Cooking For One: Lemon-Tarragon Chicken and Spinach Salad With Beets & Oranges

girl eating doritos

What do you eat when you eat alone?  Do you pick and nibble and eat at the counter or in front of the t.v.?  Or do you make yourself a full-on meal?  Although we all need an occasional junk-food feast, I advocate eating a real meal, even if you're by yourself.  Chances are, you'll feel more satisfied and that you'll eat better if you do.

Although we're a family of 3, I make a lot of meals just for me.  D. travels a lot, and L. won't eat anything interesting or reasonable (most of the time), so I’m stuck eating makeshift suppers or else biting the bullet and cooking a meal for myself.  In the wintertime, I do big batches and eat them during  the week, but now that the weather’s getting nicer, I want lighter, fresher fare. 

Last night’s dinner was so fast, and so tasty, I had to share it.  I had everything in the pantry or the freezer, and in fewer than 30 minutes I’d whipped up a lovely, healthful meal for myself (along with leftover noodles and plain chicken plus an apple for L.).  The Lemon-Tarragon chicken has a sunny taste and cooks up super-fast thanks to pounding it out.  The salad is fruity and bright as well – and can you say “antioxidant blast?”  Spinach, beets, oranges, walnuts . . . this’ll set you up right.  Better than that bag o' Doritos you were thinking about,  for sure.

Lemon-Tarragon Chicken (adapted from Cooking Light)

1 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breast half
1 t. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. fresh lemon juice
½ t. dried tarragon
Kosher salt to taste


Place the chicken breast in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag, or between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound to ¼-inch thickness with a meat mallet or a heavy skillet.  Sprinkle the chicken with salt.

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice and tarragon in a small bowl and whisk to combine. 

Coat a small skillet with cooking spray, and place over medium heat.  Once hot, add the chicken and cook for approximately 3 minutes on one side.  Turn the breast over, and cook for another 3 minutes on the other side, or until no longer pink.  Drizzle the lemon-tarragon mixture over the chicken and turn to coat in the pan.  Serve.

Serves 1.

Spinach Salad with Beets & Oranges (adapted from Cooking Light)

½ navel orange
3 c. torn baby spinach
2 baby beets, cubed
1 t. extra-virgin olive oil
3 t. raspberry vinegar
A few grinds of black pepper
1 T. coarsely chopped walnuts


Peel the orange, segment, and cut each segment into 4 pieces.

Place the spinach in a salad bowl.  Arrange the beets and orange pieces over the spinach. 

Combine the oil, vinegar and pepper in a small bowl and pour over the salad. Top with walnuts.  Serve.

Serves 1.

If you’re cooking for 1+, I’m sure the recipes as written would be terrific.

What're your favorite solo meals?  Share them in the comments!