I miss my oven a lot less these days.
Oh, I still long for the ability to make cupcakes and manicotti and chicken tetrazzini, but since I discovered how versatile my toaster oven can be, I’ve been pining for its much larger cousin less and less. Unfortunately you can’t really cook for more than one person with a toaster oven (unless you’re willing to cook one person’s dinner first and then wait fifteen minutes while the second batch heats up), but since I eat most of my meals alone that’s fine by me. And as with a rice cooker, you can often just pop stuff in the toaster oven and forget about it.
Here, then, are three of my favorite easy toaster oven recipes.
1. Roasted carrots and potatoes. I’ve sung the praises of roasted veggies before, and I always thought that without a proper oven I’d just have to do without. But no–you can totally make roasted veggies in the toaster oven! Just chop your veggies (I used carrots and potatoes) fairly small (about 1/2 inch thick, and 1 inch long or a little less). Drop them in a small bowl and drizzle with some olive oil, then sprinkle with basil, oregano, salt, and pepper (substitute fresh chopped rosemary for the basil & oregano if you’ve got it, it can be hard to come by in Japan). Mix everything together gently and then spread the veggies flat on a toaster oven-sized piece of parchment paper. Toast for 15 minutes and they’re done. (Note: my toaster oven only has one setting and no visible temperature gauge–if yours is more complex try tinkering with the temperature a bit; too low & it’ll take forever, too high and they’ll burn).
2. Mushrooms with garlic butter. I stole this idea from Gyu-Kaku, where they give you little foil packets filled with meats or veggies plus seasonings and you grill them over a hibachi in the middle of your table. Chop about a cup and a half of shiitake and maitake mushrooms (or whatever variety you’ve got handy). Place mushrooms on a sheet of tinfoil. Add a tablespoon of chopped garlic and a small chunk of butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the tinfoil around everything, forming a little packet (make sure it’s tightly closed so all the juices stay in). Pop it in the toaster oven and heat for 10-15 minutes.
3. Salmon with garlic, ginger, and lemon. A great accompaniment to the mushrooms, and you can cook them together in the toaster oven if there’s room. Take one or two small salmon fillets and place on a sheet of tinfoil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, 1/2 tbsp each chopped garlic and ginger, and the zest and juice of half a lemon. Wrap foil around salmon and make a packet, again being careful to close the packet tightly. Cook for fifteen minutes. This one was a real winner–tender, juicy, flavorful and not the least bit over or undercooked.
Maybe at some point I’ll try making cupcakes in the toaster oven. But that might be pushing it.