Weeknight Shorts: One Pan Wonder

A couple weeks into the New Year and things start to feel real. The holiday hangover has faded and chances are good the view outside your window, while dazzling and white, isn't exactly inviting. It's easy to reach for a frozen pizza or the takeout number when dinner time rolls around, but stick with me here. A fantastic, easy meal is about a half hour away. Oh, and you can make it in just one pan:

Lean pork loin chops take very little time to bake, especially when they are thin-sliced. To keep them from drying out, they are baked over a bed of tender bok choy and surrounded by heartier sweet potatoes. It's a brightly-colored, nutritionally-dense meal. But what really sells it for me is the fact that the cook's job in all of this is sautéing some sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes after being peeled and chopped. The bok choy simply loses its base and can be nestled into the pan in large pieces. The chops and everything else in the pan get a generous sprinkling of seasoning and then the oven does the rest. If you're in the mood for the earthy flavor a little drizzle of tahini brings to the dish, you get to do that just before you dig in. It's an amazing blend of colors, textures, and flavors for you to enjoy.

You could, of course, swap the sweet potatoes for a different root vegetable or blend of them. And bok choy could be replaced by your favorite hearty green or even sliced onions. The key is to give the root vegetables some time on the stovetop to get them cooking before adding the remaining ingredients, which don't need as much time to finish in the oven. So feel free to play around with the ingredients with that in mind.

Also, I really mean it when I say this is a one pan meal. Pour yourself a glass of whatever you wish to enjoy alongside this great meal, set out some plates and forks, and dig in. And hey, there won't even be many dishes to load into the dishwasher before you find yourself with the lion's share of the evening to enjoy. If this is what feeling real is like, 2016 is looking good!

One Pan Pork Chop Dinner

  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small bunch bok choy
  • 3 thin-sliced pork loin chops
  • 1 tsp. seasoning salt — choose your favorite variety
  • 2 T. tahini sauce, for drizzling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Heat the oil in a 10-12 inch oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and sauté until they are slightly softened and deeper in color, about 5 minutes. Note: they will not be cooked through. Remove the skillet from the heat and, using a spatula, press the sweet potatoes to the outer edges of the pan. Place the bok choy in the center of the pan and arrange the pork loin chops over the top of the bok choy. Sprinkle the pan liberally with the seasoning blend of your choice and place, uncovered, in the preheated oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pork chops are cooked through and the sweet potatoes are tender enough to easily be pierced with a fork. Remove the pan from the oven and, if desired, drizzle the entire pan with the tahini sauce before serving.

  • Yields: 2-3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes