Monday, 30 November -0001

Independent Eaters

Transform cooking solo into an exciting and creative experience, says Linda Tubby

Written by Linda Tubby
Whether you are one of the fastrising people living as one, renting in shared accommodation, or just occasionally catering solo, cooking for yourself is a most satisfying part of self-nurture. When thought and care are given to the process, from shopping for ingredients to preparing a meal, you can take great pleasure in eating the results. Feeding oneself can provide an experience that brings a more confident solo existence along with happiness and contentment. The ethos and the recipes in my book are an attempt to inspire just that. 

Most of us eat a reasonable diet and love to make food a considered part of a daily routine. But when stressed and hungry, we can panic eat, usually turning to unhealthy foods. We swoop on what will fill us up quickly with the least possible work. So it’s time to transform cooking solo into an exciting, creative experience so that meals aren’t just viewed as quick fuel, grabbed to eat on the run, but a means to nurture yourself as many days of the week as you can manage.

Of course, the quantities can be doubled to serve two or three, depending on how many dishes you decide to cook. But in general, I cook and eat well but more fundamentally, I enjoy the entire process. I hope you will too.

Solo: Inspirational Cooking For One, by Linda Tubby, with photography by Ali Allen, is published by Kyle Books, priced £16.99.

Seared tuna with quinoa, mangetout and cucumber salad (pictured above)

Serves 1

60g tricolore quinoa
1 x 2.5cm thick piece of fresh tuna
3 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 orange
50g mangetout
8-10 French breakfast or mixed coloured radishes, sliced
10cm piece of cucumber, peeled in strips, deseeded and halved lengthways
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Violas or other edible flowers (optional), to serve

Rinse the quinoa and put in a pan with 150ml cold water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cook for 8 mins. Remove from the heat and leave, covered, for 20 mins. Season with salt and pepper and tip into a dish to cool completely.

Coat the tuna in 1 tsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Put the remaining oil in a bowl and whisk in the orange juice and season.

Cook the mangetout in salted boiling water for 2 mins, drain in a colander and refresh in cold water. Pile a few together at a time and slice into 3 lengthways. Put them in a serving dish with the quinoa, radishes and cucumber and pour over the orange dressing.

Heat a ridged grill pan over a high heat until just smoking, reduce the heat and sear the tuna for 2 mins on the first side and 1 min on the other for rare or cook to your liking. Remove and let the tuna rest on a plate for 5 mins before slicing and laying on top of the salad.

To serve, scatter with a few violas or other edible flowers.

Tray-roasted vegetables and crispy parsley leaves with salsa salmoriglio

Serves 1


250g piece celeriac (half a small root), cut into 10 wedges
1 fennel bulb, cut into 6 lengthways
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 10 pieces
2-3 small red or pink onions, halved
1 pale green baton courgette, cut into 4 lengthways
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil u pink Himalayan salt crystals and freshly ground black pepper
About 10 flat-leaf parsley leaves
12 cherry tomatoes on the vine

For the salsa salmoriglio
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
About 10g flat-leaf parsley
3 sprigs marjoram or oregano
½ tsp pink Himalayan salt crystals, roughly crushed
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

To make the salsa salmoriglio, put the oil and lemon juice in a bowl, whisk in 2 tbsp water and add the garlic. Chop the parsley and marjoram (or oregano) together and add to the bowl with the salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 220C/ gas mark 7.

In a pan of boiling water, blanch the celeriac for a minute and leave to drain in a colander. Put the remaining prepared vegetables (except the parsley and tomatoes) in a large, shallow roasting tin, add the oil and seasoning with the celeriac and toss together then lay the veggies out so that they don’t overlap.

Roast for 25-30 mins, adding the parsley and tomatoes for the last 5 mins. (It helps if you open the oven door to let the steam escape from time to time during roasting so the vegetables don’t steam.) Serve with the salsa salmoriglio.

Ali’s quick fix of ravioli, courgette and goat’s cheese

Serves 1


125g good-quality pumpkin-stuffed ravioli or filled pasta of choice
1-2 courgettes, about 175g (in green and yellow if available), shaved with a vegetable peeler into ribbons
4 tsp soft goat’s cheese u extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Freshly ground black pepper, to serve
Pinch of pul biber pepper flakes, to serve

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Cook for 5 mins (don’t overboil them as they tend to split) or according to the packet instructions. When they are just about done, add the courgette ribbons for the last 20 seconds. Drain and put in a warmed bowl, dot with the spoons of goat’s cheese, add a good slick of extra virgin olive oil, some pepper and the pinch of pul biber.

Eat while hot.

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