Double Duty Dinner a Deux


Cooking for two can be a challenge, especially for those of us who have spent decades feeding a family. The shift from high volume to small portion can be a bumpy transition, with much food going to waste.

However, this need not be the case. With just a bit of planning, you can cook once and eat twice without feeling like you’re stuck with leftovers.

But first, a few notes on nutrition at this golden stage of life.

As we age, we need the same nutrients as we always have — in some cases even more of things like calcium and vitamin B12. But we tend to burn less energy as physical activity declines and our metabolism slows, so we require a lower calorie intake to maintain (not gain) weight. Yet another gift of aging, but let’s remember that it beats the alternative.

The strategy is simple: Choose lean proteins, whole grains and a wide array of fruits and vegetables. Also, consuming a variety of deeply colored vegetables and fruits is a tasty (and pretty) way to ensure that you are getting the necessary vitamins. Think kale over iceberg lettuce, or sweet potatoes over white potatoes.

The following recipes enable you to cook dinner tonight and set up dinner (or lunch) tomorrow. The salmon, sautéed vegetables and roasted sweet potatoes offer a delicious and healthy repast tonight.

The oven temperature is the same for both the salmon and sweet potatoes; simply prep the spuds first, pop them in the oven and, 25 minutes later, roast the fish. Both will come out at the same time, ready to go. And fear not if the fish needs a bit longer — you can’t really overcook the sweet potatoes; a few more minutes in the oven will do them just fine.

For tomorrow, you will assemble a salad using the leftovers. Two for the price of one.

If you are one of those people who loves a sweet after a meal, consider a small piece of dark chocolate, a scoop of sorbet, or some in-season fruit like berries or melon. Satisfying, delicious and not overly caloric.

Roasted Salmon

Roasted salmon | OlenaMykhaylova/Thinkstock

Serves two with leftovers for tomorrow’s meal

A word on the fish: I enjoy the taste and texture of farmed North Atlantic salmon, and the price is right, too. However, I have recently learned from research and my fishmonger that organic and wild salmon are far superior nutritionally and environmentally.

They are a bit trickier to cook because they are leaner and can tend to dry out. But vigilance and some oil or butter ensure a good result.

Here’s another nifty trick — the marinade you make for the salmon will do double duty on tomorrow’s salad.

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon (approximately ¼ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Generous dousing of fresh cracked pepper

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.

Coat the salmon with three tablespoons of the mixture, and let it sit for 20 minutes. Save the remaining mixture for tomorrow’s salad.

Roast the salmon in the oven for about 20 minutes until done.

Sauteed Red Cabbage and Kale

Serves two

  • ½ head red cabbage
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Generous dousing of fresh cracked pepper

Slice the red cabbage into thin ribbons.

Remove the stalks from the kale and slice the leaves into thin ribbons.

Heat the oil in a large skillet with the salt and pepper.

Take about three handfuls of the sliced vegetables and place them in the skillet. Place the remaining vegetables in a Ziploc bag for tomorrow’s salad with salad dressing. Give it a good shake and store it in your fridge overnight.

Cook the cabbage and kale over medium heat until wilted and soft, stirring frequently; this should take about 10 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Roasted sweet potatoes | Plateresca/Thinkstock

Serves two with leftovers for tomorrow

4 sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into bite-sized chunks.

Toss the sweet potatoes in a baking dish with the oil, salt and pepper.

Roast them in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the edges are browning and the sweet potatoes are soft throughout. Serve two portions with the meal, and put two portions in the fridge for tomorrow.

For tomorrow, you are prepped and ready to make the following:

Salmon Salad

This is a delightful light lunch or supper, and best of all, you’ve done the work — it’s just a matter of dumping everything onto the plate and, voila, a gourmet meal in a minute. You may wish to add a spritz of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper to the top of this if the kale and cabbage have absorbed all of the dressing; give it a taste first and see.

  • 2 fillets cooked salmon
  • Dressed kale/cabbage mixture
  • Roasted sweet potatoes

Place the dressed kale/cabbage mixture in a large, shallow bowl.

Place the salmon filets in the center of the dish and surround them with sweet potatoes.

Dinner is served.


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