This dish was inspired by The Lovely L and my mum. I was talking to The Lovely L the other night and she said that she would love some more recipes like the One Pan Pasta for One so that she could make a meal for herself without having leftovers or wasting too many ingredients. Mum also commented on the pasta for one and said that she would be trying it out next time Faja was doing one of his fairly regular late-night-shopping shifts.
I still occasionally cook for dinner just for myself and it wasn’t that long ago that I used to cook for just myself the majority of the time. The Lovely L is right, it can be tricky to cook yourself something fresh and healthy without wasting a whole bunch of ingredients.
The one pan pasta is a great one person dish as few fresh ingredients are needed and the other ingredients like capers and sun dried tomatoes will keep for months in the fridge leaving you plenty of time to use them up.
You don’t always want to rely on pantry staples though and certainly when I was cooking for myself and even cooking for two now, I still want to have dinners with nice fresh ingredients.
So today, I have a dish for you that is easy and relatively quick to make for yourself but I’ll also give you some ideas on what you can use the leftover ingredients for, without feeling like you are just eating the same thing again.
Salmon fillets are perfect for a simple dinner or lunch for one because it’s so easy to just buy one, either at the supermarket or a fishmonger. Even if you have to buy a tray of 2 fillets, freeze the other one for later use. Defrosted salmon isn’t the best for cooking as a whole fillet, but it’s great in something where it’s broken up like a salmon patty or a fish pie.
Sprouts are a great salad leaf and you can use the leftovers in a packed salad for your lunch the next day. You could also take advantage of the leftover feta in the salad. Cube it up this time so it doesn’t feel like you are eating the same salad again. Add some cherry tomatoes or any other things you need to use up like cucumber, olives or leftover roast vegetables. Add a protein like leftover cooked chicken or a can of tuna and there is a great lunch for work the next day. Alternatively how good would some sprouts and crumbled feta be with a fried egg for brekkie the next day? Don’t get me wrong, even now that I don’t have a job, I’m unlikely to feel like cooking myself an egg for breakfast during the week. On a lazy weekend though…for sure.
For me, this feta was leftover from making a Greek salad the other night, so there is another option for your leftovers. Or you could make a small batch of green couscous salad for one.
Leftover cauliflower could just be simply steamed the next night to be a simple veggie side for dinner. Or you could cut up the leftovers into chunks and roast it with a dukkah spice mix, kind of like my whole baked cauliflower but just in florets. Sesame seeds last for a while in an airtight container in the pantry anyway, but the dukkah also has sesame seeds in it too, so there is another option.
I know it seems silly to just use half of an orange for a recipe, but orange pairs so well with rich salmon and a whole one is just too much. Guess what I did with my leftover orange? I ate it for ‘dessert’ afterwards. I’m lying…I actually ate it as I was making this for my lunch.
Leftover cream is a tricky one. Even cooking for two, I often find a small pot of cream going to waste as I don’t use it a lot in our cooking. The reason I added it to this is because I was actually already using cream that was leftover from when I made palak paneer. If you don’t want to buy a small carton of cream just for this, use milk instead. If you’re anything like me you’ll always have milk handy.
I often use part of an onion then wrap the rest of it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for use the next day. It’s not as fresh as an onion that you’ve just cut, but it’s still good and much better than wasting it.
It can definitely sometimes be a pain to shop and cook just for yourself, but with a bit of planning wastage can be limited. And you know what? This definitely translates to cooking for two as well. Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas.
My top tip for cooking salmon? At least 20 minutes before you plan to start cooking, remove the salmon from the fridge. Salmon that is not ice cold from the fridge will cook much more evenly.
I picked up these sunflower sprouts as I’d never seen them before. They definitely had a taste similar to sunflower seeds and added a nice crunchy element without being overpowering. A great substitute would be snow pea sprouts or even some rocket.
I love orange with salmon, it really cuts through the rich oiliness of the fish. This salad takes about two minutes to put together and that includes the bit of chopping you need to do. You could also add some extra virgin olive oil if you wanted, but I figured I was getting plenty of fat from the cream in the cauliflower already :)
I normally love the cauliflower stem (broccoli stems too) but you just want the soft florets for this.
Cooking salmon does require a bit of practice and instinct. These directions are a bit lengthy because I’ve given more detailed instructions for any salmon-cooking-newbies. If in doubt, undercook rather than over cook salmon as it should not be served any more cooked than medium.
You can of course just cook the salmon with the skin on, but if you remove it and cook it by itself for a portion of the cooking time, finally resting it on a rack, you are guaranteed to end up with crispy salmon skin.
I prefer a textured cauliflower cream but you can puree it finely if you wish. If you don’t have either a blender or processor, just mash it.
Salmon Fillet with Creamed Cauliflower, Orange Salad and Salmon Skin Crisps
Ingredients – serves 1 as a light lunch or dinner
- 1 salmon fillet with skin on (mine weighed 170g)
- Segments from half of an orange plus about 1 tbs of juice squeezed from it
- 1 small handful of sunflower sprouts. Alternatively use rocket or snow pea shoots
- 1 tbs crumbled feta
- ¼ of a red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- ¼ tsp red wine vinegar
- ½ cup of finely chopped cauliflower, florets only
- 4 tbs of cooking cream or thin cream alternatively use milk
- pinch of black or white sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- About 20 minutes before you plan to start cooking, remove the salmon from the fridge.
- Make the salad by tossing together the orange segments, sprouts, feta and onion. Then add the orange juice and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
- Place the cauliflower and cream with 2 tbs of water in a small saucepan with a heavy base. Season with salt only. Heat over a low heat until simmering and then cover with a lid and cook for approximately 12 minutes or until the cauliflower is quite soft but not mushy.
- Remove from the heat once done and sit aside with the lid on to continue lightly cooking while you pan fry the salmon.
- Season both sides of the salmon with sea salt.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add a small amount of olive oil.
- Once the pan is hot, place the fish in the pan skin side down and cook for around 3 to 4 minutes or until you can start to see the fish cooking upwards on the edges.
- Turn the fish over and gently remove the skin from the flesh. Place the skin next to the fish in the pan and then cook both the fish and the skin for around another 2-3 minutes.
- Flip the skin over and push down on it gently with a spatula.
- Turn the fish on its side and then cook each edge of the fish that hasn’t already had direct contact with the pan for about 10 to 15 seconds each side. For this size of fillet, the fish should be cooked to about medium rare now, but will come up to medium after resting.
- Rest the fish and the skin on a wire rack for 2 minutes.
- While the fish is resting, process the cooked cauliflower or puree it with a stick blender. I prefer a textured cauliflower cream but you can puree it finely if you wish.
- To serve, dollop the creamed cauliflower on the plate, place the salmon on top, then the salad on top of the fish. Crack the now crispy skin and place pieces of it on top of the salad. Sprinkle the sesame seeds all over for garnish.