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7 Delicious One-Pan Meals for Busy Weeknights

Words by Sacha Strebe.

7 Delicious One-Pan Meals for Busy Weeknights

Feeling creatively uninspired to cook dinner after a long workday is a common feeling we all share. When hunger strikes, we often reach for tried and tested favorites that are quick and easy. I mean, who has the energy to whip up a new recipe or concoct something from scratch? Enter the one-pot one-pan meal. Yes, this delicious lifeline was designed to save us all on busy weeknights and we couldn’t be more grateful. So in that vein, we decided to round up six of Athena’s weeknight heroes that are simple to make and look anything but. Because even the most straightforward dishes can still make the eyes and the tastebuds swoon. Happy cooking!

These one-pot one-pan meals are the easy recipes you need for busy weeknights

Slow-Roasted Cod With Citrus and Fennel

While I love a seared, crispy-skinned piece of fish, it’s not really an easy weeknight-friendly preparation. Who wants to stand at the stove fussing over fillets anyway? Instead, I pop my fish into the oven and slow roast it with some veg, serving it up with a bright relish that I’ve made as the fish slowly builds flavor. The result: A cozy, roasted cod one-pot meal that is deliciously easy! I love nothing more than a meal that is rooted in simplicity but looks anything but. Something that you feast on with your eyes first, that alerts all of your senses and beckons you to savor every morsel before you even take a bite. That’s pure enjoyment.

Beef Bourguignon

My favorite meal growing up was a beef stew—I am a meat and potatoes kinda gal to my core. I was not fancy enough to call it Beef Bourguignon but it was and remains what I will always crave once the weather turns crisp. Anyway, this one is to pay homage to Julia Child after completely falling back in love while watching the new Julia documentary by @imaginedocs. And this method is very much inspired by Susan Spungen’s recipe in Open Kitchen, who fittingly worked on the Julie & Julia film. Basically, all things lead back to the one and only legendary Julia!

Pan-Roasted Pork Chops With Shallots, Fennel, and Watercress

I love myself a good pork chop, but that wasn’t always the case. When I was a child, the chops that showed up on our dinner table were always dry and tough—yet somehow they maintained their stature as our go-to weeknight meal. It’s no surprise, then, that I shied away from cooking them for years. But that all changed when I learned to ignore the myth that pork has to be well done. Now I cook my chops to medium, still slightly pink in the middle. Here, the pork and some veggies get a quick sear in a cast-iron skillet, which is then used to cook up a tangy sauce. It’s a truly juicy one-pan wonder. I recently shared my easy pan-roasted pork chops recipe on The Rachael Ray Show—scroll down to see some candid snaps from the segment along with the recipe so you can make these surprisingly simple and delicious pork chops at home. 

Whole Roasted Chicken With Sumac, Roasted Vegetables, and Sesame Labne

Even after I found my confidence in the kitchen, the idea of roasting a whole chicken continued to intimidate me for years. Finally, one night, bored with my usual family dinner rotation, I decided to try it—and I couldn’t believe how easy it was! With almost no prep time, you get a delicious, no-fail, one-pan dinner that’s quick enough for Wednesday and impressive enough for Saturday night. This version gets its Middle Eastern flavor profile from one of my new favorite spices: sumac. The gound berry’s rusty hue might lead you to think it has a peppery taste, but in fact, it boasts a tangy, lemon-like flavor that’s incredibly versatile. The labne—an ultra-thick, creamy yogurt—is another delicious Mediterranean touch. If you can’t find it, Greek yogurt is a fine substitute. 

Spinach and Goat Cheese Frittata

Starting in late spring, I tend to have a steady stream of friends staying at my house in Amagansett, so I’ve learned to embrace an all-day mindset when it comes to entertaining. Guests appreciate a beautiful breakfast just as much as—if not more than—a fancy dinner. Frittata is one of my favorites. Fast and easy, it’s a great vehicle for showcasing spring greens—and using up leftovers from the night before. If you’re pressed for time, frittata can be made ahead and served at room temperature. Just spruce it up with a handful of torn herbs before serving. Feel free to sub zucchini for the spinach here, or replace the goat cheese with ricotta. And spare yourself the anxiety of getting the finished dish to release perfectly onto a platter—I slive mine directly grom the cast-iron pan. 

Creamy Cauliflower Soup With Dukkah and Watercress Pesto 

When I was a kid, my mom’s pureed broccoli soup was my number one cool-weather craving. My son has clearly inherited some of my taste buds—he’s obsessed with this similarly creamy cauliflower version. This soup combines sweet roasted florets with buttery Yukon Gold potatoes and an aromatic trifecta of leeks, garlic, and thyme. The key, when pureeing, is to add liquid just a little at a time. If the soup becomes too watery, there’s no turning back. And to avoid a cauliflower volcano, remember to remove the center insert of your blender and cover the hole with a kitchen towel so steam can escape. 

When it comes to toppings, you’ve got some options. The nut, seed, and spice mixture is known as dukkah adds wonderful crunch, but I also love the brightness of lemony watercress-pistachio pesto, which cuts through the heavier flavors. Use both, as I have done here, or choose just one. 

BROTHY WHITE BEANS WITH SOURDOUGH AND PISTOU

I call this easy white beans recipe a “situation” because that’s precisely what it is. Use my recipe as a guide for cooking beans, but you can really add any aromatics you want—make it wonderfully spicy or omit the chilies altogether! This is now your brothy bean situation and I encourage you to forget I even exist. That being said, the spices and charred lemon add a wonderfully nuanced flavor to the legumes, and the crunchy bread on top is obviously my favorite part of this entire dish. Then the pistou—a classic French Provençal sauce made from cloves of garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, and Parmesan, occasionally—serves as a pop of zesty freshness on top that I feel is needed to contrast the richness of the beans.

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