One-pot dishes have a reputation as a bachelor shortcut. They're certainly not bad practice. They work well when you're only having one dish, such as stew or chili. Here's a way to do a multi-dish meal in one pot.
It came about by accident. I had a slow-cooked rice side dish underway and asparagus and salmon, ready to cook. I realized they could steam together.
The general idea (which is more important than the specific recipe) is to make rice, then layer the green vegetable and the salmon on top. Everything steams as the rice finishes and the rice is the steaming rack. Here is how it worked out.
I started by making a shortcut risotto — basically, risotto minus the care and gradual additions. Purists will cringe at my calling it risotto. In a large pot (e.g. a 6-quart Dutch oven or large saucepan), saute a small onion, chopped, and 1/2-1 cup of sliced mushrooms in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. When the onion softens and is transparent, add a cup of brown rice. Stir and saute until the rice browns just a little, and add a few cloves of minced garlic. Cook another minute or so and add two cups of liquid — water or chicken broth, maybe with a splash of wine. If using water, add a teaspoon of salt; if you're using broth, skip the salt.
Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Check it after about 25 minutes and then every ten minutes. If the liquid is gone, add 1/4 cup more water.
While the rice cooks, prepare a salmon fillet. Remove any pin bones (feel them with your fingers and remove with needle nosed pliers), rinse, dry with paper towels, and sprinkle with herbs (dill, thyme, basil, for instance). Salt it lightly.
Prepare some asparagus by removing the woody ends and washing.
Chop up something green — green onion, parsley, cilantro — and grate 1/4-1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese to mix into the rice at the end.
When the rice softens but is still just a little firm, check the bottom of the pot. If there is no liquid (that is, the rice has absorbed it all), add 1/4 cup water. Layer the asparagus atop the rice and lay the salmon atop the spears. Cover and let steam gently for about ten minutes. Check the salmon and remove from the heat when the salmon is still just slightly raw in the middle — about 95 degrees internally, if you have an instant-read thermometer. The asparagus should be done — just past bright green.
All three should be done about the same time: The fish should be just slightly undercooked (it will finish cooking on the plate); the asparagus spears should be tender and just past the brightest green; and the rice should be tender. If anything is underdone, remove what's ready and cover with foil, and give the undercooked portion another few minutes.
Mix your green garnish and grated Parmesan into the rice and serve on a big platter. Place the salmon on top, the asparagus on the side.