Blog, can we get real for a minute? Visiting family and friends all over the place this summer, I realized something weird. And it involves you. So I thought you should know. It’s just that, when people introduce me now they’ve started mentioning…you. And it’s weird.
One, it’s weird because I mainly feel like I’m talking to myself when I write and then randos mention TEHS (the worst acronym ever) and suddenly I’m wondering how much I’ve sworn lately or how too-intense-religious I’ve gotten in here. Secondly, it’s weird because the introduction usually goes something like this: “This is my [friend/family member/whatever], Heather. She is some sort of editor something [or works for a journal or university or however they spin it]. She is also a super great cook and writes this blog, etc.” So, that’s always nice to hear; buuuuuuut, half the people who say that haven’t eaten my food in a long time, or maybe ever. Maybe they’ve actually made something I’ve posted and I’m just being so modest, but I kind of think they just assume I know what I’m talking about because I choose to write stuff down.
If you write about something, even in the least expert venue possible, people are going to start taking you seriously in that arena. The thing is, I’m not a professional cook. I mean, keep reading my blog, try my recipes, send ’em around, indulge in the Pinterest, make me famous if you want to, but don’t think I’m a chef or live a superior foodie lifestyle just because I think about food too much and tend towards the loquacious.
So why am I even saying this? Because I feel like I need to preface this recipe post. The writer of one of my favorite food blogs, A Cozy Kitchen, occasionally posts ‘dinner for one’ recipes and I decided that that was a good idea. How respectable, right? Joining in the online food community, etc. No. No, this decision was in no way respectable. The reason this ‘dinner for one’ happened was not because I was feeling creative and driven. It happened because I have been living like a slob creature and after hitting a new dinner low decided that I need to be the change I want to see in the world.
Ever since I got back from summer travels, my food habits have gotten pretty rough. Maybe it’s the contrast from French food and constant pleasant companionship, maybe it’s that I’m still getting used to living alone, maybe it’s that I am a slug, but dinner has been a depressing time in my apartment lately. Seriously, it’s been pathetic; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten a whole avocado with a spoon while watching The Gilmore Girls and called it a day. I won’t mention the handfulls of walnuts and dark chocolate chips. So, when you look at the well rounded meal up there, just remember that there is a half empty bag of chocolate chips in my refrigerator right now and stop guilting me with your food-respect vibes.
Aaaanyway; here’s another tale of food regret and guilt feelings. When I moved into my new apartment I went on a wild pantry-stocking rampage with really good intentions. Coconut oil? Yes! Flax seed oil? I need that! Tahini? Yeah, of course! Guess what? Don’t buy things you don’t have an immediate plan for. Especially expensive things. Coconut oil is really great with vegetables (especially for roasting sweet potatoes), but I never think to use it when olive oil is always sitting on my counter. I guess I could use it instead of shampoo and soap and lotion and every other hygiene/beauty product, like everyone else. But what the H was I going to do with flax seed oil? I’m not a morning muffin person, unless someone hands me one. And I’m not going to put it in smoothies, because gross. Then there’s the tahini. If you don’t know, tahini is the thing that makes hummus taste delicious; it’s made from sesame seeds. But making hummus sounds exhausting when the only blendy thing you own is a stick immersion blender.
So, now you know the true source of this recipe post: intense neurosis; a turmoil of bad decisions and guilt. And boy is it delicious. I wanted to use up some spinach that was starting to look sad and wilty in my fridge (because who even had time for salads last week?) and then I had the idea of a weird pesto situation with tahini instead of pine nuts—thus alleviating food waste guilt, irresponsible spending guilt, and never-eating-like-a-human guilt all at once! It was a brilliant move, and tasted great on the potatoes and asparagus as well. The pesto tastes bright (from the lemon), nutty (from the tahini), and green (I can think of no better way to describe that) all at once. I’ll give you that recipe first, in case you’re not interested in the whole meal.
Spinach Tahini Pesto
- 1 C baby spinach, packed down a bit
- 4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 Tbsp tahini
- around 1/8 C olive oil
- 8-10 grinds of black pepper
- salt to taste
Directions: As previously implied, I don’t own a food processor. That would probably be the way to go with this. Just throw in everything except the salt and olive oil, then drizzle the olive oil in as you pulse until it’s smooth, then salt to taste. That’s more or less what I did with my immersion blender; it’s just a messier process. This makes double what you’ll need for a single dinner.
Dinner for One: Spinach Tahini Pesto Chicken with Roasted Winter Potatoes and Sauteed Asparagus
- Spinach Tahini Pesto (recipe above, duh)
- 1 small chicken breast
- 1 large or 2 small winter or new potatoes
- about 1/5 a bunch of asparagus (go for the skinny ones)
- olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 400.
- Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch rounds, drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper (I added some rosemary, but that’s not necessary) and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. You’ll roast them for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway.*
- Drizzle a cast iron skillet or grill pan with olive oil and preheat to medium/medium-high on your stove top. Sprinkle the chicken breast with salt and pepper on both sides and cook 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on size.
- After flipping the chicken, toss the asparagus in the same pan and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. If the pan looks really dry, add a little more more olive oil. Be sure to keep flipping the asparagus and take it off once it starts browning.
- When the chicken is cooked through, plate it and top with as much pesto as you feel comfortable consuming. Serve (yourself) with the potatoes and asparagus.
*I put the potatoes in, then made the pesto. When you’re done with the pesto it will be time to flip the potatoes and you can start on the chicken…perfect timing!
This meal would be incredible easy to make for more people, but it’s also great to make for yourself. It only takes 20 minutes and doesn’t create as much of a mess as you might think. If you’ve been having a rough dinner time lately and are feeling like a slug, this could be your way out of that vicious bad decision/guilt cycle. Throw on some Wilco, sit at your table instead of the couch, and spend some quality dinner time with yourself.