Sheet-Pan Recipes for When You’re Down

Sometimes you need meals that require minimum effort.

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By Tanya Sichynsky

I keep a running list of topics I want to cover in this newsletter, and I had a couple in mind for this week. Breakfasts that get me out of bed in the morning! Vibrant recipes for the spring produce creeping into farmers’ markets!

But the truth is I’ve been sad — mozzarella-sticks-for-lunch, cereal-for-dinner sad. You might recognize it, you might even be experiencing it right now. One can only eat that way for so long, though. Either your depleted supply of frozen foods or the siren song of fiber will snap you out of the funk. Still, you will need meals that require the absolute minimum of you.

A sheet-pan recipe is the obvious place to start because it is so accessible. You’d be pressed to find a home kitchen without a sheet pan. They’re a key tool in so many easy, under-40-minute recipes that call for little more than piling a few ingredients together and shoving them into the oven.

With just five ingredients* and one sheet pan, you can prepare Ali Slagle’s roasted sweet potatoes and spinach with feta, an unexpected yet delightful amalgam of wholesome ingredients. Pickled jalapeño brine is used as a sort of spiced vinegar for the vegetables, which is the kind of genius pantry hack you appreciate when you’re down.

With just five ingredients and two sheet pans (OK, and a small cup), you can make Hetty McKinnon’s vegan tofu and brussels sprouts with hoisin-tahini sauce. Using two sheet pans ensures that the tofu and brussels sprouts cook evenly, but if you’re cooking for only one or two people, halve the recipe and use one sheet pan. It’s a filling recipe, and you’ll likely still have leftovers.

With just eight ingredients and two sheet pans, you can throw together Susan Spungen’s springy gnocchi with asparagus, leeks and peas. It’s a forgiving recipe: Use mini pierogi or big butter beans instead of gnocchi, or swap in green beans, broccolini or scallions for any of the vegetables. Whatever you have will be good enough.

Not only can you cook an entire meal using a sheet pan, but you can eat off it, too. Light a taper candle in the center of the table, maybe break out a cloth napkin to lift your spirits, but the effort can stop there. You’re in the comfort of your home, after all, and life is hard enough.

*I’m not counting salt and pepper or olive oil when totaling up ingredients, and you shouldn’t either.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Spinach With Feta

View this recipe.

Sheet-Pan Tofu and Brussels Sprouts With Hoisin-Tahini Sauce

View this recipe.

Sheet-Pan Gnocchi With Asparagus, Leeks and Peas

View this recipe.

One More Thing!

Last week, I asked you all to share the vegetables you love to use in desserts. You all are as gaga for rhubarb as I am! Gillian loves to make a rhubarb meringue pie, and Jessica is a fan of Deborah Madison’s recipe for stewed rhubarb, which she enjoys over yogurt or on cake (and she’s eyeing the roasted rhubarb scones in Claudia Fleming’s latest cookbook, “Delectable”).

Ruth’s been making a strawberry and rhubarb crumble (with a hint of allspice!) from a long-misplaced copy of Bon Appétit from the 1980s. And Silje makes a modern version of her mother’s Norwegian cold rhubarb soup, to enjoy with large scoops of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

But wait, there’s more! Nadia loves to bake with parsnips, and swears by Dorie Greenspan’s triple-layer parsnip and cranberry cake. Leslie makes a sort-of-mousse using whipped baked sweet potato, vanilla, chocolate chips, vegan sour cream and soy powder, and Bev makes a “tried, loved and shared” recipe for vegan sweet potato-chocolate chip cookies.

Thank you all for sharing, and see you next week.

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