Serve favorites in the perfect size for two

Households come in all sizes and for smaller numbers, cooking can be a challenge. Single chefs, empty nesters, roommates — those who don't need to feed a big crowd but want tasty dishes need to get creative.

America's Test Kitchen understood this and, in 2014, it released a cookbook focused on cooking for two. It remained popular and now, 10 years later, the test kitchen released an updated "The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook," with 200 new recipes and tips on avoiding food waste and using leftover ingredients.

Check out easy plant-based options and other quick dishes in the new cookbook, available at

Chicken and chorizo paella

Total time: 55 minutes

Paella is a fragrant Spanish rice dish usually loaded with meat, seafood, and vegetables. To translate this classic into a streamlined weeknight version with all the flavor of the original, the Test Kitchen team combined chorizo sausage and a chicken breast, a duo that was hearty enough to forgo seafood altogether. A rich sofrito of onion, garlic and tomato gives it a deep flavor, and bright peas and briny olives added color and dimension. This dish calls for short-grain Valencia rice, but you can substitute Arborio rice if you cannot find Valencia. Do not substitute long-grain rice. Look for large, pitted green olives at the olive bar in the supermarket. Pimento-stuffed olives can be substituted for the large green olives in a pinch.

1½ cups water, divided

1/2 cup Valencia or Arborio rice

1/4 teaspoon table salt, divided

4 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided

4 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced quarter-inch thick

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and sliced quarter-inch thick

Pinch pepper

1 small onion, chopped fine

3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

1/4 cup pitted large green olives, quartered

1/4 cup frozen peas

Combine 1 cup water, rice and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cover and microwave until rice is softened and most of the liquid is absorbed, 6 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a 10‑inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the chorizo and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a plate. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add chicken to fat left in the skillet; break up any clumps; and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 4 minutes; transfer to the plate with the chorizo.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook until beginning to soften and darken, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and saffron and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in remaining half-cup water and reserved tomato juice, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the parcooked rice, breaking up any large clumps, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover; and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 8 to 12 minutes.

Stir in browned chorizo and chicken along with any accumulated juices, olives and peas and increase heat to medium-​high. Cook, uncovered, until the bottom layer of rice is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes, rotating skillet halfway through cooking to ensure even browning. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Classic lasagna

Total time: 1½ hours, plus 20 minutes cooling

Lasagna is a crowd-pleaser but it’s also time-consuming to prepare. A streamlined version for two includes an easy meaty tomato sauce made with meatloaf mix offering more flavor and richness than ground beef. A little cream with diced tomatoes and canned tomato sauce creates a velvety sauce reminiscent of a Bolognese. These noodles fit perfectly in a loaf pan, layered with the sauce and a combination of mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan for a perfectly proportioned two-person lasagna. If you can’t find meatloaf mix, substitute 4 ounces each of ground pork and 90 percent lean ground beef. Do not substitute fat-free ricotta.


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped fine

1/8 teaspoon table salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 ounces meatloaf mix

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 (14.5‑ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with 1/4 cup juice reserved

1 (8‑ounce) can tomato sauce

Filling, noodles and cheese

4 ounces (1/2 cup) whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup), plus 2 tablespoons, grated, divided

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/8 teaspoon table salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 no-boil lasagna noodles, divided

4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup), divided

For the sauce: Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in meatloaf mix and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 2 minutes.

Stir in cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and reserved juice and tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until flavors are blended, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the filling, noodles, and cheese: Combine ricotta, half-cup Parmesan, basil, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Spread a half-cup sauce over the bottom of the loaf pan, avoiding large chunks of meat. Lay one noodle in a pan, spread one-third of the ricotta mixture over the noodle, sprinkle with a quarter-cup mozzarella, and top with a half-cup sauce; repeat layering two more times. Lay the remaining noodle in the pan and top with the remaining sauce, the remaining quarter-cup mozzarella, and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Bake until sauce bubbles lightly around edges, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until hot throughout and cheese is browned in spots, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.