My favorite vegetarian sheet pan dinners

March 21, 2022 at 10:10 pm (Alma's faves, Beans, Cruciferous rich, Monthly menu plan: dinner, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Seitan) ()

When I’m feeling beat at the end of the day I often turn to a sheet pan dinner. It just feels easier than making a “recipe”. Just throw a bunch of ingredients onto a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and spices, and bake until crispy. The main challenges/drawbacks are:

  • We usually don’t have that many leftovers. One baking sheet of food usually just makes enough for one meal for the three of us. Probably I should double the ingredients and just put half in the fridge so that I can bake a second pan for lunch the next day. Or bake two pans at once?
  • Sometimes different ingredients cook at different times, so I have to regularly check the oven and take out / rotate anything that is getting overdone. I try to prevent this by cutting the quicker cooking items into large chunks or putting the slower cooking items on the edge of the pan, but I usually can’t quite make everything cook at the same time. Still, it’s a relatively mindless activity, so even though it’s technically “work” it doesn’t feel hard.
  • It can be hard to find a combination that feels satisfying, and like a full meal. Most sheet pan suppers I see online incorporate meat or fish. Figuring out satisfying vegetarian combinations seems harder.

I don’t actually have that many variations I make. I most often make cauliflower, chickpeas, and seitan. I’ll give a rough recipe for it below. I’d really like to find more combinations we like. There are lots of recipes for vegetarian sheet pan dinners online. Perhaps I will try to make one each week for the next couple of weeks and see if I can find any combos I particularly like.

Here’s what I usually do:

  • Above-ground veggies: I usually include either cauliflower or romanesco in any sheet pan supper I make, because we like it roasted a lot, and don’t eat it that often in other recipes. Just beware–romanesco cooks fast, much faster than cauliflower. I’ve seen other recipes that call for broccoli or brussels sprouts or green beans, but I haven’t tried them yet. Asparagus might also be nice, as long as I don’t overcook it.
  • Beans: I often include chickpeas as part of my sheet pan dinner. Derek isn’t such a fan of the way the chickpeas come out. When roasted with moist veggies the chickpeas don’t get the lovely crisp texture of perfectly roasted chickpeas, but it’s easy and Alma likes them so I just throw them in at the same time. Maybe I should start them first? Or add them after the cauliflower? Or cook them on a separate baking sheet than the veggies, as done here? I’ve also tried edamame, white beans, and kidney beans. Edamame are not usually a hit, probably because they cook too quickly and I end up overroasting them. Maybe they’d work if I threw them in at the very end?. Kidney beans and cannellini beans are generally a hit with Alma, although not as much as the chickpeas. Derek doesn’t like either roasted.
  • Below-ground veggies: I sometimes add potatoes or sweet potatoes or jerusalem artichokes to my sheet pan supper. If not, then I sometimes serve the meal with leftover rice or another grain (either from the fridge or the freezer).
  • Vegetarian protein: We all really like seitan in a sheet-pan supper. I haven’t tried tofu because we already make a lot of dishes that include tofu, but I bet it would also be good. I haven’t yet tried tempeh.
  • Spices: When I bake cauliflower, chickpeas, and seitan I usually just wing the seasoning, tossing on turmeric, coriander, ground cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and salt.  This combination gives the dish a very mild curry flavor.
  • Sauce: We often eat our sheet-pan supper with plain yogurt, whatever leftover sauce we happen to have in the fridge (e.g., tahini sauce), a store-bought spinach saag sauce, or a tikka masala sauce that I make in large batches and freeze. If the dinner includes white potatoes, then Alma typically eats hers with ketchup.

Here are a few possible recipes to try next time:

Cauliflower, chickpea, seitan vegetarian sheet pan supper

Preheat your oven to about 375F. In a bowl, or directly on your largest baking pan, mix together

  • one large head of cauliflower, cut into slices or florets. You can also chop the cauliflower stem up and include those pieces as well. A head of romanesco also works.
  • about 2 to 2.5 cups of chickpeas
  • about 8 ounces of firm seitan (optional)
  • a few small potatoes or 1 to 2 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks (optional, if not using serve with leftover rice or other grain)
  • olive oil to coat (maybe 2 Tbs.?)
  • salt to taste (maybe 1 tsp.?)
  • spices of your choice, maybe 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp. ground coriander, 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and some black pepper? (I’m totally guessing at the amounts here)

If you’re using white potatoes, try to arrange them around the edge of the sheet pan, so that they get extra crispy.

Bake (without the fan on!) until the cauliflower is slightly browned in spots. If you’re using romanesco, keep an eye on it. It cooks much faster than cauliflower.

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