I have a perfect "dinner for 1" for you. While just as excellent for 2, this is one of those recipes that requires some bona fide "cooking" action, yet is so effortless that preparing it for your solitary self doesn't feel taxing.
I'll admit that sometimes when I'm alone I just cannot be asked to do real cooking. Leftovers are a godsend, assembling a meal is fine (think soft tacos with leftover chicken), but the prospect of cooking a new dish from scratch can feel vaguely depressing. It's just like, if a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If I plan, shop and cook something wonderful, but I'm the only there to taste it, is it worth the bother? Is it rewarding? Is it pleasurable? You're probably thinking that this is all a rhetorical exercise, and I'm about to tell you, of course it's worth it. Of course it's meaningful to nourish oneself. More meaningful than nourishing others even.
But I don't know. Don't get me wrong. You do deserve a nice dinner. A meal for one can be utterly enjoyable, both at home or in a restaurant. Cooking is fun, whether it's just for you or a hoard of guests. Still. Still, there's something that's so much better about setting a plate in front of someone, seeing their enjoyment and feeling your own at the same time. When there's a great experience to be had or a great meal to be eaten, you want to talk about it, share it.
Sometimes I need to force myself to really cook when I'm alone, but I do it, and I'm never sorry. It's nice to have a few recipes in your back pocket that make it easier to get yourself going. This is definitely one of mine.
Cod with Lemon-Caper Sauce
Serves 1 (double for 2)
1 tsp olive oil
1 to 2 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 pound cod, sole or flounder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp capers, rinsed
1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet on medium-low to medium heat. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned on both sides and opaque throughout, turning once. Remove fish from skillet and reduce heat to low. Add the lemon juice, capers and half the parsley. Simmer 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Pour over the fish, sprinkle with remaining parsley. Serve with steamed vegetables and bread or grains.