Based on what I’ve heard from listeners during the pandemic, there seem to be two common threads when it comes to our changing relationship to cooking and being home in our kitchens so much more than “normal.”
The first common cry is the search for inspiration for quick, simple, healthy meals. And the second most common complaint is all those dishes. It seems that for so many what keeps them from cooking more are the dishes that need to be washed not once but three times a day!
With those thoughts in mind, I wanted to create recipes simple, healthy recipes that are interesting and require very little cleanup.
Say hello to sheet pan dinners. What's a sheet pan dinner you ask? Well, it's pretty straight forward: you cook all the elements of your dinner in one sheet pan (a sheet pan is like a cookie sheet with raised edges).
In recent years, sheet pan dinners have become wildly popular in food magazines and food blogs. And although they are quite easy, there are several elements to consider. When you cook everything on one sheet pan and you want every ingredient to cook in the same amount of time, you have to plan your dinner carefully. The key is to chop and cut everything to roughly the same size so cooking time will be uniform. For instance, in the Roasted Vegetable Dish with Brothy Israeli Couscous, everything is cut so that it all cooks in the same amount of time. But in the salmon dish, the sweet potatoes and broccoli need a longer cooking time, so they are roasted and then the salmon and mushrooms are added so they don't overcook.
Here are three simple sheet pan combinations: one using Greek flavors with chicken, one with salmon and vegetables with a soy-ginger-honey marinade, and finally a vegetarian sheet pan dinner that is served on top of a brothy Israeli spiced couscous. Have fun with these recipes! Feel free to experiment and make substitutions depending on what's in your refrigerator and what's available at your grocery store this time of year.
These recipes all serve two hearty portions. There are directions in the headnote of each recipe explaining how to double the recipe for four or more.
And here's one trick: If you lay a sheet of parchment paper down on the sheet tray pan your clean-up will be even quicker and easier. But whether you do that or not, you'll only have one dish (maybe two) to clean at the end of the night. That should be an inspiration to get cooking and try some new flavors and combinations.
Sheet Pan Greek-Style Chicken, Lemon Potatoes, Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes And Onions With Feta Cheese
Fresh lemon zest and juice, rosemary and oregano flavor this one-dish dinner of chicken, vegetables and potatoes. You can scatter crumbled feta cheese over the onions and tomatoes during the last few minutes of cooking time for an extra blast of flavor. The dish can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead of time and baked about 30 minutes before serving.
This recipe serves 2 very hearty portions. If you want to serve 4, simply add 2 to 4 more pieces of chicken and 1 ½ pound of potatoes and follow the recipe as it is written.
1 large lemon
4 chicken thighs* (bone in)
1 pound potatoes, 3 medium, peeled and cut into quarters lengthwise
2 large carrots, peeled and cut lengthwise in quarters and then into 2-inch pieces
2 medium onions or red onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried and crumbled
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup pitted black or green olives, optional
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
*You can use bone-in chicken thighs (my preference) or boneless chicken thighs or breasts but the chicken will cook a bit faster.
Using a microplane or the tiny knobs on a cheese grater, grate the zest off the lemon. Then thinly slice half the lemon and juice the remaining half and set aside.
Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of a large sheet pan tray (18 x 13 inches) or rimmed baking sheet for easier clean up. (This is optional but does really help at the end of the night when it's time to wash your one dish!) Arrange rows of the chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions and tomatoes. Drizzle the oil over all the ingredients and season liberally with salt and pepper, rosemary and oregano. Sprinkle all the ingredients with the lemon zest and lemon juice. Scatter the lemon slices around the chicken and potatoes. Cover and refrigerate for up to six hours if not roasting immediately.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you prepared the dish ahead of time, remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature while the oven preheats. Roast on the middle shelf for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender when tested with a small, sharp knife. Remove and preheat the broiler. Scatter the feta over the onions and tomatoes. If you’re using olives, sprinkle them on top. Place the sheet pan on the top shelf and broil for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the chicken skin is golden brown.
Soy-Honey-Ginger Salmon Sheet Pan With Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes And Mushrooms
A simple marinade of grated fresh ginger, soy sauce and honey is drizzled over a salmon filet surrounded by shiitake mushrooms, slices of broccoli and cubes of sweet potato. The dish offers a great contrast of color, textures and flavors.
This recipe serves 2 but there's plenty of room on the sheet tray pan to increase the size of the salmon to 2 pounds and add an extra sweet potato. Follow the directions as written.
¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons honey
1 ½ tablespoons white wine or sake, optional
1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce, optional
The Vegetables and Salmon:
1 pound broccoli, stem end lightly trimmed and entire broccoli cut lengthwise into ¾ -inch thick slices with the stem
1 large sweet potato or winter squash, about 11 ounces, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 ½ tablespoons olive or canola oil
Salt and pepper
1 pound salmon filet*
1 ½ cups shitake or other mushrooms, trimmed and left whole or large cut in half
*For more information about sustainable buying choices for salmon check out this information from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.
Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of a large sheet pan tray (18 x 13 inches) or rimmed baking sheet for easy clean up. (This is optional but does really help at the end of the night when it's time to wash your one dish!)
Make the marinade: In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients and set aside.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the broccoli and sweet potatoes on one end of the sheet pan and drizzle with the oil, salt and pepper. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the salmon skin-side down on the opposite end of the pan and surround with the mushrooms; drizzle the marinade over both. Bake about 12 to 15 minutes more, or about 5 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of your filet. The salmon should easily flake, and your vegetables should be just tender when inserted with a small, sharp knife.
Roasted Vegetable Sheet Pan Dinner With Brothy Israeli Couscous
This is a bit of a cheat, since you roast the vegetables (seasoned with cinnamon and cumin) in a sheet pan and, while they are roasting, you cook up some Israeli (or pearl) couscous in vegetable stock. You then serve the brothy couscous in a bowl topped with the roasted vegetables. This has become my new favorite winter dish. You can use any assortment of vegetables you have on hand, but the more variety the better. You can prepare the vegetables several hours ahead of time and simply pop them in the hot oven, make the couscous and have dinner ready in a little over 30 minutes.
This recipe easily serves 4 but you could add a few extra vegetables (another cup) if you like. Follow the directions as written.
1 cup Brussels sprouts, end trimmed and left whole if small, or cut in half if large
1 cup green beans, ends trimmed
1 cup broccoli, cut into small individual florets
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch size pieces
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise and then into 3 1/2 inch spears
1 red, green, or yellow sweet pepper, cored and cut into 6 thick slices
1 medium-sized red or yellow onion, quartered
1 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained, rinsed in cold water and rinsed again
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
About ½ teaspoon ground cumin
The Brothy Couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch red chile flakes, optional
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or 1 cup water and 1 cup stock
1 cup Israeli (pearl) couscous*
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Harissa or hot pepper sauce, optional
*Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous, is made from semolina flour and water and isn't technically couscous at all. It's more like a small round pasta prized for its chewy texture.
Prepare the vegetables: Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of a large sheet pan tray (18 x 13 inches) or rimmed baking sheet for easier clean up. (This is optional but does really help at the end of the night when it's time to wash your one dish!) Arrange the vegetables in rows, keeping all the Brussels sprouts together and all the carrots together in one row, etc. Sprinkle all the vegetables with the olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon and cumin. (The vegetables can be covered and refrigerated for up to 6 hours ahead of time.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the vegetable tray on the middle shelf and roast for 20 minutes. Stir and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are almost tender. The vegetables will continue to cook once you take them out of the oven.
Meanwhile, make the brothy couscous: in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Stir in the salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin and chile flakes (optional), and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the couscous and stir together for a minute, making sure to coat the couscous with all the spices and onion. Raise the heat to high, add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for around 6 to 10 minutes. The couscous should be tender to the bite and the broth flavorful. Adjust seasoning if needed.
To serve: place the couscous and broth in bowls and top with vegetables, lemon wedges and a sprinkling of parsley. Serves 2 very hearty main course portions with some leftovers.
Other Ideas And Combinations For Sheet Pan Dinners To Consider:
Shrimp, zucchini and potato
Pork chops, apples, chickpeas and sweet potatoes
Fish filet, capers, olives, potatoes, broccoli rabe
Sheet pan pizza
Sausages and pepper in tomato sauce
Meatballs with spicy red sauce served with yogurt
Cauliflower florets, spicy sausage and onions
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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