Chefs call it a half-sheet and think it’s used for baking.

That’s because chefs don’t think the same way as home cooks. They’re not as resourceful.

What they call a half-sheet, we call a rimmed baking sheet. What they think is best used for, say, cookies, we picture using to cook a whole meal. It’s simple, it’s convenient, and the best part is that you only have one pan to wash.

Sheet pan meals are up and coming; they’re the new big thing. For those in the know, they’re already a trend. Entire cookbooks are devoted to the trend, along with the inevitable blogs.

Some of the recipes you find in these cookbooks and blogs are, honestly, a little less than thrilling. You can find pizza after pizza after pizza. But what is so interesting about baking a pizza on a rimmed baking sheet? You may as well fill the pages with recipes for cookies.

Thrilling meals: For my baking-sheet meals, I wanted recipes that were thrilling. Recipes that would make you look at your sheet pan in a whole new way. Recipes that exemplify a method of cooking rather than merely embrace a fleeting fad.

Take, for instance, the mixed vegetable shakshuka, a Middle-Eastern specialty that is, if anything, even more popular currently than sheet-pan meals. Though it is often eaten for breakfast, it’s wonderful any time of the day.

Typically cooked in a skillet on top of a stove, shakshuka is a dish of tomatoes and other vegetables – in this case, zucchini, onions and red bell pepper — that is cooked into a thick sauce. The sauce is then used to poach eggs, and it is all eaten together.

The dish is amazing, a whirling melange of perfectly balanced flavors topped off with a beautiful, runny-yolk egg. And baking it in a sheet pan in the oven makes it much easier to create and serve.

Once I made (and gobbled up) my shakshuka, I turned my attention to something a little meatier. I made steak.

That’s right, I broiled a steak in a sheet pan, and I’m glad.

Maybe it was the blue-cheese butter with a little fresh thyme that I used to finish the steak when it was done. Maybe it’s the inherent beefiness of a rib eye. Maybe it is the colorful combination of green beans and grape tomatoes that I cooked on the same sheet.

No, I’m pretty sure it was the blue-cheese butter, with a little fresh thyme. You could put that stuff on a cinder block and it would taste great. Imagine how good it is on steak.

Next up was a pan full of pork chops with roasted apples and Brussels sprouts. Apples go with pork chops like blue cheese and butter go with steaks, and a little fresh thyme. But actually, I think it is the Brussels sprouts that make this dish so excellent.

Pork chops are a little sweet for a meat, of course, and apples are a little sweeter. When you add brown sugar and cinnamon to the mix, that only intensifies the effect.

So what you need is a counterbalance. A healthy splash of apple cider vinegar helps, but it is the Brussels sprouts, with their bitter, cabbage-like taste, that makes this dish such a winner. Caramelized with a slight char from broiling, these veggies are completely addictive.

For my last dish, I made strudel. Not the typical sweet strudel, because these are sheet-pan meals. I made a strudel for dinner.

Specifically, I made a strudel with leftover chicken and wild rice, plus a hint of Swiss cheese. When I presented it to our taste testers, it was devoured almost immediately.

The easy-to-make filling is delicious by itself, but that’s not what makes it a strudel. The strudel part comes from wrapping the filling in several layers of rich and delicately crispy phyllo dough.

If you buy it frozen instead of making it yourself, phyllo is easier to work with than some people fear. Just use one sheet at a time, and keep the other sheets covered with a damp paper towel. Brush each sheet with melted butter, using the softest pastry brush you have. That should keep the sheets from tearing.

But honestly, if you present someone with a Chicken and Wild Rice Strudel, and a couple of the sheets are torn, nobody is going to care.

Vegetable Shakshuka

Yield: 6 servings

2 cups chopped zucchini, from 2 medium zucchini

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 large garlic cloves)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 (28-ounce) can or 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3/4 teaspoon table salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

6 large eggs

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the zucchini, onion, bell pepper and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil, and toss to coat. Bake until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Combine the tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika, cumin, red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper in a large microwave-safe bowl; stir to combine. Microwave at high heat until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the tomato mixture over the roasted vegetables; stir to combine. Return to the oven and roast until the mixture thickens and the tomato liquid is somewhat evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes.

Use the back of a spoon to make 6 evenly spaced wells in the vegetable mixture. Break 1 egg into each well; sprinkle the eggs with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Return to the oven and bake until the eggs reach the desired degree of doneness, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.

Per serving: 184 calories; 12 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 186 mg cholesterol; 9 g protein; 12 g carbohydrate; 7 g sugar; 4g fiber; 529 mg sodium; 96 mg calcium

Recipe from “One Sheet Eats” by Oxmoor House

Rib Eyes With Veggies And Blue Cheese Butter

Yield: 4 servings

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

2 cups multi-colored grape tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

11/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

2 (12- to 16-ounce) boneless rib-eye steaks, New York strip steaks, hanger steaks or flank steaks

3 tablespoons butter, softened

11/2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Preheat broiler, with the oven rack 6 to 8 inches from the heat.

Place the green beans and tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper; toss well.

Broil 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper on the steaks. Arrange the steaks on the baking sheet in a single layer, moving aside the green beans and tomatoes to make room.

Return the baking sheet to the oven; broil the steaks until the desired degree of doneness, 2 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the oven; let the steaks rest 5 minutes.

Combine the butter, blue cheese and thyme in a small bowl; stir well. Serve the butter mixture over the steaks.

Per serving: 572 calories; 36 g fat; 15 g saturated fat; 173 mg cholesterol; 51 g protein; 11 g carbohydrate; 6 g sugar; 4 g fiber; 865 mg sodium; 104 mg calcium

Adapted from “One Sheet Eats,” by Oxmoor House

Pork Chops With Roasted Apples and Brussels Sprouts

Yield: 4 servings

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

4 (1-inch thick) bone-in center-cut pork chops

3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 Gala apple, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with cooking spray.

Stir together the paprika, chili powder, garlic salt, red pepper, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of the rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper in a small bowl. Rub each pork chop with 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil; rub both sides of each pork chop with the brown sugar mixture.

Whisk together the vinegar and the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil until blended. Place the apples, Brussels sprouts and 1/4 cup of the vinegar mixture in a large bowl; toss to coat.

Place the pork chops in the center of the prepared baking sheet; place the apple mixture around the chops.

Bake for 12 minutes; turn the chops over and bake until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers 140 degrees, 10 to 14 more minutes. Transfer the pork chops to a serving platter, and cover with foil to keep warm. Stir the apple mixture on the baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

Turn the oven to broil, and broil the apple mixture 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and lightly charred. Transfer the apple mixture to a medium bowl. Toss together the apple mixture and the remaining vinegar mixture. Season with the kosher salt, and serve with the pork chops.

Per serving: 411 calories; 23 g fat; 5 g saturated fat; 75 mg cholesterol; 27 g protein; 26 g carbohydrate; 16 g sugar; 6 g fiber; 861 mg sodium; 91 mg calcium

Recipe from “One Sheet Eats,” by Oxmoor House

Chicken and Wild Rice Strudel

Yield: 6 servings

1 (8.8-ounce) package ready-to-serve long grain and wild rice or 2 cups cooked long grain and wild rice

11/2 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken

1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, see note

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

12 sheets phyllo dough (14-by-9-inches), divided

6 tablespoons butter, melted

Note: If you do not have Italian seasoning, use a pinch each of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, cilantro, thyme and savory.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together rice, chicken, cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a work surface (keeping the other sheets covered with a damp paper towel); brush lightly with melted butter. Layer with five additional sheets, brushing each layer with butter.

Spoon half of the rice mixture all over the top layer, spreading it to within 1 inch of the ends. Fold the uncovered ends of the short sides over on top of the filling. Roll tightly, beginning with a long side. Place on the prepared baking sheet, seam-side down. Brush with additional butter.

Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and heated through.

Per serving: 261 calories; 16 g fat; 9 g saturated fat; 72 mg cholesterol; 14 g protein; 16 g carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 566 mg sodium; 84 mg calcium

Adapted from Taste of Home; recipe by Joanna Johnson.


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