Dinner in a Pan With a Salad

Cooking-14There are days when dinner in a single pan is a very good idea for saving time and energy. In the following recipes I have offered three dinners each prepared in one frying pan with a salad to match. A crispy loaf of bread is always a good addition. In all of these recipes many parts can be prepared in advance by a day or more—such as the salad dressings or the fried bacon, the sectioned citrus fruits and the boiled egg, even the chopped scallions and peppers. Planning ahead is an important feature of the easy meal.

In these recipes many substitutions can be made. For instance, Paella is a many splendored thing and can contain nothing but seafood, all meat or all vegetables or two of each just by adding more of one thing and subtracting another. Chicken sausages can be used in place of pork or beef sausages however, the garlic, onion and sweet pepper are the flavoring vegetables and should not be eliminated. Also, since saffron is so expensive, turmeric may be substituted, although it admittedly will not add that special saffron flavor. Be sure to use a large enough pan—one that is shallow and sturdy—as Paella cooks best in this type of pan. Don’t be daunted by the substitutions and instructions as this is really a very easy dish to prepare. Just to add a note, if a rice crust forms on the bottom of the pan while cooking the Paella, don’t despair, it is a feature of authentic Paella and is quite tasty.

Cognac or wine may be eliminated, of course, and chicken or vegetable broth used instead. Much depends on what is in your pantry, and you know that a well-stocked pantry and freezer help to determine the meal of the day. In fact a well-stocked pantry is a must for the well prepared cook. So dine well and…“bon appetit!”

(Vermont style)
Serves 4 to 6

2 TBS Vegetable oil
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 Onion, chopped
1 Sweet pepper diced
1 Chicken cut into 10 pieces
including the wings and quartered breasts or use selected parts
1/2 Pound ham or sausage
2 Tomatoes, quarterd
1 Cup raw rice
2 Cups chicken stock
2 Bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Pinch saffron or turmeric
1/2 Cup each peas, beans, artichoke hearts or substitute vegetables of choice
1 Pound clams or mussels, well cleaned

Heat oil in a heavy frying pan, add chicken and meat or sausage and brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add garlic onions and peppers to the same pan and cook stirring a few minutes. Add tomatoes and rice, mix thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes. Add 11/2 Cups chicken stock, seasoning and saffron (turmeric). Return chicken to pan with meats that have been browned. Add peas, beans, artichokes. Cook 5 minutes. Place shrimp and clams on top and boil hard for a few minutes, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes adding more chicken stock if necessary.

Dish is ready when rice is cooked. Sprinkle with parsley and serve from the pan if desired.


(To serve with Paella)
Serves 4 to 6

2 Quarts mixed greens in bite-sized pieces
1 Grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
2 Oranges peeled and sectioned
1/2 Pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Avocado, peeled and sliced

LIME JUICE DRESSING: 3 TBS vinegar, 3 TBS lime juice, 6 TBS salad oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp each salt and ground cumin. Whirl in a blender till emulsified.

Mix greens with grapefruit, oranges and tomatoes. Toss with dressing. Add avocado and mix gently Serve immediately.


(Can be made with mushrooms or broccoli, etc)
(Serves 4)

3 TBS Olive oil
1/2 Cup thinly sliced onion
10 Eggs
2 Cups zucchini, thinly sliced
1/3 Cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Small garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a 10 inch heavy skillet that can be put in the oven. Add onion and saute till transparent. Add garlic and cook a few minutes longer.

In a large bowl beat eggs, combine with zucchini, cheese, salt and pepper. Pour into skillet with onions and garlic. Cook over a low heat, lifting eggs from bottom to let uncooked egg run under till egg is set.

Put skillet in oven uncovered and bake about 10 minutes till top is set.

To serve cut into wedges and serve with salad.


(Peas may be substituted for beans)
(Serves about 4)

1 Package frozen cut green beans ( or peas)
1 Package frozen lima beans
2 medium sized tomatoes
1 Scallion, thinly sliced
¼ tsp dried basil
Dash Tabaco
¼ Cup bottled Italian style dressing
¼ Cup sour cream

Cook beans and limas in boiling salted water till al dente. Rinse quickly in cold water, drain well.

Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze gently to release seeds. Cut tomatoes into bite sized pieces. Put beans and tomatoes with scallion, basil and tabasco in a bowl and toss gently with Italian dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.

To serve, mix in sour cream and garnish with additional tomato if desired.


(Fancy and good)
Serves 4 to 6

3 to 4 Cornish hens halved with the backbone removed
Salt, pepper and paprika
2 TBS butter and 2 TBS oil
¼ Cup cognac
1 Can or frozen package of artichoke
hearts, quarterd and drained
16 Mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed,
if large cut in half
2 TBS flour
¼ Cup white wine
½ Cup chicken broth
½ tsp rosemary leaves
Parsley for garnish

Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan and sprinkle hens with salt, pepper and paprika. Brown skin side down then turn and brown the other side. Turn off heat then heat brandy in a separate pan till it flames then pour over hens.
Remove hens from pan and set aside when cognac fire has subsided.

Sauté mushrooms in pan juices, add flour and stir about 2 minutes. Add wine and broth and stir till thickened. Add rosemary and artichokes, cook another minute.

Return hens to pan, cover and cook for 20 minutes over a medium fire. If hens dry out add more broth. Uncover and
cook another 10 minutes.

To serve, garnish with parsley.


(Perfect with the Cornish Hens)
Serves 4 to 6

1 Pound fresh spinach, cleaned and crisped
8 Strips bacon
½ Cup sliced scallions
½ Cup fresh beansprouts
1 Hardboiled egg, sliced (optional)

DRESSING: ¾ Cup olive oil and vegetable oil mixed. ¼ Cup wine vinegar, ¾ tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp each sugar and salt, dash cayenne. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate till ready to use.

Tear spinach into bite-sized pieces. Place in a salad bowl.

Fry bacon till crisp and drain on a towel, Crumble over spinach.

Sprinkle scallions, sprouts and egg over spinach and toss lightly.

Add dressing and toss lightly till mixed. ◊

Barbara Little is a regular columnist for STRATTON MAGAZINE.