5 Simple Meals You Can Make In A Cast-Iron Skillet

These delicious recipes will put new life into your old cast-iron.

September 26, 2016
CJ Kellar

If you're anything like me, one of the main deterrents from making a nice healthy dinner is the sink full of dishes you're supposed to tackle afterward. After a long day, it's just not gonna happen. But what if we told you that you could simplify your meals and drastically minimize your mountain of plates, pans, and bowls? The new cookbook Cast Iron Cooking by Rachael Narins let's you do just that. Each simple but delicious recipe requires a cast-iron skillet, along with a few other basic kitchen tools—but nothing fancy. Here are four of our favorite simplified dinners, and one ridiculously tasty dessert. 

Excerpted from Cast-Iron Cooking.

This article was originally published by our partners at Prevention.

cast iron skillet meal
1/5 CJ Kellar
Sausage + Kale With Lentils

Serves 4-6

4 cups dried brown lentils
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 uncooked garlic sausages, split lengthwise
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine lentils, six cups of water, and salt to taste in small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer over medium-low and cook until lentils are tender, 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in 12-inch cast-iron skillet (we like this one) over medium-high heat. Add sausages and roast, turning once, until browned and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Crush kale with hands until limp. When sausage is cooked, add crushed kale and garlic. Sauté, turning often, for two minutes. Add one tablespoon of water, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cover. Let cook two minutes, then uncover and add lentils. Continue to cook, covered, until lentils are warmed through, three minutes.

cast iron skillet meal
2/5 CJ Kellar
Baked Crab + Shrimp

Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
1 onion, minced
Large pinch of cayenne
Large pinch of chili powder
2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1½ cup fish stock
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (Here are 7 things you need to know before buying shrimp.)
1½ cup lump crabmeat
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup bread crumbs
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin
Baked onions, corn bread, or rice, for serving

1. Heat broiler. Melt butter in 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, celery, pepper, onion, cayenne, and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft. Do not let vegetables brown. Sprinkle mixture evenly with flour and continue to cook two minutes more, stirring constantly. Slowly add stock. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, and cook until slightly thickened, six to eight minutes.

2. Add shrimp, crab, and cream to vegetables and raise heat slightly. Cook until shrimp has turned pink, two minutes. Top with bread crumbs and scallions.

3. Place skillet under broiler and cook until bread crumbs are lightly browned. Serve family-style.

cast iron skillet meal
3/5 CJ Kellar
Pan-Seared, Pecan-Crusted Fish With Fried Green Tomatoes

Serves 4

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup pecans, finely ground
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 cup vegetable oil
4 skinless fish fillets (about 6 ounces each) or 4 small, whole cleaned trout
4 green tomatoes, sliced

Related: 7 Easy Single-Serve Desserts That Aren't Mug Cakes

1. Prepare three shallow bowls: one with flour, one with milk and eggs whisked together, and one with mixture of pecans and bread crumbs.

2. Heat oil to 350 degrees very slowly in deep 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Dredge fish in flour, then milk and egg mixture, then pecan and bread crumb mixture. Shake off any excess.

3. Fry fish two minutes per side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel–lined plate. Repeat dredging and frying steps with tomatoes and serve with fish.

cast iron pizza
4/5 CJ Kellar
Pan Pizza

Makes two 12-inch pizzas

1 teaspoon molasses
1 packet (2¼ tsp) active dry yeast
5 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup olive oil + 2 teaspoon for drizzling
2 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
1 cup tomato sauce (or pizza sauce)
1½ cup assorted grated cheese, including mozzarella and provolone
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
Assorted pizza toppings (Give this clean eating pizza recipe a try.)

1. Whisk two tablespoon warm water and molasses in medium bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top and let rest until it becomes foamy, two minutes. Add flour to bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook. With mixer running at low speed, slowly add yeasted water and one-third of 2½ cups warm water. Add ¼ cup of the oil, then add another third of water. Continue adding water until dough comes together into smooth ball. This will take about eight minutes. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover with clean cloth, and let rise one hour.

2. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

3. Oil bottom and sides of 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Punch down dough and divide in half. Stretch half the dough into wide circle. Sprinkle skillet with one tablespoon of the cornmeal and place dough in skillet, cover, and let rise 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough in separate skillet, or reserve for later. Shape the dough in the skillet again, making sure it is thicker on the edges, by pressing the center. Parbake crust 10 minutes.

4. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Add sauce, cheeses, and toppings, then drizzle with remaining two teaspoon oil and return to oven. Bake until sauce is bubbly and toppings are golden brown, 25 minutes.

cast iron skillet dessert
5/5 CJ Kellar
Cranberry Upside-Down Cake With Fresh Or Frozen Berries

Serves 12-16

1½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cup cranberries
2½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk

Related: 10 Things Every Clean Eater Needs To Know

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt brown sugar and ½ cup of the butter in 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat and add cranberries. Set aside.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. Combine sugar, remaining one cup butter, and orange zest, and blend until light and fluffy, three minutes. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. With mixer on low speed, add one-third of the flour mixture to batter, then add one-third of the milk. Alternate adding flour and milk, and mix until batter is smooth.

4. Pour batter over cranberries. Place skillet on baking sheet to catch any spillover, and place in oven. Bake until top is golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing into wedges to serve.