Jamie Oliver is all about making cooking easy and accessible, and it doesn’t get simpler than one-pot meals.
Being able to bung everything in one pan or tray and let it cook away is the Holy Grail of recipes – and it’s a godsend after dinner when you have a lot less washing up to do.
This is Oliver’s 26th cookbook – yes, his 26th – so by now, he’s well versed in making cooking easier for people, without compromising on flavour.
Sweetly, the 47-year-old has dedicated his latest book to his wife Jools, who he calls "my number one".
So how do the recipes stack up in terms of ease, flavour, and piles of washing up? We put three of Oliver’s new dishes to the test…
Claire Spreadbury tried: Sweet potato chilli
I love nothing more than a hearty bowl of chilli, and Jamie’s recipe takes this to another level.
You do need a lot of time. Peeling 1.5kg of sweet potatoes takes me ages (I’m slow at all food admin), and there’s a bit more chopping to be done before the two-hour baking time, so it’s definitely one to do on a lazy weekend. That said, it’s incredibly easy – throw it all in Jamie-style, incorporate some ingredients you wouldn’t have thought of (cumin seeds, chipotle paste), leave it to bubble, and then it’s ready for a feta and coriander garnish.
Super easy and super delicious. The perfect heat for chilli and no need for any extra rice, tortillas or tacos because of the sweet potatoes. And, on top of that, it feeds 12, so you have enough for a party full of people, or loads of leftovers for lunches and dinners in the days and weeks to come. And if you get bored, he offers some great suggestions for pimping it into something else – sweet potato chilli nachos, quesadilla, soup or even a salad bowl all get my vote.
The only downside is the washing up – anything that’s been in the oven for two hours is going to take some scrubbing.
Imy Brighty-Potts tried: Smoked salmon pasta
Fresh pasta is good. It just is. No doubt about it. And smoked salmon? Also fabulous. Together, what could go wrong? However, I am always a little reluctant to do pasta in a one-pot situation, because it’s never cooked quite right.
So, I went into this ‘eight-minute’ recipe excited and apprehensive in equal measure. The ingredients are simple – most things you will have in the cupboard – and when you look at the picture you think, ‘Nice, light meal’.
I didn’t have the crinkle cut scissors Oliver asks for, so my lasagne sheets were cut into pappardelle like strips, and once combined with the spring onions, spinach, lemon zest and salmon in what seemed like far too much water, it starts to simmer – and the hope of a decent sauce starts to slip away.
Without anything to thicken it, the water slowly cooks the salmon without actually forming a sauce around the pasta, and 10 minutes later – yes, 10 – you are left with wet pasta tinged with green. Drain a bit of this water out and add your cottage cheese, and it starts to look more like the curd-filled spring special the recipe promises. It is lemony, the Parmesan adds a bit of richness and it tastes incredibly fresh. Maybe if the cottage cheese was swapped out for ricotta and butter, it might have been creamier.
If a saucy pasta is what you want, this isn’t it. However, it truly does work in one pot, it tastes like everything it promises – but it isn’t going to become a regular weeknight fixture for me.
Lisa Salmon Tried: Chocolate party cake
If I was to say just one thing about making this cake, it would be: ‘Thank God for buttercream, it hides a multitude of sins.’
Because while the cake was super-easy to make – just whiz the butter and icing sugar together in a food processor, then add the other ingredients, ‘blitz’ them and stick the mixture in the oven – my baked cake had, er, stability issues.
After cutting it in half to spread some of the (delicious) cream cheese buttercream icing on the bottom half of the cake, I carefully lifted the top half to sit on top of the buttercreamed segment – and it crumbled into about five pieces.
Undeterred, I put the pieces back together like some sort of weird chocolate cake jigsaw, reasonably confident the choccy buttercream topping that was about to be swathed all over it would help to conceal my baking ineptitude.
And it did indeed conceal it, ably supported by mandarin segments cunningly placed to hide fissures even the stickiest buttercream would have had a job to unite.
The finished cake didn’t look that much different to Jamie’s pro effort, although as soon as I cut into it, bits tumbled off. Never mind – it’s the taste that really counts, isn’t it?
And that taste was very chocolatey, although a little bit dry. But as well as being a top class concealer, the lashings of buttercream offset the dryness, and what was particularly nice were the mandarin segments in the buttercream middle and on top, which added a cheeky bit of orangey freshness.
All that buttercream made it very messy to eat, but that didn’t stop me going back for more than one slice…
ONE: Simple One-Pan Wonders by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2022 ONE). Photography © Sweet potato chilli and chocolate party cake: Richard Clatworthy; Smoked salmon pasta: David Loftus. Available now.