Sunday Dinner in One Pan



Does anyone still cook  Sunday dinner? A kind of old-fashioned, main meal of the day with roast, potatoes, side vegetables and dessert that everyone sits down to around noon or 1:00 p.m.? Maybe you know that in the 1700 and 1800s most people ate their main meal around mid-day; easily done by farm families, and even city dwellers who, along with apprentices and hired help, closed up shop and office and walked home to eat.

When many people went to work in factories and ate from lunch pails at noon instead, we abandoned daily noon meals. Hot suppers at the end of the day may or may not have included the kind of food people were used to eating at the old midday dinner. And in order to include the whole family, perhaps grandparents and the littlest kids around the dining table, Sunday was the day when everyone was free.

Around our house, a roast-based dinner is pretty rare, and often reserved for company gatherings, so our one-pan Sunday dinner was a bit unusual, but it worked because Kate had to work at an event that evening and college basketball engrosses Toby around dinner time, and I didn’t want to wait until too late (like 7 p.m.) to eat a big meal.

Based on a two-pound piece of boneless pork roast, our dinner included potatoes, numerous small onions, shallots, garlic and slices of Delicata squash. Delicata, for the uninitiated, is an oblong yellow winter squash with green lengthwise stripes, and sweet flesh. The skin is thin and edible, so no peeling is required. I could’ve added carrot, turnip, or even green vegetables.

All I did was put a small rack under the meat, insert slices of garlic in slits in the flesh, and sprinkle salt and pepper and a little fresh rosemary on top. I dribbled a little vegetable oil on the roasting pan around the meat and tossed in peeled and quartered onions, shallots, and unpeeled but well-scrubbed potato chunks. To start roasting the potatoes before the meat began dripping fat, I dribbled more oil on top of the vegetables. I put this into a three-fifty-degree oven for an hour, turning the potatoes once after thirty minutes. Then I pushed the potatoes and onions to one side and laid the squash rings on the bottom of the roasting pan and gave it another half hour. The meat was fairly lean, so the whole thing was flavorful without being greasy.

Pretty easy. This one-pan trick would work with beef, a turkey breast, or a small chicken as long as you remember to adjust the roasting time so your vegetables don’t have to endure more than an hour and a half or so of roasting time. With chutney or relish for the meat, plus salad, you have a respectable Sunday dinner.

If your vegetables are tender before the meat is done, pull them out, and cover with foil and reheat as necessary before serving. Green vegetables such as broccoli or green beans benefit from a quick blanching in hot water before you add them to the pan in the oven and don’t need much more than twenty minutes of roasting time.

One-Pan Roast Pork Dinner
Serves: 4-5
  • 2-3 pound boneless pork roast
  • 2 cloves of garlic, or more to taste, sliced
  • Fresh or dried rosemary leaves
  • Vegetable oil
  • 4-5 small potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 2-3 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 shallots peeled and halved
  • 1 small Delicata squash or a similar winter squash, seeded and cut into half-inch slices.
  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make slits in the top of the roast with a knife and slide a slices of garlic into them.
  3. Put the meat on a small rack in a heavy roasting pan, sprinkle with rosemary leaves.
  4. Dribble a little vegetable oil on the pan and add the potatoes, onions, shallots and dribble a little more oil over them.
  5. Liberally salt and pepper the meat and vegetables and put into the oven.
  6. After a half hour, turn the vegetables and roast for another thirty-minutes.
  7. Remove the pan and push the vegetables aside and lay the squash slices on the bottom of the pan. Roast for another thirty minutes.
  8. Check the meat for an internal temperature of about 160 degrees and when you reach it, remove from the oven and serve.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.