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The One-Pan Vacation

Cooking in someone else’s kitchen can be a gamble. Whether you’re spending the weekend at a friend’s borrowed cabin, a rented beach bungalow, or your mother-in-law’s condo, it’s impossible to count on any of the reliable staples of your own kitchen—good olive oil, a sharp knife, a cheese grater that’s not encased in rust. I’ve encountered this problem at many an Airbnb, and you probably have, too. Chances are, the spot you chose for a weekend getaway is far from any major cities, and you may find yourself at the mercy of the local dusty supermarket. Good luck finding a Frenched rack of lamb in the northern Michigan woods.

That’s where we turn to chef, blogger, and cookbook author Molly Gilbert’s new book, One Pan & Done. Her concept is evident in the title: Use just one pan per dish. It’s an expansion from her previous book, Sheet Pan Suppers, which, as you can guess, focused on the classic maximum-surface-area oven cooking of the sheet pan. With the signature honesty and quippy humor that got her started as a food blogger, Gilbert teaches us that you can keep things simple without sacrificing flavor, even when your supplies are limited. The recipes never require more than one pot, and they rely on easy-to-find supermarket ingredients, like chicken, canned beans, polenta, and ground turkey, all readily available at Ralphs and Meijer locations across this country.

This time around, Gilbert has expanded her repertoire to include the cast-iron skillet, the Dutch oven, the baking dish, the muffin tin, and occasionally the pie tin, loaf pan and Bundt pan (the pan that each recipe requires is noted with a helpful icon at the top of each page). Her favorites are the sheet pan and the Dutch oven. “They’re both great for feeding crowds, and also for extracting lots of flavor—sheet pans via roasting and broiling, and pan-searing and braising for the Dutch oven,” she says. “Something about using just one pot or pan feels so primal.”

Primal indeed—like that time I tried to slice a stunning hunk of rib eye with a dull knife in my ex-boyfriend’s poorly stocked kitchen (if you can call that Ikea butcher block on wheels a kitchen). But Gilbert’s recipes are perfectly suited for minimalist (whether intentional or not) kitchens. Plus, the always down-to-earth Gilbert shares your cleanup pain: “A few years ago, my husband and I lived in an apartment without a dishwasher, and I learned that there are few things more daunting than an enormous stack of dishes after a big dinner.”

While planning a recent weekend trip upstate with friends, I combed the pages of One Pan & Done for a meal plan. I settled on a comforting Simple Chicken Cassoulet after a morning of snowshoeing with a lighter dinner of Wilted Arugula and Sweet Pea Cheese Ravioli to hint at the coming of spring. The next day, I tried the Zucchini Cakes for lunch, followed by a show-stopping dinner of Turkey Parm Meatballs With Polenta.

Armed with Gilbert’s book, you won’t be dismayed upon discovering that your next vacation rental’s kitchen lacks the utensils required to cook the carfull of groceries you bought to make your meticulously planned Moroccan feast. Just check with your host to make sure the house comes equipped with a Dutch oven, and consider bringing a small survival kit from home (some dried oregano in a small jar, that tube of tomato paste wasting away in your fridge, and the half bottle of olive oil sitting on your counter). Don’t be shy: Book that glamping tepee or that low-key bachelor party in the woods—Gilbert’s got your meals covered.

Ingredients

  • 1 (24-ounce) log precooked polenta, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey (dark meat is best)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3.5 cups (36 ounces) store-bought marinara sauce (I like Rao’s)
  • ¾ pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped or chiffonade-cut fresh basil

Roasting turkey meatballs in the oven is a revelation—they turn out moist and juicy and, unlike when you cook them in a pot on the stove, you don’t have to worry that they’ll fall apart as you nudge and flip them to get them to brown on all sides. Just break out your sheet pan! Because turkey meatballs roasted over creamy polenta and topped with marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella? Revelatory.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F, with a rack in the center position. Line a sheet pan with foil or mist with cooking spray.
  2. Arrange the polenta rounds on the prepared pan and sprinkle each of them with a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  3. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the onion into a large bowl, catching any juice that accumulates. Add the ground turkey, tomato paste, bread crumbs, Parmesan, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt and use your hands to combine. Working gently to avoid tough meatballs (resist the urge to squeeze and pack tightly), form the meat mixture into 1½-inch meatballs.
  4. Place the meatballs around and on top of the polenta on the sheet pan, and mist them with cooking spray. Bake the polenta and meatballs until a thermometer inserted into the biggest meatball reads 165°F, about 20 minutes, flipping the meatballs halfway through.
  5. Remove from the oven, spoon the marinara sauce on top of the meatballs, and lay the fresh mozzarella on top of the sauce. Return to the oven and bake until the sauce is hot and the cheese is melted, 10 minutes longer.
  6. Serve hot, sprinkled with basil.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced, green tops reserved
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 6 large eggs
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces herbed goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Frittatas (basically just quiches without crusts) are almost as much fun to eat as they are to pronounce—plus they’re wonderful served either warm or at room temperature, so they’re perfect for long, leisurely brunch gatherings. This one boasts the beauty of crisp, thinly sliced radishes and plenty of fresh herbs and cheese, too. It’s a sunny celebration of springtime, all in one delicious pan.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F, with a rack in the center position. Grease a 9-inch pie dish with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Arrange the sliced radishes in an even layer in the prepared pie dish and scatter the scallions and a handful of reserved radish tops (roughly chop them, if they’re very large) on top.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir in the ricotta and carefully pour the egg mixture on top of the radishes, being sure it reaches the edges of the pie dish.
  4. Scatter the goat cheese around the pan, and sprinkle the tarragon and chives on top.
  5. Transfer the pie dish to the oven and bake until completely set in the center and beginning to brown at the edges, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool before slicing into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 cooked sweet Italian-style chicken sausages (3 ounces each), halved on a diagonal
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 small carrots, cut into ½-inch slices (about 1 cup)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 15½-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 5 (or 6) fresh thyme sprigs
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cassoulet is a classic French comfort food. There are a million ways to make it, but most recipes are a bit, uh, involved (read: one thousand ingredients, seven pages long, probably including steps to confit your own duck legs . . . ). I figured we could make a version of cassoulet that’s just as hearty, just as satisfying, but entirely fuss free. Baking chicken drumsticks with precooked sausages, plenty of aromatics, and a bit of white wine does the trick, and a crunchy panko topping seals the deal—this may not be an authentic cassoulet, but look! Everyone’s too busy enjoying dinner to notice.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F, with one rack in the center position and another 4 inches from the broiler.
  2. Arrange the chicken in the bottom of a 9 × 13-inch baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Place the sausages around the drumsticks and scatter the onion and carrots all over. Drizzle everything with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then arrange the beans, garlic, and thyme sprigs evenly around the pan. Drizzle over the wine and broth.
  3. Bake on the center rack until the dish is fragrant and a thermometer inserted into the thickest drumstick reads 165°F, 45 to 55 minutes.
  4. While the chicken cooks, in a medium bowl, mix the panko, lemon zest, parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  5. Remove the dish from the oven and set the oven to broil. Top the cassoulet thickly with the panko mixture and return to the oven to broil until the panko topping is golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute.
  6. Serve hot.

Reprinted from One Pan & Done. Copyright © 2017 by Molly Gilbert. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Aran Goyoaga. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC

Ally-Jane Grossan

Ally-Jane Grossan is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and photographer. Find her at ally-jane.com.

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