My husband and I have an I-cook-you-clean arrangement. But that doesn’t mean that after cooking, I sit down and relax while he handles the entire mess. No, it’s really more that I cook, and we both clean. I try to keep the mess under control as I’m chopping and sautéing, and after we eat, I put away the food and tidy up while he washes the dishes.
Occasionally, when I bring him too many pots and pans that don’t go in the dishwasher, or when something is particularly crusty, he makes his displeasure clear with a sigh or a groan or a well-placed eye roll. I don’t always react well in the moment, but when I reflect on it later, I vow: I’m going to try to avoid recipes, especially on weeknights, that trash the kitchen.
The truth is, some recipes are worth a little mess. But these days, I don’t need to preach the gospel of one-pot cooking because how much more apparent could the attraction be? So many of us are in the kitchen so much more than before the pandemic, and as the cooking has piled up, so have the dishes.
The promise of just one vessel to clean was the first thing that caught my eye about this recipe, from Jessica Prescott’s “Vegan One-Pot Cooking.” But it has plenty more to offer: A take on the classic combination of beans and rice, it includes pumpkin for color and heft and a trio of warming spices for flavor. A quick fresh salsa adds spark, and avocado and sour cream bring richness.
Bake it in a Dutch oven, and it’ll stay hot for a good, long while even once you take it out of the oven, meaning you can serve it whenever you’re ready – a bonus when you’re juggling the day’s last Zoom meeting with dinner prep.
Best of all, after you transfer leftovers into their refrigerator containers and hand over a single empty pot to your designated dish washer, you’ll get exactly zero eye rolls. That’s worth a lot.
Pumpkin and Black Bean Baked Rice
Adapted from “Vegan One-Pot Wonders” by Jessica Prescott (Hardie Grant, 2020).
This one-pot dish is hearty and filling and gets its spark from a quick, fresh salsa. If you can’t find a 1½-pound squash or pumpkin, cut off part of a bigger one to use, and reserve the remaining squash for another recipe.
1½ cups long-grain white rice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
1 small winter squash (1½ pounds) such as butternut, acorn, carnival or pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into ¼-inch wedges
2¼ cups water
1½ cups cooked or no-salt-added canned black beans, drained and rinsed (from one 15-ounce can)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
2 tomatoes, stemmed, cored and chopped
1 jalapeño chile pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 lime, cut into wedges
½ cup vegan or dairy sour cream
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, cover the rice with water by 3 inches and whisk for 30 seconds and drain off the cloudy water. Then repeat once or twice, or until the water is mostly clear. Drain off the water again. (This is a faster method than rinsing.)
In a large Dutch oven or large oven-proof saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add three-quarters of the chopped onion and the garlic and cook, stirring, until it starts to become translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the cumin, coriander and paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the rice, squash, water and beans and stir to combine, pressing the mixture so the rice is barely covered by the liquid. Increase the heat to high to bring the liquid to a simmer, then turn off the heat, cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed the water and the squash is tender.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the remaining chopped onion with the tomato, jalapeño and cilantro. Taste and season with salt as needed.
Divide the baked rice among serving bowls. Top each serving with the salsa, slices of avocado, a squeeze of fresh lime and spoonfuls of sour cream. Serve hot.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Make ahead: The salsa can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before use.
Storage notes: The finished dish can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw and reheat in a 300-degree oven.
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