When Irma Rombauer coined the phrase “the joy of cooking,” she was maybe forgetting about five nights of the week. What’s joyful about cooking when meetings run late and soccer practice kicks off right in the middle of dinner hour and cranky babies need to be fed and put to bed? What we fail to talk about when we talk about cooking is time. It takes some. 

Cue the infinite parade of culinary tools and tricks promising the answer to making dinner happen. Every miracle method has its day, and right now, the day belongs to sheet pan dinners—a toss and roast kind of approach that boasts limited clean-up and light hands-on time. Sheet pan dinners don’t ask you to stir or sauté or scrub a million pots. They package up healthy protein and veggies in an appealing, convenient way. They are versatile and require only an inexpensive sheet pan.

This spicy, Moroccan-inspired edition brings the faraway flavor of harissa to ordinary salmon and winter vegetables. A swoosh of garlicky yogurt plays yin to harissa’s fiery yang, cooling things down for a perfect balance, and the whole plate comes together in about an hour, largely hands-off. Of course, sheet pan suppers will no more cure the crunch of weeknight stress than Instant Pots and Hamburger Helper. There isn’t an instant fix—there is only intention and determination and cooking your way to the joy. But if a sheet pan dinner inspires you to turn on the oven and start, well, therein lies the miracle.


Sheet Pan Harissa Salmon & Vegetables
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 medium head of cauliflower,
cut into large florets
2 medium sweet potatoes,
cut into small cubes
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained
4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
3 Tbs. harissa paste*, divided
1 Tbs. honey
4 (5 oz.) skin-on salmon fillets
Kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk
or Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, grated
Fresh mint and fresh parsley,
for finishing

*Note: The heat of harissa paste can vary widely among brands. Be sure to taste yours first and adjust the proportions accordingly.

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.

2. Stir together 2 Tbs. harissa paste, 3 Tbs. olive oil, and salt to taste in a large bowl. Add cauliflower, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes and mix with your hands until the vegetables are well coated. Spread vegetables out onto a half-sheet baking pan and roast in the oven undisturbed for about 30–35 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together 1 Tbs. harissa paste, 1 Tbs. olive oil, and 1 Tbs. honey. Pat the salmon fillets dry and then season with salt on both sides.

4. Remove sheet pan from the oven and toss vegetables to finish roasting. Create some space and place the salmon fillets on the pan with the vegetables, skin side down. Brush fillets with the harissa-honey mixture and return pan to oven. Roast for another 10 minutes or until salmon is done to your liking.

5. Stir together yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and salt to taste. When ready to serve, spoon garlicky yogurt onto a plate and top with salmon and vegetables. Finish generously with fresh mint and parsley.