Dinner For One

When I find myself home alone for dinner, which is normally at least once a week, I tend to gravitate toward meals I love and that are easy to make, which nine times out of ten ends up being a big salad. Loads of greens, some veggies, maybe some meat or cheese, and just a little bit of olive oil and vinegar and dinner is ready. I’ve never been one to order take out even when I lived alone; for whatever reason, I find it even more work than actually making something, probably because I live in the country and food doesn’t come to me, so unless I’m out, I have to leave the house to get takeout. Kind of defeats the purpose. But please don’t take this that I’m cooking a full dinner for myself on these evenings; I’ve been known to have a dinner of cheese and crackers or nachos with a glass of wine on more than one occasion!

I’m cooking for one for a couple of weeks this month and last Friday couldn’t come quick enough. After a lousy week I was yearning for comfort which, although I love them, a salad just doesn’t provide the warm, creaminess of a plate of pasta. Driving home and thinking about what I had available in the cupboard and fridge, I knew I had all the fixings for one of my favorites, Creamy Orzo With Spinach. This takes 30 minutes at the most from beginning to end with little cooking aside from chopping some garlic. I add loads of spinach, so you’re off the hook of providing another vegetable! (You have to get your greens, as my grandmother always says!) It’s getting cooler out, so it was a perfect meal that evening, and I went to bed comforted and satisfied.

Full disclosure, this is loosely based on one of the first Cooking Light recipes I ever made, so it harkens back to 1991 or so. It is perfect as your dinner or as a side dish for two.

Creamy Orzo with Spinach
1 teaspoon butter or olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup orzo
1 3/4 cup water
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2-3 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach (or chopped fresh spinach)
2-3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (optional)

In a saucepan, heat the butter or oil until warm and add the garlic. Cook just a couple of minutes until soft. Add the orzo and stir. Add the water, bring to a boil, then turn to low, stirring occasionally. When the orzo is done cooking, mix in the cheese. Add one handful of spinach at a time, stirring it into the pasta until it warms and softens. Add salt and pepper and serve.

* * * * *
Just an addendum to last week’s post. I admitted a baker I am not, and it has now been proven to be the truth! A reader (Mom) pointed out you never make a pie crust with two cups of flour, it’s always three. I usually refer to The Joy of Cooking, but when I started on my quest for the perfect apple pie, I don’t believe I went back to it. Hence, the incorrect measurements. THIS is why there are recipe testers and test cooks!

I’ve made a change to the recipe (make your own pie crust, don’t listen to me!) if you decide to make it. I guess the cup of butter in the crust was why it was so delicious! Thought I would post another picture, just because I’m so proud of its beauty, despite its full-fat content!

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4 thoughts on “Dinner For One

  1. Yum. We have a new comfort food: Molly Katzen’s “Cozy Orzo” from “Vegetable Heaven.” Cottage cheese mixed with scallions or chives and a bit of lemon zest and black pepper–then cook orzo, drain it over a handful of frozen peas (which thaws them and warms them a little), mix it with the cottage cheese and top with a little parmesan (except I prefer romano). I so like orzo!

  2. This sounds great, Chris, and so does Mary’s recipe. I’ll have to give them a try.
    Just to clarify, a pie crust calls for one-part butter/shortening/lard (chef’s choice) to 3 parts flour. For a one crust pie (9 inch), I use 1/3 cup of fat to a cup of flour and double it for a two crust pie.

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