Our norms and values sometimes are so restricting, that it can be liberating to let them go every now and then. I do that when I fly solo, making dinner for one. I really cook different when I only need to feed myself. On those nights dishes like this Whole Wheat Pita Roll with Braised Greens, Butter beans and Miso come to live.
Cooking and eating solo sometimes can be so unshackling. Footloose and fancy free. Uncommitted to whatever rules you’ve set for a normal dinner. Notably, those rules that you’ve set yourself (!) about what a good meal should be.
I have those rules too. Rules for a good dinner.
First of all, it’s gotta be home cooked. I needs to be enough and filling. Balanced with proteins, some starchy ingredients and lots and lots of veggies. Colorful. Satisfying. Tasteful. Did I mention veggies? Fresh.
And since I usually don’t have dinner alone, I have to weigh in Mr. Eats’ set of wishes as well. There are certain ingredients that he doesn’t like as much as I do. There are ingredients that he loves more than I do. Same thing for structures and textures, flavors.
And besides all this, my dinner preferably is blog-worthy as well. Or instagram-ready at the least.
All this goes overboard when I’m eating alone.
It’s only me, and my needs that need to be taken into account. I don’t care if the dish is good enough to blog about. It doesn’t have to look nice; as the chef I don’t have to convince someone else to eat it. I know I want it. More than on other days I can follow my intuition.
Only to soothe my own longings and cravings.
Dinner suddenly doesn’t have to be nutritiously balanced. A fried egg on bread is good enough. Or a simple salad with some veggies. Those restaurant leftovers that serve as the base of a meal.
By the way,
eating alone doesn’t mean I don’t cook.
As solo dinners should be fancy too.
And they can be, in their own way. That’s why I fry that egg in duck fat and sprinkle fancy Maldon salt on top. I’ll dress that salad with a fresh made vinaigrette with my best olive oil, or that hazelnut oil that’s my latest craze. I add crisp veggies to leftovers to give the dish a new life. Sometimes a better life. I said veggies, right?!
Last week I checked my freezer and found a small bag with braised onion, spinach and beet leaves. And an even smaller bag with lima or butter beans. Or .. well, big beans. I forgot to write their names on the label. And the whole wheat pita’s were eying at me too.
Not ingredients I would put together for a proper dinner for the two of us. But challenging enough to make something for my solo meal.
When you just put them together, the dish will be quite boring. I knew I had to add something salty, hearty and bright. Cheese? No, I decided to challenge myself a bit more: I wanted to go vegan. And that’s where the miso, Japanese soy sauce and nori leaves came in. Whole Wheat Pita Roll with Braised Greens, Butter Beans and Miso.
Even if it didn’t turn out that good, I could have convinced myself that it was good enough. But I didn’t need to. Dinner was good. Miso is the deal breaker here.
[I’ve you never cooked with miso, I’d suggest you try this Japanese style soup first.]
This roll will probably be even better when you make it fresh instead of with leftovers pulled out of the freezer. Here’s how!
Whole Wheat Pita Roll with Braised Greens, Butter Beans and Miso
A great solo meal. Lunch. My green leaves mixture consisted of a mixture of spinach and beet leaves (Yeah, the leaves of a bunch of red beets, that is!). But you can use chard, collard or mustard greens as well. Kale even.
I used for 1:
2 T olive oil
2 cups | 250 gr green leaves (see above)
1/3 cup lima beans (cooked, or from a can)
1 large whole wheat pita (8 inch | 20 cm), or 2 smaller ones
1/2 – 1 t white miso paste
1/4 sheet of nori
1 t Japanese soy sauce
1/2 t seasoned rice vinegar
Braise the greens. Start with peeling and chopping the onion into small pieces. Pour the olive oil in a skillet and cook the onion over medium heat until softened and translucent. In the mean time, clean and chop the green leaves. Add them, occasionally stirring, to the onions and let cook till the preferred softness, depending on the firmness of the greens and your personal taste.
Warm the whole wheat pita. I just put it in the oven, turned it on at 400 F | 200 C and took it out when the pita was soft and warmed. Turned oven off.
Add everything else to the greens. Mix in the beans, white miso (start with 1/2 teaspoon first and add more to your liking), crunched/chopped nori sheet, soy sauce and rice vinegar. Add pepper to taste and scoop it all on your whole wheat pita.
Roll and enjoy carefully!
Other simple dish from my archives that can be a solo meal is this Hoisin Rice Noodles with Carrots and Bok Choy. But tell me, what do you make for your solo dinners?