Spring hits, and for most of us, everything feels a little easier. Double down on that feeling and break out your sheet pans. Those, too, make life simpler. We’ve posted a few of our favorite recipes utilizing this key kitchen player before. Now, though, we want to get down to the brass tacks of spring cooking. Just pick the greenest, freshest, berry-est items at the market, and get cracking. Nothing makes weeknight cooking faster than a baking sheet (unless it’s the Instant Pot).
Beets need just a splash of olive oil and salt and a hat of aluminum foil on a baking sheet to transform into golden- or ruby-hued beauties. Pick whichever beets look best to you, combine them with greens such as watercress or baby arugula, and pair them with a creamy element such as goat cheese. This recipe is a delicious starting point.
Granola can be dreadfully expensive at the grocery store, but is such a snap to make on your own at home. You want old-fashioned rolled oats, which have the best texture for this recipe. They need a sweetener, some crunch (the nuts or seeds of your choice), and some time in the oven or under the broiler. Then they’re ready to layer with blueberries or strawberries, yogurt, and honey or maple syrup. If you thought hearty oats were just for winter, this is an excellent way to make them feel lighter.
Fresh carrots from the farmer’s market are extraordinary creatures. Look for the rainbow varieties, and snap them up if you see them, but know that even the “regular” orange and golden ones shimmer with sweetness when roasted. They’re enormously flexible; they favor flavors as esoteric as harissa and maple syrup and as simple as salt and olive oil. However you decide to cook them (some ideas are here, and readers love this recipe), a baking sheet will more often than not make your work much easier. Once they’re cooked, consider dressing them, as you might a meat entrée. Maybe lemon juice and yogurt, seasoned with salt and pepper, and garnished with fresh cilantro. Or labneh, if you’ve dusted them with a spice mix such as za’atar.
If you’ve never marinated chicken in yogurt before, let today be the day you finally give it a whirl. The yogurt flavors and tenderizes the meat at one, and if you throw lots of yummy, smoky spices into the marinade, too, you’ll have a powerfully potent dish. Take this recipe, for example: The bird marinates in a yogurt bath spiced with cumin, turmeric, paprika, saffron, and cinnamon, and then threads on to skewers. Preserved lemons are there for a kick, saltiness, and citrus pungency. Asparagus nestles on to the same baking sheet about halfway through the cooking process. The result is a one-dish meal you could even serve to company, it looks so good.
Young potatoes of any variety, such as these fingerlings, are called “new potatoes.” According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, these “haven’t had time to convert their sugar fully into starch, and consequently have a crisp, waxy texture and thin, undeveloped wispy skins.” What that means for you is that they’re equally delicious boiled or roasted, and you won’t have to peel them. Make the most of a hot oven by sidling them right next to carrots, as in this recipe, or other seasonal favorites such as asparagus.
We’re big fans of getting the protein and veggies right next to each other on one sheet pan whenever possible. Just keep the seasoning uniform, and you’re off to the races. Garlicky, lemony broccoli rabe, to which you’ll add shrimp after a few minutes of cooking, is a great example. This recipe is ready in half an hour and can hit the dinner table alongside rice, bread, polenta, or whatever starch you’re craving.
Of all the tricks up a good home cook’s sleeve, storebought frozen puff pastry is one of the most popular. You can take it right out of the freezer when you first get home, take off your coat, turn on the oven, pull out the asparagus, blanch it, and layer everything on the pastry shell. If you have the burrata this incredible recipe calls for, great. If not, use mozzarella, goat cheese, or ricotta. Puff pastry isn’t color-by-numbers so much as it is a blank canvas: It makes every kitchen artist feel like a culinary genius.