Cookbook: One Pot by Martha Stewart Living
Overall Impression: Clever recipes make this a great cookbook for nights when you want to make an easy, one-pot meal.
The latest release from the editors at Martha Stewart Living is based on a simple premise: cook your whole meal in one cooking vessel, and you’ll get a great dinner with minimal cleanup. I was drawn in by the simple but sophisticated-looking recipes, most of which span just one well-edited page, and I was excited to see whether the dishes would turn out as good as they looked on the page.
Spoiler alert: thanks to a few smart techniques, these recipes work well and the results taste great.
Recipes I Tried
- Baked Rice with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe p. 84
- Minestrone p. 196
Cooking From One Pot
The kitchens of Martha Stewart Living have been perfecting one-pot dishes for some time now. Last spring, their One-Pan Pasta went viral on Pinterest, opening up a world of possibilities for cooking pasta without the traditional pot of boiling water. The Kitchn’s Nealey Dozier even developed a variation of her own, Linguine with Roasted Red Peppers, Tomatoes & Brie.
One Pot goes beyond this brilliant pasta hack, with recipes for a variety of soups, stews, main dishes, and even desserts. They’ve featured a handful of recipes from the book in a sneak peek on their website, so you can get an idea of what’s in store. The 125 recipes are mostly of the comfort food variety, but they’re not over-the-top indulgent, and most make for pretty balanced meals served on their own.
The chapters are divided by the cookware required for each dish — you’ll find chapters on using your Dutch oven, skillet, slow cooker, and more. Each chapter begins with a two-page introductory spread outlining the basics of the cooking vessel being used. You'll learn what a particular pot or pan is best for, pick up a few quick tips and tricks, and then select a recipe. There are options for meat eaters, gluten-free folk, and vegetarians in every chapter. However, if you have any dietary restrictions, you'll need to read through the ingredient lists carefully, and no calorie counts or other nutrition information is provided.
There aren't a lot of vegetables that haven't had their day in my kitchen, so when I saw Baked Rice with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe (p. 84), I immediately seized on the opportunity to give the new-to-me vegetable a try. I'm so glad I tried this tender, bitter green, and this skillet rice recipe was the perfect foil for its punchy, mustardy kick.
The way the dish comes together is just brilliant. It starts off like risotto — sausage is sautéed with onion, then the rice and wine go into the pan, then broth. Next, instead of the onerous risotto stirring routine, you just chuck the skillet in the oven.
When the rice is halfway cooked through, leafy sections of broccoli rabe are tossed with a bit of water and strewn over the top of the rice. The vegetable cooks through without becoming singed, and it acts as a sort of cover for the rice, which comes out perfectly tender.
Minestrone (p. 196) wasn't quite so much of a revelation, but it was still a good meal for a chilly night. The recipe makes a big pot of soup, and it's packed to the brim with vegetables. While I enjoyed the slightly spicy, brothy bowl, I missed the pasta that usually goes into a minestrone. Even with a bit of shaved parmesan and olive oil on top, I wanted that carby dimension to really make the dish feel like a one-pot meal.
What Could Be Better
There are lots of ways to write a recipe, with endless opportunities for the author to decide how much information to include or omit. The style here is breezy and fairly minimalist. If you’re the questioning type, you may wonder why, for instance, a minestrone recipe (p. 196) asks you to peel your potatoes, but not your carrots. Or whether or not to put the cover back on the skillet when you cook your eggs in the Beet Hash (p. 82).
When cooking from this book, I made the general assumption that if a step wasn’t explained super carefully, I’d take the laziest path, and I think that’s what the editors had in mind. After all, the end goal with a one-pot recipe is to make an easy meal. Whether those carrots are peeled or not, you're still going to end up with a tasty soup.
I'm looking forward to cooking my way through more of these one-pot dishes — many of them are well-suited to fall and winter dinners. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the Skillet Chocolate-Chip Cookie (p. 239) will make its way into my life sooner rather than later. Simply written and full of great ideas, One Pot gets my vote of confidence for its practicality and creative concept.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: One Pot by Martha Stewart Living
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