Quick Cooking for 2–With Flavor and Deliciousness!

Many couples are stymied when it comes to getting a delicious, good-tasting, meal on the table in no time. Many recipes in cookbooks or on the internet yield multiple servings and although it’s nice to have leftovers, sometimes one just doesn’t want to eat the same meal three days in a row. To make a quick meal that is satisfying does require having certain essential items in your pantry: olive oil, dried legumes, some kind of meat (in this recipe below, pork). If you were to open my refrigerator you wouldn’t see anything to eat–you would see the elements to something to eat, in other words, the basic foundations of ingredients that get combined into a preparation. In the spring a nice dish is one of pork, chicory, and lentils. It’s very flavorful, it’s quite healthy, and it’s easy and quick to make. In some sense it’s a one-pot meal because you really don’t need to make any side dishes.

Pork with Chicory and Lentils
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This preparation combines several separate threads of flavor into one satisfying whole. The pork is pan-seared until browned and then sautéed with tomatoes, chicory and lentils. If you are unable to find the slightly bitter salad greens chicory or escarole you can replace them with arugula or dandelion.
Recipe type: One Pot Meal
Cuisine: Pork Cookery
Serves: 2
  • ½ pound chicory or escarole (about half a head), washed well
  • ¼ cup green lentils
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ pound pork shoulder, fat removed, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 ounce salt pork or pancetta, diced very small
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, salt lightly, add the chicory and cook until 1 minute past when the water comes back to a boil, about 5 minutes in all. Drain the chicory well, then cut into strips.
  2. Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water by several inches. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the lentils are tender but not breaking apart, 25 to 35 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat, then cook the pork until golden brown and a little crispy on the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Remove the meat from the skillet and set aside with the chicory. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet along with the salt pork and cook over medium-high heat until the salt pork has rendered some fat and is a little crispy, stirring, about 4 minutes. Return the pork and chicory to the skillet and add the tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are softer, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, stir and cook until everything is blended, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Eggs and Ham

Breakfast is the meal of the day that most cooks keep simple. At best they might use some leftovers to dress it up, but no one want to prep food in the morning.  When I say breakfast, I don’t mean early brunch. If you’re eating breakfast after 10 am I consider it brunch.  A real breakfast is something I’ll eat about an hour after I awake and I awake at 5 am.  First off is coffee of course.  I don’t put much consideration into breakfast either. I’ll have a piece of fruit, or I might have cold cereal, or hot oatmeal–microwaved. But if I cook, eggs will be it. Pancakes and such are saved for the weekend and now that the children are grown and gone, I rarely make their favorite Sunday morning treat of waffles and maple syrup.

Eggs offer themselves as the easiest early morning solution to the lazy or sleepy cook. I make them every which way and might eat them with a meat, or cheese, or bread of some kind.  But eggs and ham is about the easiest and there is no bacon fat to remove.  When I say “ham” I don’t mean that watery packaged deli ham, I mean artisanal ham produced by a variety of people around the country.  One tends to have to buy the whole ham, so that might be a limitation, since a 10 pound ham shipped FedEx might set you back $100. In any case, Google it and see what you come up with. There is a big difference between dry-cured hams like prosciutto and smoked hams like southern hams, so know what you’re looking for.

In any case, once you’ve got the ham it’s best to cook ham and eggs together in a nonstick pan and slide them out onto a plate.  I also like to have the ham cut not less than a 1/4 inch thick. The yolks are broken and you slide the ham pieces in it along with toast or biscuits to dip. Simple, memorable, and recipe-less.

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