It’s been a busy day and the last thing you’re interested in is coming home to a complicated recipe and the seemingly endless dishes that follow. Enter one-pot wonders, the easiest solution to homemade weeknight meals since the invention of TV dinners (but exponentially more delicious than anything out of a box from your freezer.)
The best pot for one-pot wonders
The best all-purpose, affordable pot to use for one-pot recipes is a 16-quart stainless steel lidded stockpot. The tall sides of this stock pot will prevent liquid from evaporating too quickly, making it ideal for slow and steady cooking. This size will allow you to double or even triple recipes, can accommodate long noodles and will leave room for an optional steam basket insert.
Reach for the risotto
The first rule about making risotto at home? Don’t be intimidated by the thought of making homemade risotto! Risotto is an ideal one-pot meal for a couple of different reasons; most recipes call for ingredients you already have on hand, it’s a great excuse to open a bottle of dry white wine (technical for the risotto, but you’ll have some leftover) and it requires you to mindfully stand still for half an hour, slowly stirring the rice until it absorbs all the liquid and becomes a velvety risotto. If you like shrimp, scallops or chicken added to risotto simply steam or sauté protein in the pot and set aside until the risotto is ready to be served.
Steamer baskets are an inexpensive, versatile addition to your collection of one-pot wonder kitchen tools. Chicken, fish, shrimp, and other shellfish are particularly conducive to the steaming method. Try nestling these proteins in with your favourite veggies such as green beans, new potatoes, bok choy, carrot matchsticks, and snap peas. Add citrus slices, sliced olives, fresh herbs, lemongrass, and tamari or soy sauce for additional flavour. Vegetable or chicken stock, white wine, and water can all be used for the steaming liquid.
Make one-pot bean soups
Once you start cooking beans from scratch you’ll find it hard to go back to the canned version (although canned beans are still a fantastic pantry staple to keep on hand for emergencies.) Cook black beans, chickpeas, and white cannellini beans in plenty of water or stock; once they’re completely tender let the entire contents of the pot to come to room temperature (both the beans and the cooking liquid.) Using a hand blender, blitz the beans and liquid together with fresh and dried herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, jarred salsa, and pickled spicy peppers. Top the bean soup with sliced avocado, chopped tomatoes, grated cheese, nonfat plain yogurt, and hot sauce.
Indulge your curry cravings
Whether you’re a fan of deeply spiced Indian curries or you crave the coconut-spiked creaminess of Thai curries, you’ll be thrilled to learn both fall under the umbrella of one-pot wonders. Making a good homemade curry is all about building up levels of flavour, beginning with aromatics such as minced garlic and ginger, lemongrass and spicy chili peppers, and adding your preferred protein, plenty of vegetables as well as something to make the curry saucy (think coconut milk or puréed canned tomatoes.) Serve your one-pot curry over rice (or any other favourite grain), using a rice cooker or a microwave steamer bag to ensure minimal fuss.