Cooking for one is something new I’ve had to learn in college. I really enjoyed cooking back in high school when I was living at home, too, but most things I made were for at least the five people in my family. I also had a big kitchen, a huge selection of ingredients and spices, people to help me clean up the kitchen, and bit more free time. Now that I live in a dorm and cook primarily for just myself, I like to make simple things that don’t require multiple pots and pans or lots of ingredients. During busy weeks, the extent of my cooking may be roasting a few trays of chopped veggies, baking some sweet potatoes, boiling some pasta in my dorm’s kitchen, and making smoothies and microwave oatmeal in my room.
One of my favorite simple meals for one is a pasta bowl with lots of veggies and cheese. It’s more of a method rather than a recipe, but I figured it’s worth sharing if you’re like me and always looking for easy new meal ideas– especially cooking for one!
In my pasta bowls, I include whole-grain pasta, spinach, sautéd veggies like mushrooms and bell peppers, marinara sauce, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese. These remind me a lot of lasagna, my absolutely favorite meal, and I’d even go so far as to call this a lazy girl lasagna. (Or just a busy girl lasagna!) Here’s what I do:
Cook 2 ounces of whole-grain pasta according to package directions. You can add a handful of chopped broccoli florets to the pasta pot during the last 3 minutes of cooking, if you’d like.
Place a large handful of spinach in the colander before draining the pasta. The hot water will almost immediately wilt the spinach so I don’t have to cook it separately.
Time to layer! Start with the wilted spinach and noodles.
Next, add leftover sautéd or roasted vegetables. Mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and zucchini are some of my favorites to use here.
Add cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. Cottage cheese is my preference since it’s higher in protein! Sprinkle on some mozzarella…Top with lots of sauce…
A little more cheese…And pop it into the microwave for 60 seconds or so, until the cheese on top is melted and everything’s heated through. Let me know if you give it a try and put your own spin on it– the variations are endless!
- 2 ounces whole-grain pasta
- A large handful of spinach, washed
- 1/2 cup sautéd or roasted vegetables, chopped
- 1/4 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons mozzarella cheese, divided
- 3/4 cup marinara sauce
Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse spinach in a colander and drain the pasta directly on top of the spinach to wilt it. Transfer spinach and pasta to a microwave safe bowl.
Add veggies, cottage or ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon of mozzarella cheese, and marinara sauce. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
Microwave for 60-90 seconds, or until cheese on top is melted and everything is heated through. Enjoy!
These are the quantities I use to make one serving, but I'll often double the recipe to enjoy the second bowl a day or two later.
When I sauté mushrooms, peppers, etc. for omelets, I'll freeze the extras and add them to meals like this.
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