• Kristin Cole

Sheet Pan to the Rescue! 11 Ways to Multipurpose this Kitchen Gem

Having intentionally pared down my kitchen to the absolute essentials has led to an unexpected sense of creativity as I determine how best to multi-purpose items through a lens of resourcefulness. For example, while living tiny, I reduced my collection of 8 nesting metal bowls down to just a single one (the 4 qt size has proven most versatile), which has created lasting benefits. I’ve enhanced my skills as a cook, maintained a calmer cooking environment, and freed up mental space now that I no longer need to select the proper size for a bowl. It’s amazing to see the power in small, conscious decisions.

Same goes for a quality chef’s knife and cutting board which, if carefully maintained, can both take on any task that a gadget might do. I’d venture to say that resourcefulness is a quality we could all use more of this year as we learn to value what we have. After all, the notion of home and material possessions has taken on a new definition in 2020. We are all learning to treat our items lovingly, repair them, and as a last resort, replace them with a gently used version. Circularity should be central to our way of thinking.

With this mindset, I invite you to consider a humble kitchen item - the rimmed baking sheet or sheet pan - with a wider lens. And be sure you see and use it daily, not letting it collect dust as so many extraneous kitchen items tend to do when they’re out of sight.

Here are some out-of-the box ideas for how to multipurpose your pan – from the oven to the stovetop to the freezer and even right to your dining table!

1. Prepare and serve a family-style meal directly from the oven

Lots of genius recipes to get your taste buds inspired.

2. Line with parchment paper and you’ve got a blank canvas for an antipasto platter

Display freshly cut produce, cheese, salumi and small bowls of dips. Guaranteed easy cleanup!

3. Turn it into your personal room-service tray

Put down a fun dishtowel, brew your favorite at-home blend, and pamper yourself or a loved one with breakfast in bed.

Photo: Brooke Lark / Unsplash

4. Cover your cast-iron pan with this snazzy lid

Since these pans rarely include a lid, I use a sheet pan as a simple, effective way to steam veggies and eggs. As a bonus, you can place whatever needs warming directly on top of the pan.

5. Keep the stovetop splatter-free

Partially cover a pan when you’re shallow frying so as not to make a mess of your stove area. Don’t forget to leave a small opening so that you don’t accidentally steam the meal and miss out on that crispy brown goodness.

6. Flip it over for an instant trivet, or four!

Arrange straight-out-of-the-oven casseroles or a cast-iron pizza directly on it and let the family-style feast begin.

7. Cool down just-cooked grains

Scoop piping hot grains like rice or quinoa onto a sheet pan and spread flat to cool the surface area more quickly, turning every so often. Transfer to a container and either refrigerate or freeze for later use.

8. Try your hand at a gluten-free polenta pizza

After you’ve made a soft, porridge-like polenta in a pot, transfer it to a greased baking sheet to set, after which you can top with tomato sauce, cheese (or nutritional yeast) and your favorite toppings. Pop under the broiler for a weeknight pizza the whole family will love.

9. Seal the seasons

Too many summer berries or peaches from peak market season? Spread them out individually on a pan and place directly in the freezer. Once the fruit is frozen and free of clumps, transfer to a silicone bag for a taste of summer in the middle of winter. Or use to naturally sweeten your smoothies any time of year.

10. Become a chocolatier

It’s simple to make your own healthy chocolate bark at home. Mix together 100% cacao powder, melted coconut oil, coconut sugar and nuts, and spread onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, finishing with a sprinkle of salt. Once cooled in the fridge, it’ll break off easily for a healthy chocolaty treat.

Photo: Jennifer Pallian / Unsplash

11. You thought I’d forget oven cooking?

The humble sheet tray is ideal for a spectrum of temperatures and functions: The humble sheet tray is ideal for a spectrum of temperatures and functions:

~Low and slow heat (170ish or the lowest setting): rehydrate overnight-soaked nuts for optimal health benefits or dehydrate thinly sliced fruit (persimmons are my personal fav).

~Medium heat: granola, your standard baked goods, and perfectly tender potatoes of any variety – from traditional Russet to vibrant purple-fleshed Japanese sweet potatoes. Or DIY kale chips! Be sure to save the stems for later (a fine chop and sauté is all they need to prevent them going to waste).

~High heat (broiler): crisp up sausages, lightly oiled and salted veggies, or smashed baby potatoes (pre-boiled) for a crunchy treat.

Kristin Cole | 2020

Chapel Hill, NC

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