All in One

Do you ever wish that all you had to do after dinner was wash one pot and the bowl you ate out of? Well, you're not alone. One of the most popular requests heard here at Seasoned Cooking is one for recipes that require one pot and little fuss. After all, you all have things to do besides cleaning bowls, pots, pans, skillets ... you get the picture.

This article is for all of you.

There are several key steps to making meals in one pot (or skillet, or baking dish). Once you've got the basics down, you can easily mix and match ingredients and spices to create new dishes for busy day meals. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Save time by storing pre-cut veggies in your refrigerator. My husband and I usually spend a little time each week chopping onions, peppers, carrots, radishes, broccoli and other veggies while we're watching TV. Just make sure you pay attention to what you're doing too!
  • Whenever possible, try using the pot you use for cooking things like rice or pasta as a mixing bowl as well. Why do extra dishes unless it's absolutely necessary? Besides, if you're making a warm meal, the hot pot will help warm all of your ingredients and blend the flavors.
  • Spruce up your tried and true recipes by trying new or unusual spice blends. Who says tandoori spices only belong on the grill or in a clay oven? Try adding Mexican or Italian spice blends to plain old macaroni and cheese and watch the smiles appear!
  • You can save a lot of time if you plan your course of action carefully. For instance, if you boil your pasta first and add some crunchy veggies near the end, you can end up with al dente pasta and crisp-tender veggies in minutes! Drain both, add your sauce to the hot pan, toss to coat and you've got dinner.
  • Take advantage of the various "helpers" offered at your local grocery store. Fast and healthy options abound at the market. Try using canned broths to add extra flavor without fat, bagged fresh or frozen veggies to save time, and pre-mixed spice blends to add extra zing to your dinner table.

Between these tips and the recipes in this article, you'll be on your way to healthy meals and fewer dishes to clean in short order. Here's what's on the menu and in the bowl:

Enjoy these recipes and be sure to let us know what one-dish meals you like making. We'd love to have more great ideas for our kitchens too!

Seafood Bisque

This creamy soup takes full advantage of some frozen helpers: fully-cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp, imitation crab meat and frozen corn kernels.
  • cooking spray
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 c. chicken broth
  • 1 c. frozen corn kernels
  • 3 c. mixed seafood (I suggest a half and half combination of cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp and chopped imitation crab meat)
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat cooking spray over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, but not browned -- about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, corn kernels and seafood. Cook until corn and seafood are heated through -- about 10 minutes. Add cream and seasonings to taste. Allow to cook an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Tandoori Chicken Primavera

This simple dish cooks easily in steps and adds an unusual spice to an old family favorite.
  • 2 qts. water
  • 8 oz. whole wheat spiral pasta
  • cooking spray
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 c. snap peas
  • 1 c. chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 2/3 c. nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 T. tandoori seasoning (Penzey's makes an excellent blend)

Boil the water in a large, deep skillet. Add the pasta. Cover and continue boiling for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta and temporarily move to a serving bowl and keep warm.

Spray the skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the chicken, mix and brown on all sides. Add the veggies and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the veggies are tender and the chicken thoroughly cooked.

Mix the yogurt, lemon juice and tandoori seasoning into the skillet and stir until well combined and mixture is well coated. Add reserved pasta and mix to coat.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Chunky Vegetable Chili

This recipe makes a lot of chili, but don't worry. It's even better the second day and freezes very well.
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 2/3 c. quick-cooking barley
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Thai seasoning
  • 2 c. fresh spinach, chopped

Boil the water in a large, deep skillet. Stir in barley. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the barley is tender.

Add the eggplant, chopped pepper, onion and garlic. Mix thoroughly, cover and cook over medium heat until the eggplant is softened and the other veggies are tender -- about 20 minutes -- removing the cover to stir frequently.

Add the tomatoes, black beans and seasonings to the skillet. Mix to combine and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the spinach, mix and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the spinach is wilted, but not fully cooked.

  • Yields: 8-10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Crispy Tuna Casserole

The addition of french-fried onions during the last 5 minutes of baking gives this ultra-simple casserole extra crunch. A perfect dish for making and eating with kids. It's also a great way to use leftover pasta.
  • 1 c. nonfat yogurt
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tuna, drained
  • 2 c. cooked spiral pasta
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 c. diced onion
  • 1/2 c. French fried onions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the first 4 ingredients in an 8" X 8" ovenproof baking dish. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well-coated with the yogurt mixture.

Put some aluminum foil over the baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the French fried onions over the top of the casserole. Bake for an additional 5 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Beef Barley Onion Soup

Using a package of onion soup mix will help speed along this recipe. Any leftover beef strips will do, but using leftover grilled round steak will impart a delightfully smoky flavor to the soup.
  • 5 c. water
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 2/3 c. uncooked pearl barley
  • 3 c. sliced mushrooms
  • 12 oz. cooked beef, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Bring water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add soup mix and barley. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes or until the barley is tender. Add the mushrooms, beef and pepper and cook an additional 5 minutes before serving. If desired, serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

  • Yields: 8 side dish servings or 4 main dish servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

15-Minute Pasta Toss

This dish is so fast and simple that it's become a staple of our summer diet. I just grab veggies and herbs that are ready for harvesting from the garden, add canned beans or cubed chicken and toss with whatever pasta catches my eye!
  • 2 qts. water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. nugget pasta
  • 2 c. chopped spinach
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 c. diced cooked chicken
  • 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese

Place water and salt in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook 10 minutes or until al dente. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Serve immediately in bowls.

Variations: Try using penne pasta, elbow macaroni or spaghetti. For a vegetarian version, replace the chicken with a can of rinsed and drained white kidney beans, black beans or tofu. Add steamed green beans or thawed frozen peas. With this simple recipe, the sky's the limit!
  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

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