Whether or not you like to cook, everyone wants to be as efficient as they can in the kitchen. If you like to cook, you know taking extra steps when it’s not necessary isn’t smart and limits the time you have to make other dishes or add any flourishes to the dish you’re already making. If you don’t like to cook, inefficiency simply means you’ll be spending more time doing something you don’t like.
In both cases, inefficiency usually results in extra dishes to wash, and that’s never good. Hence the appeal of the sheet-pan dinner.
By “sheet pan,” I mean a large, rimmed baking sheet, the kind many home cooks use when baking cookies. The beauty of this type of pan is that it allows you to arrange enough food on it to easily feed a family of four with enough space to allow everything to cook evenly.
Sheet-pan dinners are a terrific solution to almost any weeknight dinner dilemma, since so many foods respond well to being roasted or broiled. Just make sure to either combine foods that will cook in the same amount of time, or stagger the foods by adding quicker-cooking ingredients to the sheet pan after the slower-cooking foods have been in the oven for a bit.
One pan. One cooking method. One efficient meal.
While the combinations are endless, here are a few ideas to get you going:
• Steak and asparagus: Season them both before popping them under a broiler.
• Fish and chips: Slice potatoes thinly, season and toss with olive oil and roast until just browning. Add your favorite firm flesh white fish and continue cooking until the fish is just cooked through.
• Pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes: Cut peeled sweet potatoes into chunks, season, toss with some olive oil and place on the pan with a seasoned pork tenderloin. Roast until the tenderloin is just done (it should still be a little pink inside) and the potatoes are lightly browned. If the pork is done before the potatoes are browned, just remove and let rest on a cutting board while the potatoes continue to cook.
One combination I turn to again and again is chicken with root vegetables. Chicken thighs are a great cut to work with because they are moist and flavorful. The root vegetables I’m using in this recipe are potatoes, carrots and red onion, but rutabagas, leeks, parsnips, beets or any other veggie from the ground will work, too.
A coating of simple lemon, thyme, garlic and olive oil is all they need before being popped in the oven. Since I was zesting a lemon for the olive oil, I decided to cut it into wedges and roast it, too. Roasted citrus has a sweeter, more intense flavor than its raw counterparts and makes a nice addition to the root vegetables.
Sheet Pan Lemon-Thyme Chicken With Roasted Root Vegetables
Note: Roasting the lemon gives the other root vegetables a bright flavor and releases juice in the pan that can be drizzled over the chicken for an elegant, but easy sauce. From Meredith Deeds.
• 4 chicken thighs
• 3/4 tsp. salt, divided
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme, divided
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 3 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 2-in. pieces
• 10 baby Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
• 1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges
• 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges (you can use the lemon you just zested)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Season both sides of the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, thyme, lemon zest and the remaining salt and pepper.
Arrange the chicken, skin side up, on 1 side of the baking sheet. Brush with the seasoned olive oil.
In a large bowl, combine the carrots, potatoes, onion and lemon wedges. Toss with the remaining olive oil mixture and arrange on the other side of the baking sheet.
Roast for 35 to 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (at least 165 degrees) and vegetables are browned and tender.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.