[ Simple One Pot Meals ~ Jams & Jellies Edition ] ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company
[ Simple One Pot Meals ] ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company
One-pot cooking has always been popular, but has risen to an art form and expression of seasonal abundance. The method, however, stems from scarcity. While the modern kitchen is outfitted with all sorts of sleek, functional gizmos, the cook’s tools of the distant past typically consisted of a small assortment of treenware and a single cast iron pot, the latter so highly valued that it was usually passed on to the next generation.

Today, we especially appreciate one-pot cooking as a time-saving convenience with less clean up. But cooking foods in this manner also produces complete, distinctive meals that fully embrace the flavors and textures of our favorite autumn vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. After all, there’s nothing more nourishing than gathering friends and family around the table for a hot meal on a chilly night!.

[ Simple One Pot Meals - PUT A LID ON IT ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

put a lid on it

one-pot innovation
One-pot cooking has been around since mankind has learned to harness the power of fire. What we know today as the Dutch oven, likely named after Dutch traders of the colonial period, largely replaced the kettles and cauldrons of the 17th century, although the earliest models still had three legs. The first pots of this type also had a flanged lip designed to hold hot coals. Reputedly, this innovation was the brainchild of the most famous of silversmiths, Paul Revere. Like the cooking pots that came before, the first Dutch ovens were used outdoors.

one-pot across cultures
Made of iron cast in sand molds, the Dutch oven inspired similar cooking pots still in use around the world today, such as the traditional potjiekos of South Africa, the Japanese tetsunabe, the Australian Bedourie oven and the Balkan Sač oven. Many modern Dutch ovens are made of enameled cast iron, which adds to its durability and versatility. With this one pot, you can braise, stew, bake or roast in the oven, over an open flame, or on any type of cooking surface. Unlike cast iron, the only seasoning required goes into the pot not on it.

the first dutch ovens
were used outdoors

[ Simple One Pot Meals - COOK ONCE, EAT TWICE ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

cook once, eat twice

refreigerate one-pot meals for lunch leftovers
With one-pot cooking, a little goes a long way. Just a handful of ingredients can feed a crowd for dinner and still give you something to look forward to for lunch the next day. The method also presents a great way to use up leftover meats and bumper crops of summer vegetables. Even slightly wilted salad greens are saved when added to a simmering pot of soup at the last minute.

or freeze one-pot meals
made of bumper crop vegetables

Although most modern Dutch ovens can handle being stored in the freezer, there probably isn’t room in yours unless you have a commercial kitchen to play in. If you plan to do a lot of one-pot cooking, then you might want to invest in (BPA-free) freezer containers of assorted sizes. Freezer bags also work well for this purpose. Alternatively, eco-friendly stainless steel containers fashioned after the Japanese bento are available in some stores and online. One caveat: These are not designed for long-term freezer storage. Note, too, that the lack of seals on the lid means they will leak if tipped.

store leftovers for healthy &
quick next-day lunches

[ Simple One Pot Meals - FROM PANTRY TO POT, SKILLET TO CROCK ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

from pantry to pot,
skillet to crock

raid the pantry
You can create sensational, hearty meals in one pot, often without making a trip to the market. A can of beans from the pantry, cubed potatoes, sliced root veggies, cooked quinoa or rice, and a good quality vegetable broth combine to make a complete meal. The addition of leftover cooked foods during the last few minutes of simmering rounds out the dish and makes efficient use of your food budget dollars.

use what you've got
There’s more than one way to cook a meal in one pot. A large cast iron skillet or other oven-safe pan can deliver a fantastic medley of foods and flavors just as well as a Dutch oven. Ditto for the ever-convenient electric slow cooker (crock pot). Even a pressure cooker is a great way to cook multiple foods together in a short amount of time.

[ Simple One Pot Meals - THRIFTY IS NIFTY ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

thrifty is nifty

sustainable sustenance
Just as a dedication to eating whole, nutritious foods free of preservatives, pesticides and other questionable contaminants helps to sustain good health, the art of one-pot cooking contributes to a sustainable way of life. Think about it…using a single burner on the stove instead of three or four to cook a “main and sides” separately saves energy.

The same could be said for using the oven to create a dish that will make several meals or using an appliance that draws little electricity (i.e., a slow cooker). It’s efficient, economical and environmentally-friendly. Great food and a decreased dependence on fossil fuels is a win-win!

Thyme is mildly peppery and savory. Thyme adds depth to a variety of braised and stewed foods, especially dishes with rice, potatoes, eggs, cheese, chicken or pork.

Sage is a traditional autumn herb that pairs beautifully with any member of the squash family, including butternut and pumpkin. Sage also enhances the flavor of chicken and fish.

Chamomile's culinary value beyond tea is often overlooked. Try a handful of dried flowers in soups and stews for visual interest and a slight apple-like flavor.

Fennel Seed can be lightly crushed in the palm of your hand and tossed into simmering soups and stews, especially those featuring tomatoes, sausage or chicken.

Spanish paprika heads the flavor profile in one-pan paella and in other traditional Spanish dishes. Sprinkle a pinch over soups, stews, potatoes and vegetables.

Cinnamon's sweet-spicy flavor blends with cardamom, cumin and other warm spices in stews, curries and braised foods.

If you are interested in more recipes and tips
here are some simple one- pot (pan, skillet, crock) recipes...

Butternut Squash & Coconut Curry

Some cooks add red lentils or chickpeas for added richness and texture. Consider this the blueprint upon which to build your own signature dish.

Pork Chop with Red Wine, Pears, & Thyme

A marriage of savory and sweet, you’ll need a cast iron or other oven-safe skillet to make this rustic dish.

Soup au Pistou

This traditional soup hails from Provence and is an example of why you should never discard the rind from a wedge of Parmesan cheese!


Kitchari means “mixture,” in this case a blend of mung dal and basmati rice. This one-pot meal is a staple in the Ayurvedic tradition and considered restorative and tridoshic...

Baked Kale & Mushroom Risotto

No fuss and no endless stirring needed for this hearty dish. Use any kind of mushroom that you like, although baby portabella adds a nice texture and rich flavor.

Moroccan Chicken Stew

The dark meat of chicken thighs absorb the sweet, warm spices in this dish beautifully. For a vegetarian version, substitute cubed sweet potato for the chicken.

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