Off to the beach and our project this week has been to find some new dinner recipes to cook for 7 adults and 2 kids. As much as we like to dine out, the restaurants are really busy this year, and it’s hard on little kids to have a long wait for dinner. So cooking in, and trying to make it as easy as possible!

The requirements are:

  • Fancy enough for adults to enjoy (must go well with wine!), basic enough in flavors for the little kids
  • Minimal prep time, preferably some prep in the morning, and a short cooking time after the beach
  • Easy to find ingredients and basic cooking pans and utensils (who knows what the local stores and the rental house have)
  • Minimal, easy and quick clean up

We subscribe to the Charm City Cook newsletter and always find great tips and news from Amy Langrehr. So when Amy suggested a Salmon Sheet Pan Dinner that she found on The Real Food Dietitians, the light came on. Sheet pan dinners are a way to fix balanced, proportioned dinners with minimal prep. A little trimming, chopping, tossing … and you’re done! Even better? There is virtually zero clean-up. (Especially if you line the pan with parchment paper… #ProTip).

Salmon Sheet Pan Dinner from The Real Food Dietitians

Here are some other great combinations we found on Ambitious Kitchen, Damn Delicious, The Pioneer Woman, The Wanderlust Kitchen, The Food Network, and Taste of Home:

Tips for Crafting Your Own Sheet Pan Dinner Combination…

A sheet pan dinner is basically a one-pot meal, flipped onto a 13 x 18” rimmed baking pan and roasted in the oven. If you are serving meat, choose fish, chicken, beef or pork, and build the rest of your menu around the meat choice.

Look up the desired internal temperature and cooking time for your meat and based on that, add vegetables to pan. Sheet pan cooking is great for CSA subscribers – a little of this and a little of that all roasted together with great seasoning or marinade.

Cut vegetables in consistently sized pieces and prepare more than you think you need. The pan will be roasted at a high temperature and the veggies will shrink.

Different vegetables need different amounts of time to roast, so use the chart below to know when to add the vegetables (before or after you add meat) to the pan.

Vegetables, cut 1/2″ thickRoasting Time @ 400⁰
Potatoes, white or red30 minutes
Potatoes, sweet30 – 40 minutes
Asparagus, whole, slender8-10 minutes
Asparagus, whole, thick10-15 minutes
Beets30-40 minutes
Broccoli, cut in pieces10-15 minutes
Broccolini10-15 minutes
Brussels Sprouts, halved25-30 minutes
Cauliflower, cut in pieces15-20 minutes
Carrot, baby, chunk or lengths30-45 minutes
Cherry Tomato, roasted25 minutes
Cherry Tomato, caramelized50 minutes
Eggplant25-45 minutes
Peppers, all varieties30-45 minutes
Squash, Butternut25-40 minutes
Squash, Summer40-55 minutes
Squash, Winter25-40 minutes
Squash, Zucchini40-55 minutes

Then there is just one more step! Toss everything in a little olive oil, or other oil of your choice (coconut, peanut, grapeseed or canola). Add salt, pepper and your favorite spice mixture. According to Melissa Clark, in the NYT Sheet Pan Cooking Guide, good choices for herbs are “thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, bay leaves, tarragon and sage. Herbs that don’t hold up well to high-heat cooking are soft herbs like basil, chives, parsley, cilantro and mint.” Lemon juice, lime juice or a splash of vinegar adds zingy flavor, and after juicing the lemons or limes, roast the peels on the pan to add more flavor. Just remember that all the flavors blend together in sheet pan roasting, so you want everything to be compatible.

Here’s a pro-tip: parchment paper (good for up to 425⁰ oven temperature) is highly recommended for easy clean up. It’s usually in the baking supplies section of the grocery store, not with the aluminum foil.

If you need to buy a rimmed sheet pan to try these recipes, try this versatile commercial grade set of 2 pans – Nordic Ware Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet (affiliate link).

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