Pasta

A Quick & Simple Sheet-Pan Pasta for Lazy Winter Weeknights

How to feed the family in one fell swoop.

by:
March  4, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

Do you ever just want to eat a lot of one very delicious thing? When I was a kid, I adored Fruit Roll-Ups but always felt that one wasn't enough. I wanted two. Or four. Or ten (the whole box). But I was only ever allowed one at a time.

Now that I'm a full-fledged, autonomous individual (barely), I buy a couple boxes of Fruit Roll-Ups at a time so that I can go home, unwrap and unroll four—laying them out side by side on a parchment-lined sheet pan and fusing the edges together with the heat of my fingers—and eat the entire MEGA Fruit Roll-Up over the sink.

This greedy, ambitious behavior bleeds into other parts of my life as well, and into other courses, like dinner.

I've found that if I want to eat a lot of one very delicious thing for dinner, then I have to make it go further. With Italian sausages (sweet and spicy, I love them both), I bulk up the meal and boost the flavors by roasting them on a large half sheet pan with a head of cauliflower broken into florets (for roughage), a thickly sliced red onion (for savoriness), and a tablespoon of fennel seed (for even more of that anise-y sausage taste I love so much).

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Top Comment:
“Why didn’t you find out where the fruit roll-ups were and just eat a bunch of them? Broccoli would be really good in this recipe too. Love the column! ”
— CameronM5
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There's nothing like fennel seed to make Italian sausages taste even more of themselves (probably because it's one of the main flavorings). If you've ever bitten into a fennel seed, then you know what I mean. It's fragrant and herbaceous, tasting lightly of licorice and, well, of sausage.

Roasting the sausages like this, chopped up into small bite-size pieces, also means they crisp up and curl into themselves as they bake, essentially turning into little meatballs—zero rolling involved.

The sheet-pan method saves the day again because all of the ingredients will sweeten and caramelize in the oven (while you go about your night, e.g. feeding the dog, taking a bath, pouring yourself a glass of wine). More importantly, the fat from the sausages will flavor the entire contents of the pan. This fennel-scented fat will be especially useful when tossed into a pound of cooked fusilli, because it both seasons and enriches the pasta like nothing else.

I like to finish the dish with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, the leaves of which I leave whole—it's a garnish, but also an ingredient in its own right. I love when you can taste the parsley in a dish. It adds a verdant freshness that's hard to replicate.

Do you ever just want to eat a lot of one very delicious thing?

This quick and easy pasta feeds a hungry crowd in one fell swoop, perfect for lazy winter weeknights when it feels, somehow, that you can't even fathom cooking dinner for the family after a long day at work. Or maybe it's feeding you and only you for days on end, not least because it reheats beautifully and travels well (should you need a tasty, big-batch desk lunch for the week).

Regardless of whom it's feeding, the beauty of this recipe lies in its bulk as much as in its taste. Because when something's as good as this, you can never eat just one plateful—you'll want an entire sheet pan of the stuff.

What's your go-to Monday-night dinner? Let us know in the comments below.
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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Eric Kim is the Senior Editor and 'Table for One' columnist at Food52. Formerly the Digital Manager of FoodNetwork.com, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson Kim. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway.

7 Comments

Vaydre March 9, 2019
I made this last night and it was so good and easy. I would agree that I'd add more veggies next time as well :) Thinking about making a white wine and butter sauce to toss with the leftovers for dinner again tonight!
 
CameronM5 March 4, 2019
Is there anything better than a sheet pan? I think not. Why didn’t you find out where the fruit roll-ups were and just eat a bunch of them? Broccoli would be really good in this recipe too. Love the column!
 
Author Comment
Eric K. March 4, 2019
Because I was a good boy!

Good call on the brocc.
 
Ella Q. March 4, 2019
Making this tonight!
 
Author Comment
Eric K. March 4, 2019
Enjoy!
 
Erin A. March 4, 2019
Sausage, onion, and parsley, all on one sheet pan?? I'm in.
 
Author Comment
Eric K. March 4, 2019
:)