by Ernest Barteldes
The thing I like about one-pot cooking is the fact that everything can be done without using too much equipment. There is no extra cooking, mixing or anything like that – just cut and dice whatever you need, throw it in and take whichever steps you need to get it done. I like it because it’s really time- saving and also easy when it comes to cleaning – you don’t end up with a whole bunch of things to wash.
I first discovered this style of cooking through a book I found years ago at the now-defunct Borders Bookstore at Penn Station. I actually picked it off the bargain rack (lots of goodies there that people don’t seem to notice – check your local Barnes & Noble while it’s still there) and as I browsed through it, I realized that there were many dishes could make without much of a fuss. Among the ones that I tried are French classics like coq au vin (chicken cooked with white wine) or ratatouille, plus simplified versions of paella and fish stews.
One-pot recipes turned out to be a solution for my weekday cooking (I always make packed lunches for Renata and me), since I don’t have much time to make anything too elaborate or to be scrubbing the stovetop. I don’t mind doing that on weekends, since that is when I actually bring pots, baking sheets and everything else out and spend hours slicing and dicing. But from Monday to Friday it has to be fast, practical and quick – nevertheless, it does have to be attractive to the palate.
One of the dishes that has joined our ‘rotation’ is a variation on the classic Tuscan bean casserole, a very simple concoction that is basically made with sausages, white cannellini beans and diced tomatoes (I do jazz it up a bit) served over white rice. It’s delicious and filling – and quite easy to make.
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 medium Italian sausages, cut in half (I use chicken sausages), about ½ lb.
4 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 14 oz. can white cannellini beans, drained and washed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
½ tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried oregano to taste
In a medium pot, heat the olive oil and add the sausages until browned on both sides. Remove the sausages and sauté the garlic until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and continue stirring until they soften. Add the diced tomatoes and beans and simmer for five minutes. Add the sausages, oregano and salt & pepper and simmer for another five minutes, covered. Remove from heat and serve over white rice.