AUSTIN, Texas – I love it when my husband cooks, but he has a habit of using a pot or pan on every burner of the stove that drives me a little crazy.
There’s one small saute pan for the vegetables, a pot in which to boil the pasta or grain, a third to cook the meat and maybe even a fourth for gravy or sauce.
He’s a great cook, and his cooking style has made me an even better dishwasher, but that is one of the reasons I’m increasingly drawn to one-pot cooking when it’s my turn to put dinner on the table.
I was happy to see a trio of cookbooks coming out this fall that are based around the idea of using as few dishes as possible to make breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
Robin Robertson’s book “One-Dish Vegan: More Than 150 Soul-Satisfying Recipes for Easy and Delicious One-Bowl and One-Plate Dinners” (Harvard Common Press, $16.95) makes up in healthfulness what it lacks in photography; the enticing cover photo of brown rice, white beans, shiitakes and spinach is the only one in the book, sadly. But if you’re looking for new ways to use beans, grains, tofu and vegetables, you’ll find them here.
Yvonne Ruperti appeals to bakers such as me who love sweet treats but hate making a sinkful of dishes in the process. The Singapore-based writer’s new book, “One Bowl Baking: Simple, From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts” (Running Press, $22), is a dream book for beginners, who can follow a sequence of directions, or ganache-making pros, who can appreciate the nuances between muffin and cake batter.
But my favorite is “Take One Pot: Super Simple Recipes Cooked in One Pot, Full Stop,” by Georgina Fuggle (Kyle Books, $22.95), a British author who will inspire you to think differently about that heavy Dutch oven sitting on your kitchen shelf.
Such a pot is the original “only tool you’ll ever need in the kitchen,” but one that has been cast aside in favor of entire sets of pans in every size, shape and nonstick coating.
Soups, stews and chilis are the easiest one-pot dinners, but not all one-pot dinners have to be served in a bowl. With a little planning, you can make a typical protein-vegetable-starch dinner to scoop out on a plate. The key is knowing when to add each of the items so that they don’t over- or undercook.
If you’re used to cooking each part of a meal in a different vessel, it will likely be harder than you expect to break that routine, but one-pot cooking also will get you thinking differently about dinner, which is helpful when routine starts to feel repetitive.
Brown Rice And White Beans With Shiitakes And Spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 cup water
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (about 2 cups)
1 1/4 cups brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 scallions, chopped
8 ounces (about 8 cups) fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or 15.5-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or basil
Heat the oil or water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook about 3 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, cover, and simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Uncover, and add the scallions and spinach, stirring until the spinach wilts. Stir in the beans and dill. Cook for 5 minutes longer, or until the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve hot.
Yields 4 servings.
From “One-Dish Vegan: More Than 150 Soul-Satisfying Recipes for Easy and Delicious One-Bowl and One-Plate Dinners,” by Robin Robertson.
Spanish Chicken With Chorizo And Garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 large chicken thighs, with bones and skin
7 ounces cooking chorizo, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks
1 onion, cut into thin wedges
2 medium leeks, chopped into 3/4- to 1 1/4-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (unsmoked is fine, too)
Pinch of saffron threads
2 whole heads of garlic, cut in half horizontally and left unpeeled
4 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup sweet white wine
1 cup hot chicken stock
2 15-ounce cans lima beans, drained and rinsed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large casserole dish, heat the olive oil until smoking hot. Cook the chicken legs on both sides until they are crisp and golden, then transfer to a waiting plate. Keep the heat on high and add the chorizo chunks to the pot. Fry for a minute on each side and remove from the casserole with a slotted spoon so as to leave their oil behind.
Add the onion, leeks, and smoked paprika and saute in the delicious chorizo oil. Reduce the heat, cover, and soften the vegetables, 3 to 4 minutes, but check they don’t catch on the bottom of the pot.
Add the saffron, garlic halves, thyme, wine, and chicken stock to the pot along with the chicken and chorizo. Season well, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Let the pot do the work; yours is almost done.
Stir in the lima beans and cook for another 10 minutes before serving with a baked potato or two.
Yields six servings.
From “Take One Pot” by Georgina Fuggle.
Peanut Butter And Jam Bars
For the crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
16 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
For the filling
1 cup chunky peanut butter
8 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup jam, such as black currant or grape
Place an oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter and peanut butter, then mix with your hands until the mixture forms moist crumbs. Reserve 1 cup and set aside. Firmly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
Let the crust cool slightly while you prepare the filling.
Using the same large bowl, stir together the peanut butter, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and salt until combined and smooth. Spread over the baked crust. Drop tablespoons of jam onto the peanut butter filling and then use a butter knife to swirl the two together. Scatter the reserved crumbs over the top. Bake until the crumbs are deep golden brown and the filling is almost set, about 25 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Cut into 2-inch bars while still warm. Cool completely before serving.
Yields 16 bars.
From “One Bowl Baking: Simple, From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts,” by Yvonne Ruperti.