin side for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with the sauce.

Serves 1

Cinnamon-Apple Pork Chop photographed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo studio on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in St. Louis, Mo. (Nikos Frazier/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS) Single serve recipes for Good Food via TNS portal. Please credit Nikos Frazier. Single use only.

Photo: Nikos Frazier/TNS

Cinnamon-apple pork chops

The traditional accompaniment to pork chops is apple, so I was thinking along those lines when I came upon a recipe that stopped me in my tracks. It is a pork chop with apples, yes, but the apples are sweetened with brown sugar and flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg and pecans.

Essentially, it is a pork chop with the filling to an apple pie. It isn't nearly as sweet as that, but it's basically the same idea.

And how is it? It's excellent. It's pork with a warm apple glaze. It's a little hard to track down where the recipe originally came from – it's swirling somewhere in the mists of the Internet – but somebody out there is a genius.

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp butter, divided

1 pork loin chop

2 tsp brown sugar

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

2 pinches salt

1 medium-sized tart apple, such as Granny Smith, thinly sliced

1½ tsp chopped pecans (optional)

METHOD

1. In a small frypan, heat 1 teaspoon butter over medium heat until hot. Add pork chop, cook 2 to 3 minutes on one side, then 1 to 2 minutes on the other side until done (no pink juice runs out when cut). Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

2. Remove chop; keep warm. Add apples, pecans, brown sugar mixture and remaining 1 teaspoon butter to pan; cook and stir until tender. Serve with pork chop.

Serves 1

Chuckwagon Skillet photographed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo studio on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in St. Louis, Mo. (Nikos Frazier/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS) Single serve recipes for Good Food via TNS portal. Please credit Nikos Frazier. Single use only.

Photo: Nikos Frazier/TNS

'Chuckwagon skillet'

It This one-pan wonder reminds me of what I imagine well-fed cowboys used to eat on the range, so I called it Chuckwagon Skillet. If you start cooking the potatoes first, everything comes together at the same time, and you can make it all in one frypan. That's important for solo diners.

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup corn kernels; preferably fresh, but rinsed and dried if from a can

1 tsp butter

1 cup diced potato

salt

1½ tbsp chopped onion

1 tsp finely diced jalapeno, or to taste (optional)

about 115g beef mince

¼ cup canned kidney beans, rinsed

¼ cup canned diced tomatoes

METHOD

1. Place a frypan over medium-high heat, spray well with nonstick spray and saute corn until spotted with brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

2. Melt butter in same pan and add diced potatoes and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, tossing or stirring frequently. Add onions, cover, and cook until they are soft and the potatoes are browned and tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. If using jalapeno, add it and cook for 1 minute.

3. Stir in beef mince and cook, chopping the meat with a spoon or spatula, until thoroughly cooked. Stir in beans, tomatoes and reserved corn; cook until warmed through. Taste for seasoning.

Serves 1

Philly-style broccolini, portobello and cheese sandwich

This is a vegetarian version of my favourite Philly cheese steak sandwich. The greens play beautifully off the meaty mushrooms, and there is just enough grease to make it great. A couple of slices of American-style cheese are melted in, which makes it absolutely gooey and divine. You could also use provolone.

INGREDIENTS

3 tsp vegetable oil, divided

½ garlic clove, thinly sliced

pinch of crushed red pepper

85g broccolini, ends trimmed

about 1½ tsp water

salt and pepper

1½ tsp balsamic vinegar

2 medium portobello mushrooms, gills removed, thinly sliced

2 slices American-style cheese

20cm long bread roll, split lengthwise and toasted

METHOD

1. Heat about 1½ teaspoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Stir in broccolini, water and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook until broccolini is bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Off heat, stir in vinegar, then transfer to bowl.

2. Heat remaining 1½ teaspoons oil in now-empty pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release their liquid, 6 to 8 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until moisture has evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown.

3. Stir broccolini back into frypan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and top the vegetables with the cheese. Cover and cook until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Fold melted cheese thoroughly into mushroom mixture, and place on roll.

Serves 1

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