It’s not easy being a bachelor. Actually, it’s really easy being a bachelor. He gets to watch as much sports as he wants, leave his things around the house right where he left them, and spend as much time as he wants in the bathroom — or so I’m told. Life is pretty, pretty good.
One of the few drawbacks? Limited experience cooking and no one to cook with him. But like most drawbacks of bachelorhood, there’s a silver lining, and this is no different. Sure, you might be alone in the kitchen, but that also means you get to eat whatever you want, whenever you want.
Like most single people I know, I’d like to eat out (or at least get takeout) for every meal. But also like most people, I can’t afford that lifestyle. Even so, I’d still rather not spend much time or effort cooking. So I’ve picked up a few quick-and-easy meals that I keep coming back to, because, well, they’re quick and easy — without sacrificing taste.
But first, a disclaimer: if you’re looking for gourmet, I’m sure you could find it in a cookbook, but not here. What I can offer you is quick, easy, and affordable. Note: all ingredients below can be found at your neighborhood grocery store.
Without further ado, here are three recipes and a bonus cocktail recipe to get you through your bachelor years:
1. Penne Rosa
In college, I studied abroad for a semester in Rome, and I fell in love with Italian Trattoria cooking. In another life, I would pull a Dev in Master of None and go back and learn how to do it for real. Until then, I like to think I’ve come up with a decent alternative. In Minnesota, tomatoes are out of season for much of the year, so I knew I had to find an alternative in a jar. My favorite is Classico, specifically their Tomato and Basil sauce, which reminds me the most of Italy.
1 lb. penne pasta (my go-to is Barilla)
4 quarts water
14 oz. Tomato & Basil Sauce
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 lb. Italian sausage
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup parsley flakes
1/8 cup red pepper flakes
4 slices frozen garlic bread
20 oz frozen brussel sprouts (Green Giant steamers are easiest)
Preferred beverage pairing
750 ml Chianti (Da Vinci is good)
- Dump salt and water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add pasta. Boil pasta until it is ‘al dente’ (that’s Italiano for “cooked so as to be still firm when bitten”).
- Heat sauce to a simmer.
- Chop sausage and brown thoroughly (undercooking pork can be dangerous).
- Cook brussel sprouts (follow package directions — I microwave).
- Toast garlic bread.
- Drain water from pasta.
- Plate pasta, pour sauce, and top with sausage, cheese, parsley flakes, and pepper flakes.
Makes 2–4 servings.
2. Diner Burger
Growing up, I would marvel at how good the burgers were that my mom made on the grill. Looking back, it was definitely the beginning of my love affair with a well-seasoned hamburger patty. Her secret? Salt and pepper. Still undefeated. Who knew? Since then, my tastes have matured a bit, but the essentials remain: never neglect to season a hamburger patty. Oh, and if you really want a tasty burger? Cook it on the stove.
1 lb. 80/20 ground beef
4 hamburger buns
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup mayo
2–4 slices sharp cheddar
4 strips of bacon
10 oz. frozen crinkle fries
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
Preferred beverage pairing
- Preheat oven. Place fries on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for suggested time on package. Toss in salt and pepper to taste.
- Butter both sides of buns.
- Fry bacon over medium heat.
- Saute onion in 1–2 tablespoons butter.
- Form hamburger into three patties, cover one side in salt and pepper and place seasoned side on frying pan over medium heat, add cover.
- Cook hamburgers 2–4 minutes, cover other side with salt and pepper, then flip and cover. (I prefer medium rare, which comes with a risk of course. Cook longer if preferred.)
- Cook 1 minute, then add cheese and cover.
- Place buns in frying pan over medium heat. Brown both sides.
- Remove hamburgers and buns from heat.
- Add mayo on top of cheese, then bacon, then onions.
3. Salsa Fresca
If you’ve ever gone to a Mexican restaurant and filled up on chips and salsa long before your entrée arrived, this recipe is for you. Surprisingly simple, yet oh so delicious — and versatile. Great on everything from chips to eggs to tacos and, yes, even a diner burger.
28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 fresh red onion, chopped
1 oz. fresh cilantro, chopped
3–4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 lime, halved
1–2 Serrano peppers, diced
Preferred beverage pairing
- Drain tomatoes thoroughly and dump into large mixing bowl.
- Add onion, cilantro, garlic, and peppers.
- Squeeze juice of lime into mix and stir.
- Add salt to taste.
Makes approx. 25 oz., enough to complement a meal for four.
4. Bonus round: Margaritas
Margaritas: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em…until you drink mine, and then you love ‘em, even if you didn’t think you did. The secret, of course, is fresh lime juice, and just the right balance of sour to sweet to tequila.
4 oz. tequila (El Jimador or similar is just fine)
1.5 oz. 100% real lime juice
1 oz. orange/curacao liqueur (splurge on Pierre Ferrand’s Dry Curacao and thank me later)
1 oz. heavy simple syrup (my go-to is Powell & Mahoney)
10 oz. ice cubes
1 lime, sliced
- Pour all liquid ingredients into cocktail shaker, and add a pinch of salt.
- Fill with ice.
- Shake for 10–15 seconds. Stop and taste with straw. Shake more if necessary.
- Strain into two glasses.
- Top with ice, if desired.
- Insert one lime slice into each glass.
From one bachelor to another, bon appétit!