Skip to content

The Resourceful Sailor — One Pan to Cook Them All!

When we’re living on our boat, or even just spending a night or two, our thoughts inevitably turn to food. Unless you have the space (and the stomach) for prepackaged, mass-produced (do we even call it food?) stuff, you’re going to want to cook something. This also leads to the question of space, and stomach. The Resourceful Sailor shares one of his onboard meal options. And no, it’s not the sailors’ version of airline food …

What’s a simple and nutritious one-pan dish for preparing on a small boat? Do you have a tiny galley, with abbreviated counter space? Would you rather save your water for drinking than for washing up? Are you in a hurry to get back to your boat projects? Here is one of the Resourceful Sailor’s favorite one-pan dishes.


One head of broccoli (or asparagus, or Brussels sprouts?) suitable to the pan size

One small onion (or as much as you like)

Two garlic cloves (or as much as you like)

One cup of roasted and salted nuts (peanuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds or my favorite, mixed). Roasted and salted sunflower seeds work well too.

Olive oil or butter (vegetable or canola oil works too.)

Seasoning — Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, etc.

Chop the onion. In a skillet, heat the olive oil or butter over low to medium heat. (Remember, the less oil you use, the easier the cleanup.)

Add salt (I leave this out if I am using salted nuts), pepper, and seasoning to preference.

The Resourceful Sailor's oil heating
Heating the oil a bit so the onions don’t just soak it up on arrival.
© 2024 The Resourceful Sailor

Add the onion when the oil/butter is hot enough to spread over the pan.

At this point, it’s a good idea to open your galley hatch and companionway, to vent the onion smell and water vapor. And close your cabin doors if you have them, (Sampaguita doesn’t) to keep the flavor out of your bedding.

These take the longest to cook, therefore are the first to the pan.
© 2024 The Resourceful Sailor

Chop the garlic and add to the onions.

Chop the broccoli to suitable size while also keeping the onions and garlic stirred to avoid burning. I like to make it bite-size. Too big and it doesn’t cook all the way through quickly enough, and is difficult to eat. Too small and it takes too much chopping time and the flowery bits get everywhere.

When the onions are suitably cooked to your taste (some people like to caramelize them, but I don’t typically put in that much time), add the broccoli, stirring often. No need to cover. We are just sautéing the broccoli enough to warm and soften it all the way through. This gives the digestive system a break so it doesn’t have to process the broccoli from a raw state, but doesn’t cook the nutrients out. (Also, to avoid gas associated with raw broccoli. But maybe that’s just me.)

Today’s improvised ingredients are …
© 2024 Joshua Wheeler

Add the nuts for the last minute or so. These will soften and roast a touch more.

“One Pan To Cook Them All” — It’s one big party.
© 2024 Joshua Wheeler

Eat from the pan. (If you’re feeling more civilized, the pan is Teflon coated, you are serving guests, and/or you like doing dishes, plates or bowls will do.)

I took the civilized approach so the Parmesan didn’t muck up the big pan. One extra dish to clean, but still easier.
© 2024 Joshua Wheeler

The images here are from a meal I made while traveling from San Diego, California, to Ensenada, Mexico, this past November. On this particular occasion I used almonds. The Resourceful Sailor is big on improvising, so I substituted rosemary, clipped from the neighborhood plants while I was in Seattle, for the Italian seasoning. I had some lemon too, so I spritzed a wedge into the skillet after I added the broccoli. I’ve been adding cheap parmesan to my salads, so I put some of that on once in the bowl. They all added good flavor to the dish.

This is a low-carb dish, high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and texture. If you are so inclined, have some bread afterward. Mop up the dishes with it to add flavor and get a head start on the cleaning.

Remember to keep your meals safe and prudent, and have a blast!

One-pan (or -pot) cooking is a must on our boats. What’s your favorite one-pan dish while afloat?


Leave a Comment