A Franken-dinner for one
It’s quiet here on the farm. Too quiet. Even Lazy Dog seems to be put off by the lack of noise as he keeps barking (or more aptly BORKING - honestly it’s the sound he makes, complete with umlauts).
Its night 2 of 5 in which the rest of the crew are away from home. The kiddo is knee-deep in her local school musical, and the Boss is away in Chicago being Important (emphasis on the capital I). Which leaves me and Lazy Dog to hold down the fort, so to speak.
It also leaves me in a quandary. What do I make for just me? All of my meal prep items in the freezer are for a small army. I’m not inclined to make some grand production over food for just me, so I continue to procrastinate searching online for “recipes for one”.
Honestly, if I lived alone I would literally starve. I’d eat nothing but rice cakes, tortilla chips and salsa, avocado toast and fruit because I can’t be bothered to get creative when it is just me. Perhaps that’s a lapse in my self-care, perhaps it’s just the inevitable result of finding myself with an evening where I don’t have to plan, prep or cook a meal. Kind of like a mini vacation - without the fruity umbrella drinks and sunburned tourists.
Finally, I dragged myself off the couch and schlepped into the kitchen to stare at the pantry. What did I have that could be the least bit of bother possible? What could I combine to make something that was nutritious and tasty and not take all night and a hundred dishes to make?
Canned potatoes. I know, I know - it’s super lazy. I mean, it takes what, like 5 minutes in the microwave to cook a potato? But canned potatoes take me back to my childhood and camping. My mom would always make breakfast the mornings we camped, and they always involved fried canned potatoes, some manner of egg and meat. Those fried potatoes were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and the best way to shovel as much ketchup as possible into my mouth (Heinz, of course).
Having a few canned potatoes on hand lets the kiddo make 30 second mashed potatoes in the food processor or potato pancakes with a little more effort in the toaster oven. It also is going to allow me to whip up the laziest dinner in history (after chips and salsa).
Scanning the shelves, I spy chickpeas. Protein, folate and fiber for the win! I toss the cans on the counter and move to stand and stare at the contents of the fridge in a way that if the kids were doing it would get a lecture on wasting energy. But I’m the lone hunter tonight and no one is around to see me commit sins of the electric bill.
I grab some leftover diced pepper, green onion, spinach and garlic. I also find 3 cherry tomatoes on their last legs and the cilantro I keep on the window sill. I dice up the veg and herbs, toss some random spices into the oil in the pan and get to work. Five minutes later I’m dishing up a fragrant concoction best described as hash.
The flavors blend well, and I almost feel like I did a thing. It has elements of a more elevated dish, and best of all it used one pan. The only dishes I need to wash are a pan, a chopping board, my favorite knife, a spatula, fork and the bowl I am currently shoveling food into my face from.
I successfully made a meal for one that wasn’t avocado toast and was tasty and nutritious in around 10 minutes from the time I shuffled into the kitchen until I was seated back on the couch. It was something an adult would eat and something a nutritionist wouldn’t scream in horror over. It is also gluten free and vegan, if you care about such things. The important part is it’s easy and it’s for one person.
And so, without further ado, I shall share this culinary shame with you:
Chickpea and Potato Hash (or Mom’s night off Franken-dinner)
1/2 can potatoes drained and rinsed and cubed.
1/2 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 T chopped bell pepper
2 green onions, chopped, green parts reserved for end)
1 c fresh spinach
3 cherry tomatoes diced finely
1/2 tsp chopped garlic (feel free to use powder here)
1 T chopped cilantro
1.5 T olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp curry powder*
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh is best)
Salt and pepper to taste.
1. Preheat 1 T oil in skillet over medium heat.
2. Add in peppers, potatoes and white parts of green onion.
3. Sauté until potatoes begin to get a nice crisp crust on them, stirring frequently.
4. Reduce heat to lowest setting or remove pan from heat temporarily.
5. In a small bowl, mix the chickpeas, spices, remaining olive oil and garlic. Toss to coat.
6. Return pan to med-low heat and add chickpea mixture, stirring often.
7. Once potatoes are crispy, add in tomatoes and spinach, cooking until spinach is wilted.
8. Remove pan from heat and plate contents (a bowl works best here as the chickpeas roll everywhere).
9. Garnish with fresh cilantro and green parts of onion.
10. Put your feet up, put on something mindless and enjoy.
* You could do any combination of spices for this meal - cumin, chili powder and garlic with fresh oregano for a more “south of the border” flavor. The possibilities are endless!