Between the 9 to 5 grind, rushing to the gym and googling your own name, there seem to be a bazillion reasons why we don’t have time to delve into the pile of cookbooks gathering dust behind the bread machine. To help make dinnertime less stressful, try one-pot cooking.

One-pot meals done right are packed with a tsunami of flavour in a nice low-kilojoule package to keep us on good terms with the scale. Plus one-pot cooking seriously cuts down on the time we spend hunched over a sink of sudsy water.

Perfect pots

A high quality pot is just as important as the ingredients tossed into it when it comes to one-pot success. alive asked chef and cooking instructor Maribel Linfield for her expert advice on what to look for in a pot.

She advised that the best pots have thick bottoms, which distribute heat more evenly. Make sure they don’t have plastic handles, so they’re suitable for both the stovetop and the oven.

Cast iron

These pots are some of the most efficient because of their excellent heat retention and diffusion properties. Seasoned right, they are also wonderfully non-stick. But beware of cooking with acidic ingredients such as tomatoes and wine as these can degrade the seasoning of the cast iron pot and alter the colour of the food. Enamelled cast iron pots are easier to clean and don’t interact negatively with acidic ingredients.

Copper

Though they can be pricey, copper pots are heavy-duty and have superior heat conductivity, making them the cookware of choice for many professionals. Keep in mind copper pots are not non-stick and probably require polishing.  

Glass

Glass pots don’t conduct heat well, but retain it efficiently, making them good for long-cooking dishes at medium to low heat such as braises.

Stainless steel

Well-made, reasonably priced stainless steel pots don’t react with foods; are corrosion-resistant; tend to be strong and easy to clean; and resist scratching, pitting or denting. Avoid cheap aluminum pots.


Tomato and Fish Stew

  • 3 tsp (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) dry white wine
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 796 ml can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 3 tsp (15 ml) dried oregano
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) cumin
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 lb (750 g) white fish fillets cut into 1 in (2.5 cm) chunks
  • Fresh coriander
  • Crusty bread to serve

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 6 minutes or until soft, stirring frequently. Toss garlic, carrots and zucchini into pot and sauté for another 6 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour in wine, raise heat to medium-high and simmer until most of wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in celery, tomatoes, water, spices, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.

Stir in fish and continue to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until fish pieces start to look opaque. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with coriander. Serve with some crusty bread.

Serves 4.

Each serving contains:
1356 kilojoules; 37 g protein; 6 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 26 g carbohydrates; 7 g fibre; 448 mg salt


Lentil Potato Dal with Cashew Almond Sauce

Lentils, nuts and potatoes all contribute to the wealth of dietary fibre in this recipe. Other nuts such as pecans and walnuts can also be used in the sauce.

  • 3 tsp (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 in (2.5 cm) fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) cinnamon
  • 4 to 5 green cardamom pods, crushed or 1/2 tsp (2 ml) cardamom powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (250 ml) green lentils
  • 225 g potatoes, cubed
  • 3 1/2 cups (850 ml) water
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) plain yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) unsalted cashews
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) almonds
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) cayenne pepper or chilli powder
  • Coriander or parsley

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 6 minutes, or until soft, stirring frequently. Add garlic and ginger; sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and pepper; sauté for an additional 2 minutes.

Stir in lentils, potatoes and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered until lentils and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Add yoghurt, cashews, almonds and cayenne to bowl of food processor and process until smooth. Stir nut-yoghurt sauce into lentils and continue simmering for 5 minutes.

Place in serving bowls and garnish with coriander or parsley.

Serves 4.

Each serving contains:
1587 kilojoules; 18 g protein; 13 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 50 g carbohydrates; 18 g fibre; 44 mg salt


Tofu Paella

This take on paella is studded with tofu instead of seafood and sausage but is just as flavourful despite containing less fat.  

  • 350 g firm tofu
  • 6 tsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large red capsicum, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups (500 ml) short-grain rice, such as arborio
  • 3 1/2 cups (850 ml) low-salt vegetable stock
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) saffron
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (250 ml) frozen peas

Slice tofu in half horizontally and lay on a couple pieces of paper towel placed on a plate. Top with additional paper towel and another plate. Place a heavy object on plate and let sit 15 minutes to press out water. Slice each piece into 1 in (2.5 cm) cubes.

In large pan, heat 3 tsp (15 ml) oil over medium heat. Cook tofu, stirring frequently, until brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan.

Place 3 tsp (15 ml) oil in pan and cook onion, stirring frequently, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add capsicum and cook 3 minutes, stirring often.

Add garlic, rice, stock, tomatoes, saffron, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Stir in tofu and peas; cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 5. 

Each serving contains:
1910 kilojoules; 16 g protein; 9 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 77 g carbohydrates; 5 g fibre; 130 mg salt


One-pot superfoods

These ingredients from our one-pot recipes have a myriad of health benefits.

Ingredient

Nutrients

Benefits

carrots

vitamin A

  • improves eye health and immune defence

lentils

folate

  • is needed to make DNA and RNA

tofu

phytochemical isoflavones

  • protects against type 2 diabetes, lung and pre-menopausal breast cancers

About the Author

Matthew Kadey is a dietitian and food writer.