Cookbook filter - Easy, low-carb-ish recipes for two
December 11, 2016 10:10 AM   Subscribe

GiftFilter: I'm looking for the perfect cookbook for a retired couple who like new flavors but dislike endless leftovers, long prep times, and empty carbs.

Looking for a cookbok that matches some or all of the following criteria:
- Based on "whole foods" rather than "processed" ingredients (loaded terms I know, but hopefully give an idea of what I'm looking for)
- Based around lean(ish) proteins and vegetables. Doesn't have to be low carb or paleo but should have plenty of recipes that don't involve pasta, bread or rice
- Dairy OK but not looking for cheese or butter smothered dishes
- Legumes and whole grains OK as minor ingredients or side dishes, but shouldn't be the main course
- Previous favorites recipes of theirs have been Cooking Light's Eggplant Involtini and
- Recipes with low prep time and recipes for 2 (or that can be easily scaled down to 2 servings) are a big plus.
- No preachiness - any cookbook where the first 50 pages extol the virtues of a certain diet are out
Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
posted by aerobic to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Nom Nom Paleo.
posted by neushoorn at 10:28 AM on December 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is on the old fashioned side, but I found some good recipes in the 5 in 10 Chicken Breast Cookbook. (It does not have pretty pictures.)
posted by puddledork at 10:29 AM on December 11, 2016

Jerusalem checks all your boxes: new flavors for most people and most recipes are for 2-4 (or "4 as a starter," which I find translates into two for a main dish). Dishes, even side dishes, are rarely based on carbs, grains or legumes. I think there's one pasta dish in the whole thing. Everything is low on dairy, and mostly restricted to using some Greek yogurt. It's all about good food, which means whole instead of processed, but it's not preachy at all. Some recipes take some time to roast a vegetable or meat or simmer a soup or something, but I have a whole rotation that are suitable for weeknight cooking (1/2 hour, or at least less than an hour). The one potential drawback is that for a couple recipes I have to substitute or leave out an obscure ingredient when I can't find it or don't want to spend money on it. Sorry, I'm not going to spend time trying to find pomegranate molasses.
posted by alligatorpear at 11:10 AM on December 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

All of the Ottolenghi cookbooks, including Jerusalem as alligatorpear points out might fit the bill very well. One thing I love about his cookbook writing is that he will tell you if an ingredient is a critical flavor in the recipe, and what you can do to substitute for it. He's also very up-front about how fussy a part of the dish is to make and will let you know what is nice-to-have instead of must-have (like he'll say that a sauce that goes with the dish is great, but it's also delicious with a squeeze of lemon and some Greek yogurt, for instance).
posted by gateau at 1:39 PM on December 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am a big fan of Sheet Pan Paleo and Cast Iron Paleo. I do not eat a paleo diet by any means, but I still really like both cookbooks -- the focus is on quick, tasty dishes with minimal clean-up (from the titles, obviously one is focused on things you cook on a sheet pan, and the other on things you cook in a cast iron skillet, making either a good pairing with one of those things as a gift). I checked, and there is about 15 pages at the front on "what paleo is", etc. but honestly it's not too many pages and easy to skip.

Obviously the dishes themselves are written to follow a paleo diet, but I have found that when the author occasionally calls for an odd paleo ingredient (for example, the recipes always call for "coconut palm sugar"), I can just sub the regular ingredient (i.e. regular sugar) with no problems. If one were on any sort of low-carb diet, I think this would definitely fit the bill. The focus on paleo does mean that the focus is on few processed ingredients/more whole foods. And, everything I've made has turned out to be very tasty!

Flipping through my copies, some of the recipes are written as serving 2, and others serve 4 -- but, I think most of them would be pretty easily scale-able down-ward for people only cooking for 2.

Finally, just a fair warning there are no photos -- this does not bother me but I know some people hate cookbooks with no photos, so don't want there to be sad surprises!
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:50 PM on December 11, 2016

I can't link from this device, but just this morning I flipped through Melissa Hartwig's new Whole30 Cookbook and was impressed at how 1)tasty, 2) relatively simple and 3) modestly-scaled (i.e. four servings or less) the recipes looked. Definitely whole foods, fairly diverse cuisines represented. I was shopping for others (who do not enjoy cooking), but spent the rest of the day sorry I didn't buy myself a copy.
posted by little mouth at 6:42 PM on December 11, 2016

"Eat" by Nigel Slater might work. The 4 sections of recipes (one for each season) are full of simple recipes for two. Very little bread or pasta, although potatoes make many appearances. The focus is on fresh produce and meat. I love Slater's recipes. I cook from this nearly every week.
posted by MrBobinski at 6:17 PM on December 15, 2016

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