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Sheet Pan Sunday: Julia Turshen makes this 1-pan fish when she has friends over

You can serve it straight from the sheet pan, because it looks gorgeous and has that "I just threw this together" vibe.
Gentl + Hyers / "Small Victories" by Julia Turshen
/ Source: TODAY

The humble sheet pan is the hero of weeknight cooking. Its sleek, spacious surface allows the busy home cook to get a balanced dinner — protein! starch! vegetables! — on the table, fast, with very little prep or cleanup. Just chop, drop and roast.

That’s why, every week, we’ll be sharing the go-to, throw-it-all-on-a-sheet-pan recipes from our favorite chefs and home cooks. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, friends, family or meal-prepping for the week, you should keep these one-pan meals in your back pocket — or, rather, your oven.

This week, food writer and food equity advocate Julia Turshen shares a recipe from her cookbook "Small Victories": one-pan flounder with tomatoes and olives. It's a dish she relies on when she's having people over — and actually wants to spend time with those people rather than stressing out in the kitchen. It's simple, straightforward, satisfying and, best of all, super customizable.

Julia Turshen, author of "Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs."
Julia Turshen, author of "Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs."Gentl + Hyers / "Small Victories" by Julia Turshen

Cooking fish at home often seems intimidating. What type should you buy? Won't it overcook? Will it stick to the pan? Enter this recipe, one of my go-to dishes when I have friends over for dinner. It’s the easiest and tastiest way to make fish for a group. Even if you double the recipe, you can cook all the pieces at the same time; there’s no splattering or mess whatsoever and there’s no chance of the fish sticking to the pan.

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First, you mix some cherry tomatoes with olive oil, garlic and some shallots (which could easily be substituted for a little bit of onion) and roast until softened. Then you set some boneless, skinless fish fillets on top of the saucy mixture and roast until they're just cooked through. Easy.

While the recipe calls for flounder, you could use anything from cod or haddock to salmon, halibut or mackerel. You could even skip the filleted fish and make this with shrimp, chicken breasts or thighs or even cubes of tofu.

A few olives add a little unexpected flavor without any extra effort. The high heat blasts the juices out of the tomatoes, forming a quick, concentrated sauce that is not only great for roasting fish, it’s also terrific tossed with pasta or as an accompaniment for scrambled eggs, roast chicken, grilled pork chops ... the world is your tomato.

To make this dish a complete meal, you need nothing more than arugula dressed with lemon and olive oil and a loaf of bread for sopping up the tomatoes. You can even serve it straight from the sheet pan because it looks gorgeous and has that "I just threw this together" vibe.

For the full recipe, click in below:

Sheet Pan Flounder with Roasted Tomatoes and Black Olives

Make it your own

Riff on your protein: You can substitute just about any type of fish or shrimp for the flounder or even cubes of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs.

For a slightly Moroccan version: Add a pinch of saffron threads, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and a small handful of chopped dried apricots to the tomato mixture before roasting. Use Moroccan olives and sprinkle with mint and/or cilantro. Serve with couscous.

For a Greek version: Add 1 teaspoon dried oregano to the tomato mixture before roasting, and be sure to use Greek olives. Sprinkle the fish with dill and/or parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or drizzle with a little bit of red wine vinegar right before serving. Serve with orzo, toasted pita bread, rice or roasted potatoes seasoned with dried oregano and fresh lemon.

For a Spanish version: Add 1 teaspoon hot pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) and a sliced jarred piquillo pepper to the tomato mixture before roasting. Use Spanish olives — I particularly like the tiny ones called arbequinas.

You can use drained canned tomatoes here. In fact, roasted canned tomatoes are delicious. Try them on buttered rice. Yum!