7 Simple, Seasonal, (Nearly) One-Pot Meals

Warm up to winter with these 7 easy recipes.

Call it the mid-winter doldrums. If you’re tired of returning home after work in darkness, and lacking both energy and inspiration to cook a nourishing meal, how about a warming, healthy, and quick one-dish meal using common (and comforting) ingredients that you might already have in your kitchen?

No special shopping necessary. Just good, simple food that you can prepare quickly so you can move onto what you really want to do like draping yourself in a blanket and reading a book.

Read on for 7 easy, customizable ideas to serve up to two people.

1. Smashed Potatoes and Garlicky Kale with an Egg on Top

20 minutes

1 large or two medium potatoes

2 – 4 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 bunch kale, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan or Pecorino (optional)

1 over-easy egg (optional)

Put the potatoes whole into a steamer basket and steam until tender. Meanwhile heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, add the garlic and sauté gently. Add the kale and stir to coat. Add a little water, cover, lower heat and cook kale until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes to the skillet with the kale and smash them together with a potato masher. Add olive oil, salt and paper, and grated cheese to taste. Serve hot with an egg on top (if desired).

2. Spinach and Rice Soup

20 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter

1/2 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/3 cup white rice

1 bunch spinach, washed

1 quart broth (chicken or vegetable or bouillon based)

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan or Pecorino (optional)

In a soup pot, warm the olive oil or butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the spinach and sauté until soft. Add the broth and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheese on top, if desired.

3. Warm Chickpea Salad with Salmon

15 minutes

This one is free form. Add any selection of vegetables you like in your salads. Use any dressing you like, or make this one as directed. Stir in Harissa paste or pesto if you have it, or not if you don’t.

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 can wild Alaskan salmon

2 generous handfuls of salad greens or arugula

1/2 cup of sliced radish, grated carrot, avocado, roasted peppers, or any other vegetable you have (optional)

1 garlic clove, smashed with a mortar and pestle

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Gently warm the chickpeas in a small saucepan as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Make a quick dressing with the garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Combine the warmed chickpeas, salmon, salad greens, and vegetables in a medium bowl. Toss with the dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Lentils and Sausage with Greens

45 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 of an onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup lentils

2 cooked or smoked sausages, sliced

1 bunch kale, chard, or spinach, washed and chopped

Paprika or smoked paprika to taste

Lemon juice to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Warm the olive oil in a medium pot. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant. Add the lentils and water to cover by one inch. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a slow simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the sausages, greens, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until everything is warmed through and the greens are tender. Add the lemon juice just before serving and correct seasonings.

5. Seasonal Vegetable Coconut Curry Stew

30-40 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2-3 cups cubed orange squash, root vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, or combination of any

1 can coconut milk

Good quality red or green Thai curry paste to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a large soup pot, add the onion and cook, stirring until tender and fragrant. Add the vegetables and the coconut milk and enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are nearly tender. Add the curry paste and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook to blend flavors and until vegetables are the desired softness. Serve over white rice garnished with chopped cilantro.

6. Warm Roasted Sweet Potato and Sausage Salad

20 minutes

1 large or 2 medium garnet sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

1 or 2 cooked sausages

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon grainy mustard

2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Salt & Freshly ground pepper

Toss the sweet potatoes in 1 tablespoon olive oil with a little salt, and put them on a baking sheet. Roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until soft and beginning to crisp and brown. Halfway through the cooking time, slide a spatula underneath the potatoes to loosen them and flip them over gently so they don’t break apart.

Meanwhile, cut the sausages into bite-sized pieces and brown and warm them in a skillet with a little bit of oil. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil.

Toss the cooked sweet potatoes and sausages together in a medium bowl. Add the green onions, parsley, and dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve warm.

7. Chilaquiles

10 minutes

2 eggs

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/2 a red onion, peeled and sliced

3 or 4 corn tortillas

3/4 cup of your favorite red or green salsa

Leftover beans, shredded chicken, beef or pork (optional)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Sprigs of cilantro, crumbled cheese, diced avocado for serving

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until smooth and add salt and pepper.

Stack the tortillas and cut them into eight wedges.

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, warm the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the onion, and cook until soft. Increase heat to medium high and add the tortillas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy. Pour in the salsa, and stir to blend. Add leftover meats or beans (if using). With a wooden spoon or spatula, move the tortillas and salsa to one side of the pan, add the teaspoon of oil to the other side and pour in the eggs. Scramble the eggs for a few moments until nearly cooked. Stir them into the tortillas and mix together. Serve immediately garnished with cilantro, cheese, and avocado.

Images: Vanessa Barrington, JoeFoodie

Recipe Copyright Vanessa Barrington 2012

Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.