no-oven veggie lovin'
January 3, 2010 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Yummy one-pot, no-oven vegetarian meals?

I currently live in a situation with one (rather small) cooking pot, one burner, and no oven. What are some delicious meals I can make? I'm more interested in written descriptions than recipes per se (because I'm not much one for measurements and usually end up ditching recipes in favor of their gists anyway), but of course either is fine.

I'm very interested in clever ways of maximizing efficacy with just my one burner-- for example, I often make stirfries by boiling vegetables in the same water as some rice noodles to tenderize them a bit, then empty those all into a colander, stir fry up some tofu/aromatics/sauces, and then finally add the noodles/veggies.

No-pot meals also welcome. I'd love some ideas for salads, with a preference for non-creamy dressings. Recently I've been making a delicious one out of lettuce/greens, goat cheese, and sweetened crunchy peanuts, with olive oil and balsamic lightly applied.

I love food from all around the world, but I live in small-town France and my options for international ingredients are more limited than I'd like, though I do have access to a very small East Asian market.

Bonus points if you can help me incorporate ingredients endemic to or common in France, like French cheeses or leeks.

Thanks in advance!
posted by threeants to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 88 users marked this as a favorite
I would make up a box of the rice pilaf sold in stores and then fancify it with a bunch of stuff ---- avocado, tomato, onion, peas,carrots --- anything really. I'd add those in after the rice has been in for a minute and let it simmer along with the rest. Then I'd add cheese to my bowl after. The rice would usually be hot enough to melt the cheese in. Cheese, of course, is optional.

Anyway, so, yeah, it's using prepackaged stuff, but adding extra stuff to it helps a lot.

Also, if you have not acquainted yourself with tortellini salad, you should do so! Cook up some tortellini and let it cool. Mix up salad ingredients of your choice in a bowl (I like a dark green base of spinach and baby romaine, tomato, red pepper, sliced carrot, and a little bit of mozzarella cubed), throw in the cool tortellini, add your choice of salad dressing and you're good to go! You can throw it in the fridge to chill it, which is also really good.

The thing I like about both of these options is for one person there's usually leftovers for the next day.
posted by zizzle at 1:46 PM on January 3, 2010

Response by poster: Ugh, obviously in the main question when I said "no-stove" I meant "no-oven". Oops. Mods, if you see this, would you mind fixing that?

(Thanks zizzle! great ideas.)
posted by threeants at 1:49 PM on January 3, 2010

veggie chili is an easy one-pot meal. Saute some onions (or leeks!), garlic, and carrots in olive oil until the onions translucent, add some spices (cumin, chili powder, cayenne, onion powder etc), stir, then add some diced veggies (squash or eggplant works well, but pretty much any veggie will do. If you use peppers add them towards the end so they stay crisp). After a few minutes add some canned diced tomatoes, canned beans (I like pinto or black beans) stir, and simmer for a half hour. From here it's a matter of adding spices, tasting, adding spices, tasting, and so forth until you're happy with the flavor.
posted by farishta at 1:57 PM on January 3, 2010

I think any sort of bean-based chili would probably work for you (beans + veggies + spices). It's easiest with canned beans but can be done otherwise.

Soups are also wonderful and there are many variations -- you can pretty much do whatever you want with them (start with veggie stock if you'd like, but you can always do the mirepoix route to begin with. Leeks are also great here). Lentils or split peas are a good starting point.

Since you're in France, you may not be able to find Anna Thomas' Love Soup, but it's a wonderful vegetarian soup cookbook.

Pasta with various sauces/veggies/etc. is probably a good option for you -- pastas and veggies can cook together in the same water, then just drain and add whatever else you want.

Jennifer Cornbleet, a raw chef, has some recipes here. May not all be quite what you want, but I like the idea of the Mediterranean Kale. Looking into raw "cooking" may give you some ideas of how to combine things (and then you can, of course, add cheese or whatever else you'd like).

I don't even have a stove right now (I have a toaster oven, an electric kettle and a steamer) so I've loved dressing up instant noodles and such with whatever I have. Couscous is also excellent. You, at least, have one up on me.
posted by darksong at 1:59 PM on January 3, 2010

Have you considered getting an electric crock-pot? You can throw in the ingredients in the morning, go out for the day, and return home to a delicious one-pot meal. Bonus is that you're whole place will smell tasty when you get home.
posted by Sustainable Chiles at 2:04 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Since I'm freezing right now, I'm going to share my recipe for a warm, one-pot pottage. It does require sauteeing an onion and putting it somewhere else for a bit, but that's all. I'm also not sure how available sweet potatoes / American 'yams' are for you. They're moderately essential; normal potatoes just don't work right. I guess big chunks of carrot, cooked down a bunch, might work.

Onion and garlic (There's no reason you couldn't use leeks or some other allium(s))
Something orange: Sweet Potato or Carrot in a pinch. Cut into chunks slightly larger than a dice.

Broth, Oil, Thyme and other herbs as you want. Optional: nuts

Regarding the broth:How much? You don't want a massive amount - only a bit more than the barley and lentils will absolutely require. The trick with this is it is technically a soup, but no! You will wait a day and the barley will soak up most of what is left and you will have a pottage of delicious things including protein. You can also thus scale this to how large your pot is.

Soak barley.
Saute your allium. Put aside.
Add broth. Start boiling. Put in the orange thing, and then the barley and lentils. They take about half an hour in my experience, so you may want to start the orange thing a little earlier. Whatever it is, you don't want it crunchy. Barley and lentils together in broth. They take about the same amount of time. Add spices. Add nuts, if you want them. When it's nearly done, add the peas.

It's OK now, if you serve with a slotted spoon. It will be better tomorrow.
posted by cobaltnine at 2:04 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

Steam broccoli florets and chunks of sweet potato in pot. Drain water and remove steamer basket when tender. Add a can of black beans (including liquid) and a cup of salsa into the pot with the veggies. Heat everything through and serve.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:05 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's a wealth of vegetarian curries and lentil dishes that can be made in a single pot. Some ingredients might be hard to come by, but if you're willing to put the spice mixtures together yourself I think you'll be able to get close enough.
posted by jedicus at 2:26 PM on January 3, 2010

dal -- saute a bunch of thinly sliced onion in oil until almost brown; add garlic and saute a bit more; turn heat down and some spices (cumin, turmeric, ginger); saute a minute or so; turn heat back up and add water and yellow lentils (3:1 ratio). Cook until lentils are tender; puree with a hand blender or just mash it up a bit. Serve with chopped tomatoes and cilantro over rice.
posted by palliser at 2:29 PM on January 3, 2010 [7 favorites]

Dal. First cook up some cumin seeds, chopped onions, and minced ginger in some ghee. Add some chopped tomato and maybe a couple finely minced fresh green chiles and cook it down until the juice is mostly gone. Remove this mix from the pot and set it aside in a bowl. Now, cook the dal -- I particularly like red lentils with some dried red chiles and turmeric. When the dal is cooked and creamy, stir in the veggie mix. Add some lemon juice and some garam masala to taste. Eat with crusty French bread. (Hey, you ARE in France, after all!)
posted by rhartong at 2:31 PM on January 3, 2010 [6 favorites]

Tortilla, or spanish omelette can be customised to your taste buds and french ingredients, and vegetable casseroles with dumplings would be nice in this weather.
posted by ellieBOA at 2:36 PM on January 3, 2010

Since you live in France, you should make home made salad dressing with Dijon mustard.
I usually toss the following together: Flax or Olive oil, (or both) mustard (not too much, it's strong), honey, some powedered or shredded parmesan, some form of garlic, a dash of some form of vinegar - splash of worsheshire sauce or horseradish. Oh and maybe some fresh herbs. Mmmmmm.
For salads, I find fresh herbs to be tasty and versatile. I'd just go to the market and load up on what looks fresh!
Also, of course, fresh baguette and any cheese is a nice lite meal along with a salad. Bonus points for fresh basil with your cheese.
posted by smartypantz at 2:48 PM on January 3, 2010

First, thanks for this question, threeants - your living situation is uncannily similar to mine and I was thinking of posting the same question the other day.

I've become very lazy with my French mini-kitchen, but I've found a tasty brand of dry bulgur/quinoa mix at the nearest SuperU (if you have one in the vicinity - if not, you can just buy dried quinoa or bulgur). When I think about it, I'll make up a pot and keep it in the fridge. That way when I'm in the mood to make curried lentils - which is basically sauteed onion, garlic and sometimes carrots with a can of lentils and curry powder - I have something with which to serve it already handy. And of course, dal is pretty similar and very tasty.

The grain mix also makes a nice cold salad - easiest option is to do something tabouleh-style, with tomatoes and cucumbers and parsley and mint (although I can never seem to find any fresh herb other than parsley in supermarkets here).

After seeing lots of soup-friendly squashes and root veggies at the market lately, I'm also planning to embark on some soup experiments.
posted by nicoleincanada at 3:10 PM on January 3, 2010

There is also the exceptionally lazy boiling of pasta, draining, and adding of canned/tinned pasta sauce, letting it all heat up on the stove. I've never tried it this way, but I'm sure steaming some zucchini at the same time and adding it would be tasty. Served with fresh parmesan and some nice bread, it won't feel quite so lazy.
posted by nicoleincanada at 3:14 PM on January 3, 2010

Try to cook for several nights. If you cook rice, then cook enough that you'll have rice as a side dish for the next few meals. If you make corn on the cob, make a few extra pieces and chop the kernels off the cob for a southwestern salad the following evening. Tonight's veggies are tomorrow's soup. First make the basic ingredient then remove what you'll be saving. When you've got tonight's portion left in the pot, then do the seasoning.

It takes some planning, but it's a really good habit for both economy and efficiency.
posted by 26.2 at 3:39 PM on January 3, 2010

I hesitate to even mention my blog (named, um, ONEPOT!) lest I should come across as pimping it, but there may be some ideas for you there. I do use the oven liberally, but there are quite a few recipes that can just be thrown together in a single pot on a single burner.
posted by onepot at 5:17 PM on January 3, 2010

You can make fettuccine alfredo in a single pot. Cook the pasta for about 2/3 the required time, drain and rinse very well so that it doesn't stick. Add the sauce ingredients to the pot, cook on medium until the cheese just melts, and add the pasta. Toss the pasta in the sauce for a few minutes until the sauce gets thick enough to cling to the pasta. You could probably do lots of different pasta + sauces this way.
posted by zinfandel at 6:12 PM on January 3, 2010

We love chickpeas stewed up with onions, garlic, spinach, olive oil, and a little white wine, served over couscous. I put a little mozzarella on mine.

Rice + beans + veg in the same pot is quite easy, as well. Olive oil + chopped onions and garlic + spices, sautee, add rice, chopped veg, and a little more liquid than you'd usually use to cook rice, cook until the rice is almost done, then add rinsed and drained beans. (The veg can be anything from carrots to corn, and the beans are usually whatever canned beans we have lying around. Black beans, red pepper, corn, and cumin are delicious, as are white beans, rosemary, thyme, and fennel. I could probably eat some variation on this five nights a week and not get bored of it.)

Lentils and potatoes go quite well together and can be cooked at the same time. Carrot, onion, red lentils, potato, garlic, stock. Simmer until lentils lose their shape and the potato is cooked through. Sometimes I stir in spinach toward the end of the cook time.

Curried apples, beans, and pumpkin is pretty tasty, too. Cut pumpkin or sweet potato into bite-sized pieces. Sautee the pumpkin until it's started to color, then add vegetable broth and curry powder and let simmer about twenty minutes, until the pumpkin is almost cooked through. Chop and add the apple along with some rinsed and drained beans. Cook a few more minutes, until the apple is slightly softened and the beans are heated through. (Depending on your preferences here, you can either just toss in curry powder or you can start off by cooking spices and the like.)
posted by MeghanC at 7:37 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know you aren't vegan, but the 'one pot meals' section of Veganomicon has some really awesome ideas in it, and many of them don't require an oven. You can even search a preview of the book via Google books, so you could take some ideas from it and run with it as your own recipe.

The authors of that book also have a website with lots of recipe ideas, maybe some of those would give you inspiration?
posted by nyxie at 8:03 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

One of my favorite quick meals involves
-minced garlic or garlic powder
- 1 can of chick peas (or your favorite bean)
-1-2 servings of couscous 9you can substitute pasta or quinoa, just change cooking directions)
- handful or two of vegetables (fresh or frozen)
-olive oil

Prepare the couscous. Boil the veggies in with the water. Add couscous, turn off burner and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff together. Add chick peas and garlic, then drizzle with olive oil. You can also shave some cheese on top for extra flavor. I like to use parmesan for this, but anything sharpish or aged will work.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:17 PM on January 3, 2010

You could saute some peppers and onions, maybe other vegetables, then wash the pot and make them into a grilled veggie and cheese sandwich.
posted by lakeroon at 10:16 PM on January 3, 2010

For pasta-n-sauce in one ideas: Quick One-Pot Macaroni and Cheese, One-Pot Tomato Parmesan Rotini. If you have okay access to spices used in Indian cooking, check out recipes for dals.
posted by kmennie at 11:36 PM on January 3, 2010

Sweet Potato Peanut Stew

Add 2 Tbsps of Olive oil to your pot and turn heat to medium
Add 2 cloves of crushed/pressed garlic, 2 teaspoons each of salt, cumin, cinnamon and red pepper.
Swirl for 30 seconds or so.
Then empty a can of tomatoes, can of garbanzo beans, 1/4 cup of peanut butter, and 2 cups of stock (or water).
mix to breakup clumps of PB.
Add cubed sweet potato (one large or two small), mix and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. (You can nuke the sweet potatoes in a microwave to make this go faster).
cook till the potatoes are done.
Adjust salt/pepper and stir in cilantro.

You can serve it in a bowl (self contained meal!) with a dollop of cream/sour cream or yogurt. Crusty bread optional.

Freezes wonderfully!
posted by special-k at 12:20 PM on January 4, 2010 [23 favorites]

My other favorite winter one pot meal is an amazing coconut stew.

First cook up two cups of brown/wild rice in your pot.
Drain and save.

Then, heat up some olive oil in same pot.
Add 2 tbsp of curry powder (easy to find), and saute one large onion (sliced), one bell pepper (cut into strips; red/yellow peppers work fine too).
Empty one can each of tomatoes, red kidney beans, coconut milk.
Add 1/2 cup of water, the cooked rice and let it simmer for a half hour
Then add salt and more curry powder if you like it hotter.

Again, this is an amazing one pot meal (has starch, protein and veg!). This also freezes beautifully and leftovers taste even better. OMG, so nom.
posted by special-k at 12:26 PM on January 4, 2010 [14 favorites]

If you make white rice already or have a rice cooker or microwave rice or whatever, you can make that in your pot, rinse it out, and make the following to top it:
Quick n' Half Assed Curry

4 tsp (or more...I used more) curry powder, plus a bit of Thai green curry paste (optional)
1 or 2 onions, chopped
2 or so tomatoes, chopped
1 can of chick peas, drained
Frozen veggies; the amount at your discretion
1 can coconut milk
Pieces of tofu or ddok or whatever (optional)

Fry the curry powder and/or paste in hot oil for a bit to release some flavor and aroma. Then throw the rest in, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 30-40 minutes. Serve on top of rice.

Personal Note: I know I know, this is a travesty and real curry is all about simmering for hours to subtly blend spices to sublime effect, etc etc. I know. But sometimes you just want curry at like, 10 pm after work, dammit, and lack the foresight for all of that and need a quick fix. This will do. I don't pretend for a second it's anything nearing the real deal, but yeah. It can hit the spot nicely.
Winter soup! The following 2 are easy peasy one pot stovetop only meals, and quick and hearty too for soup, but they require a way to puree--you didn't mention your other kitchen tools, but in case you do happen to have an immersion blender they're great:
Italian Leek and Potato Soup

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 medium leeks, washed and thinly sliced, white part only
3 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled and chunked
About 6 cups water or broth of your choice (veggie OK)
1/4 cup arborio rice
3 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley or chervil, chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the leeks, potatoes, and enough water to cover. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, pulse a few times to coarsley puree the soup. Add the rice and parsley and cook for about 20 more minutes until the rice is soft.

Stir in the cheese and salt and pepper. Serve immediately, with more cheese on the side if you like.
I love that one because it's so unfinicky compared to its French counterpart, and it's heartier and lip-smackingly good thanks to the nutty Parmesan and added texture of the arborio.
Valencian "Gypsy Pot" Soup (Olla Gitana)
Adapted from Geetha's Kitchen, The Traveler's Lunchbox, Cooking Books, and Mollie Katzen in The Moosewood Cookbook

Olive oil
3 cloves (or more) garlic, pressed
Handful blanched almonds
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Around 1 pound fresh pumpkin, winter squash, sweet potato, carrots, or a mixture, peeled and cubed
1 or 2 apples or pears, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 (or more) cups stock or water or a blend of both
1 whole dried pepper, seeded and chopped, steeped to soften in a bit of boiling water or stock
Pinch saffron threads, crumbled and steeped in a bit of boiling water or stock (can be same liquid as above)
2 teaspoons paprika (sweet, not smoked)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch cayenne
2 bay leaves
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 can chick peas, drained
About 10 ounces green beans or peas, frozen (optional)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari (preferable) or soy sauce
Fresh mint, chopped

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven warm the oil over medium heat and carefully saute the garlic and almonds until lightly golden but not burnt, no more than 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove and reserve the garlic and almonds, leaving as much of the oil in the pot as possible.

Saute the onion, pumpkin, fruit, and celery in the pot with the remaining oil until a bit soft, about 5 minutes.

Add stock or water and all seasonings except for the tamari and mint, cover, and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the tomato, chick peas, and green beans or peas if using and simmer gently until everything is tender, about another 10 minutes.

Off heat, crush the garlic and almond mixture to paste either by hand or using a food processor, blender, or grinder. Blend this paste with the vinegar and add to the soup pot.

Stir in the tamari or soy sauce, adjust seasoning if necessary, and garnish with mint. Serve with crusty bread.
You can omit the nut-toasting part too; I've made it without that altogether and it was still excellent, all thanks to the uncannily delicious spice blend used.

And here is a simpler, less hearty soup, but it doesn't require any blending so if you can't make use of the first two at least I can offer this:
White Bean Soup with Greens

Serves 4.

1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard or escarole, ends trimmed
6 cups chicken broth
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 15-ounce can white beans of your choice (I like cannellini), rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes

1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the greens and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until barely tender. Drain the greens into a colander, squeezing out as much water as possible. It is not necessary to cut the greens, because they will break apart while they cook in the soup.

2. Add the broth to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, beans, and greens. Simmer gently, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, stir, and serve hot. Pass the cheese and pepper flakes at the table.
Other good ones: pumpkin and hominy tortilla soup, black bean soup, chipotle sweet potato soup, roasted red pepper soup (as in jarred roasted peppers; don't worry, you don't need to roast them yourself), carrot and yogurt soup...Her chickpea tomato soup with rosemary is tasty too, but requires an immersion blender as well. Her salads are amazing too; I highly recommend just about all of them under her salad section.

Colcannon--potatoes with either cabbage or brussels sprouts. I have to admit, it is made infinitely more delicious in the cold winter months when cooked with bacon/bacon fat, but maybe vegetarian substitutes would work in that regard? Cowboy mashed potatoes are another hearty one-pot stovetop option--you just dump the potatoes in a pot with a buncha vegetables, pepper, and garlic and somehow it all works. Weird alchemy.

A certain way to cook red cabbage that was a breakthrough for me (I find most versions so boring!): toss the cabbage with maple syrup (!), a pinch of salt, and slices of any crisp, tart apple; fry some fresh ginger and a spice mix of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom (!!) for a brief moment to release scent and flavor; braising the whole thing on the stovetop for 20 minutes, and then pouring some vinegar over it and letting it steam off, leaving just the tangy flavor. It's crazy good--none of the awesome elements disappear flavor-wise by the end, which is something I get wary of sometimes with braising; you can still taste the maple syrup and the spices and the ginger and mm. And it's so fast too, which is awesome.

Warm French/green lentil salad is SO GOOD. OMG.
posted by ifjuly at 12:41 PM on January 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

As a random back up data point: hey special-k, I made your coconut stew tonight for my husband. It was ridiculously simple and easy to make, and he loved it! I gotta admit, at first I was nervous because it seemed a rather unorthodox set of flavors--Indian, Thai, and then random beans and tomatoes like Mexican almost--but he raved about it. Thanks! Will have to try the yummy sounding sweet potato stew next.
posted by ifjuly at 7:12 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Awesome, ifjuly!
Glad he liked it.
posted by special-k at 7:32 PM on January 5, 2010

OK, just one more complimentary nthing derail--special-k, thennn last night I made your sweet potato peanut stew and WHOAMYGOSH that was even better!! I love it. It's crazy how easy and fast and balanced a meal it is too. Thanks so much; I'll likely be mining your AskMe comments now for other recipes...
posted by ifjuly at 11:05 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

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