Cooking for One: 9 Great Solo Meals

Step away from the takeout box—making food for yourself doesn't have to suck.

  • Rhonda's Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Pangritata for One. There’s so much to love about this dish: the yolks coat the pasta while the whites provide little puffs of heartiness throughout the peppery, garlicky tangles. The pangritata tops it all off by adding bits of crunch and bright bursts of lemon and rosemary. And it’s cheap, easy, and dead quick.
  • Suya Swordfish. Swordfish's meaty taste and texture take to grilling beautifully. The peanut marinade enhances the partnership, cloaking each strip of fish in a spicy, tangy, slightly sweet sauce that caramelizes gently on the grill. A spritz of fresh lime juice before eating is a must. Note: the original recipe calls for nearly a pound of swordfish. Feel free to adjust the portion to your appetite.
  • Roasted Radicchio and Shrimp with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette. A radicchio salad that brings bitter, sour, and sweet together in perfect balance, this dish is as good warm from the oven as it is at room temperature. You can probably scale back to just one head of radicchio and a half pound of shrimp, but we’re not going to tell you to trim the amount of bacon.
  • Cowboy Rubbed Rib Eye with Chocolate Stout Pan Sauce. Ground coffee, smoked paprika, cumin, ancho chile, and brown sugar form an earthy, flinty rub that smells appealingly of wood smoke. This recipe borrows a smart technique from Indian cooking and has you toast the spices over low heat before rubbing them on the steak. Then it's just a matter of searing it in a very hot iron pan and finishing the sauce with some chocolate brown stout, beef stock, and a lump of butter.
  • Cider Brined Pork with Calvados, Mustard, and Thyme. Thick-cut pork chops are brined in cider and herbs so that they stay juicy and develop a rich, caramel crust as they sauté. A quick pan sauce is then built on the ingredients in the brine. Starting with the drippings, you deglaze with Calvados, then add shallots, thyme, more cider, and cream for suppleness. It may seem like this recipe makes a lot of sauce for two servings, but even with just one pork chop, we suggest you make all of it—you'll find yourself mopping up as much as possible with each bite of pork, and you can always gently reheat it and serve over grits and eggs the next morning.
  • Patty Melt. This patty melt will take you back to the 1970s, and you'll want to stay there until you've enjoyed every last succulent bite. You season the burger meat with mustard and Worcestershire, slap and nudge it into a patty, and fry it up in a pan. Then you layer the burger on rye bread (which is toasted in a pan with butter and topped with Gruyere), and sauteed onion and mushrooms. Cut all the measurements in half if you really only want one burger. Otherwise, make two and save the remainder for tomorrow’s lunch.
  • Mussels for One. Here you have all the flavors that go so well with mussels—fennel, saffron, thyme, tomatoes, vermouth, and of course (something we love!), Pernod. You do a little chopping, and then add the ingredients a few at a time to the pot. In a few short minutes, you have a fragrant and delicious mussel stew, a dinner-for-one that underlines the importance of treating yourself well, even when alone.
  • Savory Gruyere Stuffed French Toast. This salty and protein-rich toast hits a lot of high points. There's nothing quite like cutting into your French toast and finding a gooey, melty cheese interior. Naturally, we’d gladly eat this for breakfast, too.
  • Herbed Chicken Cutlets with Panko and Parmesan. By pounding the chicken breast as thinly as possible (just cover it with plastic wrap and have at it with a rolling pin—very cathartic!) and keeping the heat fairly high, you'll end up with a crisp, evenly browned cutlet and juicy, tender meat in under 5 minutes. Make just one cutlet for dinner tonight, or make enough to repurpose throughout the week.

As satisfying as eggs for dinner can be, there’s more to life than a runny yolk and jam-topped toast—especially when you ate the same meal for breakfast. It’s time to embrace eating dinner alone and to treat yourself as well as you treat others when dinner calls for additional place settings. You’ll feel better in the end, and you can cash in on the fact that there are no compromises when it comes to dining alone. Bring on the stinky cheese, raw garlic, and anchovies.

Click through the gallery above to get all of the recipes.

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