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Masala chicken sheet pan meal

In the home cook’s ongoing quest for the easiest, speediest, healthiest weekday dinner option, the sheet-pan meal just might reign supreme. With a single pan and less than an hour, you can enjoy a nutritious, all-in-one meal.

If you follow only one tip, let it be this: Give your food room to breathe. Overcrowding your ingredients will cause them to steam rather than roast, and you’ll miss out on the caramelized crust and deep flavor they would otherwise develop.

That’s why I like to use the largest sheet pan that fits in my oven. These recipes all call for a standard half-sheet pan (18 x 13 inches) and make enough for two servings. You can easily double or triple any of them — just use a second pan and cook in batches if necessary so that all the ingredients fit in a single layer.

For easiest cleanup, line your sheet pan before putting it into the oven. There are plenty of liner options, each with its own benefits and drawbacks (see “Line ’Em Up,” below).

These recipes can also be prepped in advance. Just pack up individual servings once they’ve cooled, add some cooked grains and fresh herbs, and bask in the glory of being a make-ahead-meal genius all week long.

Line ‘Em Up

Aluminum foil: This popular item is also a bit controversial. Some studies have shown that when foil is baked, small amounts of aluminum can leach into your food, particularly if the ingredients include acids or spices or if the oven temperature exceeds 450 degrees F. But only about 0.1 percent of orally ingested aluminum gets absorbed — the rest is eliminated by your gastrointestinal tract.

Parchment paper: It’s not just for baking! Most parchment paper is safe up to 450 degrees F and can be reused. But leaving parchment paper in the oven for longer than 30 minutes can cause it to break down, so it’s best to use lower temps and shorter cooking times. Look for an unbleached, compostable brand.

Silicone mat: These mats are a staple for most serious bakers — and they’re infinitely reusable. A silicone mat will add a layer of insulation to the pan, so it’s not ideal for recipes that require the sizzle of a hot surface (like the Steak Fajitas below).

Nothing: If you don’t mind using a little elbow grease to scrub your sheet pan after use, there’s really no need to line it at all. You’ll also get a tasty bit of extra caramelization on the edges of your veggies.|

Masala Chicken

Makes two servings
Prep time: Five minutes, plus 30 minutes marinating time
Cook time: 30 minutes

Masala chicken recipe

INGREDIENTS
Marinade
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tbs. lime juice
1/4 cup full-fat plain Greek or almond-milk yogurt

Masala Chicken
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, chopped into 2-inch chunks
1/2 small cauliflower, cut into large florets (about 2 cups)
1 cup diced sweet potato (1/2-inch cubes)
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sliced red onion

DIRECTIONS
To make the marinade: Mix the seasonings together in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice into the yogurt, then add about two-thirds of the spice mixture (reserve the rest for later) and whisk thoroughly until combined.

Add the chicken chunks, toss to coat, and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to six hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper if desired. Place the chopped cauliflower and sweet potato on the sheet pan and arrange in a single layer. Add the olive oil and remaining spice blend, and mix on the pan until the vegetables are thoroughly coated.

Cook for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and stir the red onions into the cauliflower and sweet potato, then push the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the chicken pieces to the other side. Cook for an additional 15 to 18 minutes, until the chicken is firm to the touch and the vegetables have softened. Serve as desired, with lime wedges, fresh cilantro, cooked grains, or naan.|

Steak Fajitas

Makes two servings
Prep time: Five minutes, plus 30 minutes marinating time
Cook time: 15 minutes

Steak fajitas recipe

INGREDIENTS
Marinade
2 tsp. chili powder
1 ½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs. lime juice
2 tbs. minced fresh cilantro

Fajitas
1/2 lb. flank steak, sliced against the grain into ¼-inch strips
2 large bell peppers, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 small red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS
To make the marinade: In a small bowl, mix the seasonings together. In a medium bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, and half of spice mixture. Add the sliced steak, toss to coat, and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to two hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a half-sheet pan with aluminum foil, if desired. Place the pan on the top rack in the oven to preheat.

Place the peppers and onion in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and remaining spice mixture, and mix until thoroughly coated. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. Add the peppers and onion to the pan and arrange in a single layer.

Cook for five minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, push the vegetables to one side of the pan, and add the steak to the other side. Cook for an additional eight to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are beginning to soften and the steak has browned on the outside. Serve with warmed tortillas, fresh cilantro, avocado, lime wedges, sour cream, or any preferred toppings.|

Citrus Salmon

Makes two servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Citrus salmon recipe

INGREDIENTS
Citrus Salmon
1 cup diced butternut squash (1/2-inch cubes)
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 6-oz. wild-caught salmon fillets

Lemon-Garlic Sauce
1 ½ tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. minced fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a pan with parchment paper, if desired.

Place the squash in a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, paprika, garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix until the squash is thoroughly coated, then arrange on the sheet pan in a single layer. Place on the middle rack in the oven and roast for 10 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, place the asparagus in the same bowl and add remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix until the asparagus is thoroughly coated.

Whisk ingredients for lemon-garlic sauce in a small bowl. Set mixture aside.

Take the sheet pan out of the oven and move squash to one side of the pan. Add the asparagus next to the squash, and add the salmon fillets, skin-side down, to the other side of the pan. Brush the fillets with half the lemon-garlic sauce and cook for an additional 10 to 14 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the salmon is opaque and flakes easily. Drizzle with remaining lemon-garlic sauce. Serve as desired, with fresh parsley or cooked grains.|

Honey-Garlic Tofu

Makes two servings
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 30 minutes marinating time
Cook time: 35 minutes

Honey-garlic tofu recipe

INGREDIENTS
Honey-Garlic Tofu
7 oz. extra-firm tofu, drained
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups snap peas
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp. sesame seeds

Marinade
2 tbs. soy sauce or tamari
1 tbs. honey
1/2 tbs. sesame oil
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. chili paste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

DIRECTIONS
Wrap the tofu in a kitchen towel and place on a cutting board with a weighty object on top. Let stand 10 minutes to press out excess moisture. Unwrap and cut into ½-inch cubes.

In a medium bowl, whisk marinade ingredients. Add the tofu cubes and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to four hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper, if desired. Add the tofu cubes to the pan in a single layer and place on the middle rack in the oven to bake for 10 minutes.

While the tofu is baking, place the red peppers in a medium bowl. Add ½ teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix until coated. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, push tofu to one side, and add the peppers to the other side. Cook for 15 minutes.

While the tofu and peppers are baking, place the snap peas in a medium bowl. Add ½ teaspoon sesame oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and mix until coated. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and push peppers and tofu to one side of the pan. Add snap peas to the other side. Bake an additional 10 minutes, until the tofu is browned and the vegetables are beginning to soften. Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve as desired, with optional cooked grains.

Spicy Ginger Shrimp

Makes two servings
Prep time: Five minutes, plus 30 minutes marinating time
Cook time: 15 to 20 minutes

Spicy ginger shrimp recipe

INGREDIENTS
Marinade
3 tbs. hoisin sauce
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 tbs. rice vinegar
1 ½ tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red-pepper flakes (optional)

Spicy Ginger Shrimp
1/2 lb. large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (thawed if frozen)
2 cups green beans, trimmed
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
2 green onions, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS
In a small bowl, whisk marinade ingredients. Pour two-thirds of the marinade into an airtight container, reserving 2 tablespoons for later. Add shrimp to marinade and toss to coat. Marinate shrimp for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to two hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Arrange green beans and bell pepper on sheet pan in a single layer. Add remaining 2 tablespoons marinade plus ¼ teaspoon salt, and mix on sheet pan until thoroughly coated.

Place sheet pan in oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir, then add shrimp. Return to the oven and cook until vegetables have softened and shrimp is pink and opaque, about five to seven minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion, and serve with optional cooked grains.

This originally appeared as “Simple Sheet-Pan Meals” in the October 2019 print issue of Experience Life.

Photography by: Andrea D'Agosto; Prop Styling: Alicia Buszczak; Food Stylist: Paul Jackman

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