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What would you make for dinner tonight if you were the only one eating?

Erin Zammett Ruddy

I’m sure if many of you had a Friday night at home alone, cooking would be the last thing on your mind. But for me, a night of eating solo means making something that no one has to like but me—and I like that.


It may be rare that you cook dinner only for yourself. I know it almost never happens for me. I’m lucky that Nick and I get to eat together pretty much every night of the week. We cherish our meal-time bonding—which takes place after we’ve fed the kids and put them to bed—but when you’re cooking (or, let’s be honest here, ordering takeout) for two, you often make compromises. Even if you don’t consciously realize it. As a mom and wife, I don't often get to make decisions based solely on my wants. So when that opportunity arises, it can be a little daunting at first. And then really freakin nice. 


Last Friday night, Nick met some friends out for a drink and I stayed home. At first the co-dependant eater in me was like, Wait? What will I do for dinner? Yes, I could have eaten quesadillas and rice and beans with the kids at 6 p.m. but that just seemed, well, depressing (we will talk more about why I hate eating with my children soon). But then I remembered that I didn’t need Nick to enjoy a great meal. So when the kids were bathed and in bed, and Nick was bellied up to a bar somewhere, I turned on Bravo, sipped a glass of wine and chopped and sautéed solo—and I loved every minute of it.


My go-to, on-my-own meal: thin spaghetti tossed with roasted broccoli, toasted pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, cracked pepper, kosher salt and lots of freshly-grated parmesan cheese. (I keep all of these things in my house at all times). I had some grape tomatoes too, so I threw those in. I ate it with salad greens that I tossed with a mustard-shallot vinaigrette (I make this dressing every week and keep it in my fridge—it makes me crave salad, which is always a good thing) and a big glass of red wine. It was heavenly. As was the ability to watch a really cheesy chick-flick without a twinge of embarrassment.


I love this meal because it’s super easy to make, it’s healthy enough that I don’t feel bad eating more than I should (I went back for seconds) and it’s delicious. But it’s not something I ever make for Nick. He is what you might call a serious meat eater so pasta packed with only veggies is a tough sell. Believe me, I offer to whip this up more times that he'd probably like and it's always met with a groan (or, full disclosure, gagging sounds, which make me laugh--we're immature like that). The silver lining: This dish has become my thing and I cherish it. 


Anyway, if you had to cook for only yourself what would you make? I know there are some of you who would say cereal or a frozen dinner, which is totally cool. But not for me. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever eaten a bowl of cereal for dinner and I hope I never do. Food—dinner in particular—is too important to me. I love talking about food, reading about food, watching food on TV, growing food and, most importantly, cooking and eating it. And getting to do that for me, myself and I is a real treat sometimes.