Grab your sheet pan and start baking your meals? Or, is this roasting? We “bake” chicken and cakes, and we “roast” chicken and vegetables, right? So can we combine ingredients in one pan and make a meal? Camilla Saulsbury says, “Yes!” and shows us how in her new cookbook, Sheet Pan Meals.
Camilla presents innovative recipes to prepare fairly common dishes in a non-traditional way. Her first 25 recipes are “extra-simple pantry meals” suitable for novice cooks. The balance range from breakfast to desserts--all prepared in a sheet pan!
Honestly, I feel the title is a bit misleading. A number of the recipes are simply vegetable dishes or dessert/sweet items. Others include a meat and vegetable, or assorted vegetables and are more representative of a meal. Camilla guides us defining what cooks well together and when to add ingredients to the pan for varied time requirements. Many are not “put all ingredients in the pan, cook x minutes - Voilà! You have a meal.” Rather, they are tasty ways to use your baking sheet for more than just cookies.
I tried the “California Fish Tacos with Cucumber and Pineapple” recipe and used the “Tips” and “Variation” section recommendations: tilapia and mango. I enjoyed the suggestion to use diced cucumbers in the tacos and plan to add these to future taco bars. I also made the “Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives and Feta.” Here’s an example of the pan being used solely to cook the potatoes—the balance of the recipe creates the topping for the potatoes. Sounds good, for sure, but not a “One Pan, No Fuss” meal. So, I decided to add the “Oven-Fried Pork Chops with Lemony Broccoli and Cannelloni.” Results: The coating on the chops did not crisp-up after a “generous spread” so I would suggest light-handed spreading of the mayo mixture. Also, the recipe calls for the beans to be added at the end, thus they are not warmed. This seemed odd to me so I omitted the beans. I already had the sweet potato with the sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta topping to complete the meal—total YUM!
Those learning to cook will enjoy this book and find the introductory pages contain useful cooking basics. Plus, the recommendations for shopping and filling your pantry will land you in ready-to-cook status. Once you run through the “25 Extra-Simple Pantry Meals,” you will be all-set to move on through the recipes. Read the “Tips” and don’t be afraid to mix recipes together. This cookbook will also appeal to those who are tired of the same-old-weeknight-meals and want to change-it-up. Using a sheet pan instead of their usual cooking methods will be a fun, new way to turn-out some good tasting dishes. Change is good!
Footnote: TheKitchen.com explains, “Roasting involves cooking foods that already have a solid structure before the cooking process begins (think: meat and vegetables). Baking involves foods that lack structure early on, then become solid and lose their 'empty space' during the cooking (think: cakes and muffins)." Interesting. I actually thought these terms were interchangeable. Another distinguishing factor is oven temperature: "Over 400 degrees = Roasting; Under 375 degrees = Baking."