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 quickly with very little prep or cleanup. Just chop, drop and roast.
That’s why every week, we’ll be sharing 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, chef and TV host Elena Besser shares her recipe for a healthier, weeknight-friendly take on a comfort-food favorite: Sheet Pan Chicken Parm with Roasted Garlic Bread and Broccoli.
Growing up in Chicago, I have a few vivid memories in relation to food: I ate a lot of boxed mac and cheese and bologna sandwiches, my mom made delicious brisket and we’d order deep-dish pizza every Sunday night for dinner.
When we went out to eat, 80% of the time we chose an Italian-American restaurant and every person in my family would order chicken Parmesan. Well, not everyone — my vegetarian sister would order eggplant Parm — but you get the idea. The server would always laugh when they'd deliver seven orders of chicken Parm and one order of eggplant Parm to the table, but we were proud of our choices every time. We’ve all gotten older but one thing still remains: Chicken Parm is still a great love in our lives.
I used to cook at an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn called Lilia, but chicken Parm was not served on the menu. On my day off, when I was really missing home, I would make myself a personal portion of chicken Parm and remember those nights out with my family that first inspired me to cook for a living.
Chicken Parm isn’t a super complicated recipe but I understand why my mom wouldn’t want to make it in our house. The process of breading the chicken, frying it in oil and finishing everything in the oven was an exhausting feat, especially when feeding seven to 10 people.
So when I developed this recipe, I was really trying to come up with a way for parents everywhere, just like my mom, to make chicken Parm all in one place. This sheet pan Parm skips the frying step and adds roasted garlic bread and broccoli to make it a complete meal with very little cleanup. Plus, it’s a healthier way to enjoy everyone’s favorite Italian-American dish.