Give your sink a rest with one-pot meals


Brown Rice and White Beans with Shiitakes and Spinach

This homey pilaf is infinitely versatile, not to mention free of gluten and soy. Instead of rice, you can make it with quinoa, wheat berries or bulgur. You can also swap out the white beans for cooked lentils, black-eyed peas or chopped seitan. Or add some heat with a minced jalapeño.

— Robin Robertson

1 Tbsp. olive oil or 1/4 cup water

1 large sweet onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

8 oz. 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 oz. (about 8 cups) fresh baby spinach

1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or 1 (15.5-oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp. 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. Serves 4.

— From "One-Dish Vegan: More than 150 Soul-Satisfying Recipes for Easy and Delicious One-Bowl and One-Plate Dinners" by Robin Robertson (Harvard Common Press, $16.95)

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Garlic

Years ago I spent a month winding around the railways of Spain, stopping where the guidebooks spoke of traditional plazas, museums and fine Spanish cuisine. My memory holds Seville in particular esteem. It must have been to do with the heavily laden orange trees and a supper eaten while watching university students pour out of the library at the most ungodly of hours. I remember eating something similar to this dish and have tried to re-create it, as closely as scribbled notes written by candlelight will allow. Ole!

— Georgina Fuggle

1 Tbsp. olive oil

6 large free-range chicken thighs, with bones and skin

7 oz. 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 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika (unsmoked is fine, too)

A 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-oz.) cans organic 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 sauté 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. Serves 6.

— From "Take One Pot: Super Simple Recipes Cooked in One Pot, Full Stop" by Georgina Fuggle (Kyle Books, $22.95)

Peanut Butter and Jam Bars

Peanut butter and jelly reminds me of Jones Beach on Long Island, N.Y. During the summer, my grandmother used to pack these sandwiches each time we went to the beach, which lucky for us was only a short drive away. After getting sunburned and knocked over by waves, they were delicious, and if you could manage to eat them minus the sand from your hands, it was even better. These bars are bursting with peanut butter in both the crust and the crumbs, and the black currant jam is a twist on the usual grape jelly. Feel free to sub in your own favorite jam. Wrap well and store at room temperature up to four days.

— Yvonne Ruperti

For the crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

16 Tbsp. softened unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter

For the filling:

1 cup chunky peanut butter

8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch salt

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: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. 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 bars while still warm. Cool completely before serving. Makes 16 (2-inch) bars.

— From "One Bowl Baking: Simple, From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts" by Yvonne Ruperti (Running Press, $22)

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.

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 it’s 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 like 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.

Fuggle shows that one-pot cooking isn’t just about reducing the number of literal pots you have to watch boil; it’s about building flavors on top of one another so that the finished meal doesn’t taste like disparate parts pieced together at the end.

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 components so that they don’t over- or undercook.

For instance, last week, I made a shrimp dish with couscous, green beans and garlic. In order to prepare everything in one pot, I started by sauteing the green beans in garlic, then added the shrimp, followed by the broth and finally the couscous. The same dish with brown rice would need another sequence to work because rice takes a lot longer to cook than couscous.

I cooked that meal on the stove, but an oven is often the better option for this kind of less-is-more cooking.

But sometimes it’s a combination of both. The polenta dish featured on the cover of Fuggle’s book calls for whisking polenta, butter and vegetable stock over medium heat on a stove for about five minutes, then topping with mushroom slices, tomatoes and feta and finishing under the broiler for about 10 minutes.

It’s a 20-minute meal that you could serve for dinner or brunch and make with just about any quick-cooking produce, including kale or small pieces of broccoli.

Fuggle’s book also will get you thinking about what constitutes a “pot.” She has recipes for quiche baked in a bread bowl, cakes “baked” in a mug in a microwave, butternut squash stuffed with vegetables and lentils, and fish wrapped in parchment paper, which reminds me of a fancy version of the foil packet dinners we used to make when I was a kid.

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 it will also get you thinking differently about dinner, which is helpful when routine starts to feel repetitive.