Sheet-pan supper updates Sunday roast, leftovers

The Whole Dish podcast: Choose seasonal vegetables for sheet-pan suppers

Relevant season in and season out is the last in this blog’s list of tips for making vegetables the star of mealtimes — even in winter.

Cooking enough meat and vegetables, as well as beans and grains, to repurpose later in the week is simply a smart strategy. But I find it particularly appealing in winter, when considerable comfort can be derived from food that’s already in the bag, so to speak. I also find kitchen motivation lacking in winter, when my own garden is mostly barren earth and local farmers markets have yet to return with warmer days.

The trick, of course, is starting with a simple enough preparation that herbs, spices and other seasonings don’t deter use in another meal, hopefully one with completely different tastes, textures and visual appeal. Because there’s nothing worse during the monotony of winter than eating the exact same soup or stew or casserole day in and day out until it’s gone.

Enter the sheet-pan supper, a stellar, mostly hands-off approach to getting dinner on the table with minimal fuss and maximum flavor. It’s an updated take on the old Sunday roast that renders juices onto a bed of potatoes, carrots, maybe cabbage, for richer flavor than steaming, sautéing or roasting on the side.

Using a sheet pan, instead of the traditional roasting pan, not only speeds up cooking. The method caramelizes both meat and vegetables, along with any other accoutrements, intensifying flavors and resulting in more toothsome textures.

For my “Kitchen Wisdom” class, I put a Latin spin on chicken and winter squash with a spice blend of cumin, chili powder, cinnamon and cocoa powder, mixed with the salt. Students sprinkled the mixture onto bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and wedges of acorn and butternut squash, arranged on sheet pans.

The meat and veggies needed only about 30 minutes in a 375-degree oven. When it was done, we tossed the squash with a lime vinaigrette and garnished it with chopped, fresh cilantro. To reinforce the concept that they could use leftovers in another meal, students took home a bonus recipe for quinoa salad printed four winters back in A la Carte. The salad recipe’s dressing is the same one served in that class.

A Mediterranean flavor profile suggests tossing the leftovers from this chicken dish with chickpeas and couscous, maybe some dried figs. Add a couple of cut-up fennel bulbs to the initial preparation for a complete meal.

Tribune News Service photo

Sheet-Pan Supper

2 lemons

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for pan

1 cup pitted olives, spicy or not

8 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 2 sprigs fresh thyme

6 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), bone-in, skin-on

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Slice points off the lemons. Cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Quarter each slice. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the olives, garlic cloves and thyme.

Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Toss the chicken with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus the salt and pepper. Spread out chicken, skin-side down, onto pan.

Slide pan into a 425-degree oven and let roast, for 25 minutes. Scatter on lemon-olives mixture. Continue roasting until chicken skin is crispy-brown and flesh is tender and registers 165 F on an instant-read thermometer, for about 20 minutes more.

Makes 3 servings.

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