25 Delicious and Easy One-Pot Meals

by Marla Walters on 11 April 2014 1 comment

Ah, the one-pot dinner. In all honesty, based on a past filled with disappointments (too-chewy pasta, hard rice, tough tortillas) I had been avoiding them. However, due to a schedule change at work, I realized that for the weeks ahead I would need to be able to put dinner on the table more quickly. Also, since our dinner hour would be later, I would need to spend less time cleaning up afterward. It was a perfect combination to find and test the best of the one-pot recipes. Check out my results, below. (See also: Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Vegetarians)

1. Craving Italian

Would it really work to cook pasta in the pot, rather than to boil it separately? I was skeptical, but this Sun-Dried Tomato Penne Pasta Sausage Skillet really piqued my curiosity. I used an Italian turkey sausage, heavy on the fennel. The result? Delicious! I checked the pasta at the ten-minute mark; it seemed a little chewy, so I let it simmer another two minutes and served five minutes later.

2. Down on the Bayou

I had some leftover rotisserie chicken, red peppers, cooked rice, and celery in the refrigerator. What could I make? Gumbo, if I could find some okra (sure, in the grocer's freezer). I also had a full bottle of Tabasco sauce. I was ready! I could not meet the half-hour time estimate, only because I found some shrimp in the freezer and decided to toss those in, too. I also baked some Jiffy (mix) cornbread. Even though it took me closer to 45 minutes to pull this dinner together, it was worth it, as it was very good. This also made enough for two leftovers lunches. (See also: 25 Ways to Use a Rotisserie Chicken)

3. Instead of Thai Take-Out...

I briefly considered Thai take-out one tired evening, but vowed to stick to the one-pot theme. This Spicy Coconut-Chicken Casserole made me glad we stayed in. I didn't have any fresh green beans so I used frozen, which worked fine but weren't as nice-looking as fresh would have been. However, this made enough for two meals, and so was much less expensive than take-out would have been.

4. Some Tapas?

I had Yukon Gold potatoes around, so I used those instead in this Spanish Frittata. I thought they added a little extra flavor. This is a much easier recipe than my old one, where you flip the frittata to cook the second side. That part was always a little nerve-wracking. Delicious with a Spanish wine and olives.

5. Weeknight Cassoulet

This speedy version of the classic made me very excited. After all, after working eight hours, who goes home and whips up a cassoulet? Now you can, too. If you can get duck, more power to you, but chicken was a dandy substitute.

6. Comforting Mac and Cheese

Sometimes, after a crummy day, I just want to eat a very large bowl of macaroni and cheese. My traditional recipe requires one pot to cook pasta and another to make the cheese sauce. Then I bake it and put bread crumbs on top. Are you counting? Yes, I am up to three pans and this is a ONE-POT post. Fortunately, I found this delicious recipe for Creamy Mac-and-Cheese, and it works. Really well. I felt comforted.

7. Enchilada Ole'!

Feeling like having something a little spicy, I found this One-Pan Enchilada Pasta. My tweaks were that I did not use a pre-packaged taco seasoning mix, substituting instead a teaspoon each of cumin, chili powder, paprika, and one-half teaspoon of garlic powder and onion powder. I also used my own frozen enchilada sauce, because so many canned sauces contain MSG.

8. Russian Stroganoff

I was almost at the "too tired to cook" stage, but I found turkey burger meat, mushrooms, and low-fat sour cream in my refrigerator. That made me wonder if there was a one-pot creation for an easy turkey stroganoff. Victory! I even rummaged around in my freezer and came up with the peas. This recipe cooks the noodles separately, but no need. I doubled the milk to ⅔ cup and simmered until the pasta was tender.

9. Good Use of Cabbage

I wouldn't omit or adjust a single flavoring in this Spicy Asian Ground Turkey With Cabbage entree. I thought it was great on cabbage leaves, as suggested. My husband also liked it over rice. I thought it was flavorful, but not overly spicy. (See also: 15 Ways to Prepare Cabbage)

10. Sushi

One-pan sushi? No way! Wait until you show up at the office potluck with a pan of Crab Sushi. Yes, you do have to cook your rice first, but that's not a lot of effort. I added sliced avocado on top of the rice for more color and flavor. Most sushi ingredients are fairly commonplace in grocery stores now, but if you have trouble finding ingredients, try an Asian grocery.

11. Old Faithful Layered Dinner

This was one of my mom's standbys. It's not fancy, but it's very kid-friendly and easy. It also lends itself well to substitutions, like using zucchini instead of green beans, jack instead of cheddar, etc. Leftovers reheat well.

Marilyn's "Layered Dinner"

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey

  • 2 T olive oil

  • 2 cups sliced potatoes

  • 1 cup sliced carrots

  • 1 can (15.5-oz) corn, drained

  • 1 can green beans, drained

  • 1 can tomato sauce

  • 1 can of water

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

You will need a large saucepan that has a lid and sides.

Heat oil in large pan; add ground beef or turkey and brown. Drain oil off. Spread meat mixture evenly in saucepan. Add the potatoes, then the carrots, corn, and green beans.

In a bowl, combine the tomato sauce and water. Pour this mixture over the meat and vegetables in pan. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove lid, check potatoes and carrots for tenderness. If need be, add more water and continue simmering until fork-tender.

When tender, sprinkle with cheese and put lid back on to allow cheese to melt (about five minutes). Spoon onto plates.

12. Super-Showy Dutch Baby

I have always enjoyed the sweet "dutch baby" pancake at breakfast, but it's high time we also enjoyed them at dinner! Check out this Savory Dutch Baby (what's not to love: Carbs, cheeses, herbs). This is great for a brunch, too. (See also: Breakfast-for-Dinner Meals)

13. Filling Soup

Sometimes my husband complains that soup for dinner doesn't fill him up. That's not the case with this Chicken Ravioli Soup! I threw in some baby spinach for a little extra nutrition and color, and I also grated some parmesan over the top of the soup. Breadsticks went well with this meal.

14. Fake Tagine

Travis, who cuts my hair, owns a tagine and is always telling me about these wonderful things he cooks. I have absolutely no storage space for a tagine, unfortunately. Guess what! This one-pot recipe called for "a tagine or a medium enameled cast-iron casserole" and, happily, I own an enameled cast-iron casserole. After making this, I may experiment with just using a lidded casserole dish. Anyhow, back to the recipe, which is a Lamb Tagine With Green Olives and Lemon. Wow, is this good. It does require that you marinate the meat four to six hours, so get your butt out of bed and put that marinade together before work. Eight + hours didn't hurt, at all. The flavors were amazing.

15. Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free...

...but still delicious, is this Vegetable Chickpea Curry. I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything. I don't have grain issues, so I did serve it over couscous, but you don't have to. The prep time took me longer than 10 minutes, as I am a slow chopper. This reheats well and I felt like a healthier person for having eaten it. (See also: Tasty, Frugal Chickpea Recipes)

16. Huevos Rancheros

Ah, Huevos Rancheros, our Newlywed Dinner #2 (macaroni and cheese being #1). My friend Pam taught me a one-pot method.

Pam's Huevos Rancheros

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs

  • 2 cans (15.5-oz) refried beans (I like the vegetarian kind)

  • 8 oz. taco sauce or salsa

  • 1 cup water

  • ⅔ cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

  • 2 T. chopped cilantro (optional)

  • Taco chips (to go with meal)

Method

You will need a large skillet with a lid. Combine the refried beans, the taco sauce or salsa, and the water. Bring to a boil over low heat. Break eggs, one at a time, into a small dish; slip into bean mixture. Reduce heat, cover, and cook just until eggs are set, about four minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle with cheese and cilantro (if desired). To assemble, put lettuce on plate, top with egg, and serve with taco chips. Makes four servings.

17. Chicken Chardonnay...or, Lemon Chicken Piccata

This Chicken Chardonnay is a twist, I'm fairly sure, on chicken piccata. I first found this recipe on some cheap white wine as a recipe promotion. Over the years I managed to lose it, but hurray for the Internet. A piccata has chicken broth; this substitutes white wine and I think it's so much better. It is one of my husband's "most requested" and he adds, "Serve with French bread to sop up that sauce."

18. Curried Shrimp With Peanuts

This makes four to six servings, but this Curried Shrimp With Peanuts is so tasty and visually appealing, you might want to double it and make it for a dinner party, not just a weeknight speedy dinner. You will need to cook rice separately, but that's an easy side. Make sure you also serve the toppings, which really ice the cake. (See also: Easy Make-Ahead Dinner Party Dishes)

19. Layer It

I posted some strata pictures on Pinterest, and they did get some re-pinning action. I think pretty much anything with cheese is going to be popular on Pinterest. At any rate, this Strata ticks all the boxes: One pan, economical, easy. Oh, and I forgot, "cheesy."

20. Trout, and No Clean-Up!

I saw frozen trout on sale the other day and thought hmm...what could I do with it? Then I found this Mediterranean trout recipe. Bonus: NO pan. This is one of those wonderful bake-in-foil meals. I think it would work well with salmon, too. (See also: 5 Cooking Skills You Should Know)

21. Super Sausages

Sometimes I have a total lack of imagination for making cool dinners out of sausages, so I was really happy to find this Roasted Sweet Italian Sausage and Vegetables recipe. I'm also a total sucker for roasted vegetables, so this really fit the bill. I added a little crushed fennel to mine. A nice sourdough bread alongside is perfect!

22. A Great Use of Eggplant

This year, my garden will include eggplant, so I have been bookmarking eggplant recipes. This Easy One-Pan Eggplant-Chicken Dinner is just up my alley.

23. Somethin' Fishy

At our house, we eat a lot of mahi-mahi, which, due to our location, is very inexpensive. I keep on the lookout for new recipes and love this Caribbean Citrus Mahi-Mahi With Brown Rice Noodles. It is so easy. I added broccoli spears and some slices of red pepper while cooking the fish. This is a very nutritious and easy weekend night dinner. (See also: How to Buy and Prep Fresh Fish)

24. Easy Chicken Parmesan

To heck with all that breading and frying of a traditional version! This Chicken Parmesan is easier and much lower in fat, too. Serve over spaghetti or try it on top of a slice of garlic bread.

25. Un-Stuffed Peppers

I'm the first to admit it: I am a little lazy. For instance, I love stuffed peppers, but when I think about parboiling them, draining them, and then stuffing them I usually change my mind. Why didn't I think of this One-Pan Skillet Stuffed Peppers? Genius! All the flavors, none of the hassle. I buy those bags of the tri-colored baby peppers, which look very sporty in this dish.

The next time you have a busy week ahead, consider one of these recipes!

What are your favorite one-pot meals? Please share a serving in comments!

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Thanks for featuring us in this great list! Glad you liked the Sun-Dried Tomato Penne Sausage Skillet! Isn't it great to be able to cook pasta in the skillet?!