Asam Bangia's Blog

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Off the Shelf: One-Pot F l a v o r

I was recently considering food topics to write about and my cooking classat the adult school came to mind.

We had cooked a spinach and chicken rice. The next day, a student e-mailed me and suggested I add a one-pot-meal search category on my blog.

Why hadn’t I thought of that? Especially because every time I come up with a well-balanced meal that can be cooked in one pot and is both adult and kid-friendly, I feel triumphant.

So now my blog has a one-pot-meal category.

Here are some of my favorites, beginning with a chicken, sausage and shrimp paella.

I made this for a dinner date we had with my daughter’s friend and her family — a perfect dish that I could prepare in advance, then step away from the kitchen to socialize with our company.

A make-ahead dish for entertaining.

The ingredients I used are pretty standard for a paella, but I went lighter on the spice. For instance, I used chicken sausage instead of the spicy chorizo (which I love but didn’t think the kids would appreciate), as well as chicken thighs and jumbo shrimp.

For veggies, I used red peppers and peas. And to make the dish rich and creamy, I turned to Arborio rice, which I amped up with wine and saffron.

This is a dish for entertaining. It has all the Spanish flavors of an authentic paella, but it is toned down to please those who are not too fond of spicy food.

One of my all-time favorite pasta dishes is broccoli rabe cooked with sausage.

This one-pot dish has it all — meat, vegetables and pasta. Once again, I use chicken sausages (I always have chicken sausage in my fridge), leafy green broccoli rabe, whole-grain pasta and pine nuts.

Only one pot was used to make this broccoli-rabe sausage pasta.

The sauce comes from the water the pasta was cooked in — the starch in it thickens the pasta. Lots of basil, lemon zest and a bit of Pecorino Romano cheese give it a flavor boost.

And last but not least is a dish combined with one my grandmother used to make. She would cook rice and peas in a mixture of cilantro, green onions, regular onion and garlic — which I lovingly call “green rice.”

The vegetables were processed into a thick sauce, sautéed with cumin seeds, and then she would add the rice and peas.

I use this green rice with spinach and chicken. I sauté chicken thighs in a pan with the mixture of spinach, cilantro, green onions and garlic.

The sauce had all the flavor of my grandmother’s, as well as extra nutrients from the spinach. I sautéed the mixture with cumin seeds, and added the rice and cooked it with chicken broth.

I often use chicken broth to cook rice, couscous or any grain for great flavor without much work. I finished the rice dish with a generous sprinkling of golden raisins for a burst of sweetness amidst the savory, earthy spinach rice.

Add yogurt to the rice and you have all the makings for a superb meal.

I would love to hear about any one-pot meals you have in your repertoire. Write them in the comments below.

Chicken Pulao with Spinach and Cilantro1 pound skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
½ cup frozen spinach
4 green onions, chopped roughly
3 garlic cloves
1 shallot, chopped roughly
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup basmati rice (any other long grain rice will do)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup golden raisins (optional)

In a heavy wide pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle one teaspoon salt on the chicken thighs and place them in the pot. Brown each side for about 3 minutes on high heat. Take out and keep aside. In the meantime, blend cilantro, spinach, green onions, garlic, shallot, olive oil and water into a smooth paste. Add the green paste into the hot pan with the cumin seeds. Saute this mixture on medium high heat for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly (careful not to burn). Add the chicken pieces and broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the rice and salt. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium. Once wholes appear on the top, lower the heat and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes till rice is done. Add the raisins on top and cover for another 5 minutes with the heat off.


April 29, 2010 - Posted by | My Family | , ,

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