For fluffiest quinoa, creamiest risotto: cook on a sheet pan

A one-dish dinner, no high-tech gadgets required (WTOP's Rachel Nania)

WASHINGTON There’s no shortage of kitchen gadgets that help get dinner on the table with minimal cleanup you have the slow cooker, the pressure cooker, the Instant Pot.

But food writer Raquel Pelzel says forget the high-tech toys. For a delicious one-dish dinner, all you need is a basic sheet pan.

In her new cookbook, “Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless,” Pelzel makes everything from quiche, to no-boil mac and cheese, to chili in a sheet pan.

“It’s like a $20 investment and you can do everything from breakfast to dessert,” she said.

Pelzel began experimenting with the versatility of the sheet pan during her career at Cook’s Illustrated magazine. That’s when she discovered the basic metal pan was the key to making the fluffiest quinoa and the creamiest risotto.

“What’s really cool about it is that you don’t have the direct heat from the stove, so it’s easier because you’re not in danger of scorching or overcooking. You know how annoying it is when you overcook rice and it all sticks to your pot and then you have to soak it and all that? That doesn’t really happen in a sheet pan. It’s very, very forgiving,” Pelzel said.

Even oatmeal does better in the oven than it does on the stove. Simply soak steel cut oats overnight and bake them in the morning.

“It’s healthy and delicious and something you can do the night before,” said Pelzel, who likes to stir in bananas, dates and tahini.

Before you dig out your pan and plan a week’s worth of meals, Pelzel has a few tips. For starters, invest in a sheet pan with a three-quarter- to 1-inch rim. This will enable you to make everything from dips, to stews, to pasta in the pan.

Also, opt for a sheet pan with a smooth surface. Pelzel says those with ridges and bumps make for a tougher cleanup. And while a nonstick pan may sound enticing, Pelzel says stick with the traditional. Nonstick coatings make it difficult for food to caramelize.

For restaurant-worthy roasted vegetables, preheat the pan with the oven.

“You toss your vegetables with oil and when you turn them on to the sheet pan, they sizzle, just like they would if you used a skillet. So immediately, the vegetables are starting to cook and brown and caramelize, and you’re cooking the vegetables that much faster and you’re building flavor right off the bat. It also shaves time off your cook time,” Pelzel said.

And to achieve an extra crispy crust on a slab pie or cookie bar, cook on a lower rack where the heat is more intense.  

Forget wiping down grease splatters and scrubbing pots. When dinner is done, all you need to do is wash one pan.

“One and done — that’s it,” Pelzel said.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up