Cooking For One (Zucchini and Chickpeas)

Zucchini and Chickpeas

This is what dinner looks like when I eat on my own.

I am endlessly curious to know what cooks cook when they cook for one: some can’t see the point if there is no audience, others fall back on no-cook comfort foods, some take it as their opportunity to indulge in the foods they love but their family despises, and others yet take pleasure in treating themselves to the precise meal their appetite calls for.

I’m in the latter camp. Breakfast cereal for dinner was never my thing, and my evenings alone revolve around two all-important decisions: what dish I feel like eating, and what movie I feel like watching.

I relish the closed circuit thought process that solo meal planning involves, my brain taking its cue directly from my stomach, with zero consideration for anything or anyone else.

Granted, the cooking I do then is quite simple, taking no more than thirty minutes of my time, cleanup included, but still, it’s thirty minutes that I invest in my evening with joy. And what those meals have in common, 99.9% of the time, is that 1- they are vegetable-focused, and 2- they can be eaten from a bowl, with just a fork or a spoon. An essential feature if I am to couch-curl while I eat.

In the example pictured above, shot on a Sunday night a couple of weeks ago, I sautéed zucchini with a large shallot, tossed in some chickpeas I’d pressure-cooked earlier that day, and at the end I threw in some cilantro, chopped black olives, and sliced almonds. A drizzle of finishing oil, an energetic grind of the pepper mill, and I was ready for Bridesmaids.

Dessert after that might be a slice of cake if there is some in the cake dome, or a cut up apple mixed with sheep’s milk yogurt and a little granola, or a couple of dried figs and some dark chocolate, a treat I wrote about some years ago and still hold dear.

And I suppose you know where I’m going with this: will you tell me what kind of a solo eater you are? What do you cook, if anything, when you’re on your own?

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