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Easy One-Pan Oven-Roasted Meals

By Catherine Newman

Four tasty new recipes for complete oven-roasted dinners. And the best part? You can make it all on one pan

When I did a “sheet pan cookbook” search on Amazon, I got 327 results. I’m assuming there aren’t actually 327 books devoted solely to the method of roasting an entire meal on a single pan, but clearly, it’s a phenomenon. And for good reason! For one thing, roasting food in the oven tends to maximize the elements of cooking we love best: meat browns and stays juicy; vegetables caramelize at the edges, getting sweet and crusty while remaining tender. For another, the oven does almost all the work for you, and you can whisk your perfect meal to the table without breaking a sweat, like some magical 1950s TV housewife. And for a third? There aren’t a lot of pans to wash afterwards; there is exactly one pan, which, if you lined it with parchment or foil, will practically clean itself. (Plus, you made dinner so, presumably, someone else is in charge of the dishes. Or, really, just the one dish.)

All you really need is a large, sturdy rimmed baking sheet, ideally 18x13-inches or so. (This is also called a half sheet pan). Or, if you don’t have that, you can use two smaller pans. Just be sure to line them with parchment or nonstick foil (in a pinch, you can coat regular foil with nonstick cooking spray) so that you don’t end up creating a beautiful meal that cannot then be extracted from its cooking surface. Likewise, be generous with the oil here, since that’s the cooking medium that will help everything get nice and brown and crispy and delicious in the oven. And, well, the salt, too. In fact, try to get in the habit of salting all your meat the minute you get it home from the store, regardless of when you plan to cook it. This is a practice I learned from the incredible chef and cookbook author Molly Stevens, and it really makes for deeply seasoned meals. (A pork chop that’s been well-salted for a day will never be bland, regardless of what else you do or don’t do to it.)

I hope that these recipes inspire you to experiment, because there are so many wonderful combinations to try. And as long as you keep the components on separate sides of the baking sheet, you can always remove one of them if it’s done or in danger of burning before the other side is ready. Summer and winter squash both roast beautifully, as does anything in the broccoli or cauliflower family. Just give everything plenty of room on the pan so it roasts rather than crowding together steamingly. Then, once your meal is cooked, you should feel free to move it to a serving dish. But I happen to love the rustic presentation of the baking sheet itself, sitting in the middle of the table like tantalizing evidence of my creative lack of effort.

1. Roasted Salmon and Green Beans with Lemony Mustard Sauce

This is so ridiculously easy that you’ll feel like you’re getting away with something while you’re making it. And then, when you sit down to dinner, you’ll feel like you’re eating at a restaurant. A good restaurant, even. Just take care to err on the side of undercooking the salmon, since you can always pop it in for another minute or two, but the delight of the recipe really rests on perfectly cooked fish: silky and succulent and still a tiny bit rosy in the center.

Click here to see the recipe.

2. Roasted Tofu and Brussels Sprouts with Ginger Vinaigrette

Tofu is a perfect candidate for co-roasting, since it bakes beautifully and it’s not fussy, timing-wise. Plus, it soaks up whatever seasoning you give it, like a docile sponge, offering no flavor push-back of its own. Here, a quick dip in a gingery vinaigrette gives it the perfect sparkle, and a batch of Brussels sprouts roasts alongside to crispy perfection.

Click here to see the recipe.

3. Smoky Pork Chops with Cabbage, Apples, and Caraway

Ever since I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy in 1975, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the combination of apples and onions. They go perfectly with caraway-scented cabbage, which, in turn, goes perfectly with juicy, well-seasoned pork chops. And (say it with me here) it all bakes together on a single sheet pan!

Click here to see the recipe.

4. Classic Buffalo Wings

These wings! It’s hard to overstate how fantastic they are: crispy, falling-off-the-bone tender, perfectly seasoned, and just the right balance of tangy and spicy. And all you do is PUT THEM IN THE OVEN. I’ll admit that I set out to follow my own formula here, of roasting a protein and a vegetable together. But, then, the wings really need the whole sheet pan to themselves.

Click here to see the recipe.

About Catherine Newman

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. She also helped develop Sprout, a WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as Seasoned, their senior version. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health, happiness, and real food at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]

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