6 One-Pan Recipes You Can Make in Your Iron Skillet
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6 One-Pan Recipes You Can Make in Your Iron Skillet

This versatile piece of cookware can help you create flavorful meals and provide added health benefits.

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By Amy Capetta

It's time to make use of the cast iron skillet tucked away in your cabinet. Designed to cook meals at high heat, the skillet naturally becomes more seasoned each time oil (unsaturated oils like olive and avocado, of course) is poured into it. Along with adding more flavor to your meals, it's also free of chemicals. An added bonus? When you cook with cast iron, a small amount of iron is released into your food—good news for people who have iron deficiency anemia!

Here are six one-pan wonder recipes, from Colorado-based Tieghan Gerard, author of Half Baked Harvest Cookbook: Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains and creator of HalfBakedHarvest.com, and Sharon Palmer, RDN, a.k.a. “The Plant-Powered Dietitian” from Los Angeles. These dishes will quickly turn your iron skillet into your favorite piece of cookware.

Skillet Roasted Moroccan Chicken and Olive Tagine

2 / 7 Skillet Roasted Moroccan Chicken and Olive Tagine

“I really wanted to create a one-pot style meal, so I ended up just tossing my squash in right alongside the chicken,” says Gerard. And that’s how this zesty recipe was born.

The acorn squash, also referred to as winter squash, contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that may help support the immune system and encourage the production of collagen; vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes healthy vision; and magnesium, a mineral that supports bone health.

Gerard adds that the olives bring a light salty flavor, while the dates offer a touch of sweetness. A dab of goat cheese may also add some creaminess.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 medium acorn or kabocha squash, seeded and sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 cup mixed olives, pitted 
  • 8 fresh medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • Arils from 1 pomegranate
  • Fresh cilantro or mint for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt and a pinch of pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet, set over medium-high heat. Rub the chicken with the mixture, reserving any remaining spices left in the bowl. When the oil is simmering, add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the skillet. 

To the same skillet, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes. Slowly pour in the chicken broth and lemon juice.

Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to low. Slide the chicken back into the skillet, skin side up, and arrange the squash around the chicken. Drizzle lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle any remaining spice mix over the dish.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the olives and dates, and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. 

Serve the chicken topped with pomegranate, cilantro and the pan juices in the skillet.

See the full recipe at Half Baked Harvest.

Cider Apple and Sage Roasted Pork Chops with Brown Butter Gorgonzola Polenta

3 / 7 Cider Apple and Sage Roasted Pork Chops with Brown Butter Gorgonzola Polenta

Gerard says this is one of her new favorite meals to savor during the fall season, adding, “It’s also one of my simpler and quicker cooking recipes, so we all know what a huge bonus that is."

While the sliced apples offer a mixture of sweet and sour to the dish, fiber-rich Granny Smith apples also contain compounds that may help with weight management and colon health.

Ingredients:

Pork chops

  • 4 bone-in pork chops, about 3/4 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup fresh sage
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, sliced

Polenta

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (may sub parmesan)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To make the polenta:

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and cook until browned and toasted. Pour the water and milk into a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the polenta. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is soft and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Keep warm and then, just before serving, stir in the gorgonzola cheese and half the browned butter, and season with salt and pepper. If the polenta seems a little thick, add 1 tablespoon more of butter or milk.

To make the pork:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Rub the pork chops with olive oil, then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper, and rub on the brown sugar. Press 3 to 4 sage leaves on the pork chops.

Once the skillet is hot, add the pork chops and sear until both sides are caramelized, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add the butter to the pan and allow it to brown, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the cider and add the chipotle peppers and thyme. Bring the sauce to a boil and then remove from the heat. Sprinkle the apple slices around the pork.

Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pork is cooked to your desired doneness and the sauce has thickened into a glaze. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until thickened.

See the full recipe at Half Baked Harvest.

Scrambled Turmeric Tofu with Mushrooms and Greens

4 / 7 Scrambled Turmeric Tofu with Mushrooms and Greens

“With a hint of earthy greens and sun-dried tomatoes, this hearty scramble can go from breakfast to dinner very easily,” says Palmer.

The main ingredient in this any-time-of-day meal tofu contains calcium, a mineral that is necessary for building and maintaining strong teeth and bones, aiding the contraction and expansion of muscles and allowing the brain to send messages to the body. In addition, mushrooms are packed with selenium, a type of nutrient that assists in thyroid gland function and DNA production. The turmeric adds a touch of earthy bitterness to this dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (about 15 ounces) firm tofu, pressed (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch sea salt (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons plain, unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 scallion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces (about 2-1/4 cups) sliced brown mushrooms
  • 2 cups loosely packed chopped greens (i.e., mustard, collard, spinach, kale)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Press tofu and drain off extra liquid.

Place drained tofu in a bowl and crumble with a fork to achieve a crumbly texture. Mix in nutritional yeast, turmeric, smoked paprika, black pepper, salt (optional) and soy milk. Heat olive oil in an iron skillet and sauté scallion, garlic and mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Add tofu, chopped greens and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté just until greens start to wilt. Serve immediately.

See full recipe at SharonPalmer.com

Autumn Braised Chicken Escabeche with Apples and Grapes

5 / 7 Autumn Braised Chicken Escabeche with Apples and Grapes

“This is quite possibly the easiest, yet most delicious chicken I’ve made to date,” states Gerard. She credits the combination of the wine, apple cider and apple cider vinegar for the sweet, tangy and savory flavors in this poultry dish.

While research is ongoing, various studies suggest that adding 30 milliliters of apple cider vinegar to your diet may help balance fasting glucose levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. It’s important to remember though, that this amount is more than you’ll get in one serving of this dish. And don’t forget that chicken is a naturally lean protein, with little fat and calories.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, thighs or a mix
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 jalapeno or Fresno chile peppers, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups grapes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet, set over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the skillet. 

Add the onion, garlic, and cumin seeds. Cook while stirring occasionally until the onion is fragrant and the cumin seeds are toasted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Slowly pour in the wine, cider and apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to low.

Slide the chicken back into the skillet, skin side up (it should be mostly submerged). Add the chile, bay leaves and thyme. Sprinkle the apples around the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, add the grapes and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes.

See the full recipe at Half Baked Harvest.

Skillet Cranberry Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

6 / 7 Skillet Cranberry Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

Gerard loves this healthy and cozy creation for its simplicity, as well as its deliciousness. “Plus, the addition of carrots totally makes this a complete meal—you have your protein, your starch and your veggie,” she adds.

And don’t forget the fall fruit—super-tart cranberries are low in fat and calories (a half-cup is only about 25 calories) and offer a healthy dose of vitamin C, which can help the body fight off free radicals.

Ingredients:

  • 4 skin-on chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • Zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 pound baby potatoes halved
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 1 cup white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub the chicken with 2 tablespoons olive oil, the thyme, rosemary, garlic and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken, skin side down, and sear until golden, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook 5 minutes more. Remove the chicken from the skillet.

Add 2 tablespoons butter, potatoes, carrots and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine, deglazing the pan and scraping up any browned bits off the bottom. Simmer the wine for 5 minutes or until reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and nestle the chicken into the potatoes. Add the lemon juice.

In a small bowl, toss together the cranberries, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the cranberries over the chicken. Transfer to the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.

See full recipe at Half Baked Harvest.

Thai Tempeh Noodle Skillet

7 / 7 Thai Tempeh Noodle Skillet

“This flavorful easy dish calls upon protein-rich tempeh, along with brown rice noodles and a vibrant Thai dressing, to create the ultimate meal in one,” says Palmer.

An ideal meal for Meatless Mondays, tempeh—fermented soybeans—is a versatile, zero-cholesterol soy product that is a staple among vegans and vegetarians. And 3.5 ounces of this nutty-flavored meat substitute contains 18 grams of protein and 64 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) of manganese, an essential mineral that plays a role in metabolism, antioxidant function and wound healing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon soybean oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 8 ounces tempeh, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 cup canned light coconut milk, stir well before measuring
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4 cups water
  • 8 ounces uncooked Asian brown rice noodles (i.e., pad Thai noodles)
  • 1 bunch greens, chopped (i.e., mustard, spinach, or chard)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

Heat sesame oil in a large iron skillet and sauté pepper, mushrooms, tempeh, garlic and ginger for 8 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, make the sauce by mixing together coconut milk, red curry paste, red chili flakes, soy sauce, peanut butter, agave syrup and lime juice in a bowl until smooth. Set aside.

In a separate pot, bring the water to a boil and add brown rice noodles, cooking according to package directions (about 2 minutes). Do not overcook.

Rinse and drain noodles and immediately add to the skillet, along with the sauce and chopped greens. Stir together gently, until heated through and greens are wilted (about 1 to 2 minutes).

Garnish with chopped green onions, cilantro and peanuts.

See full recipe at SharonPalmer.com.