I know that one of the most used excuses for not cooking when you live by yourself that you’re not important enough to spend the time cooking for. I don’t see it that way. Rather, one of the often overlooked advantages of cooking for yourself is that you get to try whichever recipe you want, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and build a repertoire of easy, really good go-to meals. (And what doesn’t work you throw away and never tell anyone about!)
I’m not crazy about salmon as a trendy “superfood” (I’m not crazy about the idea of “superfoods” in general, but that’s another post), but I do enjoy it on occasion, especially when it’s cooked well. This roasted salmon is something I’ve been making for years. I originally found it in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and have since committed the easy recipe to memory, modifying it according to my tastes and what I have on hand. Here’s what I do:
Preheat the oven to 425F. When the oven is hot, pour about a tablespoon of olive oil in a metal pan and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes, so the oil heats. Meanwhile, check ¾-1 pound of salmon for bones and sprinkle the flesh with salt and pepper. Next add some herbs. I like to use dried thyme, but you could use fresh or change it up with dill, tarragon, parsley, or whatever else you like. I also added some lemon zest because I happened to have it.
Once the oil is hot, carefully put the salmon in, flesh-side down. The oil should sizzle when the salmon touches it. Just try not splatter the oil because hot oil and skin are not a fun combination. (Trust me. Not oil this hot.) Season the skin the same as the flesh and cook the salmon for 6 minutes, turning and cooking for another 6 minutes. Check for doneness – it should flake easily and be opaque. Cook for another 2-3 minutes if needed. Dry salmon is not delicious, so if extra time is needed it’s better to cook in small increments and check multiple times.
This broccoli is an easy, tasty way to get more green veg into your meals. If you’ve never roasted it, you’re missing out on how great broccoli can really be. It pairs exceedingly well with garlic and crushed red pepper (think about how good it is Pad Se Ew with chili sauce…mmm, Pad Se Ew…) and I’ve added both here. All you need to do is cut your broccoli up into evenly small pieces, including the stalk if you’d like. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle some crushed red pepper on top – the amount will depend on how spicy you like it. I used maybe ¼ teaspoon for three heads of broccoli. Cook at 425F for 10 or so minutes. Meanwhile, chop up 4-5 cloves of garlic and add them to the broccoli at the 10 minute mark, stir everything up, then cook for at least another 10-15 minutes. Adding the garlic later will prevent it from burning should your broccoli require extra roasting time. The broccoli is done when it is nicely browned and easily pierced with a fork.
As for the lemony brown rice, juice a lemon and use whatever liquid you get as a substitute for some of the water and proceed as you otherwise would.
Another advantage of cooking for yourself? Getting to eat all of the leftovers. With this meal being simple and delicious and, if you’re concerned about it, which I am, fairly healthy, I’m glad to have a good dinner and several good lunches in my near future.