7 One-Pot Wonders

One-pot meals are the gastronomical equivalent of the friend that everyone likes to have around -- they're pleasant, flexible, low-key, and great with crowds. So we're serving up seven versatile dinners that can all be prepared in a single pot. From hearty beef stews and spicy jambalaya to some lighter kale-based fare, here are a variety of tastes to awaken your palate, brought to you by the spirited home cooks' community at Food52.

Delicious, impressive meals without a sink full of cookware to scrub down after the fact? Sounds like a one-pot wonder to us.

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Secret Ingredient Beef Stew by SmallKitchCara

This savory, rich stew may be named after one secret ingredient, but it's because of a complex mix of components that it succeeds so well. Tomatoes and tomato paste give it a sunny sweetness, diced veggies lend texture, and red wine and vinegar brighten everything up. Anchovies, the "secret ingredient," are briny and buttery, giving the sauce a smooth, complex finish. We recommend using beef with generous marbling for the best results. - Amanda & Merrill

Serves 8-10

5-5.5 pounds beef stewing meat, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1/3 cup mixed olive and canola oil
2 leeks, washed well and cut thinly
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
4 celery ribs, diced
4 ounces white mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 anchovies
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
3 cups beef broth
1 cup canned whole tomatoes with juices
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/3 cup chopped parsley

1. Season the beef with salt and pepper on both sides. Brown the meat in batches in a 5-6 quart Dutch oven over high heat, adding more oil as needed. Remove to a plate.
2. Lower the heat and add all the vegetables. Cook for 5-10 minutes until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and anchovies and cook to melt the anchovies and distribute.
3. Add the beef back in, with its juices. Add the wine, vinegar, and tomatoes with juice (breaking them up against the side of the pot as you go) and bring to a boil. Add the stock to cover (you may need a bit more than 3 cups). Put in the salt, bay leaf, thyme, bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.
4. When cool, skim off much of the fat from the top. Reheat over low heat, letting the stew simmer 30-45 minutes before serving.
5. Mix in half of the parsley and garnish with the rest.

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Moroccan Merguez Ragout with Poached Eggs

We ate this for lunch and agreed it was the perfect meal for the middle of the day -- or the beginning of the day, or the end of the day. The spicy merguez (you can use hot Italian sausage if you can't find merguez or chorizo) is bathed in a lush, smoky sauce of tomatoes, onion, garlic and spices; when you cut into the soft eggs on top, poached right in the sauce, the buttery yolk combines with the rest of the dish and mellows any sharp edges. We found that we didn't need all of the oil, as the sausage gave off a lot of its own fat, so we just spooned off some of the extra oil before poaching the eggs. - Amanda & Merrill

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Moorish Paella

The fun of paella is that it's a dish whose flavor you have to build, phase by phase, as you layer ingredients into the paella pan. You can see the dish darkening and intensifying as you move through the steps. In NWB's Moorish Paella you blend a spice mixture of caraway, smoked and sweet paprikas, and cumin, and add it a spoonful at a time so the heat and flavor magnify, and by the end you have a dish that reminds us in its burly spirit of jambalaya. - Amanda & Merrill

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One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

Deensiebat's pilaf breathes new life into a familiar classic. Both the quinoa and the hearty strips of lacinato kale (you can use chard or standard kale) crunch lightly between your teeth, and Meyer lemon juice and zest keep the quinoa from being bland. Fresh goat cheese and walnut oil just barely coat the warm pilaf, giving it a creamy, tangy finish, and toasted pine nuts lend some crunch. We love the technique of layering the quinoa and the kale and cooking it all in one pot. - Amanda & Merrill

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Brown Rice Jambalaya-ish

There is nothing skimpy about healthierkitchen's brown rice version of this Bayou classic. Brimming with shrimp, chicken and andouille, this virtuous one-dish dinner feels absolutely indulgent. In fact, drbabs, who originally tested this recipe when it was a Community Pick, called it "something of a miracle". We couldn't agree more. - Amanda & Merrill

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Fasoolya Khadra

We were a bit skeptical of this traditional Jordanian dish - especially for summer - but boy were we wrong. This is one of those recipes, like pot au feu, that seem to defy the laws of cooking by coaxing an intensely flavorful sauce from water rather than broth or wine. Here, beef and beans soften into lushness, enveloped by a silky gravy of tomatoes, garlic, coriander and cumin. We used cheap stew meat, which still required almost two hours of cooking, and sturdier-than-average green beans, which held up nicely even after nearly double the recommended cooking time. We followed Susan's advice and ate the stew with a dollop of yogurt on the side, and we encourage you to as well. - Amanda & Merrill

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Turkey Pho

Anyone who knows pho knows that it's all about the broth. WinnieAb uses turkey leftovers (meat and stock, which should really be homemade for this) to coax the most out of this soup. She also adds some warm spices -- coriander, cloves, star anise and cinnamon -- which she toasts beforehand to amp up the broth. Chopped kale is an unusual addition that adds some welcome heft -- we preferred 1 cup rather than 2. As with any pho, don't forget to squeeze in some fresh lime juice just before eating -- it provides a welcome hit of acid that really wakes up the dish. - Amanda & Merrill

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