Single Serving Quick Meals for Gal who likes it fresh and vegetarian
I find cooking for one is hard - most of the recipes are for 4 or more servings. It doesn't help that I like to make everything fresh. For some reason I can't make myself eat frozen meals these days. So I prefer not to make big freezable batches and just make single serving meals. I am vegetarian and soy intolerant ; and usually prefer meals which I can quickly put together. To give you idea of what I have been eating these days:-
Lunch and dinner :-
WW Pita stuffed with greens, beans and dips.
Pita pizza - tortilla baked with sauce and veggies
Pasta with store bought sauce + fresh store cut veggies
Hard boiled eggs/ beans in Salad
As you can see one can quickly run out of ideas!! I am planning to brown bag my lunches so any single serving meal suggestions will help.
When I was in university and a vegetarian one of my favorite brown bag lunches was quesadillas. I would buy whole wheat tortillas and vegetarian refried beans. In the morning I would fire up the pan, add a tiny bit of olive oil and smear the beans between two tortillas and then toast both sides until crispy and the beans were warmed through. I would make a side of chopped tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, olive oil and a bit of lime juice, salt and pepper. This I would put in a small empty jar. Wrap the quesadillas up in foil and you will see that it stays almost warm just until lunch.
I also loved baked potatoes topped with steamed broccoli and maybe a bit of sour cream and chives.
Ribollita was also a big favorite of mine and is very easy to make for one. Often you can find veggies already cut up so just add to this to a sautéed onion and a can of drained beans and some chopped nappa cabbage at the end with either enough water or veggie stock to barely cover. My "secret" ingredient is to infuse fresh rosemary in a bit of olive oil and then drizzle on top just before serving. I also put a piece of toasted french bread rubbed with garlic at the bottom of the bowl before ladling in the soup.
buy cherry tomatoes, red peppers and a sweet red onion. Sauté together and toss with pasta and fresh basil at the end. Quick, easy and yummy.
Miso soup with fresh peas and scallions was another fast meal for me.
Hummus takes seconds to make - open can of chic peas, drain, whiz up in a food processor with olive oil, garlic, lemon and salt and pepper. Goes great with a salad and some fresh bread and radishes.
pesto - super easy and super fast. You will see loads of threads on this site for pesto and it is a great lunch at room temp.
roasted eggplant - prick and roast whole in the oven with a bit of drizzled olive oil and salt. I usually add garlic cloves and rosemary to further enhance the flavor. When soft, scope out the flesh add a bit more olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and puree. Good with roasted peppers and caramelized onions on crustini.
So - just a few quick ideas. Hope this helps!
Vary your grains. I like bulgar and couscous for speed, and use them instead of rice with stirfries. Also can be used instead of pasta in your case.
Curries can be quite quick with prepared Thai curry pastes and store cut vegetables.
Omelettes can be stuffed with vegetables, mushrooms, etc. Quiches also.
Sauteed veggies. I particularly like to use a potato or two, eggplant (skinny asian ones are best), chopped onion, garlic and a couple of chopped peppers (jalapeno or whatever you have on hand). Brown it a bit, then add a little water, cook off, brown some more, mix in a handful of thai or regular basil if available, and serve with a little sour cream, mexican crema, sesame oil, or a fried egg on top.
Saute some garlic but not until its brown, add some freshly washed young spinach, cook until almost wilted, add in a 1/2 a can of garbanos (or the whole can if you're hungry). Red pepper flakes or other spices to taste. Eat alone or over brown rice.
Imagine brand No Chicken Broth is pretty tasty, and it makes for a quick soup. Saute carrots, celery and onion, add broth and a few spoonfuls of whatever grain or beans you have in the fridge.
Microwaved sweet potato with whatever toppings you like. Even just a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper. Smoked paprika, cumin and lime juice, or curry powder.
A head of cauliflower separated into bite size pieces, sauted in oil of choice until nicely browned. Add a box of thawed chopped frozen spinach with its liquid. Salt, pepper, curry powder and extra cumin. Cover and let simmer until cauliflower is done. 20-minute meal, with perhaps a little left over for lunch the next day.
One of the things I enjoy taking for lunch is homemade pasta salad. There are so many possibilities. I like to use whole grain pasta, then a lot of fresh veggies--peppers, carrots, onion, cucumber--plus some black olives and sometimes a can of artichoke hearts. For more protein, I usually add chicken or tuna, but you could easily substitute chickpeas or another kind of bean. If I'm in a hurry, I'll use a bottled dressing, plus a little romano cheese and some oregano or basil. You could also make sesame noodles with veggies.
I'm guessing miso is out because you can't have soy, but this winter I've been making a lot of Asian-style noodle soups. I cook udon or buckwheat soba noodles separately, then serve them with whatever veggies I feel like that I've cooked in veggie stock I doctor up with ginger and a few cloves of garlic. One box of stock will make 2-3 servings, and it's best if you prepare the noodles separately for each bowl instead of cooking a lot and reheating them (they got slimy when I tried that).
Another good thing to try might be to roast a bunch of veggies on the weekend, then reuse them in different ways throughout the week--in pasta, in an omelet or fritatta, in wraps or sandwiches, etc. This is something I try to do a lot, whether I'm preparing meat or veggies (or both). It makes meal time a lot quicker when I'm busy with work during the week, and it doesn't feel like I'm eating the same thing a few nights in a row.
A strategy I've found helpful for cooking for myself is to think about how I'm going to use fresh ingredients so they don't go to waste. I might plan to use half a red pepper in salads, then the other half in a stir fry.The other night I added some fresh green beans to a green curry, then steamed the rest to have alongside something else the next night. I still have a hard time not cooking too much just for myself, though.
These are all things that can be put together in between 20 and 35 minutes and that I've successfully made for one (or one plus lunch leftovers):
Red Lentils (only about 15 minutes to cook)
A very basic Thai Curry with peanuts and vegetables
Chilaquiles with lots of vegetables
Potato Leek Soup (if you don't eat dairy, almond milk can make nice soup that you can round out with a salad and bread)
Poached eggs over garlic greens
Indian Kichadi, a very nutritious and comforting porridge made with mung beans and basmati rice. I add collard greens or kale sometimes and it's absolutely delicious. (Actually, if you soak Indian basmati rice, which is different from the kind grown here, in advance, it cooks in a few minutes.)
Eggs scrambled with green veggies, tomato and scallions with whole grain bread
Rice noodles, soba or udon in various Asian-style preparations. Just soak the rice noodles for ten minutes or so then stick right into any stir-fry, soup or stew in the last few minutes with maybe an additional splash or two of liquid
Savory bread pudding (if you do milk products)
Vegetable Mafe (an African stew with vegetables in a tomato & peanut butter base; great with rice or couscous)
Kale and cannelini bean stew
I think it should be fairly easy to find specific recipes for all of these online, but if you can't I'd be happy to post some.
I sometimes make a work-week's worth of brown rice or other whole grain and some 2/3-cooked lentils and/or beans so I have them on hand, and I just store them in the fridge in pyrex. They keep a week easily, I can add seasoning and vegetables fresh each day, and I don't think the whole grains and legumes lose THAT much nutritive value in sitting a few days. This opens up all kinds of possibilities like lentil or bean-based veggie burgers, mushroom barley soup, Middle Eastern mujjadara, and so on (and, of course, slow-cooked beans taste so much better than canned). On really exhausting weeks I even chop up my dark leafy greens (only sturdy ones like kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage), some leeks and some carrots to save even more time. Again, the value of a good selection of pyrex.