RECIPES: With one pan, get dinner on table ‘easily and interestingly’

Cookbook author with New York Times column strives for delicious food, less mess.

New York Times staff writer and cookbook author Melissa Clark is the James Beard Award-winning chef behind the popular “A Good Appetite” column.

In many ways, Clark’s newest book, “Dinner in One” (Clarkson Potter, $29.99), is the culmination of her streamlined approach to cooking at home.

Subtitled “Exceptional and Easy One-Pan Meals,” it includes 100 recipes, which, as she writes, “are simple but not simplistic, with complex, layered flavors that you can achieve with minimal stress.”

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In essence, if you have a sheet pan, or a skillet, or a Dutch oven, or an Instant Pot, you can make a quick and easy dinner. And if you have a bowl, you can even bake a cake.

“My goal for writing all my cookbooks is that I want to help you get dinner on the table, and I want to help you do it easily and interestingly,” Clark said during a recent phone call.

“Maybe you’re trying a twist on a recipe that you love but have never tried before. Or maybe you’re being introduced to flavor combinations that are new. My goal is to help you do it pretty easily. But this is the easiest one yet. I’ve streamlined my recipes and gotten them down to one-pot meals.”

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The biggest challenge for Clark was getting as much flavor as possible into each dish, while paring down the ingredients and the techniques. But with that, the bonus was less mess.

“I love the idea of less cleanup,” she said. “Everyone who likes to cook, likes to cook, but I don’t know anyone who likes to do the dishes. So the fewer pots and pans you use, the easier your cleanup is going to be. This book is geared toward people who want really delicious food, quickly, with the least cleanup possible.”

Another thing that Clark really likes about “Dinner in One” is that many of the recipes are vegetable-focused.

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“It’s not a vegetarian cookbook, by any means, but I’ve tried to create dishes that use more vegetables than you might normally see,” she said. “Also, wherever possible, I’ve given vegetarian swap-outs. So dishes that weren’t vegetarian, I’ve given options to make them vegetarian. And dishes that are vegetarian, I’ve given swap-outs to make them vegan.”

One of the most intriguing recipes in the book is simply called Sheet Pan Thanksgiving.

“I love that one,” Clark said. “It’s a turkey breast, and it’s marinated with garlic, so it has this great flavor. Then you’ve got your sweet potatoes, and your Brussels sprouts, and you can do this whole thing on a sheet pan, with all the flavors of Thanksgiving. But you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving. You can do it any time of the year.”

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Maybe the biggest surprise in the book is the chapter on One-Bowl Cakes.

“Here’s the dirty little secret about any cake that you make that uses a liquid fat, like melted butter or olive oil,” Clark said. “Any of those cakes can be made in one bowl. You don’t need to break out your mixer, and you don’t need to dirty up another bowl for your dry ingredients. You just mix it all in the same bowl. It takes under 10 minutes to come together. Then you just put it in a pan and bake it.”


Melissa Clark, “Dinner in One”

7:30-9 p.m. Sept. 21. Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. 678-812-4000, $15 for members; $20 for nonmembers.


These easy and delicious recipes from “Dinner in One” (Clarkson Potter, $29.99) by New York Times food writer and cookbook author Melissa Clark can be made with minimum mess, in one pan, pot or dish.

Credit: Linda Xiao

Credit: Linda Xiao

Kombu, a type of dried seaweed, adds umami depth to this flavorful one-pot soup. Take it out of the package but don’t rinse it or wipe it — that white powdery substance on the surface contains natural salts and minerals that contribute to its flavor. If you can’t find kombu, stir in a little soy sauce instead.

Slivered napa or green cabbage can be substituted for the spinach. Add it along with the sweet potatoes in the first step in the recipe so it has a chance to cook down until very tender.

You can double the mushrooms and the spinach to turn this light soup into more of a vegetable-focused stew.

Shiitake, Sweet Potato, and Tofu Soup with Miso
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts separated)
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick coins
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (4-by-5-inch) piece kombu (optional), or substitute with soy sauce to taste
  • 6 tablespoons white or yellow miso, plus more as needed
  • 4 ounces (about 4 cups) baby spinach, torn
  • 1 (12- to 14-ounce) package silken or soft tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Stir in the sweet potatoes, scallion whites and most of the greens (reserve a couple of tablespoons for garnish), mushrooms, ginger and a pinch of salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened but not browning, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Raise the heat to medium-high and add the stock, 2 cups water, and the 1 teaspoon salt. Place the kombu (if using) on top of everything. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Remove the kombu with tongs or a fork and, once it’s cool enough to handle, chop it into pieces and set aside. Ladle about 1/2 cup soup into a medium bowl and whisk in the miso. Stir the miso mixture back into the pot. Add the spinach, tofu, and reserved chopped kombu, and stir until the spinach wilts. Taste, stirring in more miso and salt, if needed. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with the remaining scallion greens and a drizzle of oil. Serves 4 to 6.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, based on 4: 307 calories (percent of calories from fat, 36), 14 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 13 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 891 milligrams sodium.

Recipes adapted from “Dinner in One” by Melissa Clark (Clarkson Potter, $29.99).

Credit: Linda Xiao

Credit: Linda Xiao

This nifty sheet pan recipe lets you enjoy the flavors of Thanksgiving any time or any season. Though Clark likes to serve it with a creamy za’atar sauce on the side, your favorite cranberry sauce is welcome, too.

Sheet Pan Thanksgiving with Roast Turkey Breast, Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes, and Brussels Sprouts
  • Acorn or butternut squash, cut 1 inch thick, can stand in for the sweet potatoes. Broccoli florets or broccolini can replace the Brussels sprouts.
  • 1 boneless turkey breast (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons za’atar
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1-inch-thick wedges
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • If the turkey breast comes tied, untie it. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Season the turkey all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and the 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, then rub all over with the garlic.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and za’atar. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the za’atar mayo to a separate small bowl and brush that all over the turkey. Set the remaining za’atar mayo aside. Let the turkey sit at room temperature for 15 minutes while you prepare everything else.
  • In a large bowl, toss together sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the red pepper flakes. Place turkey on a rimmed sheet pan and arrange the potatoes in a single layer around it. Roast for 20 minutes.
  • In the same bowl (no need to wash it), toss the Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the cumin seeds, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Give the potatoes a toss after roasting for 20 minutes, and push the wedges to one side of the pan to make room for the Brussels sprouts. Add the sprouts and continue to roast until the sprouts and potatoes are golden brown and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey registers 145 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer (for a total turkey roasting time of 40 to 50 minutes). Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  • While the turkey is resting, whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon oil into the reserved za’atar mayo; taste and add a little more oil and salt, if needed. Season to taste with lemon juice. Serve the reserved za’atar mayo alongside the turkey and vegetables. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 687 calories (percent of calories from fat, 45), 56 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 34 grams total fat (7 grams saturated), 150 milligrams cholesterol, 1,481 milligrams sodium.

Credit: Linda Xiao

Credit: Linda Xiao

Blueberry Lime Crunch Cake with Demerara

Clark thinks this might just be the easiest and crunchiest coffee cake you’ve ever made. It’s filled with soft, juicy blueberries that are flavored with tart bursts of lime zest and nestled into a cinnamon-scented batter.

You can substitute full-fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream. And other spices, like cardamom, ginger or pumpkin pie spice, can replace the cinnamon. Or leave out the spice for a more subtle cake.

Blueberry Lime Crunch Cake with Demerara
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks / 170 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups (337 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest (from 2 limes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups (312 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (200 grams) fresh blueberries (or frozen, unthawed)
  • 2/3 cup (57 grams) sliced almonds (or chopped walnuts or pecans)
  • 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-by-9-inch metal pan. If you like, you can line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides so you can lift the cake out after it cools. But if you plan to serve the cake directly from the pan, you don’t need to do this.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, butter, eggs and salt until everything is well combined. Whisk in the granulated sugar and lime zest. Whisk in the dry ingredients in this order: baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Then whisk in the flour until just combined. Fold in the blueberries.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the almonds and Demerara sugar. Bake until the top is golden and puffed, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let it cool still in the pan. Serves 8.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 596 calories (percent of calories from fat, 46), 10 grams protein, 72 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 31 grams total fat (15 grams saturated), 160 milligrams cholesterol, 487 milligrams sodium.
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