Recipes for one
By Joe Yonan
The Washington Post
Author Suzanne Pirret includes recipes for typical takeout dishes in her book as a way of encouraging solo cooks to break free of the “white origami boxes,” as she calls them. This can come together more quickly than most Chinese restaurants could deliver it, and it’s less greasy than many restaurant versions.
Serve over rice. Serves 1.
Adapted from Pirret’s “The Pleasure Is All Mine” (William Morrow, 2009).General Tsao’s Chicken6 ounces boneless skinless (uncooked) chicken breast or chicken tenderloins, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
Dash ground white pepper
1 large egg white, beaten
4 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. water
1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
1-inch piece peeled ginger root, finely grated (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 tsp. sugar, or more to taste
1 tsp. white wine vinegar, or more to taste
1/4 C. homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
Peanut oil, for frying
1 scallion, white and light-green parts, cut into thin slices on the diagonal
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Combine the chicken, soy sauce, white pepper, egg white and 3 teaspoons of the cornstarch in a small bowl; stir until the mixture clumps together.
Use a fork to whisk together the remaining teaspoon of cornstarch and the water in a liquid measuring cup to form a paste. Add the garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar and chicken broth; mix well to form a sauce. Taste and add sugar and/or vinegar as needed.
Heat enough of the oil to measure 1/2 inch deep in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels.
Add the chicken to the skillet or wok in a single layer, then stir-fry immediately a few times, scraping it from the bottom to keep the chicken from sticking. Cook for 2 or 3 min
utes or until the chicken is golden and crisped. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer it to the paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
Pour out all but 1 teaspoon of the oil, then return the skillet or wok to medium-high heat.
Add the scallion and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the sauce and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
Return the chicken to skillet or wok, stirring to heat through and coat with the sauce. Eat hot.
Nutrition per serving (using low-sodium chicken broth): 342 calories, 44 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 99 mg cholesterol, 522 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar.
The breezy style of this pasta recipe is perfectly suited to the solo cook. Author Deborah Madison calls for a range of amounts: 1/4 to 1/2 a head of cauliflower, “as much as you want to eat, by eye”; 2 to 4 ounces of pasta; a handful of parsley leaves; and the like. More-exact amounts are given here, but feel free to adjust according to taste. After all, you have only yourself to please.
Adapted from “What We Eat When We Eat Alone,” by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin (Gibbs Smith, 2009).
Pasta With Spicy Cauliflower and Walnuts
1 1/2 C. (about 5 ounces) cauliflower florets, broken or cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ounces dried whole-wheat pasta, such as penne or rigatoni
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
Leaves from 2 to 4 stems of flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 large clove garlic, minced (1 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 C. walnuts, coarsely chopped
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the cauliflower and cook for about 2 minutes or until it is just starting to become tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a bowl, then add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook until the pasta is just al dente (according to the package directions).
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute, then add the parsley, garlic, walnuts and the blanched cauliflower; stir to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low to keep the mixture warm.
When the pasta is ready, use a slotted spoon to add it to the skillet, then toss to incorporate. Taste, and adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle with the cheese once the portion is plated.
Nutrition per serving: 601 calories, 21 g protein, 54 g carbohydrates, 38 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 478 mg sodium, 12 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar.