Table for One: On the Pleasures of Cooking for Yourself

photos by Jane Bruce


It might be something of an exaggeration to call one the loneliest number, but it certainly feels like the least respected—particularly where the home cook is concerned. Rare, after all, is the recipe that dispenses measurements suited to serve any less than four people, as if a table is not complete unless it’s also completely full.

But for most of us, not every meal is a feast—many are quiet, solitary affairs. And, truth be told, we’d have it no other way. The pleasures of cooking for yourself (and only yourself) are at once obvious—nobody else’s tastes to satisfy! weird flavor combinations that only you enjoy!—and subtle—the chance to focus only on your food and the tiny bit of peace you’ve earned after a long day.

And so while eating alone might seem like the perfect opportunity to pick up deli sushi on the way home from work, or order the same Thai rice dish you’re always eating, we think it’s actually the ideal time to put in a little effort—and, really, only the littlest effort is needed—and reap the rewards of a home-cooked (or, at least, home-assembled) meal. The only requirement—and we use that word as lightly as possible—is that you don’t skimp on flavor simply because you’re the only one around to experience it. Use the pungent cheese, the brightly tart pickles, the buttery avocados. The richness of these ingredients will make even the most humble and easy-to-compose salad feel like the ultimate treat.

salad for one


Salad for One
Courtesy of Daniel Holzman,
chef and owner of The Meatball Shop

1 ripe tomato,
1/2 inch dice
1/2 ripe avocado,
1/2 inch dice
3 oz of Swiss cheese
(or whatever you have in the fridge!),
1/2 inch dice
4 stalks fresh dill, rough chop
4 stalks fresh parsley,
rough chop
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
1 whole pickle—homemade or store-bought—quartered and sliced into small pieces

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl, giving a little squeeze so the avocado breaks down and the tomato macerates.
Note: Add some kale, but squeeze it a little more thoroughly, and make sure it marinates for 30 mins before eating.

Homemade Pickles

10 Kirby cucumbers
5 cups warm water
3.5 cups white vinegar (5%)
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 sprigs of dill
1 pinch red pepper

Dissolve the salt in the warm water and add the vinegar. Cut the cucumbers into quarters lengthwise and pack in a large glass or porcelain jar. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and dill, and cover with the pickling liquid. Store in the refrigerator for three days before eating, and store in the fridge for up to one year in the pickling liquid.


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