Who says you can’t whip up a delectable gourmet dinner for yourself? A solo supper can be so much more than cold leftover rotisserie chicken or a trip to the drive-through. I often crave pasta and cheese in all its glorious forms, but when I want to enjoy it with less guilt, I opt for lightening up a few of the usual ingredients, like using low-fat milk and stock instead of heavy cream or cream cheese, and reducing the amount of butter with olive oil. Trust me, this lighter version leaves nothing to be desired.
“Skinny” Mushroom Alfredo for One
The dish may sound complicated for your average weeknight dinner, but it’s not. By doctoring up a few ready-to-go ingredients, like frozen corn and microwave potatoes, we’re skipping some of the hard work but not sacrificing flavor. So let’s get to work and get a delicious, healthful meal on the table in under 30 minutes!
Spicy Flounder With Chipotle-Lime Butter
OK, so you overindulged this Thanksgiving weekend – everybody, just calm down. For a light and satisfying transition back into normal eating, try this super colorful, super easy, and super flavorful pasta dish packed with veggies and lean protein. Psst…there’s a hidden serving of veggies if you use the veggie-based pasta (per 4-oz portion).
Very Veggie Pasta
Few things marry as well as bacon, egg, and cheese. In Italian, carbonara describes any sauce made with egg, cheese, pepper, and some kind of cured meat, whether it be bacon, Pancetta, or ham. For this recipe, we’re using Pancetta, an Italian cured pork belly that tastes very similar to your typical bacon. It’s a super simple, easy recipe that packs a powerful punch of flavor and comfort—the warm, cheesy saucy kind. This is definitely the type of pasta you indulge in sparingly, but when you do, savor every bite.
Spaghetti Carbonara with Pancetta
This dish is a perfect marriage of sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy, officiated by good ole’ soul-satisfying pasta. For this recipe, I have to send a special shout out to Trader Joe’s for providing the fresh butternut squash ravioli. Trader Joe’s fresh pastas are inexpensive, flavorful on their own, and cook within 3-4 minutes: what more could you possibly want for getting a quick, tasty dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes? But if you’re really feeling ambitious, may I suggest that you pair this sauce with my recipe for homemade butternut squash stuffed shells?
Butternut Squash Ravioli With Pistachio-Parmesan Butter Sauce
As I get more comfortable with basic cooking techniques with my go-to ingredients, I sometimes get the burst of courage and inspiration to try something more difficult. This time, inspiration took the form of salmon with beurre blanc (which is French for “omg-I-died-and-went-to-heaven-velvety-awesome white butter sauce”). To even out the challenges of cooking a protein and sauce I’ve never made before, I kept the other parts of this dish simple—virtually foolproof steam-in-the-bag fingerling potatoes and simply dressed green beans. And, to help ensure my salmon would be evenly cooked, I bought same-sized pre-portioned filets from the fish counter and used the foil-packet technique, which I read is good for beginners. The result? A spotless plate, newfound confidence in cooking salmon, and recurring dreams of drinking beurre blanc by the gallon.
Salmon with Beurre Blanc, Haricot Vert, and Ricotta-Mashed Fingerling Potatoes
…I’ve got just the thing for that. If you’re like me (and the thousands of Americans) who suddenly felt the need to crash diet come January 1, you’re probably starting to lose willpower at this point, as your round-the-clock stomach pains have manifested into feelings of irritability and anger, making you lash out at people for no apparent reason. The truth this, I don’t like my hangry self, and neither do the other drivers on the road. So I devised a simple, satisfying dish that won’t wreak havoc of your FitBit calorie counter. I calculated an estimated 800 calories per plate, which isn’t terrible considering that this is a “treat” for us Resolution Dieters – baked chicken is better than fried, olive oil is a good fat for the heart, and you can substitute a healthier pasta option if you like (eg, veggie-fortified, spaghetti squash). And the best part is – it has a CARB and BUTTER.
Baked Parmesan Chicken With Lemony Tri-Color Angel Hair
This recipe is a labor of love, and it’s so worth it. Warm, sweet, savory, melt-in-your-mouth comfort food doesn’t get much better than this. So much so, that despite being a self-proclaimed efficiency queen, I love this dish even though I can’t multi-task my way to completion within an hour. If I had one regret about the last time I made this dish, it’s that I didn’t make twice as much for my guests. Serve with a simple boiled or roasted vegetable, such as string beans or broccoli rabe.
Sweet Potato Pillows With Brown-Butter Sage and Garlic-Herb Crumble
When I’m hosting friends for dinner, I try not to overthink a complicated menu. I strive for comfort food that is elegant but not fussy, and ingredients that yield good-size portions without breaking the bank. I’m fortunate to have a farmers’ market nearby, so I get all of my fresh vegetables for a fraction of the cost at the grocery store. That’s how I was able to pull of this meal for roughly $5 per person, and if you follow these steps, you’ll be done and ready to serve in an hour!
Crispy Butter Chicken Pinwheels with Roasted Haricot Vert and Twice-Baked Lemon Ricotta Potatoes
I must be Southern at heart because there is nothing I enjoy more on a crisp fall evening than chili and a slice of cornbread. There’s just something inexplicably comforting about that perfect forkful of beans, beef, bread, and cheese. Here’s my take on this classic dish…
Spicy Poblano Pepper Chili With Cheddar Biscuits