Times Colonist

Simple tastes better: a sheet-pan supper

This flavourful meal of sausages and veggies sees the oven doing the hard work


Afunny thing about cooking is that sometimes, simpler-to-prepare meals can taste better than so-called gourmet ones that take hours to make. And that always seems to be the case when I make a sheet-pan dinner.

I was reminded of that last week when looking for a way to prepare the Italian sausages and mix of vegetables I purchased. I had done quite a lot of fanciful cooking during the holidays and decided to keep things simple. So I got out a cutting board, large bowl, skillet and a large, sided sheet pan and started cooking.

Step one was to cut the vegetables, such as onions, bell peppers, zucchini and garlic.

They were then placed in the bowl, tossed with cherry tomatoes, seasonings and olive oil, and then spread out on the sheet pan.

Because I wanted the sausages to have a deep, rich colour when cooked, I browned them a few minutes in hot oil in the skillet, before setting them on the sheet pan with the vegetables.

The sausages were not cooked through. That would occur when the sheet-pan dinner was roasted 30 minutes in the oven.

After 30 minutes, I set some balls of mini bocconcini cheese on and around the sausages and vegetables.

The pan then went back in the oven a few minutes, until the cheese was melted and gooey, and the juices seeping from the sausages had added extra flavour to the vegetables.

You can serve the sheet-pan dinner with such things as pasta, polenta or boiled potatoes. Or make bunwiches by stuffing the sausages and vegetables into crusty hot dog buns.

As noted in my options, if you like things saucy, you could also serve the sheet-pan dinner with hot marinara sauce for spooning on the sausages and vegetables once plated.

Italian sausages vary in size from maker to maker. Some make them so large, you will only need one sausage per serving. Others make them smaller and in that case, you might want to serve two sausages per person.

That’s why I give a range of how many sausages are needed for my recipe that serves four.

If you have any leftovers, once cooled to room temperatur­e, the cooked extra sausages could be sliced and frozen with the remaining vegetables.

When you need a quick meal, thaw, heat and toss them with pasta, or use them to fill an omelette or top a frittata.

Italian Sausage Sheet-Pan Dinner

This is a tasty meal of sizzling roast sausages and herb- and garlic-flavoured vegetables.

Preparatio­n time: 30 minutes Cooking time: About 40 minutes Makes: Four servings 16 to 20 cherry tomatoes 5 Tbsp olive oil (divided) 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and cubed 1 medium yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and cubed 12 to 16 (1/2-inch thick) half-moon slices of zucchini 2 large garlic cloves, minced 2 tsp dried oregano • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste • pinch or 2 red pepper flakes • pinch or 2 fennel seeds (optional) 4 large or 8 small- to medium-size mild, medium or hot Italian sausages 20 to 24 mini bocconcini (see Note) • chopped fresh parsley or basil, to taste

Line a large, sided sheet pan with parchment paper (my pan was 18x13 inches).

Poke a few small holes into each cherry tomato with the tip of paring knife so they don’t burst and fall apart when cooking. Place those tomatoes, 3 Tbsp of the oil, onion, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic, oregano, salt, black pepper, pepper flakes and fennels seeds, if using, in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Spread out the vegetables in a single layer on the sheet pan.

Preheat oven 375 F. Place the remaining 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet set over medium, mediumhigh heat.

Add the sausages and brown them two to three minutes per side. (The sausages won’t be cooked at this point; they will finish cooking in the oven).

Set the sausages on the sheet pan with the vegetables. Roast the sausages and vegetables for 30 minutes.

Then set the mini bocconcini on and around the sausages and vegetables.

Roast three to five minutes more, or until the cheese has softened and is gooey. Sprinkle the sheet pan dinner with parsley (or basil) and serve.

Note: Thumbnail-sized mini bocconcini are sold in tubs in the deli or dairy section of most supermarke­ts. A 200-gram tub of them should contain what you need here, plus a few extra.

Eric’s options: If you like things saucy, serve this sheet-pan dinner with two cups or so of hot homemade or store-bought marinara sauce, which you could spoon on the sausages and vegetables once plated. If you like olives, add some, to taste, to the sheet pan when setting on the vegetables.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Times Colonist Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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 ?? ERIC AKIS ?? Juicy Italian sausages and mix of vegetables star in this baked sheet-pan dinner.
ERIC AKIS Juicy Italian sausages and mix of vegetables star in this baked sheet-pan dinner.
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