The one dish meal, while an inventor cannot be named, probably began life during prehistoric times, when whatever foods were available were thrown into a pot and cooked for the tribe’s dinner. Soups and stews made with harvested vegetables and hunted game were most likely the first one dish meals. As cooking processes advanced from an open fire to microwaves and convection ovens, the one dish meal has survived and thrives for busy families.
One dish meals provide the cook with a way of feeding the family without a lot of fuss. Because only one dish or pot is used in the preparation, after meal cleanup is quick. One dish meals also allow for the combining of various leftovers into a new meal that is fresh and appealing to eat.
Types of one dish meals can range from simple soups to elaborate meals, such as Beef Stroganoff or Italian Lasagna. Many one dish meals are considered to be comfort foods with macaroni and cheese topping the list. Pot pies, another popular one dish meal, are most often made with chicken or turkey and vegetable leftovers from previous meals. The crock pot revolutionized one dish meals with the idea that a busy cook could have dinner waiting to be served when returning home from work.
Most one dish meals usually combine a protein, one or more vegetables and a starch such as pasta or rice. These meals can be oven baked or cooked on the top of the stove. Since most meals are prepared by simply combining ingredients, one dish meals are a good way to introduce children to cooking.
One dish meals can be made to feed a single person or a crowd. Many pot luck meals include numerous one dish meals meant to serve a number of people. Casserole dishes that can be warmed up in minutes are a popular way to introduce yourself to new neighbors or help a friend who is ill.
Chicken in Mushroom Sauce
- 3 pounds meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup frozen small whole onions
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
- 1 -14 ounce can low sodium chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved
Remove skin from chicken. Sprinkle chicken with salt and ground black pepper. In 12-inch skillet, cook chicken in hot oil over medium heat about 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning to brown evenly. Remove chicken.
Add carrot and onions to skillet. Cook about 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add vermouth, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Return chicken to skillet. Pour broth over chicken; sprinkle with parsley, thyme, and rosemary.
Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 40 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, adding mushrooms during last 10 minutes of cooking.
White Bean and Sausage Stew
6 to 8 servings.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 3 medium carrots, finely diced
- 3 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 large rosemary sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste.
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Add the tomato paste and oregano to the pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.
When the beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil.
Vegetable Beef Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 pound beef stew meat (such as chuck) or lamb stew meat (shoulder or leg), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 6 cups reduced-sodium beef broth or water
- 1- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 small parsnips, peeled and diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, leaves included, thinly sliced
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 12 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus more leaves for garnish
- 8 sprigs fresh basil, plus more leaves for garnish
- 1 large zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 ounces angel hair pasta (capellini), broken into small pieces (about 1/2 cup), or orzo, preferably whole-wheat
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and turmeric; stir to coat. Add meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and the meat is no longer pink, 4-5 minutes. Add broth (or water), tomatoes and their juice, parsnips, carrots, celery and saffron. Tie parsley and basil sprigs together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the meat is tender, 45-50 minutes.
Stir in zucchini and cook, covered, until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add pasta and cook until soft, 6-10 minutes, depending on the type of pasta. Discard the parsley and cilantro sprigs. Season with salt (start with 1 teaspoon if you’re using beef broth; add more if you’re using water) and pepper. Serve sprinkled with parsley and/or basil leaves, if desired.
Oven Roasted Brisket and Vegetables
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound baby carrots
- 1 lb. potatoes, quartered
- 5 oz mushrooms, sliced (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups)
- 2 1/2 pounds lean beef brisket, trimmed, use the flat half
- 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 325ºF.
Spread onion slices and garlic on bottom of a non-stick roasting pan; top with carrots, potatoes and mushrooms. Arrange beef over vegetables.
In a mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and sugar; stir to dissolve sugar.
Pour tomato mixture over brisket and vegetables; tightly cover with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Roast for 2 hours and then remove from the oven; uncover, stir and use pan juices to baste meat.
Return brisket to oven and roast for about 1 hour more, uncovered, basting every 15 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Serve meat and vegetables with sauce spooned over top.
Winter Vegetable Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 cipollini onions (pearl onions can be substituted), peeled
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- One 1/2-ounce bundle of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano
- One 2 1/2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
- 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in half
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a Dutch Oven over medium heat and add onions; cook, stirring, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add stock and herbs; simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add squash, carrots, potatoes and fennel; cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add green beans and cook, covered, about 5 minutes more. Remove cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens, 10 to 15 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
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Essentially, a stew is any combination of two or more ingredients, cooked slowly in a liquid. Before the invention of pottery, ancient people were using turtle shells and large mollusk shells for stewing. Cooking became easier after the development of pottery and there have been many references to stew throughout history. The first actual recipe for a stew, a ragout, can be found in a 14th century French cookbook.
Every culture has its own version of stew. The traditional Irish stew consisted of mutton and root vegetables. After the Irish immigrated to North America, the Irish stew was made with better cuts of meats and Guinness stout. The benefits of stewing are numerous. In times of famine and hardship, it was a good way to make a substantial meal out of available ingredients with the cheapest cuts of meat. Stewing makes otherwise tough cuts edible, and also disguises their appearance in the gravy. How else could you serve an oxtail? Goulash has sweet paprika; Bourguignon has red wine, the New England Boiled Dinner is corned beef, onion and cabbage. But they are all stews.
Stewing is a great way to free you from the kitchen while dinner cooks. It is also a good way to make use of your crock pot. The longer, slower cooking allows all of the flavors to develop and mingle. In fact, many stew lovers would argue that the stew is better the second time it is heated up, which makes it a great meal, when you have a large crowd coming and you need to get all of your preparations done the day before. The very best part is that there is only one pot to clean after dinner.
Italian stew is usually a main dish and is often served in a bowl alongside bread. Some stews are served on top of polenta. Italian stew is usually one of two things: a meat with or without vegetables or a chunky sauce to pour over Italian pasta dishes. Common stews served in Italy include osso buco, stracotto, and spezzatino. These dishes are served year-round in Italy, becoming more common in wintertime, especially around Christmas. The sauce in Italian stew can range in texture from thin, watery broth to a thickness similar to mashed potatoes. Typical Italian stews are simply meat braised in broth or wine over low-heat. Italian stews can also contain any type of meat and/or vegetables and can be made on the stove, in the oven, or in a slow cooker. Vegetables used in this type of stew can be numerous, but, most often, include carrots, celery, and fennel. Potatoes, onion, and garlic are also common additions depending on the region of origin. Italian stew, sometimes, contains beef, but other meats are more typical, such as, chicken, pork, or veal. Rabbit is a popular stew meat in Northern Italy and sausage is a common stew meat in southern Italy.
Many Italian stew recipes that are popular did not actually originate in Italy. Since the cuisine of Italy has been influenced by nearby cultures, typical stews in Italy, include some that originated in Hungary and Croatia. The Italian stew called jota containing beans, bacon, garlic, potatoes, and meat, originally came from Croatia. In countries other than Italy, particularly in the United States, some dishes labeled as Italian stew are simply pasta dishes with Italian flavors that have been converted into stews, generally by reducing the broth or thickening the sauce in the mixture and adding pasta.
Italian Sweet and Sour Eggplant Stew
This stew of eggplant and vegetables is usually prepared agrodolce meaning sweet and sour because of the addition of sugar and vinegar. However, like so many traditional dishes, there seems to be an infinite number of variations. Usually the savory mixture contains tomatoes, capers, and olives along with the eggplant. In some areas of Italy, potatoes, fish, anchovies, pignoli nuts, raisins, bell peppers, asparagus or carrots might be included.
- 1 pound eggplant, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces, peel according to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 small red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
- 6 large black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar or a sugar alternative
- 4 large fresh basil leaves
- 5 stems fresh parsley, leaves only
- Salt to taste
In a large, deep skillet or Dutch Oven (large enough to hold the cut eggplant in a single layer), heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until the pieces are golden brown and tender. Season with salt. Remove to a separate bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, potatoes and celery and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Add the tomatoes, capers, and olives. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add the eggplant to the tomato mixture. Turn the heat to medium. Add the vinegar and sugar and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed.
Chop the basil and parsley together. Stir them into the eggplant mixture.
Chicken Stew with Olives and Lemon
- 1 pound boned, skinned chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons each salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 and 3/4 cups chicken broth
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4-in. cubes
- 1 package thawed frozen artichoke hearts, quartered if large
- 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup pitted medium green olives
- Lemon wedges
In a resealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt, and pepper.
Cut each chicken thigh into 2 or 3 chunks. Add chicken to the plastic bag, seal, and shake to coat.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken (discard excess flour) in a single layer and cook, turning once, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, capers, and lemon zest and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and simmer, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add broth, potatoes, and chicken and return to a simmer. Lower heat slightly to maintain simmer, cover, and cook 10 minutes.
Add artichokes to the pan and stir. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, lemon juice to taste, and olives. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with lemon wedges on the side.
Italian Sausage Stew
- 2 pounds pork, turkey or chicken Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup chopped green pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (28 ounces) container Pomi chopped tomatoes
- 1 (28 ounces) container Pomi strained tomatoes
- 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 3/4 cup short pasta
- 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven heat oil and brown the sausage. Drain the sausage on paper towels. Add the onion, green pepper and garlic to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, water, broth and wine. Bring to a boil, add pasta and browned sausage to the pan. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Top each serving cheese. 8 servings.
White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes
- 2 pounds Swiss chard, large stems discarded and leaves cut crosswise into 2-inch strips
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1-14 1/2 oz. can low sodium diced tomatoes
- One 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the chard and simmer over moderate heat until tender, 8 minutes. Drain the greens and gently press out excess water.
Return the saucepan to the stoves, add oil and heat on medium. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is golden, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the beans and simmer over moderately high heat for 3 minutes. Add the chard and simmer over moderate heat until the flavors meld, 5 minutes. Season the stew with salt and thyme.
Tortellini Spinach Meatball Stew
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 can (16 ounces) low sodium kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) low sodium diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
In a large bowl, combine the egg, spinach, bread crumbs, salt and
pepper. Add beef and mix well. Shape into 3/4-in. balls.
In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven, brown meatballs in batches in the 1 tablespoon oil. Remove meatballs to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
Add onion to the pan and saute for 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots; saute 2 minutes longer. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes, basil and oregano. Add meatballs; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Return to a boil. Add tortellini; cook for 7-9 minutes or until tender, stirring several times. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. 6 servings
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