Ease of preparation is a big selling point for home cooks, which explains our love of slow cooker dinners and one pot meals.
Today’s version of that quick and easy kitchen savior is the sheet pan supper: all the ingredients (protein, vegetables and starch) are placed together on a sturdy, rimmed baking sheet, put in the oven, and a short time later, dinner is served.
The technique has been turning up everywhere: New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark shared a recipe and video last February; Bon Appetit and Rachael Ray magazines featured sheet pan recipe spreads in recent months; and last fall, a new book came out, “Sheet Pan Suppers.”
Author Molly Gilbert credits the popularity of this quick, easy cooking method to a simple fact: “I don’t think a lot of people have time to cook.”
Gilbert adds: “You don’t have to use four pots. You don’t have to wash as many dishes. For busy people with families, it’s a no-brainer.”
There are a few things to remember:
• A rimmed jelly roll pan or cookie sheet is not the same as a sturdy half sheet pan, which can be found at restaurant supply and kitchenware stores for as low as $8 apiece.
• Line the pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper to make cleanup a breeze.
• Make sure all ingredients are a consistent size. You want potatoes and vegetables to be uniform, chicken breasts or pork chops to be the same thickness. Otherwise, you will be constantly checking to see if that larger piece of protein is finished cooking while the rest of the meal is burning. (I learned the hard way while testing these recipes.)
“You don’t want to babysit this kind of thing, so be mindful when you are prepping,” advises Nina Elder, executive food editor at Rachael Ray magazine.
• Place ingredients in a single layer and don’t crowd them. Air circulation is key to achieving perfectly roasted meats, caramelized vegetables and browned potatoes.
“You don’t want things to steam,” Elder says. “You want them to roast.”
If you have too many ingredients, Elder suggests placing the remaining ingredients on a second sheet pan.
And you will likely have more than one sheet pan because this cooking method is something to love.
Roasted Pork Chops with Green Beans and Potatoes
Adapted from the January/February issue of Rachael Ray magazine.
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Juice of 1 lemon, about 3 tablespoons
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 cloves garlic, grated or pasted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick
1 (8-ounce) bag trimmed French green beans or haricots verts
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into wedges
1 jarred roasted red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
PREHEAT oven to 475 degrees.
MIX 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, paprika and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add pork chops and turn to coat.
TOSS green beans, potatoes and red pepper with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread in an even layer. Nestle pork chops among the vegetables.
ROAST, turning the pork chops once, until the vegetables are tender and the chops are just cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.
Quick Chicken and Baby Broccoli with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Our recipe tester found that 2 large crowns of broccoli, cut into thin pieces, can be substituted for the broccolini. If you cannot find thin-cut chicken breasts, cut breasts into two pieces and pound thin with a meat mallet between two pieces of wax paper or plastic. You want all the chicken pieces to be about the same thickness. Adapted from “Sheet Pan Suppers,” by Molly Gilbert (Workman, 2014).
Olive oil cooking spray (optional)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 bunches broccolini (1 pound total)
4 to 6 thin-cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts or cutlets (1 to 1/2 pounds total)
PREHEAT oven to broil, with a rack 4 inches from the heat. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or mist it with cooking spray.
USE a food processor or whisk together in a medium bowl to combine the brown sugar, peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, vinegar, water and lime juice. Once smooth, set aside 1/4 cup of peanut sauce for serving.
TOSS broccolini and chicken with remaining peanut sauce in a large bowl until thickly coated. Arrange in a tight single layer on the prepared pan. Broil, keeping a close eye to prevent burning, and flipping the chicken halfway through, until the chicken is just cooked through, the broccolini is well charred and the sauce is bubbly and deeply browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
SERVE chicken and broccolini hot from the oven with the reserved dipping sauce alongside.
Yield: 4 servings.
Tilapia Tacos with Zucchini and Fresh Mango Salsa
From “Sheet Pan Suppers,” by Molly Gilbert (Workman, 2014).
1 medium-size zucchini, sliced into 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch rounds
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus extra for serving
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped with 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from 2 to 4 limes), divided
6 fillets tilapia, about 5 ounces each
1/2 cup chopped scallions (white and tender green parts only), divided
8 to 12 small (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled an cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
Freshly ground black pepper
PREHEAT oven to broil with one rack about 4 inches from the heat, and another rack in the center position.
TOSS zucchini with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Arrange zucchini in a single layer around the perimeter of the sheet pan. Set aside.
COMBINE cilantro, chipotle, adobo sauce, lime zest, 3 tablespoons lime juice, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon water in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Transfer the cilantro sauce to a shallow bowl.
DREDGE tilapia in the cilantro sauce to coat both sides. Arrange the filets in a single layer in the center of the prepared pan. Discard leftover sauce. Scatter half of the scallions over the tilapia.
STACK tortillas, wrap them tightly in aluminum foil, and place directly on the center rack to warm while the fish cooks.
BROIL zucchini and fish on the upper rack until the zucchini is soft and puckery and the tilapia is just cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes.
TOSS together mango, avocado, jalapeno and remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil and chopped scallions in a medium-size bowl. Season the salsa with salt and pepper.
SERVE tilapia and zucchini hot from the oven over warm tortillas, topped with salsa and extra cilantro.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.