1. Vegetable Ratatouille
Different vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts may have different cooking times, but that can be used to your advantage when cooking on a sheet pan. “The way I like to eat is to experience more than one texture,” says Johnny Schulze, chef and owner of Zydeco Bistro Food Truck and Bourbon Street Barrel Room. “Some of these vegetables will be more cooked than others, so you’ll end up with some soft, some crunchy. At the end of the day all the flavors melt together. The herbs help bring out complementary flavors.”
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the following vegetables into equal-sized pieces and set aside in a mixing bowl: 2 carrots, 1 leek, 1 Bermuda onion, 2 parsnips, 2 cups Brussels sprouts, 1 zucchini and 1 cup mushrooms. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a baking mat. Mix all vegetables together and add 2 cloves crushed and minced garlic and 1 teaspoon Cajun/Creole seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/4 cup clarified butter or 1/4 cup vegetable oil and mix again. Cook vegetables on lined sheet pan until cooked and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and return to mixing bowl. Add 1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped and 1 sprig fresh parsley, chopped. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.
2. Salmon with Tomatoes and ZucchinI
If you do veggies such as tomatoes and zucchini and fish together, don’t layer them on top of each other on the sheet pan, says Jill Vedaa, chef and co-owner of Salt. “I like having the vegetables as their own separate flavor,” she says. “If the salmon is cooked on top, the veggies will have a mushy salmon flavor.” For crispier fish, use the oil from the veggies to grease the pan and don’t line it. If you do line the pan, use parchment paper, as tomatoes can take on a tinny taste when cooked on aluminum foil.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, toss 6 beefsteak tomatoes (cut into quarters) and 2 zucchini (sliced into 1-inch coins) in 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a sheet pan. Push vegetables to one side (you want to spread the oil on the whole pan) and place 4 pieces of salmon (about 7-ounces each), skin-side down or with skin removed on the other side. Cook for 20-25 minutes, depending on how well you like your salmon done.
3. Butternut Squash Risotto
Believe it or not, you can do risotto in a sheet pan — saving you the time spent stirring and adding liquid. “Risotto works in a sheet pan because of the even heating all the way around, and because the rice cooks nice and slowly,” says Matthew Ullom, chef and owner of Sweet Melissa and Cafe Melissa. “This is an at-home take on our pulled chicken risotto, which is one of our most popular dishes.”
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place 4 tablespoons butter, 6 cloves garlic, finely minced and 1 small white onion, finely diced on half sheet tray and place in oven. Once butter is melted and garlic starts to become aromatic, stir in 1 3/4 cups Arborio rice to coat. Pull meat off 2 pre-cooked fried chicken breasts (or rotisserie), shred and layer over rice. Spread 1/4 cup cooked chopped bacon, 2 tablespoons dried cranberries, 2 cups small-diced butternut squash, 1 green apple (small dice), and 4 leaves basil, finely chopped over Arborio and return to the oven. Slowly pour 6 cups chicken stock onto the sheet tray while in the oven. Bake 35 minutes until rice is tender, stirring once midway through. Remove from oven and use spatula to fold in 1 cup Parmesan cheese. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Make the most of your sheet pan with these pro tips.
Go for foil. If you choose to line your pan, opt for foil over parchment paper, says Matt Mytro, chef and partner at Flour. “Parchment paper can act as a barrier and remove a little temperature, but not much,” he says.
Heat things up. To sear meat or veggies, preheat the tray alone in the oven so it gets super-hot. Use room-temperature broccoli, rather than florets from the freezer, to get all the char you’re looking for. Flip the meat, but you can just shake the pan with veggies.
Take some space. Avoid overcrowding the pan, says Mytro. “Lots of people do that. There should be space between to allow air to flow.”
Don’t get overwhelmed by all the sheet pan options out there. We’ve narrowed down the selections for each budget.
Nordic Ware Naturals Baker’s Half Sheet, $10.99
Aluminum is known for its even-heating properties, and Nordic Ware is the granddaddy of them all. This straightforward, simple pan is known for its durability. Although the manufacturer recommends hand-wash only, generations of cooks have opted for the dishwasher and done just fine. target.com
USA Pan Half Sheet Pan, $20
Aluminized steel combines the durability of aluminum with the strength of steel. This pan also has steel wire-enforced sides, so it’s a real workhorse. It’s nonstick, and the surface is lightly corrugated, which allows for increased air flow around the foods. If you’re not a fan of the browned bottom of many pan-baked foods, this might be the pan for you. surlatable.com
Calphalon Signature Ceramic Nonstick Half Sheet Pan, $34.95
Ceramic-coated carbon steel has a nonstick, stain-resistant finish. That means you don’t need sprays or oils, but it also means you won’t get that baked-on seasoning that happens long term to many sheet pans. Whether you see that as a positive or a negative answers whether this style is right for you. williams-sonoma.com