The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

February 27, 2013

Amanda Stone: One-pan meals simple, quick

JOPLIN, Mo. — There's such beauty in simplicity. This comes from the perspective of a mom without a dishwasher. One-pan meals are especially attractive.

It all started with a tiny nail in my bathroom wall. I pulled the nail out, along with a chunk of surrounding plaster. No problem. I simply smoothed the crater out with spackle. Then, while searching an army of paint cans for the correct touch-up, I ran across a half gallon of high-quality paint that I didn't want to go to waste.

On a coffee-induced whim, I decided to paint the bathroom real quick. I remembered that a friend had given me a beautiful piece of fabric that would make the perfect curtain for my new paint job. As evening approached, my fella arrived home from work. Our child was running wild and I had a project that had spiraled out of control. Dinnertime quickly approached.

I have a standard fallback menu when I don't feel like thinking about dinner, and it always involves using only one dish. I had a wrecked bathroom, and I didn't want to add a sink full of dishes to my frenzied mental plate. I like to make a sheet-pan supper by roasting chunked sweet potatoes and cauliflower drizzled with olive oil, then throwing on some salmon for the final 10 minutes of cooking time. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper, and dinner is done. It definitely beats ordering pizza.

An iron skillet is also a great way to keep a meal in one pan. Make a frittata by whisking together everything you would want in an omelet. Pour it in an oiled iron skillet and bake it at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. It's beautiful, simple and seems so much fancier than an omelet. Or switch things up by making a pizza in your cast iron skillet. Oil the pan and dust it with cornmeal. Stretch out your dough and arrange it in your skillet. Cook it over medium heat for about 2 minutes, then add your toppings and bake at 450 degrees for 18 minutes. Fancy and fun.

Parchment packets are an impressive way to make a simple, healthy meal. There are nearly no dishes to wash, and they can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, which are the parts I find particularly impressive. Chicken or fish, vegetables and seasonings are sealed up in a pretty little package and popped in the oven. Crimp the package well, because steam is what actually cooks the food, so don't peek! I recommend watching a quick video on YouTube for tips on sealing a parchment packet. It's serious business.

Whether you're busy, don't want to do a bunch of dishes or just want to simplify a healthy dinner, one-pan meals are a great change of pace.

 

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