This sheet pan dinner is ready in about 40 minutes (start to finish) and combines mild base flavors with all kinds of dynamic toppings so you can please even the pickiest palate.
Well hello anxiety, my old friend!
Question for the caregivers out there: Are you able to separate your own happiness from that of your kids? It’s a tough question because if your child is having a hard time in any area of his/her/their life, it can feel weird to say that you’re happy anyway. It’s also hard to actually be happy anyway. But at the same time, it’s a lot of pressure for a kid to have that much impact on their caregiver’s well-being.
We’ve had a couple of good weeks recently. You know the ones: You suddenly realize that the littles are more agreeable, they actually eat the food that you cook, and they can entertain themselves with toys that they already own!
We were on one of those streaks when M suddenly had a really tough week last week. I felt myself getting more and more anxious about it. Then I tried talking to him about a specific situation at school and he wouldn’t tell me because, he said, “I don’t want to make you mad and sad.” CRY FACE EMOJI.
I realized that my sensitive butterfly could tell that I was getting upset about his tough times and that it was stressing him out.
On the one hand, it’s good for kids, especially in these self-centered toddler and preschool years, to know that their actions and words impact others. I mean, it’s our job to teach them about consequences. But it’s also not a kid’s job to make sure that their parents are happy. So how do you balance your kids’ stuff with your own? Do you feel happy even when your kids are having a rough time?
I have no answers. Just putting this out into the universe in the hopes that someone smarter than me has some guidance.
When I feel anxious, as I have this week, I gravitate towards unhealthy food, which always makes me feel worse. So instead, I made this sheet pan dinner and it has done the trick! Every flavor is represented here: Creamy, tangy feta; briny, salty olives; sweet, piquant roasted red peppers; and crunchy, sour pickled onions. Throw on some aromatic fresh oregano and garlic butter and this simple fish, potatoes and fennel dinner is all dressed up in a more interesting package.
The various components cook at different rates, which is the only slightly tricky part of this meal. But good news: You can prep the next step while the earlier one is cooking.
Sheet pan dinner: White fish with potatoes and fennel
½ lb small potatoes, halved or quartered
2 large bulbs of fennel, white part only, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
½-1 tsp salt, divided
Black pepper, to taste
4 white fish fillets, about 6 oz each, fresh or frozen
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
Toppings (all are optional!):
½ cup green or black olives, pitted and chopped
2-3 oz feta, crumbled
Quick pickled red onions (See recipe below)
Roasted red peppers, sliced
Flatbreads, Naan, or Pita
Preheat the oven to 425.
Prep the potatoes and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 5 minutes.
While the potatoes roast, slice the fennel into 1/8th inch slices. Add the fennel to the roasting pan and toss with the other 1 Tbsp of oil and another large pinch of salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the fennel starts to brown and the potatoes are fork tender.
While the fennel roasts, wrap your fish in parchment packets. Cut a piece of parchment 2-3x as large as your fish filet. Place the filet in the middle and bring the two longer ends together and fold down. Fold up the remaining sides.
Add the fish on top of the veggies and cook until it flakes easily. This will take slightly longer if you’re cooking the fish from frozen. (I check the fish after 10 minutes if thawed, or after 15-18 minutes if frozen. Open up one parchment packet and try to flake the fish with a fork. If it comes apart easily, it’s done.)
While the veggies and fish are roasting, prep your toppings. Set aside.
Mince the garlic. Combine with 2 Tbsp of butter and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute until the butter is liquid. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Set aside.
Remove the sheet pan from the oven and carefully open the parchment packets. Discard the paper and the water that’s collected in the packets while the fish cooked.
Top the fish fillets with the garlic butter.
Top the sheet pan with any of the toppings you choose.
Yield: 4 servings
Quick pickled red onions
1 large red onion, sliced into 1/8 inch slices
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Combine the onions with the pickling ingredients in a large container and shake a few times. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or up to 1 week.