And sometimes the stigma of eating alone at a restaurant in public is worse than eating home alone, despite how little energy you may have to whip something together.
Well, I'm here to reassure you that cooking at home for one doesn't have to be a miserable experience.
In fact, it can actually be quite fun and adventurous. I've found that after a long day at work, peeling vegetables, chopping food and experimenting with recipes is an amazing stress reliever. Most of all it brings out my creative side. It allows me to focus and not think about any one or anything.
Tonight I was exhausted and not entirely sure I had the energy to make a full meal, but I forged ahead.
My pasta dish turned out to be simple, tasty and creative. I'm going to call it "Danny Boy's Spicy Peanut and Garlic Pasta."
I'm a huge Beatles fan so I've decided to combine my passion for what I consider to be the all time best rock and roll band in history and marry it with my love of food to hopefully create some some snappy recipe titles.
Anyways, back to my dinner.
I had no pasta sauce in the house but knew I really wanted a fulfilling pasta dish. So, I knew from the start that either this dish was going to be awful or really amazing and different.
Not having a pre made sauce didn't hamper my sauce at all. Based on what I had in the house I decided it would consist of an olive oil and garlic base.
In a medium size pan I sautéed 5 cloves of garlic in about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Normally I would add onions to most dishes, but I was also out of onions. But you could add 1/2 chopped onion to this sauce if you desire for extra flavor.
I added 3 chopped carrots, 1 cup of frozen broccoli florets, and 1 cup of frozen peas to the browned garlic. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
To add texture and protein to the sauce, I pulled out a bag of Trader Joe's "chicken-less" strips. These can be added to most any dish, but are particularly good in a stir fry or pasta dish.
I chopped the strips up into small pieces and added them to the vegetable sauté. Stir frequently for another 3 to 5 minutes.
I'm a big fan of seasoning. As a vegetarian, I've learned over the years that some soy protein meat alternatives aren't that flavorful and require a spice boost. For this dish I added about 1 teaspoon of each: chili pepper, salt, Trader Joe's "everyday seasoning", dried oregano and dried basil.
The seasoning amounts can be altered according to your preferences. I enjoy spicy dishes, so I made sure there was plenty of chili pepper in the pan.
By this point, your pan is probably brimming with vegetables and needs an additional 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to prevent sticking. I also added another teaspoon of freshly chopped garlic. I'm of the opinion that there can never be enough garlic in a dish!
Pasta sauces with cheese are always satisfying. I had some manchego cheese in the fridge and threw that into the pan as well.
Before I tasted this "experimental" sauce, I knew something was missing but couldn't tell quite what it was. After searching through my cabinets I discovered a big jar of peanuts.
I threw in approximately 1 cup of peanuts and another 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and mixed the ingredients together. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes so that the peanuts can soften.
Top your vegetable mixture over a plate of pasta and enjoy!
Warning, this isn't your typical pasta sauce. If you are looking for a more traditional tomato or Alfredo type sauce, this isn't it. However, if you want to try something new with a little bit of spice and peanut flavor, give it a whirl and let me know what you think!