I am a laid-back cook. I avoid fancy knife work, eat the same kind of thing day after day, and use as few dishes as possible. I’ve created whole meals using only a pot and a paring knife, in order to avoid creating dirty dishes. To that end, I’ve honed several meals down to their fewest possible steps. The following dishes require only one pot—or none at all. The next time you’re feeling less than ambitious, try one of these easy, tasty meal ideas.
Chicken Almond Stew
Put a handful of quinoa in a pot with a diced onion and sweet potato. Add water and bring to a boil, then cook until the quinoa is tender. Add diced chicken or tofu and kale, and simmer for ten minutes. Stir in a big dollop of almond butter. Garnish with lime juice and cilantro leaves.
Peanut Noodle Salad
Pour boiling water over vermicelli rice noodles, soak until tender, then rinse in cold water. Whisk together peanut butter, minced ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil. Add the noodles, along with scallions, leafy greens, carrots, and cooked tofu or shrimp. Toss and top with bean sprouts and toasted peanuts.
Chili with Rice and Beans
Caramelize onions in a pot, then add rice, cooked kidney beans, minced garlic, diced vegetables like butternut squash, ground meat (optional), chili powder, cumin, oregano, and several cups of water. Boil, then simmer until the rice is cooked. Top with cheese, avocado, and shredded lettuce.
Line a plate with lettuce leaves. Slice up tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and cooked potatoes and layer them over the lettuce. Open a can of tuna and break it up into pieces over the salad, followed by black olives, string beans, and whole anchovies. Make a dressing of Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and minced shallot, and spoon it over the salad.
Roasted Fish with Vegetables
Rinse a whole fish and pat it dry. Salt the fish, and lay it on an oiled baking sheet. Slice carrots and potatoes and cluster them around the fish. Mix white wine, olive oil, and minced garlic, and spoon it over the fish and veggies. Cover with foil and roast in a 350-degree oven for fifteen minutes. Baste and cook fifteen minutes. Discard the foil, pour in the remaining sauce, and cook until the fish is opaque. Top with parsley.