Dining

Sheet Pan Dinners are Back

Sheet pan meals are a “home-cooking star,” according to The New York Times and CNN. These meals a breeze to prep, cook and clean up, as we found two years ago (happily, we were ahead of the curve) when we asked KCRW “Good Food” host and James Beard Award-winning chef Evan Kleiman to create three sheet pan recipes for us. We’ve brought back those recipes here – Herbed Spatchcocked Chicken, Salmon with Asparagus, Fennel, Mushrooms and Lemon Butter, and Ratatouille with Feta, Almonds and Breadcrumbs – so you can try them.

PRO TIPS:

  • Make sure your sheet pan has a rim to catch juices and keep the ingredients intact. Don’t use cookie sheets! We used the Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Half Sheet Pan made from heavy-gauge aluminum-coated steel from our Williams Sonoma boutique because it’s a professional-weight pan that handles a variety of needs, has a nonstick finish that releases baked foods easily, cleans up quickly and is dishwasher safe. 
  • Line the pans with parchment paper to make cleanup easier.
  • A higher heat—425 degrees—is recommended. This caramelizes vegetables and reduces the protein cook time

 

RECIPES:

Ratatouille with Feta, Almonds and Breadcrumbs

There are a lot of vegetables here, so use an 18-by-13-inch half sheet pan.

Ingredients

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into half-inch dice
2 light green Mexican zucchini, stem and blossom ends trimmed
1 large red onion, peeled and cut in half vertically
1 large, firm red bell pepper
1 basket of larger red cherry tomatoes, stems removed, and cut in half
¾  cup to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste  

Garnish

5 large basil leaves, torn
3 ounces French or Bulgarian feta cheese
½ cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
Handful of croutons, smashed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

The eggplant will take the longest to cook so cut it into a half-inch dice. Toss it with salt and let it stand in a colander while you prep the remaining ingredients. (Pre-salting the eggplant will help the finished texture.) Then rinse eggplant and pat dry.

Trim the zucchini, and then cut in half vertically, then into crosswise half-moons about ¼ inch thick. Put the zucchini into a bowl large enough to accommodate all the vegetables.

Lay the halved onion cut side down on your cutting surface and cut thin vertical slices.  Add them to the zucchini. Cut the sides off the red bell pepper, then thinly slice it. Add the pepper slices  and tomatoes to the bowl.

Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.

Line the sheet pan with parchment paper. Lay the vegetables on the baking sheet as evenly as you can. Roast the vegetables until they begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and mix and turn them with a metal spatula. Return pan to the oven and continue roasting until the vegetables are tender and have flecks of brown, about 15 minutes more.

Remove vegetables from the pan and toss with the torn basil. Taste again for salt and pepper and add more olive oil (optional). Serve on a platter topped with crumbled feta, almonds and smashed croutons. Serves 4 as a side dish.

 

Salmon with Asparagus, Fennel, Mushrooms and Lemon Butter

Fish cooks quickly in a sheet pan. It’s the most delicate and least forgiving protein for overcooking, so pair it with vegetables that cook equally fast, or start roasting the veggies first and then add the fish after a few minutes. Make a pan butter with lemon zest and dill while the sheet pan is in the oven. 

Ingredients

4 4-ounce salmon fillets, skin-on (wild, seasonal salmon preferred)
1 bunch medium-thick asparagus
1 large fennel bulb
1 large or 2 small shallots, peeled and sliced
1 basket white or cremini mushrooms, cut in halves or quarters if large
Olive oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Pan Butter

1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon minced or microplaned garlic
Lemon wedges (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Salt and pepper the salmon and set aside at room temperature while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Cut or snap off the bottom parts of the asparagus stalks so you’re left only with tender stems. Lay them across one short end of the sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Cut the top and bottom ends off the fennel bulb and remove the tough outer layer. Thinly slice the fennel and put it in a bowl. Add the sliced shallots, olive oil, and salt and pepper, and toss the fennel and shallots to coat. Lay the mixture out on the opposite end of the sheet pan from the asparagus. 

Add the salmon, skin-side down, in the center of the pan. Season the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place around salmon. Place sheet pan in the oven. Remove after 12 minutes; check fish for doneness, depending on thickness. Roll asparagus and fennel around; return to the oven for a few more minutes if needed.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan with the lemon zest, dill, garlic and capers. Cook carefully until you smell the aroma of the herbs and garlic. Set aside. When the fish and vegetables are done, remove sheet pan from oven, place the fish on individual warmed plates with vegetables and drizzle the herb butter over everything. Serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

 

Herbed Spatchcocked Chicken

A smaller bird is recommended. Organic birds tend to be smaller; the meat is tenderer and it cooks faster when flat. Ask the butcher (even at the supermarket) to cut out the backbone. (Take it home and use it for broth.) Or cut it out yourself with kitchen shears. Set the chicken breast down on a cutting board or a towel, and cut all the way down on either side of the backbone. Spatchcocking means the bird has had its backbone removed so it opens like a book. All that surface contact with the pan means faster cooking and more surface available for seasoning.

A classic combination is chicken with potatoes, onions, and carrots with lemon and garlic and either rosemary or oregano. If you use fresh rosemary, chopping is unnecessary. Simply rub the herb all over the chicken, and then add the sprigs to the bowl with the veggies.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds. if available
1 large lemon, ends trimmed, cut in half
3 medium to large yellow potatoes, washed and cut into 4-6 pieces, depending on size
1 large onion, peeled, cut in half and sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 bulb of garlic, root end sliced and cloves separated but unpeeled
2 large or 3 small fresh rosemary sprigs or 1-2 tablespoons fresh Greek oregano
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Diamond Crystal kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

After you remove the backbone turn the chicken so the skin side is up and press down hard on the breast bone to flatten the bird.

Cut the lemon in half vertically. Squeeze the juice from half over the chicken, rubbing the lemon on the flesh and skin side.  Cut both halves of the lemon (included the one squeezed) into slices. If you are using rosemary rub it all over the bird.  If using oregano, rub a teaspoon or so over it. Drizzle a bit of olive oil all over the bird and rub it in, plus salt and pepper.

Put the potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic cloves and lemon slices in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste and add a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Toss to mix.

Lay the seasoned vegetables on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Lay the seasoned bird on top of the vegetables skin side up. You can arrange the veggies around the bird so more get browned. Veggies cooked in chicken juices are extra flavorful.

Bake in the oven until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear when you pierce a thigh, about 40 to 50 minutes. Let the chicken rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve the chicken and vegetables on a platter bathed in the extra juices. Serves 4.