What is it about the shorter days and longer evenings of fall and winter that makes you want cozy one pot meals? Despite having more time to cook, the long days don’t necessarily mean you want to do more dishes. Instead, it makes sense to turn to one pot recipes that make the most of your wok, Dutch oven, or 8-quart pot (we’re also counting skillets as vessels for one pot recipes—even though it’s technically a pan—since the point is the easy prep and clean up). If you eat vegetarian, this can feel limiting since so many one-pot recipes focus on meat. Fear not: One pot meals are actually ideal for vegetarians. Here are some ideas to make the most of your largest pots without too many dishes.
Easy one-pot veggie and tofu stir fry
Building flavor is the wok’s calling card—seriously, it’s called “wok hei,” or “the breath of the wok”—and nowhere is this more key than in vegetarian stir fries. You’ll need already cooked rice for this dish to technically count as one pot, but since pre-cooked rice is available in microwavable packets, we’re counting it. Choose your favorite veggies and cook in oil until golden brown and crispy. Then braise with aromatics like garlic, chili, and ginger and seasonings like soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, rice wine vinegar. If you want the dish to be more filling, start by crisping up some tofu in the wok, then remove and cook the veggies. Stir in the tofu to braise alongside the veg. A good place to start is Serious Eats’ recipe for Braised Eggplant With Tofu in Garlic Sauce Recipe.
Hearty one pot vegetarian chili
Long-time vegetarians will know that chili is a go-to meal. It can be made in one pot, packs in plenty of protein thanks to the beans, and has deep flavor. You can go the triple-bean route or a balance of beans and veggies, but one thing is clear: the toppings are where it’s at. Keep chili fun with a variety of toppings, from pickled or raw jalapeños to tortilla chips to onion or scallions to cilantro. Don’t forget the cheese, which makes every bowl of chili extra tasty. The Endless Meal has a classic rendition of vegetarian chili that comes together in one pot. Or, go the mac ‘n’ cheese and chili hybrid route with Delish’s One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac, which combines pasta and mozzarella with the building blocks of a gold-standard chili.
One pot vegetarian skillet-poached eggs
Though some might turn their noses up at eggs for dinner, vegetarians know that eggs can be one of the best (read: quickest) ways to get a hearty, delicious dinner on the table. Cooking vegetables or other ingredients in a skillet before adding eggs to poach is an easy, healthy way to make dinner without much fuss. Start by cooking your aromatics (with any spices if you want) until tender. Stir in other vegetables like mushrooms, greens, or tomatoes and cook. If you want to add beans, stir them in and cook until hot. Once the mixture is cooked, make wells in the mixture to add the eggs one at a time. Cover and cook until cooked to your liking. Get started with Real Simple’s Skillet-Poached Huevos Rancheros.
One pot mushroom and barley soup
Sure, you could crack open a can of this classic soup, but where’s the fun in that? Mushrooms are rich in umami, which means they pack a ton of savory flavor into every bite, meaning you won’t even miss the meat. Paired with chewy, nutty barley grains, every spoonful of this vegetarian soup will warm you to the core. Want to make your own batch? Try The Kitchn’s Mushroom and Barley Soup recipe, which comes together in just 30 minutes. It’s a simple recipe to make your own. Looking for a gluten-free rendition? Swap in quinoa, brown rice, or buckwheat for the barley. Or, amp up the greens by stirring in chopped kale leaves at the end of cooking.
One pot dal
If you’re looking for a vegetarian dish that comes together in one pot, look no further than dal (or dhal). Dal is the name for both the beloved South Asian dish and the legumes used to make it. You’ll find dal made with dried lentils, beans, or peas and it varies widely from household to household. Rich in flavor, dal is an economical dish that packs plenty of protein and fiber. Try The New York Times’ recipe for Masoor Dal (made with red lentils) here.