Weeknight Cooking

These Super-Speedy Meals Come Together in One Countertop Appliance

No, it’s not a toaster oven.

October  1, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson. Food Stylist: Kate Buckens.

We’ve teamed up with Brava to share speedy, delicious meal ideas using their sleek, high-tech kitchen appliance. Nope, it’s not an oven—the Brava uses the precision of light to cook food perfectly, every time, and features a nifty multi-zone functionality that lets you make a complete meal (from the protein to the veggies) all on one tray. Here's a special offer: Take $200 off your purchase until 10/31 when you shop with this link*.

When I was 7 years old, I really wanted an Easy Bake oven. The commercials of jovial kids watching little pans roll on the conveyor belt under that light bulb to reveal the perfect bite-sized brownie made my tiny heart go pitter-patter. I gathered up my courage and asked my mom for one. She looked at me and sighed, “No. You’re already using the regular oven.” It’s true, I started cooking at 4 years old, but damn, I was disappointed. Twenty-odd years later, enter the Brava—here to make all my childhood (and adult!) hopes and dreams come true.

The Brava is like a grown-up, super decked-out version of an Easy Bake oven—and then some. It uses the power and precision of light (six halogen light bulbs to be exact, that go from ambient to 4,000°F in a matter of seconds) to cook, sear, bake, roast, air-crisp, and more. Here’s where it gets fun: The Brava has three zones, each of which is fitted with a long bulb on the top and bottom. The light bulbs can heat to different temperatures, so that means you can be searing a steak at a high temperature in Zone 1 and roasting vegetables at a different temperature in Zones 2 and 3. On. The. Same. Pan.

Unlike other countertop ovens, the Brava comes loaded with thousands of recipes that you can view on the appliance’s interface or using their app. That means dinner can be as effortless as following a couple simple instructions and pressing a button.

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Top Comment:
“Hey, I like cool gadgets. But what I like even more? A price reference in the article. It took me multiple clicks to find the Starter Set is priced at a whopping $1295. Yeah, it’s not a toaster oven. But this article seems rather misleading, and not up to Food52 standards. ”
— adambravo

Now that we’ve made introductions, here are a few delicious (not to mention, quick and easy) ideas to get you cooking.

Breakfast prep like a rockstar

The most underrated way to use the Brava happens to be for the most important meal of the day: breakfast (it even has a toast function). There are plenty of à la minute options already programmed into the appliance, like fried and poached eggs using their Egg Tray, eggs Benedict, mini breakfast calzones, and French toast, but as a two-person household, my favorite breakfast recipe is a frittata.

Frittatas are endlessly customizable when it comes to cooked vegetable and meat add-ins—Broccoli! Peppers and onions! Chopped ham! Sausage crumbles!—and are just the right size for an English muffin breakfast sandwich. Here’s how to prep them for breakfasts on the fly:

  1. Make a single or double batch of the frittatas, let them cool to room temperature, top them with a slice of your favorite cheese and then nestle them between two buttered English muffin halves.
  2. Wrap them individually in foil and then pop them in the freezer.
  3. Come breakfast time, all you have to do is take one out of the freezer and reheat it in the Brava using their Bake or Reheat function.

Make any night steak night—in just 4 steps

Steak is one of the most popular meals to cook in the Brava, from New York strip to hanger and skirt steak. The Brava comes with a temperature sensor that not only helps you get just-the-right cook every time, but also doubles as a ruler, so you can enter the thickness of the steak in the oven before cooking. It also has a built-in meat thermometer that monitors the temperature of the meat while it’s cooking (it’ll adjust the recipe program as needed) and alerts you when the steak is done.

Throwing together a steak dinner takes just four easy steps and can be on the table in under 30 minutes, ideal for weeknights (this doesn’t include salting the steak, but more on that below). Here’s how:

  1. First, buy yourself a nice, thick steak, like a rib eye or New York strip. Unlike cooking the steak in a skillet, the Brava works best on cold steaks, so no waiting for it to come to room temperature (whoo hoo!). Just pat the steak dry, channel your inner Salt Bae and season liberally with kosher salt, and move on to your sides.
  2. Pick your vegetables, set up your pan, and cook. Choose the vegetable you want to enjoy with your steak. The Brava has lots of recipes that pair a steak with up to two types of vegetable, like broccoli and carrots (I chose tender, sweet Jimmy Nardello peppers). Lightly dress the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper, and arrange on their Metal Tray—perfect for high-heat searing and roasting—in the zones outlined in the recipe. Then, pull your steak out of the fridge, pat it dry and place it on the designated zone. Insert the temperature sensor into the meat, slide everything into the oven and press GO. The buzz of the light bulbs will start immediately and a live feed will pop up on the interface and app (yes, there is a camera inside the oven that lets you watch the food cook).
  3. Make a quick sauce to tie everything together. While dinner is in the oven, you’ve got 10 minutes to throw together an easy sauce. My go-to is a loose interpretation of French sauce verte, blending the odds and ends of herbs that needed using up with a garlic clove or two, a couple anchovy fillets, lemon juice, and extra-virgin olive oil. The sauce is finished with a pinch or two of chili flakes and some chopped capers. But, your sauce could be as simple as mixing prepared horseradish and crème fraîche together with a few cracks of black pepper. (Bonus points if you use the extra few minutes to shake up a martini—I’ll take mine dirty with extra olives, please.)
  4. Time to serve everything up. No need to wait 10 minutes for your steak to rest; it’ll be ready to slice right after coming out of the Brava. Arrange your steak and vegetables on a plate, adorn your steak with your fresh, zingy sauce, and enjoy.

Treat yourself to a pizza party

Photo by Julia Gartland

The intense heat of the halogen bulbs and Brava’s Pure Light™ Technology makes the oven perfect for thin, bubbly, crispy-crusted pizzas. End your week with a make-your-own pizza party, ideal for kids and kids-at-heart alike. You’ve had a long week, so take the help from store-bought ingredients, from pizza dough to your favorite jarred sauce and pre-grated cheese. That way all you have to do is set up some extra toppings, pop open a bottle of wine (or a couple sodas), and dig in. Here are three fun combos to get you started:

  1. The Old-School Italian: Sweet Italian Sausage + Broccoli Rabe + Tomato Sauce + Grated Mozzarella
  2. The New Hawaiian: Pepperoni + Pineapple + Pickled Jalapeños + Tomato Sauce + Grated Mozzarella
  3. The Caprese: Pesto + Thinly Sliced Fresh Tomatoes + Fresh Mozzarella + Extra-Virgin Olive Oil & Flaky Salt (post-bake)

Pro-tip: If you—like me—love a burnished, crackly crust, slide up the personalization slider 10 percent (hello, pizzeria-style perfection)

Cozy up with a family-friendly casserole

As a recipe developer who cooks a lot, sometimes I like to take a page out of Sandra Lee’s book and revel in semi-homemade comfort. That’s where Brava’s Chef’s Pan comes in handy. This enameled baking dish is perfect for casseroles and slow braises. My go-to: a cheesy broccoli chicken pot pie (no roux required):

  1. Add 16 ounces of prepared broccoli cheddar soup to Brava’s Chef’s Pan and whisk in 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Then, fold in 3 cups of shredded cooked chicken, 8 ounces chopped broccoli (you’re aiming for very tiny florets, so it cooks through), and 1 to 2 cups grated cheddar cheese.
  2. Top the pot pie with store-bought biscuits from the tube (or, make your own if you’re feeling like you want to lean more toward the homemade in semi-homemade) and top each biscuit with a few cracks of black pepper.
  3. Set the Brava Oven to Bake at 350°F (the rapid preheat function will have the oven hot in minutes), then bake until the biscuits are cooked through and golden, the broccoli is tender, and the filling is bubbling, about 26 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!

What’s your go-to weeknight meal? Tell us in the comments!

Transform your cooking routine with help from our friends at Brava: Choose from their Starter Set, with everything you need to get going; Bake & Breakfast collection, including the popular egg pan; and the Chef’s Choice, which comes with all the bells-and-whistles accessories you could ever need. Ready to bring one home? Every Brava comes with a 100-day free trial—pick which collection you want to try right here.

*$200 off offer applies only to orders of Brava Starter Set, Brava Bake & Breakfast, and Brava Chef’s Choice placed between 11am PT on October 11, 2021 and 11:59pm PT on October 31, 2021. Cannot be combined with any other offer, promotion, coupon, incentive or discount.

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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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adambravo October 12, 2021
Hey, I like cool gadgets.
But what I like even more? A price reference in the article. It took me multiple clicks to find the Starter Set is priced at a whopping $1295. Yeah, it’s not a toaster oven. But this article seems rather misleading, and not up to Food52 standards.