One pan dinner winners
I have two stainless steel baking trays, also called ‘sheet pans’, and they are the workhorses of my kitchen. I use them to slow cook meats, roast chickens and vegetables. They are large enough to spread the ingredients around to cook evenly (and roast instead of steam), and they have a slight rim which can contain cooking juices from meats. The best part – they are incredibly easy to clean and you can cook an entire meal in one pan!
The basic formula for making a meal using one sheet pan includes protein + vegetables, flavoured with herbs or spices, and finished with a garnish or sauce. But you can think outside the box – sheet pan stir fry anyone?
If you are keen to give it a go, here are some tips to create tasty and easy one-sheet meals at home, and two recipes to get you started.
One-sheet pan meal tips
1. Add ingredients in stages, depending on their cooking time
Vegetables like zucchini & sweet potatoes only take 20 minutes to cook at high heat, while carrots and parsnips will take more like 45 minutes. So be mindful of this when coming up with your dish – make life easier by picking vegetables that have similar cooking times, or add things in stages – more delicate vegetables such as cherry tomatoes or radicchio can be added right near the end. It can also help to cut the vegetables in similar shapes and sizes.
2. Don’t overcrowd the pan
If you pack too much on to your pan, you’ll find that the vegetables will steam and go mushy instead of having space to roast. Try to arrange things in one layer as best as you can. You can also lift the protein off the bottom of the tray by resting it on a small wire rack. I often do this with a roast chicken, and let the juices drip into the vegetables cooking below.
3. Don’t forget the finishing touches
Once cooked, squeeze some citrus over the top, garnish with sliced spring onions, sprinkle with roasted nuts or drizzle with some oil and a little vinegar. Experiment with ways to lift the finished dish and give it that extra bit of ‘yum’. Get some more ‘YUM-factor’ ideas here.
One-sheet pan recipes (to get you started):
- Roast chicken with parsnips and carrots: Whip some butter with crushed garlic and finely chopped kaffir lime leaves and stuff it under the skin. Cook for 45 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius before arranging sticks of parsnip and carrot tossed with sumac and olive oil around the chook. Cook for another 45 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and the juices from the chicken run clear.
- Sheet pan nachos: Cut wholemeal flour tortillas into quarters, toss with a little oil and layer on a baking tray. Cook in a hot oven until they are brown and crisp. Top with shredded free-range BBQ chicken or some fried tofu, red onion, frozen peas, crumbled feta, and grated manchego cheese. Cook until the cheese is melted, then top with sliced radish and chopped coriander leaves.
By Victoria Thaine,