Here’s a New Year’s resolution to embrace: Do less!
That can mean many things, but it should especially mean doing fewer dishes. And what better way to stick to that goal than to cook more one-pot meals from New York Times Cooking? This is not permission to compromise on flavor; in fact you’ll find that these thoughtfully developed recipes brim with warmth, tang, spice and creaminess despite their ease. But when energy is at a premium (and when is it not?), the dishes below will satisfy while keeping the sink relatively empty.
Preparing this 30-minute number from Hetty McKinnon in a single pot actually fortifies the flavors of the overall dish: The stock that deglazes the caramelized mushrooms and leeks is also the liquid that the pasta cooks in, capturing all those browned bits at the bottom of the pot and imparting orecchiette with their umami.
Zainab Shah skips the more traditional layering of ingredients in biryani to save time and clean up, but she doesn’t sacrifice flavor. The recipe is packed with aromatics — cloves, cardamom pods, green chiles, ginger and chopped herbs, to name just a few — and a produce aisle’s worth of veggies. A final bedazzling of pomegranate seeds and cashews beautifully disguises the fact that this dish is a cinch to prepare.
Recipe: One-Pot Vegetable Biryani
Don’t sound off in the comments just yet — this comforting Melissa Clark recipe calls for ground turkey, but you can also use more beans or your preferred plant-based meat substitute. And while the stew itself is everything you want from a chili (spicy, rich, filling), we all know why you’re here: the siren call of those buttery, tangy biscuits.
In the universe of vessels that could be considered a singular pot, you can, and should, include the big ol’ electric pressure cooker. While Sarah DiGregorio’s vegetarian interpretation of the Hungarian classic is far from what you might find in Budapest, plenty of Yukon Gold potatoes and meaty mushrooms keep it in the comforting spirit of the original.
Swapping the chicken for red lentils in Ali Slagle’s vegetarian take on the Italian classic ensures dinner still has plenty of protein with minimal fuss. The final stew is also incredibly versatile: Eat it straight from the pot, spoon it over creamy polenta or treat it as a pasta sauce by thinning it out with just a little bit of water.
Recipe: Lentils Cacciatore
This richly crimson vegetarian stew from Lidey Heuck is well spiced, but lacks the fiery heat one might normally associate with heftier chilies. Instead, the flavor profile is warmer and a bit more complex thanks to subtle additions like cinnamon and brown sugar.
Melissa Clark has written a love letter to canned foods, and it’s this creamy curry. Canned chickpeas, coconut milk and pumpkin purée serve as the base for this pantry-friendly (and budget-friendly) recipe. Fresh produce is kept to a minimum — think onion, cilantro, lime — to ensure you won’t have to dash out for a last-minute ingredient.
Ali Slagle is out here asking the important questions — like “What if my favorite steakhouse creamed spinach teamed up with my favorite mac and cheese?” — and giving the people answers. Here, milk, spinach and aromatics create a sauce that’s loose enough for tiny pasta like ditalini to cook in, but that also thickens as it simmers. A final showering of Parmesan binds it all together perfectly.
Recipe: One-Pot Creamy Pasta and Greens
Loophole alert! Because the cheesy toasts served alongside this Italian stew from Sarah DiGregorio are popped right under the broiler sans pot or pan, it still qualifies for this list. Don’t skip them, either: While the soup is hearty on its own, reviving any stale bread lying around means you’ll get bites here and there that are almost pizzalike in flavor.
If there’s a tube or jar of harissa in the pantry, put it to work in this breezy weeknight soup from Ali Slagle. Because the North African chile paste carries a good amount of heat and flavor in just a couple tablespoons, you won’t need much else besides a few crisper staples and a couple cans of chickpeas to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes.
This creamy, vibrant and piquant soup doesn’t actually require any cream: Yewande Komolafe uses coconut milk, natural peanut butter and pumpkin purée to achieve a silky consistency. Those velvety ingredients also temper the heat of some habanero chile, a fixture of West African cuisine.
Recipe: Spicy Peanut and Pumpkin Soup
Kay Chun makes dinner — and thus, life — so much easier for you with this recipe, which eliminates the need for the stovetop hovering and endless stirring often associated with risotto. This dish is easy to adapt, too: While chicken stock is called for, mushroom broth would be an exceptional substitution.
Doenjang, the Korean fermented soybean paste, lends a salty funk that brings complexity to an otherwise simple stew of pantry beans and hearty greens. Eric Kim keeps waste to a minimum by including the stems from the greens — specifically rainbow chard — which add color and a subtle crunch.