Sausage and Vegetable Sheet Pan Dinner Credit: Sandy Oliver

The one-pot meal has a lot of appeal — toss everything together, set to cook and come back later to a finished meal. There’s less mess to clean up and good flavor from all the mingling components. The ingredients get the low and slow cook treatment in one pot, so less tender, less expensive cuts of meat can be used, making the meal as economical as it is tasty.

It’s not a big leap from the one pot meal to the sheet pan meal. I keep seeing recipes in newspapers, magazines and various places on the web, and finally got around to trying the idea. There were so many variations that I went looking for the general principle behind the idea, and I think I figured it out.

You need meat (unless you are a vegetarian), a green vegetable and a yellow vegetable, and, if your choice of meat takes a while to cook, you can do potatoes. The meat ought to be fairly juicy such as chicken drumsticks or thighs, sausage, or pork so it will cook without drying out, though if you use something like steak or fish, all you need to do is cook it with soft juicy vegetables such as tomatoes, summer squash and peppers that are done as quickly as the meat. Adding onions, peppers and/or garlic add flavor. Some recipes recommend adding dried herbs or spices.

I made mine with garlic sausage, potatoes, yellow beets, carrots, some red pepper just for color and broccoli. I parboiled the potatoes and beets, and roasted them a little while before adding the softer broccoli and peppers. If you use fairly hard vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, carrots, turnips and beets, make sure the green ones are also sturdy: green beans, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. If you go the softer vegetable route, then zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and cherry tomatoes are the better idea.

Until you have done a few of these sheet pan dinners, it might be a good idea to use a recipe before you begin experimenting with various combinations. Once you have a few of these dinners on your resume, you’ll find yourself freewheeling your way through whatever you have in the fridge, whatever you find on sale in the grocery store, or the fresh and appealing produce at the farmers market or from your own garden.

Leftovers, if there are any, can be useful for lunches stuffed into pita pockets, enclosed in wraps or folded in tortillas. Some combinations are going to be delicious as salad with a little vinegar sprinkled on since the vegetables already have oil on them from the pan baking.

On the easy-peasy scale of one to 10, this is a nine.

Sausage and Vegetable Sheet Pan Dinner

Servings vary

2-3 small or new potatoes per person, peeled, optional

1 carrot per person

1 yellow beet per person

Olive oil

1 link sausage per person, or more if desired

3-4 florets of broccoli per person

¼ red pepper per person, cut into large pieces

Onion and/or garlic to taste, peeled and lightly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Cut the potatoes in half, and peel the yellow beets and carrots and cut into chunks. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, then take off the heat, drain and put into a bowl.

3. Drizzle olive oil lightly over the vegetables and toss until the vegetables all have oil on them.

4. Cut the sausage into pieces and spread onto the sheet pan, then add the parboiled vegetables.

5. Roast for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until just tender when tested with a fork.

6. Add the broccoli, red pepper, onion and garlic. Roast for another 10 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...