Sheet Pan Suppers
Molly Gilbert is a trained chef and author of the popular Dunk and Crumble blog site. She has the usual posts highlighting a food or recipe, but I find her regular “I Think Thursday” posts, where she lists various hot topics currently on her radar (not necessarily food related) addictively entertaining and interesting. She claims to be a newbie photographer, but she’s clearly proficient in that regard, too.
Sheet Pan Suppers is another entry in the ever-popular one dish/pan dinner genre. The difference is what Gilbert’s culinary background consistently brings to her table. She deconstructs and riffs on traditional recipes with ease and flavorful flair. One example, of which I can’t get enough of, is her recipe for Hearty Ratatouille with Goat Cheese. Her recipe adapts something once rather homey (and homely) into something chic, while retaining the delicious flavor of the classic preparation. The standard ratatouille veggies (eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper), as well as a surprise potato, are sliced and stacked in rows in the sheet pan atop a layer of aromatics and tomato puree, then roasted until tender and pleasingly caramelized. Finished with a melty crumble of goat cheese and torn basil leaves, this is an impressive light entrée or side dish which may be served hot or lukewarm. Excellent with bread for yummy slathering.
I love Niçoise salad, but sometimes my already humid kitchen or my inattentiveness negates my desire to steam the requisite potatoes and beans. Gilbert’s unfussy Warm Tuna Niçoise Salad roasts vinaigrette-coated vegetables and Kalamata olives together (there is no lettuce in her recipe) and garnishes the result with sliced eggs and high-quality jarred or canned tuna lightly touched with more dressing. Excellent.
Honey Orange Shrimp with Baby Bok Choy handily satisfied an Asian cuisine craving one evening. The second time I made it I improvised by adding a sliced sweet potato, an adaptation I shall repeat.
Meat and potatoes are raised to a new level when roasted together in Bruce’s Barbecue Meatloaf & Potatoes. Gilbert uses a simple trick for attaining non-soggy meat and flavorful potatoes in one fell swoop.
Cauliflower Curried Chicken with Apricots and Olives was another roasting revelation, though I substituted dried mission figs for the apricots. It was another approachable meal, with more complexity than you’d expect from the time spent and the ingredients therein. So far only one recipe has let me down: Blueberry Cornmeal Muffin Tops. They came together well and baked into tender fruit-studded mounds – no problem there. Unfortunately, I found the 2:1 ratio of cornmeal to flour gritty (though I used fine-to-medium grind cornmeal, as instructed in the recipe) and the corn flavor was overpowering. Next time I’ll reverse the ratio.
I like this book and have turned to it weekly over several months. As in a good relationship, time spent with it is worthwhile and has reliably pleasant results.
First published October 2015