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

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

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.

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.

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.

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