I used to love cooking for one. Probably because (1) I did not know any better and (2) the thought of cooking for someone else terrified me. What if the amazing dish I made for myself (night after night) somehow tasted awful to my dinner guest? How do I even figure out how to increase the amount to make?
But once I got over the fear of cooking for someone other than myself I realized how much fun cooking for two could be. There are so many more recipes and options. Plus there is always someone to do the dishes.
So now when the hubby does not come home for dinner I am usually at a loss for what to do. How did I just cook for one all of those years? Generally I resort to frozen dinners, veggie burgers, chicken sausage, or some type of super easy pasta.
Given the ridiculous food consumption over the weekend and anticipating a week with my family in town I could not stomach another not so healthy meal. What to do?
I knew the recipe books were not going to help me on this one. I looked in the fridge and it was slim pickings. There really wasn’t much for a clean-out-the-fridge meal, or was there? I still had a bunch of pine nuts left over from the pasta escapade a few weeks ago and some starting-to-wilt basil. Pesto!
But what to eat the pesto with? Keeping with the healthy-dinner-for-one theme, pasta was immediately off the list. Then I remembered this amazing pesto dish we had in Italy a few years ago – grilled calamari with pesto. My knowledge of cooking calamari is pretty limited, well I’ll be honest, its non-existent. So I went with the next best thing shrimp.
I cleaned the basil leaves and packed them into a Pyrex to get two cups worth of leaves.
Then I toasted a quarter cup of pine nuts.
I pulled the blender out from the back of the cabinet and added the pine nuts, basil, and a clove of garlic and started pulsing. Nothing seemed to be happening so I pulsed some more. Still it looked like I had a full glove of garlic moving around and whole pine nuts. I put a spatula in and moved things around and put the blender on chop this time. Still nothing.
I started to realize this blender thing might not work out. I figured out how to fix the garlic situation; my garlic press. But the basil leaves pretty much stumped me. Fingers crossed, I reached for the food processor and dumped the unblended pesto mixture from the blender into the food processor and hit chop. Voila I had the base for my pesto. I added the oil slowly, allowing it to blend in with the base, and then I folded in a half cup of grated parmesan cheese.
The shrimp could not have been easier to make. A little olive oil, salt and pepper, then into the oven they went at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. The pesto was a little too thick to pour over them so I added a little more olive oil and some boiling water to loosen up the sauce.
I served it up with some roasted summer squash (olive oil, salt and pepper roasted in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees) topped with basil.
It was the perfect, healthy, one person meal. It was so good that I will definitely have to make it for the hubby sometime too.