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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, April 19, 2024

Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic: Sheet-pan fan

A good sheet pan can make all the difference in making great meals.

Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic

Graphic by Rachel Wong

As a senior, I’ve seen the wide range of what Tufts Dining is capable of and, more specifically, what the Tufts administration is willing to provide students with for their meal swipes (and how that has decreased over the years). But you know what doesn’t decrease over the years? The effort-to-yield ratio of a sheet pan meal.

The humble sheet-pan is a continual source of inspiration. When I cook for my Wisconsin family members, sheet-pans are necessary to appropriately scale a meal without increasing time spent actively cooking. A good oven can fit two sheet-pans. A great oven can fit four. After 10 minutes of prep and 20-30 minutes of roasting, you have meals that can last for days.

My favorite approach is to “Greens-and-Grains-ify” my sheet-pan meals. I store the roasted component in a Tupperware, prep a grain (often white rice or farro) and add a fresh vegetable (usually arugula and cucumber) for a minimal-effort lunch. I oftentimes zhuzh up my bowls by adding a different sauce day-of (such as pesto, chili oil, red pepper pesto or zhoug sauce). I have a whole Notes folder dedicated to sheet-pan meals. Behold some of my favorites:

1. Sheet-Pan Chile Crisp Salmon and Asparagus

This is one of my favorite New York Times Cooking recipes of all time. Yasmin Fahr’s creation is truly a 20-minute recipe and adaptable to any season. I make this recipe every other week. I opt for the salmon fillets at either Trader Joe’s or Aldi. I usually purchase several fillets at a time and freeze them. This step also helps kill (very natural) parasites. Try to find skinless salmon, but if you can’t, removing the skin yourself is a simple step. I find that I have an easier time with Trader Joe’s salmon. Before roasting, I cut the asparagus into thirds for easier bites. The asparagus and salmon roast at the same rate for the perfect addition to a lunch bowl. I usually add arugula, cucumber, faro and feta for a highly satisfying meal.

Most difficult step: removing salmon skin and cubing the filet.

2. Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Sage

The first original recipe of this column, this recipe includes everything I love in a sheet-pan meal. Add one to two pounds of halved (or quartered) brussels sprouts to the pan with as much sage as your heart desires. Cut one jalapeño into rings (remove the seeds, depending on preference) and toss into the pan. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400°F for 20 minutes or browned to your liking. The result is a pan of crispy sage and outer leaves of brussels sprouts with a mild spice in every bite. Fill a second pan with cubed tofu tossed with olive oil and Trader Joe’s Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend (the mushroom one). Serve with a salad green and a hearty grain.

Most difficult step: not burning your fingers as you pick off the crispy, scraggly edges of brussels sprouts.