Debby Maugans, food writer based in Asheville, North Carolina, and author of Small Batch Baking, Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers and Farmer and Chef Asheville.
Bottom Line: Roast a delicious dinner in less than half an hour—with hardly any cleanup.
An entire meal roasts to perfection in minutes. It’s healthy and delicious—and there’s hardly any cleanup. Welcome to the sheet-pan dinner solution.
You won’t sacrifice taste for convenience, either—roasting at high temperatures for short periods browns the surfaces of food, resulting in rich, caramelized flavors. Meats, poultry and fish stay moist inside, and vegetables turn out crisp on the outside but tender inside, too.
All you need is a good sheet pan. Don’t try this with your cookie pan—it’s too thin for good roasting. You’ll want a heavy-gauge aluminum or steel sheet pan with one-inch-high sides. It has to be large enough that all the foods you put on it fit in a single layer without touching. If they get too close together, foods will start to steam. Our recipes were prepared on a 17-inch-x-12-inch heavy-gauge steel sheet pan, but there are many sizes available depending on how many servings you want to make.
Cleanup is a cinch whether you line the pan with foil or parchment paper…or cook the food directly on the pan (better for browning). It’s true that if you use your sheet pan often, it won’t stay shiny. But a little wear gives it character!
Here are three easy, tasty, complete sheet-pan dinners for you to enjoy. Each recipe makes four servings.
Plus Bottom Line wine expert Jeff Seigel has selected the perfect wines to go with each meal…
You can try this recipe with many different vegetables beyond the carrots, zucchini and tomatoes listed. Experiment with root vegetables (sweet potatoes, red potatoes, turnips and parsnips)…broccoli florets…cauliflower florets…eggplant…yellow squash.
Cut root vegetables and eggplant into one-inch cubes, and slice yellow squash into one-inch-thick slices to make about four or five cups in total.
Harissa is a smoky, spicy North African condiment, a paste or purée made from a variety of dried roasted red peppers, tomatoes, vinegar and toasted spices including caraway and cumin. It adds a depth of aniselike, earthy flavor to foods ranging from eggs to sandwiches and roasted meats and poultry. I like Organic Harissa by Les Moulins Mahjoub, available online for about $15 for a 6.5-ounce jar. You also can look for harissa in jars, cans or tubes in the international foods sections of supermarkets.
Serve with a slice of crusty whole-wheat bread such as a boule.
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 (four-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs (or chicken breast halves, cut in half crosswise)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
Grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 Tablespoons harissa
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (optional)
Olive oil cooking spray
10 cherry tomatoes
4 or 5 medium carrots, cut into three-inch pieces and halved lengthwise
2 medium zucchini, sliced into ¾-inch-to-one-inch pieces
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a rimmed sheet pan in the oven to heat.
Brush two teaspoons of the olive oil on the chicken. Combine the cumin and one-half teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl. Mix well, and sprinkle on the chicken.
Combine one tablespoon of the remaining olive oil, lemon zest and juice, harissa and ginger (if using) in a small bowl. Whisk to blend.
Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven, and coat with cooking spray. Place the cherry tomatoes, carrots and zucchini on the baking sheet, drizzle with two teaspoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Use a wide spatula to turn the vegetables, and coat with olive oil and salt, then spread in a single layer, spacing ¼ inch to ½ inch apart. Add the chicken pieces. Brush the chicken and vegetables with some of the harissa mixture.
Bake 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and brush the chicken and vegetables again with the harissa mixture. Continue baking until the chicken is cooked, about 10 more minutes (a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the chicken should read 165°F).
Jeff’s wine selections: Many people go directly to chardonnay for chicken dishes and that can work, but the catch with this recipe is the wonderful, unusual taste of harissa—spicy and smoky and even salty. That would clash with the oak in an oaky chardonnay, and an unoaked chardonnay may have a strong taste of citrus fruit, which would clash. That’s why I’d choose a white with little or no oak or citrus…or a fresh, fruity rosé. For the former, try the Domaine de Pouy (around $10) from the Gascony region in southwestern France. It’s made with two grapes most people have never heard of, colombard and ugni blanc, and they lend the wine a pleasant flavor that evokes white table grapes and would balance the harissa. Or go for the French La Vieille Ferme rosé ($8), which has enough berry fruit to offset the harissa. Both these wines are from a part of the world where harissa is common, which often leads to good food/wine pairings.
Make this with bone-in center-cut pork rib chops. Here’s why…meat always tastes better when it’s cooked on the bone.
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
4 (1¼-inch-thick) bone-in center-cut pork rib chops (about six ounces each), trimmed of excess fat
Olive oil cooking spray
2 (eight-ounce) sweet potatoes, washed, peel on
Bunch kale (six ounces), trimmed, washed and torn (about five packed cups)
Mix the honey, soy sauce, thyme, one-quarter teaspoon of the salt and one-half teaspoon of the pepper in a small bowl. Measure out one tablespoon and set aside. Brush the remaining mixture all over the pork chops.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a rimmed sheet pan in the oven to heat.
Meanwhile, trim the ends of the sweet potatoes, and cut lengthwise into one-inch slices. Toss with the reserved tablespoon of the honey mixture.
Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Spray with cooking spray. Arrange the pork chops on the baking sheet, then arrange the sweet potato wedges around the chops. Roast for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, and scatter torn kale around and on top of the pork and sweet potatoes—this is an exception to the sheet-pan dinner “don’t let foods touch” rule—they’ll still roast.
Sprinkle the remaining one-quarter teaspoon of salt on the kale. Roast for five minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted through the side of a chop into the center reads 145°F.
Jeff’s wine selections: Pork, which can be fatty, usually is a red wine dish because the wine’s acidity and tannins (they cause the astringent feel in your mouth) play off the fat. But in this recipe, the sweet potatoes and the honey-soy glaze complicate matters, adding a sweetness that the acidity and tannins in most reds don’t go with.
That’s why an unusually soft red wine, such as the Argentine Trivento malbec ($10), pairs well. It’s fruity enough to complement the potato and the glaze. Alternative: A white wine that would be lovely is the Australian Yalumba Y Series viognier ($14). No worries about the tannins or acidity of red wine—and it adds notes of apricot and peach that complement this dish nicely.
This recipe calls for an intact single side of salmon—I spied a deep-red side of salmon about the right size in my local market and couldn’t resist, and it turned out great. If you prefer to cook individual portions, use five-ounce fillets and reduce cooking time by about a minute. Mirin is a subtly sweet Japanese rice wine vinegar that adds a tangy richness to this dish—as does miso, a salty fermented soybean paste. You can find both in the international section of a supermarket near the soy sauce.
¼ cup mirin
2 Tablespoons red miso paste
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 side of salmon (1¼ pounds—about 20 ounces) or 4 (five-ounce) center-cut salmon fillets
2 baby bok choy (about four ounces each), halved lengthwise
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (if using fresh, about two ears’ worth) (optional)
3 Tablespoons sliced scallions
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the mirin, miso, soy sauce and ginger in a small, deep bowl, and whisk until smooth.
Place the salmon on the parchment-lined sheet pan, and brush half the mirin/soy sauce/ginger mixture on the salmon. Place in the center of the oven, and roast 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, and arrange the baby bok choy halves, cut sides up, and corn kernels, if using them, around the salmon. Lightly brush one tablespoon of the mirin/soy sauce/ginger mixture onto the cut edges of the baby bok choy and onto the corn. Sprinkle sliced scallions over the fish. Continue roasting three to five minutes or until the salmon is just translucent in the center and the outside edges flake with a fork. (The fish will continue to “cook” slightly after you remove it from the oven.)
Remove the pan from the oven, and let stand five minutes. If you are using a whole salmon, “flake” it—gently pull the cooked fish apart so that it separates into equal-sized pieces—and place on serving plates with portions of baby bok choy halves and corn.
Jeff’s wine selections: Salmon and salty ingredients such as miso are among the most difficult to pair. Quality salmon can be almost as fatty as some red meats, and salty foods have been driving wine geeks crazy for years. One way to solve that dilemma is with pinot noir, a red wine that is a classic salmon pairing—it’s soft tannins won’t overpower the fish. Good pinot noirs can be ridiculously expensive, and most cheap versions don’t taste much like pinot noir—but the French Le Charmel pinot noir ($12) is an exception. It’s a pleasant, enjoyable and lighter red wine with almost jammy cherry fruit to complement the salmon—but it won’t cover up the miso. Another fun possibility: A fruity sparkling wine such as the Juvé Y Camps Brut Rosé ($15) from Spain. It has lovely strawberry fruit and a full and effervescent mouthfeel to balance the salmon. Tip for other meals: Sparkling and salty often are quite compatible.