Yesterday was our wedding anniversary, and like many other special occasions we have shared in the past, we celebrated in our traditional manner: I drove him to the airport.

The husband travels often… this has been a norm since the day I met him, so we are both comfortable with the comings and goings and the time apart. It has helped us to foster independence from each other and keeps us from taking each other for granted.

In the beginning, one of my biggest challenges when he was gone was cooking dinner for just lil ol’ me.  I love to cook. I find so much comfort in cooking for my friends and loved ones, but it just seemed sad and pointless to cook for myself. I’d end up eating toast with peanut butter or a bowl of cereal or canned soup… some pathetic excuse for a meal that would leave me feeling even more lonely and unsatisfied than a night without my husband.

Recently, I’ve found joy in these dinners for one. So much of my normal meal planning centers around pleasing my husband… not because I feel like I have to please, but just that I want to please, to delight, to nourish. Cooking is an act of love. So I finally realized that on these solo nights, I should show myself the same care, love, and joy that I would show my husband or my friends.

Last night I came home and my best friend called. We talked for a good hour and a half, and it was almost 8 p.m. by the time we said our goodbyes… and I hadn’t even thought about dinner. I was hell bent on watching a movie too, and since I like to be in bed well before 11, time was quickly slipping through my fingertips.

I didn’t make it to the farmer’s market this weekend, so my veggie selection was sparse (to say the least). A few small zucchini and some sad looking green onions were all that remained in the crisper from last week’s trip.

I rummaged around the pantry cupboard and pulled out a can of black beans and a can of fire roasted tomatoes. I started some water boiling on the stove for a quick polenta (though any grain would work with this), and got to work on a very quick dinner for one. From start to finish, this took me about 15 minutes to prepare. To make things even easier, you could use those microwaveable brown rice packets from Trader Joe’s frozen food section. As I mentioned above, I was limited in my vegetable selection, but any fresh vegetables you have on hand could work well in this.

  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 can black beans, loosely drained
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes, diced with juice


In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and stir for 1 minute, add the zucchini and the spices. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the black beans and tomatoes, simmer until heated through.


Serve over prepared polenta, brown rice, couscous, quinoa, or cornbread.