Friday, June 24, 2011

Italian for one

The Beet

Express Staff Writer

Eating alone can be the most indulgent or the most depressing experience in life, and I am hardly the first food columnist to note it. Amanda Hesser of The New York Times has waxed poetic about meals alone, talking about friends of hers who make the most spectacular—and the oddest—things when they are eating for one.

When you are cooking by yourself and for yourself, you are allowed to eat anything without fear of judgment. If you want ice cream for dinner, it's yours. If you want to make a meal of scrambled eggs, go for it. There's no one stopping you.

Most of my solitary meals involve bread. A liverwurst, cream cheese and tomato sandwich on good bread is only one of my indulgences, and is a step up from another favorite—wheat bread with cheddar cheese on top broiled until golden and dipped in Frank's hot sauce.

One of my favorite meals, homemade tomato sauce over a thick piece of toast ripped into shreds and topped with a ton of mozzarella cheese, only comes out when I am home alone after a very bad day.

But eating alone can also mean eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon after someone made you cry at work. I'll admit to having eaten meals composed entirely of Ritz crackers, peanut butter and strawberry jelly. I probably shouldn't admit to having omitted the crackers in favor of vanilla ice cream once on an abysmal day.

Nor will I suggest that most emotional problems can be solved by shaking some white chocolate chips into a jar of peanut butter and eating it with a spoon.

What I will say is that it's times like the latter when you wish you had a go-to "for-one" meal that wasn't a lot of fuss. While a sandwich is OK when that's what you want, if you're alone and want a dinner that feels like, well, dinner, it can be easy to feel as though you don't have a single option.

Enter the eggplant lasagna. It's healthy, fast, and also somewhat fancy. It totally beats a tasteless reheated frozen dinner. And while it might not have the same comfort factor that a Ritz-and-peanut-butter sandwich does, it's sure to make you feel better about your culinary skills, at least.

Happy broiling!

Eggplant Lasagna with Garlic Toast


For lasagna:

1/3 cup marinara sauce

2 ¼-inch-thick slices eggplant

½ cup chopped portobello mushrooms

½ cup thawed frozen spinach

¼ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

For toast:

1 hamburger bun

3 tsp. olive oil

¼ tsp. chopped garlic

Layer lasagna ingredients in order in a small oven-proof bowl, making two layers of each ingredient and ending with the mozzarella. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese bubbles. Meanwhile, top the hamburger bun with olive oil and garlic. Toast under broiler on high or in toaster oven for two minutes or until golden. Serve, and enjoy indulging in a gourmet Italian meal made just for you—and only you.

Katherine Wutz is a staff writer for the Idaho Mountain Express.

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