Sometimes, you have simple tools and you use them the same way every time. Then, one day you wake up and think, "What if I used that ... to do something different"? Well, that's how it was with me and parchment paper. I'd been using it to make cookies for a long time. It's great for that purpose, by the way. Keeps the cookies from sticking or spreading, adds that nice crisp texture, and makes cleanup a snap.
But this summer, I started experimenting with parchment paper to cook, well, everything. I pretty much became a parchment paper fanatic. I started out with this one:
And it works great! But then I discovered this:
And these guys rocked my cooking world. Basically, it's like a Kleenex box with sheets of parchment that are exactly the size of a cookie sheet. Now, you may be thinking, how lazy is this lady? She can't even tear off a sheet of paper from a roll! But let me tell you, something about having those individual sheets made me reach for them again and again.
It was so easy! So convenient! And did I mention cleanup is a snap?
But that's not the whole reason I love parchment so much. I think I mentioned that it makes the edges of the cookies I bake on it crispy and golden brown. Well, I discovered .... IT DOES THAT TO OTHER THINGS TOO.
Like, it makes potatoes crispy and golden brown. Roasted vegetables caramelized and full of flavor. Fish tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. And it allows you to do this using very little added fat.
As I experimented with roasting vegetables, I found I needed at most one or two tablespoons of oil to coat an entire sheet pan of food! So this cooking method is healthy, delicious, and adds the most wonderful flavor to roasted foods.
Here are some of my experiments! I tried potatoes, naturally. I added olive oil, seasoning salt, and garlic. Baked at 425 for around 20 minutes. And this:
Yummy! I tried zucchini a number of times. I found I needed to leave it in pretty large pieces so the pieces didn't get overcooked in the oven. Before:
See all that caramel-y goodness? I also tried this:
Unfortunately, it got eaten so quickly after coming out of the oven that there is no "after" picture. But it was dee-licious.
This is my next frontier! I want to try cooking whole meals all on the same sheet pan, and somehow get the size of the veggies and the meat right, so it all cooks to perfection at the same time. So far, I've used separate sheet pans so I can cook the meat longer than the veggies, or vice versa. But I love the idea of literally throwing all your ingredients on a sheet and baking them together.
Let me know if you've tried parchment paper and how your experiments came out! Happy eating!
I'm a school librarian, cookbook author, and longtime fan of food and literature. Welcome to my blog!