I can't stand the one-pan claim that doesn't allow for the pre-prep – the road to getting that one pan into the oven being long, windy and full of dishes. So, in the interest of full disclosure, most recipes here will require about three pots and pans. But, you can legitimately eat any of these straight from the pan. Zero judgement here, in fact I strongly encourage it.
Meatball cacio e pepe
Let's be honest, cacio e pepe is adults' mac 'n' cheese. Yes, absolutely it is all about the cheese and the starchy cooking water. BUT, in one pan, with meatballs and all the caramelised bits of crunch and roundness of flavour that adding meatballs provides, well the sacrilege of tradition is worth it.
55g pecorino, finely grated
500g beef mince
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small red onion, finely diced
140g pecorino, finely grated
140g parmesan, finely grated
3 tbsp extra cheese (both) to serve
freshly cracked pepper to serve
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Add the meatball ingredients to a bowl and using your hands, massage to combine. Roll the mixture into meatballs, about the size of golf balls. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large ovenproof frypan (roughly 32cm diameter) and cook the meatballs in batches until browned on the outside. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and set the frypan aside.
3. In a separate pot, boil the pasta for two minutes less than specified on the packet. Strain the pasta, reserving 1½ cups of the starchy cooking water.
4. Working quickly, add the cooked pasta and the starchy water to the frypan and sprinkle over the cheese so that it melts. Give the pan a good shake and using tongs, gently toss to coat the spaghetti with the cheese and water. Top with the meatballs – don't panic, the sauce will seem quite watery.
5. Place the frypan in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Check regularly after the 10-minute mark – you want the sauce to have thickened and reduced to the consistency of cream, the meatballs to have cooked through, and the pasta to be covered in sauce with a few bits taking on the glorious crunch that comes with a bit of time in the oven.
6. To serve, sprinkle over the remaining cheese and generously season with pepper.
Middle Eastern meatballs with giant cous cous, yoghurt and beetroot. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Cumin, ricotta and lamb meatballs with moghrabieh, yoghurt and beetroot
Moghrabieh is a wonderful chewy, nutty addition. The giant cous cous takes on the flavours of the dish and stands up to the longer cooking time. Add the freshness and tang of beetroot and yoghurt and this is a one-dish winner.
500g lamb mince
3 tbsp ricotta
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp crushed pistachio kernels
½ tbsp ground cumin
2 cups moghrabieh
4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups kale leaves (we used dinosaur kale), ribs removed, coarsely torn
generous dollop of Greek-style yoghurt
1 beetroot, peeled, grated
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Combine the meatball ingredients in a bowl and using your hands, roll into meatballs about the size of golf balls.
3. Place a large high-sided roasting tray on your stovetop over medium heat with a generous glug (2-3 tbsp) of olive oil. Add the meatballs and cook briefly, turning quickly, just to brown the outsides.
4. Add the moghrabieh ingredients to the pan, briefly mix, and arrange the meatballs in the tray. Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the stock has been absorbed and the moghrabieh is tender. Halfway through cooking, give the tray a gentle shake to ensure the ingredients cook evenly. (Depending on how spread out the ingredients are across the roasting tray, this may take up to 30 minutes for the cous cous to cook through.)
5. Remove from the oven and stir through the kale (the residual heat will soften it). To serve, dollop over the yoghurt and shredded beetroot.
Gochujang chicken meatball rice bake. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Chicken meatballs with coconut rice and spicy gochujang mayo
Gochujang is available from Asian grocers but can be replaced with chilli sauce. For every tablespoon of hot sauce, I also add ½ teaspoon maple syrup and ¼ teaspoon miso. It's not the real deal but is an excellent substitute in times of need.
1 tbsp rice bran oil
500g chicken mince
1 red onion, peeled, finely diced
1 x 5cm knob ginger, grated
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled, chopped
2 tbsp gochujang
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
¼ cup apricot nectar
1 ½ cups coconut milk
1 cup basmati rice
2 bok choy, split into segments (leave whole if using 4 baby bok choy instead)
½ cup coriander leaves, roughly torn
¼ cup Kewpie mayonnaise
½ tbsp gochujang (or to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Combine the meatball ingredients in a bowl, then roll the mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs using your hands. Place in a baking dish.
3. Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the meatballs. Place in the oven and cook for five minutes or until the tops of the meatballs start to brown. Remove the dish and add the coconut milk and rice. Stir to incorporate then return to the oven until the rice is cooked through (15 to 20 minutes).
4. Remove from the oven and add the bok choy, pushing the stems into the hot rice mixture – they will soften and cook in the residual heat.
5. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise and the gochujang in a small bowl.
6. To serve, sprinkle over the coriander leaves and spoon over the spiced mayo.
Cauliflower and pasta parmigiana bake. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Cauliflower and pasta parmigiana
This dish, in all its cheesy, saucy carby goodness is my carbs obsession personified. The jarred piquillo peppers (roasted red capsicum) give a mighty lift to many a sauce or dish needing husky sweet heat, and are a worthy pantry staple.
1 large head of cauliflower (about 700g once trimmed), blitzed to a rough crumb
1 cup cooked basmati rice
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
½ tbsp dried oregano
1 x 400g tin crushed tomatoes
1 red onion
¼ cup basil leaves, coarsely torn
2 cloves garlic
1 roasted red piquillo pepper
1 red chilli, deseeded
3 cups large hollow pasta (such as conchiglie shells or paccheri)
180g buffalo mozzarella, sliced into rounds
salt and pepper
basil leaves to scatter
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Boil the pasta for one minute less than the packet instructions suggest, drain and set aside.
2. Combine the blitzed cauliflower, rice, eggs and oregano in a bowl. Use your hands to roll the mixture into balls, if they seem to crumble, return to the bowl and keep massaging – the ingredients will continue to come together.
3. Add one to two tablespoons of olive oil to a frypan and place over medium heat. Add the cauliflower balls and cook to brown lightly (be gentle, they will be more fragile than their traditional meat counterparts). Carefully remove and place in a high-sided baking dish that is approximately five-cup capacity. Arrange the cooked pasta shells around the cauli balls.
4. In the same food processor or blender used to blitz the cauliflower, add the sauce ingredients and blitz to a sauce consistency. Gently pour the sauce over the pasta and meatballs. Top with slices of mozzarella, season with salt and pepper, place a few basil leaves on top and bake until golden and the cheese has melted (about 15 to 18 minutes).
5. Remove from the oven, scatter over a few more fresh basil leaves and serve hot.