I cook for myself in the teeniest, tiniest of kitchens in my Soho apartment (literally 6 inches of counter space, 8x8" sink, etc.) so when I can make a complete meal in one pan it makes my life so much easier. Less clutter in the sink and on the counter, less stress, less time devoted to tending to three burners at once. Cooking a meal in one pan is also a great way to get comfortable in the kitchen if you're a beginner, because it's easier to remain in control of the process.
I recently cooked a modified version of the ultimate comfort food - ratatouille - with this dinner in one pan idea in mind. I opened up the fridge, assessed the remaining vegetables in my Community Supported Agriculture box and determined that the evening's meal would be a warm and rich vegetable stew that's the ultimate classic in French cuisine. I tend to open the fridge and get creative with whatever's inside rather than plan out intricate meals ahead of time. Cooking in this way is challenging and fun for me - what awesome dish can I make with an orange, a piece of chicken, and these spring onions I have lying around?
So, with an eggplant, an onion, white wine, some garlic, herbs, and a can of tomatoes in hand - my one-pan ratatouille came together deliciously. I even placed a warm spoonful of freshly cooked quinoa on top to up the protein quotient and finished it with a sprinkling of fresh thyme. I'd suggest you try this comforting and classical dish on the next crisp fall night. Vegetables slowly simmered together take on fantastic flavor, especially with the addition of white wine to deglaze the pan after a nice sauté. Recipe below!
[tabgroup layout="horizontal"] [tab title="Ingredients"]Canola Oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon red chili flakes
1 large eggplant, diced into 1/4 inch cubes (skin on)
5 Sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 c. white wine
28 oz. can of diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Organic)
3 Bay Leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cooked quinoa
Additional fresh thyme leaves (taken off the sprigs) for garnish
[/tab] [tab title="Procedure"]1. Chop all ingredients ahead of time: garlic, onions, eggplant and separate.
2. Sweat the eggplant by salting evenly over paper towels to draw out some of the moisture. This will result in a better sauté.
3. Heat up large sauté pan over medium heat and then heat canola oil.
4. Quickly cook garlic and onions until translucent, then add chili flakes.
4. Add additional canola oil to the pan, and after drying the moisture off the eggplant add to the pan with thyme and cook until golden brown.
5. Deglaze the pan with white wine.
6. Add canned tomatoes to the pan along with bay leaves. Allow the stew to simmer over medium-low heat for at least 20 minutes.
7. Begin to season the stew with salt and pepper when the eggplant becomes tender. If the stew becomes too thick, thin it out with a bit of hot chicken broth. Remove bay leaves and any thyme sprigs before serving.
8. Serve in a bowl topped with warm quinoa and fresh thyme leaves. [tab title="Notes"]Serving Size: 3 People
Time: 45 minutes[/tab] [/tabgroup]