200 Best Sheet Pan Meals
By Camilla V. Saulsbury
Suzy Chase: Welcome to the Cookery by the Book Podcast, with me, Suzy Chase.
Camilla S.: I'm Camilla Saulsbury and my latest cookbook is 200 Best Sheet Pan Meals.
Suzy Chase: Move over, slow cooker. Cooking an entire meal on a single baking sheet is a great alternative. I love the concept of this book. Can you explain it?
Camilla S.: Well, sheet pan is a lot like one pot cooking in that you put everything on one single sheet pan, but instead of simmering all day, you roast it. And everything comes out at the same time and you have dinner and only one sheet pan to clean up.
Suzy Chase: First off, how do we choose the best sheet pan for everyday use?
Camilla S.: Well, the best sheet pan that you want is one that's a standard sheet pan, and there actually is a standard sheet pan that it's 18 by 13 inches, and that's also sometimes called a half sheet pan, because they're half the size of a standard, commercial-size sheet pan. And so you want one with edges that have about a one inch, high rolled edge, it's also known as a lip. It's actually fairly standard in half-sheet pans. And then you want one that doesn't have any non-stick coating on it or insulation. You don't want one that has an air insulation pocket at the bottom.
Suzy Chase: What's the difference between a sheet pan and a jelly roll pan?
Camilla S.: I know, this one can be a little bit tricky, because jelly roll pans look a lot like sheet pans, so you may already have one in your pantry already. They have a one inch lip, just like sheet pans, but they tend to be a little bit smaller. And that'll work fine for some of the recipes, but many of the recipes in my book require you to have that full size so that everything will fit, and especially for some of the bake recipes, the baking recipes that I have, so for desserts or breakfast. And the other thing is that they can be a little bit thinner than sheet pans, so for some of the high temperatures that these recipes require, which is usually at 400 or higher, they can warp. You definitely don't want that.
Suzy Chase: Now, most of the recipes in your book can be made with minimal fresh ingredients, but for those extra-busy days, what should we have ready to go in our sheet pan pantry?
Camilla S.: There's actually some really great items that you can keep on hand to pull together dinner in just a few minutes, and one of my favorites is frozen fruits and vegetables, which may sound counter-intuitive for some people when they're thinking about fresh meals, but actually keeping some frozen fruits and vegetables is a great way to pull together meals quickly. And it's not all vegetables in particular, but there are some that are better than others, like broccoli florets or chopped greens, like spinach and Swiss chard and mustard greens.
One of my favorites, too, is pearl onions. They taste wonderful once they're roasted and you can just toss them straight onto the sheet pan.
Suzy Chase: You are a force to be reckoned with in the food competition world. Tell us about some of the best contests you've ever won.
Camilla S.: I won the National Chicken Cook Off, which was back in 2005 and that was $100,000. They had a contestant from every state, and I represented Indiana, where I was in graduate school at the time. And so, yeah, that was the biggest one I've ever won. But then, the following year, I won the Build a Better Burger Contest, and that is out here in California. I won $50,000.
One of the biggest ones was the Ultimate Recipe Showdown, and it was for the cookie competition. I won $25,000 for that one.
Suzy Chase: How'd you win the burger one?
Camilla S.: They really want you to be, just unleash your creativity. And for that one, I did what I call the Born in Berkeley burgers, 'cause I was born in Berkeley. What I did is really highlight all sorts of northern California flavors that I love, like local cheeses, sun dried tomatoes actually go into the burger, and I did grilled fennel on the bottom of the burger. All sorts ... Oh, and I think my favorite part was I did instead of sliced tomatoes, I did sliced figs on top of it. Not too sweet flavor, but sort of an unctuousness that tomatoes have. It was a really fun burger.
Suzy Chase: You also wear many hats. Freelance food writer. Recipe developer. Cooking instructor. Cookbook author. And you're a fitness trainer. What are some healthy sheet pan meal options?
Camilla S.: What's really great about the sheet pan meals in general is you only have to use a small amount of fat overall, so overall, most of the recipes are very light and healthy. But one of my favorites, since we were just talking about California, is California fish tacos, which are ridiculously easy. You just use skinless whitefish filets, you can use cod or other white fish, a little bit of seasoning on them. Chipotle chile power or you could use cumin, put that right onto your sheet pan and then some pineapple on there as well, so it gets roasted and caramelized. Put that onto tortillas with diced cucumber and cilantro and lime wedges. It's just, it's wonderful.
Suzy Chase: Moving on to sheet sweets. Tell us about your dessert section.
Camilla S.: This might be something that people are less familiar with, that you can make all sorts of wonderful desserts on your sheet pan. And they're really, really simple and you can make enough for a crowd or enough to last until later. The ones I have in here are things like what I call Easy as Pie Baked Apples. Rather than doing individual baked apples, you chop up the apples and toss them with a little bit of brown sugar and cinnamon and butter Bible roast those. And they're fantastic over ice cream. You can have them for breakfast over your oatmeal. That's definitely a favorite.
Other things you can do, you can do an entire cake on the sheet pan, so really like a one inch high cake. Cut it into squares. It's wonderful for dessert, but also terrific for lunchboxes for the kids the next day, or for yourself. You can do angel food cakes. You can do pound cakes, all on the sheet pan.
So often, you want little finger foods for dessert for a crowd. This way, when you're doing say brownies or cake or a cheesecake, you're making it. It's one inch high. Once it's done, you can cut it into little squares. Really easy to serve and it makes a lot to serve a crowd. And it's fun, too.
Suzy Chase: Normally right now on the podcast, we would discuss a recipe that I made out of your cookbook. But our boiler is being replaced in our New York City apartment building, so my gas oven isn't working.
Camilla S.: Oh, that's terrible!
Suzy Chase: It's awful, but tell me about your favorite sheet pan recipe.
Camilla S.: Definitely one of my favorite recipes is one of the easiest ones, too, and that is ... It's just an herbed roast tenderloin, pork tenderloin, and then with broccoli alongside, but you roast garlic on the pan as well. Once it comes out, you just toss it a little bit more with the garlic that's on the sheet pan, so you have this wonderful garlic roasted broccoli, and if you've never had roasted broccoli, it's so fantastic when it gets a little bit caramelized.
And this pork tenderloin that you've just rubbed with a little bit of Herbes de Provence or Italian herb blend, all goes on the sheet pan. Ready in about 20 to 25 minutes and so easy, so delicious.
Suzy Chase: I will definitely be making that when my oven gets back up and running.
Camilla S.: Oh, good. Oh, wonderful.
Suzy Chase: Where can we find you on the web?
Camilla S.: You can find me at Powerhungry.com and all of my recipes on the site are really healthy and easy, much like the sheet pan cooking
Suzy Chase: One pan, no fuss. Thanks, Camilla, for coming on Cookery by the Book Podcast.
Camilla S.: Thank you so much, Suzy, and I hope your oven is fixed soon.
Suzy Chase: Oh, gosh. Me too. Thank you!