Recently The New York Times devoted an entire special section to the humble sheet pan, calling it the “unsexiest piece of kitchen equipment to ever hit home-cooking culture.” Montreal TV host and food writer Ricardo Larrivée chuckles at the description but is quick to leap to its defence. “Its utility is its selling point, not its looks,” he says. “For years I’d primarily used it for baking, reheating things and protecting the oven from spills. However, I’ve discovered it is one of the most accessible, uncomplicated and versatile pieces of kitchen equipment we have. It’s low profile, I think, is at the root of its charm.”
Larrivée, whose latest cookbook, his 12th, Sheet Pan Everything comes out this week, fell in love with the sheet pan after his wife, who is also his business partner, suggested he explore its multiple facets. He and his team (this was before COVID-19) spent hours in the test kitchen, mixing and matching different ingredients, layering different textures, to create healthy, affordable meals that people would be excited to make – and of course, love to eat.
“It was very important to show people – in the simplest way possible – that it is possible to make an entire balanced meal with just one tool. I didn’t want people to have to boil this, or grill that on the side. We wanted to create recipes where everything, from A to Z, went on a single pan so that when you are done cooking you have a sheet pan to wash, and perhaps a bowl. But that’s it.”
Sheet Pan Everything contains recipes for every meal of the day. There’s breakfast (blueberry pancakes), brunch (asparagus quiche), salads (a warm Greek chicken), dinner (paella) and even desert (strawberry shortcake).
There were, however, a few ingredients the sheet pan, and Larrivée, could not bend to their will. “Most pastas, rice and some grains,” he says. “Trust me, they just don’t work.”
Larrivée says the sheet pan’s simplicity is what has made it a culinary star. “Whenever I write a cookbook I try to keep in mind that most people are not die-hard foodies. They like to eat well, but they don’t want complicated recipes that get them stressed.
“Sheet-pan cooking is no-fuss, no-muss,” he says. “When you place a sheet pan in the centre of the table, everyone instantly relaxes, gathers around, and talks about their days. The best part about the sheet pan is that it combines what we love to celebrate in the kitchen: simplicity and togetherness.”
Warm Greek Chicken Salad
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1½ lb boneless chicken breasts (about 3 breasts)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut into rounds
- 1 red onion, thinly siced
- 7 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley
- 4 Lebanese cucumber cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 2 romaine lettuce hearts, torn
For the dressing, in a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
With the rack in the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
On a non-stick sheet pan, toss the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Bake for 15 minutes. Set the remaining dressing aside.
Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Arrange the tomatoes, olives and onion (see note) around the chicken. Bake for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Let cool for 5 minutes
On a work surface, thinly slice the chicken and return to the sheet pan. Adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley.
Add the cucumbers and lettuce to the bowl of dressing. Mix well.
Serve the salad in bowls. Top with the chicken mixture.
Note: By adding the onion at this stage, it loses its strong raw onion taste while staying crisp. If desired, you can cook the onion longer by adding it at the same time as the chicken.
Excerpted from Sheet Pan Everything by Ricardo Larrivée. Copyright © 2021 Ricardo Media. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved
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