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Easy One-Pan Meals

Try this twist on one-pot meals—a full meal cooked on a sheet pan!—to bring simplicity and variety into weeknight cooking.

| January/February 2016

  • Family Making Dinner in the Kitchen
    For busy families concerned with cooking a quick, healthy meal, one-pan suppers are a useful and versatile option.
    Photo by iStock
  • Sheet Pan Suppers Book Cover
    These recipes are among the 120 wonderful, simple and healthful recipes in "Sheet Pan Suppers" by Molly Gilbert.
    Photo courtesy Workman Publishing

  • Family Making Dinner in the Kitchen
  • Sheet Pan Suppers Book Cover

I love a good one-pot meal. Maximum ease, minimal cleanup. But beyond soups, stews and the occasional pasta, the one-pot meal can lose its legs. Sheet pans combine easy prep and cleanup with sophisticated flavor. Sheet pan cooking means roasting, baking and broiling, three methods that concentrate flavor. Sick of beef stew? Try lemony fish with crispy potatoes. All on one pan, in the oven. No mess, no fuss. Boom! Dinner.

One-Pan Meal Recipes

Lemon-Herb Sole Recipe with Crispy Potato Rafts
Quick Chicken and Broccolini Recipe with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Roasted Squash Salad Bowls Recipe

Prep Your Sheet Pan

A sheet pan, also known as a rimmed baking sheet, is a flat, rectangular metal pan with a 1-inch lip around the sides, often used to bake things such as cookies, sheet cakes, scones or dinner rolls. Sheet pans are usually made out of aluminum or stainless steel, and in a professional kitchen can be as large as 26 by 18 inches, or approximately enormous. For us home cooks, the more readily available 18-by-13-inch variety (professionally called a “half sheet”) does perfectly well. Note: Jelly roll pans are the same shape as sheet pans, but smaller and less sturdy; they have a tendency to warp at high heat, so be sure to use a half sheet for the recipes listed here.

You probably own at least one sheet pan already, perhaps passed down from your mom and a bit brown in the corners, or gleaming and pristine, a gift straight off your wedding registry. Should you be in need, however, rest assured that sheet pans are easy to come by. All kitchen supply stores worth their salt should have them in stock. If you’re looking to buy your pans on the cheap, check thrift stores or online. I suggest owning at least two. Probably four. Once you’ve discovered their magic, you’ll find yourself reaching for sheet pans all the time.

Though you can buy sheet pans that have a nonstick coating (made up of potentially toxic chemicals), I prefer to use ones made from stainless steel or cast iron. I assume you’ll take your roasted chicken without a side of nonstick coating, thank you. If you’re concerned about food sticking to the pan—particularly an issue with lean meats, sugary fruit and baked goods—line your pans with aluminum foil or parchment paper. I’m also big on olive oil cooking spray; I’ll often use it in conjunction with aluminum foil, as roasted meats and vegetables sometimes like to stick to foil.

For fancier nonstickiness, consider investing in a Silpat, a nonstick silicone baking mat popular with professional bakers (available at most kitchen supply stores). Unlike parchment and foil, they don’t create trash every time you use them, never need to be rebought and can be cleaned after each use.

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