Nina’s Tips and Techniques: Vegetarian in One Pot

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My one-pot vegetarian dishes always come out like a big mush of overcooked vegetables – can’t a one-pot dinner be fresher and more interesting?

The most common mistake made when preparing an all-veg one-pot meal is overcooking the ingredients…this leads to a bowl of mush. Timing is everything in cooking – especially with one-pot meals. You want the ingredients to stay intact and finish perfectly cooked rather than become mushy. The best tip for nailing it with timing is what French cooks call “mise en place.” It means “everything in its place” or in simpler terms…it means get your veggies prepped and everything ready before you go to the stove. This allows you to really pay attention to your food as it cooks instead of rushing back and forth between the cutting board and the stove. Also, remember one-pot doesn’t have to mean stew…it can be a super-fast, fresh concept made in one convenient vessel. You can use one-pot to prepare a stir fry, a quick Thai curry, and so much more!

I like to top my plant-based dishes with fried tofu or another cooked protein…is there a way I can do this but still keep it a one-pot meal?

Yes! Again, everything is about timing! Say you want to make a quick one-pot sauté of your favorite spring veggies and top it with pan-seared tofu – just cook the tofu first in the pot you plan to use for your veggie sauté, remove it from the pan, set it aside, pour off any excess oil you don’t need for cooking your vegetables, and then go right into cooking the rest of your dish. At the end, either toss the tofu back in or just serve it on top of your prepared dish.