Anyone who knows me knows that I could eat veggies for the rest of my life and be perfectly content. Although I have never entertained the idea of going vegetarian, I often will go up to 5 days a week eating plant-based without ever realizing it! I think what it comes down to is that there are few meals easier to whip up than salads and roasted vegetables, and I don’t usually crave chicken or meat with my meals. However, I notice that whenever I get in the habit of eating all veggies all the time, my sweet tooth really begins to develop because I am not feeling my body with the nutrients it needs. On most occasions, I will opt for fish over chicken or red meat, but I have found it harder to get fresh seafood since the pandemic hit. I might be imagining it, but last time I bought seabass at Whole Foods, it was so bad that I took one bite and threw it out. Since then, I’ve been on somewhat of a “seafood hiatus” and definitely been eating roasted veggies for dinner most nights. But in a conscious effort to introduce more animal protein back into my diet, I decided to make this sheet pan dinner and was pleasantly surprised by how easy and tasty it is!
I’ve tried many sheet pan dinners over the past couple of years. Usually, I end up deciding it would have been better to cook the protein and the veggies separately and file the meal away under “mediocre dinners”. It’s all about understanding how long each item takes to cook. For instance, using a chicken breast as is takes about 40 minutes in the oven as compared to a pounded chicken breast which can take as little as 25 minutes at the same temperature. Baking may be a science, but cooking is still a numbers game.
How to Make a Successful Sheet Pan Meal:
- Choose a protein and vegetables that take the same amount of time to cook. This recipe uses pounded chicken and asparagus which both cook perfectly at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Vegetables like sweet potato, cauliflower, or butternut squash all require 40-45 minutes at the same temperature. If you don’t like asparagus, broccoli and halved/quartered Brussels sprouts will work just as well!
- Space everything out. Whether you are using a pan over the stovetop or a sheet pan in the oven, it is important to lay everything out in a single layer to avoid steaming your food rather than pan-searing or roasting it. Make sure to consider the size of your baking sheet to avoid crowding the pan.
- Olive oil is your friend! Coat both your veggies and protein liberally with olive oil – not to the point where there are pools of oil in the pan, but enough so that everything is evenly coated. Nothing is worse than dry chicken or dried out veggies.
These tips make a world of difference and prevent the disappointment of a flavorless, lack-luster meal. I love how simple this recipe is while simultaneously delicious and healthy. It is a perfectly balanced meal bursting with flavor and a no-brainer for an easy dinner! I hope you enjoy it too!
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 bunch of asparagus
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup storebought or homemade pesto
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Place the chicken breasts in a large Ziploc bag or between two sheets of saran wrap and pound the chicken with a mallet to 1/4 inch thickness.
- Cut off the last inch of the asparagus stalks to remove the ends (these are too fibrous to eat) and place the asparagus and cherry tomatoes in an even layer on one half of the baking sheet.
- Place the chicken on the other half of the sheet and coat everything with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon 3-4 tbsp. of pesto over the top of each chicken breast in a thin layer and sprinkle the tops of each with the panko breadcrumbs.
- Stick the sheet pan in the oven and bake everything for 25-30 minutes until the panko has turned golden-brown and the asparagus looks crisp.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 289Total Fat: 19.3gSaturated Fat: 3.5gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 174mgCarbohydrates: 4.8gFiber: 1.7gSugar: 1.5gProtein: 23.5g