The coming of winter brings many things, depending on where one resides. Fall foliage, followed by falling leaves; snowfalls, and with them the opportunity to make a snowman or two; and shorter days and longer nights. After autumn, it’s my favorite season. (I pity those residing in Florida, because they miss out on these wonderful winter things.)
One reason I love the season is that it offers me many chances to plan dinners that are comforting, warm, delicious, and easy. I’m talking one-pot meals that are full of flavor and nutrition. There are fewer hours of daylight in winter, so the less time I spend preparing meals and washing dishes and pots after dinner, the better.
I’m often accused of using too many pots, pans, and bowls when I cook, and I admit that many of the things I make do require an abundance of vessels, but I also enjoy preparing dishes in a manner that gives me more time to spend with family and friends and less time washing up. (Note: Some of these recipes are perfect served with rice or cous cous or another grain, and if you choose to do so you might need to prepare your grain in a separate pot, but that’s as easy as 1-2-3, is it not? You also might need to use one bowl to mix a few ingredients. But you’ll cook all of these recipes in nothing but a pot, pan, pressure cooker, or Instant Pot.)
Here you’ll find meal ideas that span the culinary world, from a delicious Moroccan-inspired chicken dish creation to an easy chili made in an Instant Pot. There’s something for vegetarians, as well. We’ll make some side dishes and desserts, too.
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Let’s get cooking!
Instant Pot Chili
When the days turn cooler and the sunlight slants at that beautiful autumn angle making chili becomes my calling. When time is short, I forgo my go-to method, which involves roasting dried peppers and making a paste with them, as well as several other time-consuming steps. Instead, I use my Instant Pot, and I’ve never been disappointed.
I’ve tried a number of Instant Pot chili recipes over the years, and many of them are similar, but the one I’ve gone to most often (and adapted by adding lamb and bacon) is from Jessica Gavin. It’s easy, and it’s full of flavor. Hint: Make sure your spices are fresh, and don’t skimp on the jalapeño peppers.
Get the recipe here.
One Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken
I love harissa’s bold and complex flavors, and use it often in my kitchen. In fact, it is the star of one of my favorite recipes, Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken. (I use bone-in thighs, but you can go with boneless if you like, or leg quarters.) This is a fast and simple method, and includes potatoes and rosemary and garlic, as well. Rebecca Cooks is the source for this version, and you’ll love it. Tip: Do not skimp on the harissa.
Easy Poached Chicken
While poaching is seen by some as an old-fashioned, outdated cooking method, I can’t think of an easier way to cook a whole chicken. A large pot, some black peppercorns, bay leaves, salt, a few carrots and a quartered onion, plus several celery stalks, water, and of course, the best chicken you can find. That’s the basics. (Yes, you can poach your bird in cream, if you wish.)
I have poached scores of chickens thus far in my life, and will, I hope, poach several hundred more before my cooking days are over. My Chef’s Apron is behind this recipe, and it’s a good one. Bonus: You’ll appreciate the leftover meat that you can use in soups, sandwiches, or casseroles.
Fish Curry With Coconut Milk
One word for you here: salmon. I love a good fish curry with salmon, and every time I make it my mind wanders to New Delhi, or perhaps London, because I’ve had great curries in both places. If you don’t like salmon, haddock works, as does cod or halibut. (You can substitute shrimp for the fish as well, if that’s your thing.)
Whatever you do, don’t skip any of the spices or herbs here. The ginger, garlic, and curry paste or powder, in sufficient amounts, are necessary. Don’t expect a bland curry dish to make smiles happen at your table.
Instant Pot Arroz Con Leche
Rice pudding by any other name would taste as, well, delicious, and this easy, quick dessert that you can make in an Instant Pot is Arroz con Leche. Or rice pudding. It’s sweet, but not overly, and it’s decadent and rich. Best of all, it’s an ideal dessert for all kinds of main courses. (I’ve even enjoyed it for breakfast.)
Tip: always rinse your rice in running water before cooking. Cinnamon optional, of course.
Full of fiber, vitamins and potassium, kale is a vegetable I cook at least twice a month. I’ve been buying organic kale at Trader Joe’s lately, and am happy with it; it’s prewashed and chopped, a bonus. You can, of course, buy yours at a farmer’s market, or frozen from the grocery story.
Garlic and chili flakes are delicious here, and I like to add a touch of acid to my kale, so balsamic vinegar is my go-to choice. Just put a splash or two in the pan after the kale is done.
Shrimp My Way, by Mark Bittman
I urge you to find fresh, wild-caught shrimp for this easy recipe, but if you cannot, try to at least buy wild-caught frozen shrimp. Farmed shrimp comes with lots of issues …
This one’s from Mark Bittman, and it’s about as easy as opening a jar of olives. Seriously. You’ll want to make it at least once a week, and serve it with a loaf of crusty, warm bread. The garlic, cumin, and paprika combination is sublime. (Wine pairing: a lively Albariño, such as this one from Mettler Family Vineyards.)
Be still my heart. Yes, I adore this traditional recipe from the days of my youth and living in the U.S. South. It’s rich and warm and comforting, and if you are seeking a simple appetizer or party hors d’oeuvre, stop looking, because this is a great one.
There are myriad ways to make this, and they are all simple. Spread this classic dip on cracker or toast points, and serve with sherry, if you wish.
Here’s the way to make it, from Allrecipes.com.
One-Pot Greek Orzo With Lamb Meatballs
Lamb is perhaps my favorite type of meat … and I love it all. Chops, bacon, leg, you name it, I cook and eat it. Meatballs from ground lamb is at the top of my list, however, and they are often on my mind when I consider meal ideas.
Meatballs in a tomato sauce are what I lean toward nine times out of 10, but I recently tried a recipe I found on Good Food Baddie, and I’ve added it to my rotation. All you need is a skillet, and a handful of ingredients, and about 30 minutes. Dinner will be a happy occasion. I paired a Tempranillo with this dish, and it was just what was needed.
Tomato and Basil Soup
Here’s a soup that has stood the test of time, and done so with nothing but requests for more. You can use fresh tomatoes, or canned tomatoes, water or stock (vegetable or chicken). But, always use fresh basil, and garnish with more if it. (A touch of cream swirled in at the end of cooking is never a bad thing. Trust me.)
The recipe I chose does use cream, and it’s marvelous. One pot, minimal prep, and flavor galore.
Get the recipe here from Taste of Home.
Sheet Pan Winter Squash and Sausage
Cooking complete dishes on a sheet pan has become popular as of late, and I can see why. One pan, a few ingredients, all of the juices and textures and flavors mingling in the oven … what’s not to like?
This recipe, from the Beach House Kitchen, calls for acorn squash, but I’ve used pumpkin and butternut as well. I prefer hot Italian sausage, but mild, chicken, turkey, and non-meat will work as well. Line your sheet pan with aluminum foil if you wish for even easier cleanup!
If you don’t eat meat, add onions and other vegetables, such as broccoli, to the pan and enjoy!
To a dessert now, one that can be mixed in its cooking container and popped into the oven. It makes for an easy weeknight final course, and it can be made with many types of fruit, including peaches, blueberries, and apricots.
This recipe I use comes from a great-aunt of mine, and she’s been making this cobbler for decades. While hers is my favorite, a version I found at Pear Tree Kitchen is quite good, and simple.
Get the recipe here.
One-Pot Chicken Bouillabaisse
You might think of seafood when you read the word “bouillabaisse” … and for good reason. It’s a classic dish that’s been made for centuries, and is considered to have hailed from Marseille. Keith Floyd — one of my favorite chefs and television personalities — showed me how to make this Gallic wonder, and you won’t find a more satisfying bowl of food anywhere.
That said, making bouillabaisse can be a process, and that’s not our mission here. Instead, let’s prepare chicken bouillabaisse, in one pot. There’s saffron, and fennel, and tomatoes, and it’s a wonderful way to use chicken. A red wine from Cahors would be an ideal pairing.
Here’s your recipe, from Serious Eats.
Let’s head back to lamb, that versatile protein loved by so many around the world. This time, instead of meatballs, we are going for a rich and hearty stew made in one pot. It can be the centerpiece of a Saturday evening meal, and served with a loaf of bread and a jug of wine, it is perfect. (Yes, you can substitute beef for the lamb, so do that if you want. I recommend chuck or a similar stewing cut.)
Curry Trail is the source of this satisfying recipe, which you can find here.
Marcella’s Tomato Sauce With an Onion
I cannot say or write enough about Marcella Hazan. She was a passionate, opinionated, and dedicated cook, teacher, and writer, and I urge you to buy her books if you are not familiar with her.
It’s a good thing to know how to make your own tomato sauce, and Hazan’s is by far my favorite one. I make it often, and use it in all types of pasta dishes. I freeze it, I give it to friends as gifts, and I eat it by the spoonful. The secrets? Butter, and a whole onion.