Bored With Pot Roast and Chili? 5 Totally Unexpected One-Dish Dinners

Sure, one-pot wonders like chili make dinner easier -- but it's time to move beyond your slow-cooked favorites

We all rely on one-pot wonders like pot roast and chili to make cooking and cleanup easy. But as the days get warmer, we want to move beyond our slow-cooked favorites without adding more dirty dishes to the equation. The good news is that one-pot dinners can be quick-cooking and light, too.

If you think about it, "one pot" can also mean "one skillet" or "one roasting pan" -- all make your life easier (and your sink far less full at the end of the night). And cooking your dinner in one dish isn't just practical -- as flavors mingle and get to know each other (instead of merely getting acquainted on the plate), they turn the dish into something far greater than the sum of its parts. Win-win, indeed.

Read on for five of our favorite unexpected dish-saving meals:

1. Layer Whole Grains and Greens

1. Layer whole grains and greens

One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf (photo by James Ransom)

Why cook greens on the side if you don't have to? Take advantage of the pot of quinoa you've already got simmering on the stove, and pile in a layer of kale on top -- in the time it takes for the quinoa to finish cooking, the greens will be perfectly, gently wilted. And then just toss them all together with a lemony dressing, toasted nuts and a little goat cheese, for good measure. Or, top farro with mustard greens, barley with peas -- whatever you've got in the fridge is fair game.

Recipe: One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

2. Seafood Not-Quite-Stew

2. Seafood not-quite-stew

Drunken Clams with Sausage (photo by James Ransom)

Seafood like clams, mussels and shrimp cook in a matter of minutes and make a light but intensely flavorful broth. Add some wine and aromatics and you've got dinner, with one last requirement: good hunks of bread to sop it up. To mix things up and go beyond simple seafood soups, try chowder, jambalaya, gumbo or an Indian rice-based biryani.

Recipe: Drunken Clams with Sausage

3. Roast Chicken (and Sides)

3. Roast chicken (and sides)

Lemon and Onion Roast Chicken (photo by Sarah Shatz)

If you're roasting chicken (and you should be roasting chicken), you might as well throw some vegetables into the pan with it -- potatoes, carrots, onions, turnips, or anything you've got that needs using up. Your vegetables get extra seasoning from the bird, and you've got just one pan to deal with (pro tip: it's even easier to clean if you make a pan sauce or gravy with the sticky bits in the bottom of the pan).

Recipe: Lemon and Onion Roast Chicken

4. Eggs for Dinner

4. Eggs for dinner

Chickpea, Spinach, and Chorizo Frittata (photo by James Ransom)

Nobody ever said eggs were just for breakfast. Frittatas are great destinations for just about any vegetables and proteins you have on hand -- even leftovers like cooked vegetables and braised or roasted meats. Just get them cooking in a skillet, layer in some grated cheese, cover the whole thing with beaten eggs and throw it in the oven to finish cooking. Think of it as the "kitchen sink" one-skillet supper that everyone will love. Other popular combinations: Try bacon and leeks, potatoes and spinach or ham and peas.

Recipe: Chickpea, Spinach and Chorizo Frittata

5. Paella

5. Paella

Moorish Paella (photo by Sarah Shatz)

Paella on a weeknight might sound daunting, but it's really just a matter of browning up some chicken (and sausage and vegetables), adding rice and broth, and letting it do its thing. (Don't forget to crank up the heat at the end to get that bottom layer of rice extra crispy.)

Recipe: Moorish Paella

Get more one-pot recipes from Food52:
Secret Ingredient Beef Stew
Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Mint Curry
Pasta Fagioli

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