Lots of people I know will tell me they don't like cooking for one. While preparing a feast for friends or family is a lot of fun, I enjoy just cooking dinner for myself. Sometimes it's extremely simple stuff, other times I'll go a little more elaborate. Either way, I enjoy it because there's often leftover for lunch the next day. Leftovers needn't be a word that induces thoughts of horror - these veggie-friendly dinners completely transform to a perfect take-to-work salad the next day. You could serve them with your favourite protein - a piece of meat or fish - or just enjoy them as is as a simple, one-bowl, easy dinner.
Tomato and ricotta pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tin cherry tomatoes (with a few fresh cherry tomatoes for garnish, optional)
Sea salt and cracked pepper
2 cups pasta of your choice, cooked
Small bunch fresh basil
½ cup ricotta
Zest of 1 small lemon
In a frying pan with high sides, or a medium pot, gently heat the oil and saute the red onion. Add the garlic and chilli flakes, then the tins of tomatoes (and cherry tomatoes if you're using them). Season well. Increase the heat, then reduce and simmer for about 15 minutes - the sauce will thicken. Taste and adjust, then serve on the pasta. Add a dollop of ricotta, garnish with the lemon zest and basil, and cracked pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt. Add a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately. This works well served cold as leftovers the next day.
Roast kumara and broccoli with tangy yoghurt and mayo dressing
1 large kumara
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 pinch flaky sea salt
1 head broccoli
1 handful salad greens, such as rocket or baby spinach
1 small bunch soft herbs of your choice (such as flat-leaf parsley, basil, mint) roughly chopped
2 Tbsp chopped nuts of your choice (almonds or walnuts)
¼ cup yoghurt
For the dressing
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 pinch smoked paprika
1 pinch flaky sea salt
Preheat oven to 200C and cut the kumara into chunks. Lay on a roasting tray and dot the coconut oil over the kumara. Season with sea salt and roast for about 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into florets, and cut the stem into chunks, and steam or gently pan-fry until just cooked. For the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Taste and adjust as necessary. When the kumara is golden, remove from oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
To assemble, place the kumara, broccoli, salad greens, herbs, and nuts into a bowl and gently combine. Add the dressing and gently combine again, or serve the dressing as a dollop on top. Serve with protein of your choice (a piece of fish or steak works well) or enjoy as is, with enough leftovers for lunch.
How to: Make a martini
It wasn't just James Bond who had an affinity for this classic cocktail, and whether you like yours shaken or stirred, there are a few variations to consider. Traditionally it's made with London dry gin, but there are so many good quality, artisan gins out there that taste good on their own, this is a good drink to experiment with.
A classic martini is served in a chilled martini glass, and is a combination of gin and white vermouth. The garnish should be a lemon twist, or an olive. The ratio you're looking for of gin to vermouth is traditionally 2:1, but that changes depending on how you're feeling. A chequered history says ratios have swung to 3:1 and more, but 2:1 plays it safe. A variation called the perfect martini sees a 50:50 split.
My friend blushed recently when she was asked by a bartender "just how dirty" she wanted her martini, but slightly creepy bartenders aside, the dirty element comes from a spoon or two of olive brine or olive juice, from the jar, before shaking. You'd garnish this one with an olive, obviously.
Vodka can be used in place of gin, and shaken with ice gives you that chill. FIll a shaker with ice, and chill your glass with ice too. Add the ratio according to your preference, shake well, tip out the ice in your glass, and strain the drink straight in. Garnish with whatever you fancy, and enjoy.