ISTANBUL: It has been a long day and while the thought of dining out or getting a delivery is alluring, you want to save that for another time when you are totally spent. But who wants to toil away making a meal in the kitchen only to then clean up the mess? Well, there is an elegant solution: one-pot meals for a delicious dinner with minimal effort.
Leftover chicken and veggie pasta
This is the ultimate way to cook leftovers in my eyes. If you don’t have that much leftover chicken, I like to throw whatever vegetables I have on hand into the dish. The key here is to get that creamy consistency by using plenty of onions or leeks, or both if you like! The measurements I’ve given here are approximate as anything goes with this one-pot wonder. I list carrots and celery but skipping them entirely or adding more is also fine. Work with what you, add what you like and feel free to experiment!
3-4 onions and/or 2-3 leek stalks
200 grams peas
2-3 stalks of celery
500 grams pasta
Salt, black pepper, cumin
Leftover chicken (however much you have)
Chicken broth or water
Chop the onions and clean the leeks thoroughly before chopping them finely, too. Add a dash of vegetable oil to your pot and slowly saute the onions until soft. Add the leek in as well and continue sauteing until they have cooked down. Now throw in any vegetables you like, all of them. Cutting them in similar sizes will make them easier to cook through. Briefly saute everything together and add the chicken broth or water together with the pasta. You don’t want to have too much liquid here though. The pasta indeed will need some water or broth to cook through but you don’t want to have too much of it to make it into soup (or if that is your intention – go for it!). Season to your liking. Reduce the heat to low and occasionally check and stir to avoid anything from sticking to the bottom. If you coordinate everything well you’ll be done in a maximum of 40 minutes.
At the very end, shortly before the pasta is completely cooked, pull the chicken pieces apart into smaller chunks and mix them into the pot. If you don’t have any chicken leftovers you can of course skip that step altogether.
Salmon pot with zoodles
If you want to go completely carb-free and get in some other vitamins in too, this one is definitely for you. The only time-consuming part is making the zoodles but even that is relatively fast if you happen to have one of those fancy little gadgets that work like pencil sharpeners.
500 grams zucchini
200 gram salmon fillet
Half a bundle of dill
300 milliliters heavy cream
First, you’ll need to zest a lemon but be careful not to grate the white part close to the flesh as it is bitter. Next, prepare your zoodles (or if you bought them already cut, no need for that). Next, add the juice of the lemons to the pot with the heavy cream before bringing it to a boil. Add your zoodles, half of the lemon zest, salmon and most of the dill into the pot. Cook until all the ingredients have had enough time on the heat and the salmon has cooked, season with some salt. Since we used lemon, we don’t need that much salt given the handy rule: the more sour the lemon, the less salt a dish requires. Serve by sprinkling the remaining dill and lemon zest.
This dish can also be done in the oven if you feel inclined to do it that way, 180 degrees Celsius (355 degrees Fahrenheit) until the salmon has cooked should do the trick.
A true classic: Spaghetti Bolognese
This is my childhood to the T. But I really don’t want to make a mess of my kitchen for one, simple dish! So here is a quick and easy way to whip up this classic pasta dish.
2-3 cloves garlic
500 grams minced beef
800 milliliters tomato sauce
Salt, pepper, thyme
500 grams spaghetti
Chop the onions, garlic and carrots finely. In your pot of choice saute them with a dash of oil until the onions soften. Add the beef now and saute that until it is evenly cooked, meaning nothing looks raw, and add the tomato sauce. Season the mix and add maybe a bit more salt than usual because the pasta will absorb quite a bit of it (but don’t oversalt it, maybe just a pinch more than usual). Bring the mix to a boil and if the tomato sauce starts to thicken already, don’t be scared to add water or a broth of your choice. Add the spaghetti and reduce the heat to cook the pasta slowly. Every so often, give it a good stir so that nothing burns.
While Bolognese sauce is made traditionally with spaghetti, don’t feel restricted! I like to use any pasta I have on hand and the meaty sauce goes with just about everything. As for the tomato sauce, you can simply use a tin of crushed tomatoes if you don’t have jars of the homemade stuff on hand. Using tomato paste and plenty of broth is another solution but the taste is not quite the same. Keep in mind that if you choose to use more of the paste you’ll need less salt.
Serve with grated cheese and dig in.