One-pot or one-pan cooking is great for all sorts of reasons. Not only does it save on the washing-up, but it also leads to really tasty dishes, because all the different flavours have the time to come together and really mingle, rather than meet for the first time on the plate. Which makes it a win-win particularly right now, what with all the hosting we’ve got to come.
Four-allium baked rice (pictured above)
Cooking rice in the oven can be a real “Ah-ha!” moment for anyone new to the approach. It’s the most foolproof way to the most perfectly cooked and fluffy of grains. If you want to get ahead, do the first 40 minutes of cooking a few hours ahead of time, leaving just the second bit (when the garlic, cumin, rice and boiling water are added) to do before you serve up. To make this dish vegan, swap the butter for three tablespoons of olive oil.
Prep 25 min
Cook 1 hr 15 min
500g leeks, trimmed, white and light green parts cut into 1½cm-thick rounds
4 shallots, peeled and sliced into 1cm-thick rounds (240g net weight)
6 spring onions, trimmed, white parts cut into 1½cm lengths, green parts thinly sliced (60g)
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 fresh bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted
250g basmati rice, rinsed until the water runs clear
For the pine nut burnt butter
50g unsalted butter
2 fresh bay leaves
20g pine nuts
Heat the oven to its highest setting, or 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9.
Put the leeks, shallots, spring onion whites, cinnamon, two bay leaves, oil and a teaspoon of salt in a 30cm x 20cm baking dish. Mix well, cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes, stirring once gently halfway, until the leeks are soft but still hold their shape.
Lift off the foil, stir in the garlic, cumin and rice, then pour in 500ml boiling water. Replace the foil, secure it tightly and return the dish to the oven for 25 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the oven, then leave, still covered in the foil, to steam gently for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the pine nut butter. Put the butter and bay leaves in a small frying pan on a medium-high heat. Melt the butter and cook for five minutes, until it’s nicely browned and starts to smell nutty. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring, for a minute, until golden all over. Transfer to a heatproof bowl to stop the cooking.
When you’re ready to serve, remove and discard the foil, then gently fluff up the rice with a fork. Pour the burnt butter mixture all over the top and serve warm with the sliced spring onion greens sprinkled on top.
Braised cod with winter tomatoes, fennel and caperberries
Winter tomatoes such as black iberiko are well worth seeking out for this, but if you can’t find any, use the same amount of crushed tinned tomatoes instead. Swap the cod for any other firm white fish such as hake, or for other seafood such as mussels or prawns. Serve with the allium rice above or with lots of crusty bread.
Prep 30 min
Cook 1 hr
400g fennel (about 1 large bulb), trimmed and cut into 8 wedges
1 onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges (180g)
105ml olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
250g winter tomatoes (ie black iberiko), roughly grated and skin discarded, or 250g chopped tinned tomatoes
200ml chicken stock
75ml dry white wine
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
100g caperberries, stems removed (or 30g regular capers)
Salt and black pepper
600g cod loin, skinned and cut into 4 x 150g pieces
3 tbsp (10g) basil leaves, finely chopped
2½-3 tbsp (10g) flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 lemon, zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, then cut into 4 wedges, to serve
1½ tsp fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed in a mortar
Put the fennel and onion wedges in a large bowl with a tablespoon and a half of oil and toss gently to coat. Put a large saute pan for which you have a lid on a high heat. Once hot, lay in the fennel and onion wedges and brown on each cut side for three minutes; do this in two batches, if need be. Transfer the wedges to a plate and rinse out and dry the pan.
Return the pan to a medium heat with the remaining 80ml oil. Once hot, add the tomato paste and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for two minutes, until fragrant. Add the fennel and onions, along with the grated (or tinned) tomatoes, stock, wine, chilli flakes, paprika, caperberries, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, then cover the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Once it’s bubbling, turn down the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes, until the fennel and onion wedges have softened but still keep their shape.
Sprinkle the cod pieces all over with a quarter-teaspoon of salt, then gently push them into the sauce, so they’re submerged. Replace the lid and cook for another 10 to 12 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Use a spoon to coat the top of the cod with the sauce.
Meanwhile, mix the basil, parsley and lemon zest in a small bowl.
Sprinkle a third of the herb mixture and a third of the fennel seeds on top of the cooked cod, and serve warm with the remaining herb mixture, fennel seeds and lemon wedges alongside.
Parmesan and black pepper roast parsnips
These make a very quick and easy side dish to go with a Sunday roast. Serve them as soon after roasting as possible, while they’re still crisp.
Prep 10 min
Cook 35 min
Serves 4 as a side
600g parsnips, trimmed but unpeeled, and cut in half lengthways
3 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp freshly cracked black pepper (not too coarsely)
2 tsp maple syrup
20g grated parmesan
1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9. Fill a medium saucepan with a litre and a half of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the parsnips and a tablespoon and a half of salt, and cook for five minutes, until the tip of a small knife easily slides through but the parsnips still hold their shape.
Drain the parsnips, then transfer to a large bowl, add two tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of the pepper and all the maple syrup, and toss gently to coat. Transfer to a 30cm x 20cm baking tray and roast for 20 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove, scatter half the grated parmesan on top and return to the oven for five minutes, or until the parmesan is golden brown.
Spoon over the remaining tablespoon of oil, top with a snowy dusting of the remaining parmesan, sprinkle over the last quarter-teaspoon of cracked pepper and serve straight from the tray with the lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over.