As though the glorious return of pumpkin spice, blazer weather, and technicolor foliage wasn’t enough, here’s the true reason why I celebrate the coming of fall: I can again bear to use my oven. Even with the most diligent of air conditioners, something about intentionally setting a dial in the hundreds of degrees when the air outside feels comparable to that just doesn’t leave a person super hungry for warm, roasty dishes.
Although no-bake season is drawing to a close, it’s still not quite time for the day-long cooking projects that a proper snow day inspires. There are plenty of daylight hours left to enjoy and numerous reasons to go play outside. In short, ain’t nobody got time to do dishes, even for the yummiest, most comforting cool-weather dinners.
The solution? One-pan, oven-cooked meals for the early fall. Quicker than your slow cooker, less labor-intensive than even one-pot stovetop dishes; you can pop a sheet pan in the oven and literally set it and forget it while you go jump in a pile of leaves or take a brisk, contemplative walk. With basically only one dish to wash after dinner, you’ll have time for any number of bucolic, autumnal, Instagram-worthy pursuits.
How about a technicolor pile of fall produce to match your equally lively pile of leaves? Toss in some sausage rounds—maybe something from your local farm stand—for a dinner that is as photogenic as it is well-balanced. Try this Sausage and Root Vegetable Scramble recipe.
If you’re not yet hip to the glory that is caramelized fennel, take heed. This bright and savory one-bake wonder is equally simple for weeknight cooking as it is sophisticated for easy entertaining. Try this Roasted Chicken Thighs with Fennel and Lemon recipe.
Shrimp are such a quick-cooking protein that they are not oft-imagined as an oven-based dish. Here they are added to the pan after the veggies are underway, escorted by a sauce fragrant with sumac and cumin for a result that is simply where-have-you-been-all-my-life? Try this Mediterranean Baked Shrimp and Veggies recipe.
Yep, you don’t even need to begin this on the stovetop. Eggs, veggies, and ricotta mingle directly in the pan for a Meatless Monday meal that masterfully morphs into a morning-after breakfast sammy. Try this Sheet Pan Ricotta Frittata recipe.
You won’t even miss the sizzle when you realize that every aspect of these fajitas—from the meat, to the veggies, to the tortillas, to even the lime you drizzle at the end—can be prepared all in the same pan. The bounty of fall is real, y’all. Try this Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas recipe.
Some seek fall colors in the form of leaves and sunsets, for my money I’ll take salmon with a sweet and salty Thai glaze for a dose of vibrant orange. Try this Thai Glazed Salmon and Vegetables recipe.
If you come from the Midwestern dinner-table school of protein/starch/veg like I did, you will appreciate the simple beauty of this combo, given pizzazz with just a bit of Parmesan and panko. Send a picture to your mother for extra warm and cozy vibes. Try this Parmesan Pork Chops with Potatoes and Asparagus recipe.
Related Reading: How to Clean Your Baking Sheets So They Sparkle Again
Header image courtesy of The Girl on Bloor.