The oven might be the ultimate cold-weather cooking device when it comes to convenience. The extra heat can even be considered a perk when you’re cooking dinner on a cold winter night. Prepare your simple weeknight meals, pop them in the oven, then enjoy hot dinners that will warm you from the inside out. When you need a break from your slow cooker, preheat the oven for these delicious dishes. We’re showcasing simple oven dinners that will quickly become favorites.
1. Baked Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions
Nothing screams comfort food like risotto, and you can even make the dish in your oven with this recipe The Kitchn. Not only is the baked rice dish full of mushroom flavor, but it’s also topped with caramelized onions and pepper. Better yet, this dish is a healthy vegan meal. You can thank your preheated oven for this one.
- ½ ounce dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 cups boiling water
- ⅓ cup olive oil, divided
- 4 yellow onions
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ½ pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 cup Arborio or short-grain white rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to garnish
Directions: Heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse the dried mushrooms lightly to remove any dust or grit. Place the mushrooms in a ceramic bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Set them aside to steep while you cook the onions.
Chop one of the onions into a fine dice. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in an 3-quart ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until soft and golden. Push the onions to the side of the pot, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add all the sliced cremini mushrooms and let them cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Flip the mushrooms and cook for another five minutes, or until they are quite brown and a crust is developing on the bottom of the pan.
Drain the dried mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Add the mushrooms and rosemary sprig to the pan and sauté briefly, mixing with the onion and the rest of the mushrooms. Add the rice and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 4 minutes, or until the rice begins to turn transparent.
Turn the heat to high and add the white wine, vinegar, broth, and reserved mushroom steeping liquid. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan as you add the liquid to deglaze any mushroom bits sticking to the pan. Stir in the salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and put it in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.
While the rice is baking, make the caramelized onions. Heat the remaining olive oil in a cast-iron skillet. Cut the remaining three onions in half, and then slice them into thin half moons. Add them to the oil and sprinkle liberally with salt. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a dark mahogany brown. Let them go as long as you can; at least 30 minutes.
When the risotto has finished baking, let it stand uncovered for 5 minutes before serving. Top each bowl with a spoonful of caramelized onions and extra pepper.
2. Baked Vegetable Soup
You might think soups can only be mastered on the stove, but this baked vegetable soup from Eating Well proves the oven is completely capable. Filled with artichokes, mushrooms, zucchini, potatoes, and leeks, it’s the perfect warming meal that’s both healthy and satiating. Lucky for you, it only takes 40 minutes to prepare.
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1½ teaspoons salt, divided
- 2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced ½ inch thick
- 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 4 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 4 cups frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juice
- 1 (2-inch) piece Parmesan cheese rind, plus finely shredded Parmesan for garnish
- 6 cups water
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour oil into a large ovenproof pot and arrange potato slices in an even layer over the oil. Sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon salt. Layer in zucchini, leeks, celery, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and ¼ cup parsley; sprinkle with the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt. Pour tomatoes over the vegetables and nestle Parmesan rind into them. Add water, cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
Once boiling, transfer the pot to the oven and bake, covered, until the vegetables are tender, but still firm, 1 to 1¼ hours. Season with pepper and serve garnished with parsley and Parmesan, if desired.
3. Braised Lamb Shanks
Sunday supper can still be simple, even when you’re cooking something hearty. Take these braised lamb shanks from Bon Appétit, for example. The method is really just a matter of browning and braising. As you can see, the prep work is largely hands off, so all you need to do is plan ahead. The end result of tender lamb shanks is surely worth the bit of effort.
- 12 garlic cloves, 6 smashed, 6 finely chopped
- 4 (16-ounce) lamb shanks, excess fat and silver skin trimmed
- ½ cup fish sauce, divided, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 5 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
- 6 dried bird chiles
- 4 kaffir lime leaves or 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 large fennel bulbs, quartered
- 8 ounces small carrots, scrubbed, or larger carrots, scrubbed, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 cup cilantro, Thai or sweet basil, and/or celery leaves, divided
Directions: Place smashed garlic in a resealable plastic bag along with lamb shanks and ¼ cup fish sauce. Seal bag, pressing out air. Turn lamb shanks to coat and chill at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. Let lamb sit at room temperature 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Remove lamb shanks from bag and add to pot; discard marinade. Cook shanks, turning occasionally, until browned evenly on all sides, 14-18 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
Reduce heat to medium and cook shallots, cilantro stems, and finely chopped garlic in the same pot, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from the bottom, until shallots are golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add chiles, kaffir lime leaves, bay leaves, stock, and ¼ cup fish sauce, and stir, scraping up any remaining stuck-on bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a simmer, return lamb to pot, and cover. Transfer to oven and braise until meat is pulling away from bones but not quite fork-tender, 50 to 60 minutes.
Turn shanks and add fennel and carrots to pot, submerging in liquid. Cover and braise until meat is very tender and nearly falling off the bone, 40 to 50 minutes. Let rest 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Serve lamb shanks with fennel and carrots and some braising liquid, which you can reduce if you prefer a thicker consistency, topped with cilantro, basil or celery leaves, and seasoned with a few more drops of fish sauce, if desired.
4. Skinny Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake
Chicken Parmesan is a dinner favorite, and it gets an upgrade when you throw it in this pasta dish from Betty Crocker. The pasta, chicken tenders, and cheese bake together in the oven for 40 minutes, then you’ll top the dish with a crispy crumb topping. The casserole will serve 6 hungry dinner guests.
- 1 (25.5-ounce) jar tomato-basil pasta sauce
- 1 cup water
- ½ lb uncooked bow tie pasta
- 1 (14-ounce) package chicken breast tenders, cut in 1-inch pieces
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Directions: Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix pasta sauce and water; stir in pasta. Pour into baking dish.
Rub chicken tenders with pepper flakes and salt. Place chicken in single layer on top of pasta mixture in baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until pasta is tender and most of sauce is absorbed. Remove foil; let stand 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs; stir to coat in butter. Cook 1 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until toasted. Pour mixture into medium bowl; stir in remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over baked pasta. Top with basil.
5. Buffalo Chicken Casserole
Bar food fans will love this dish from Eating Well. It’s the perfect meal to serve to your guests on game day, or any day. After just a bit of cooking on the stove, this buffalo chicken casserole will go into the oven for 30 minutes. Once it’s bubbling, it’s time to eat.
- 12 ounces whole-wheat elbow noodles
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 medium carrots, sliced
- 3 medium stalks celery, sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- 4 cups low-fat milk
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons hot sauce
- ¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a Dutch oven of water to a boil. Cook noodles until barely tender, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside.
Heat oil in the pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink on the outside, 5 to 7 minutes. Whisk cornstarch and milk in a medium bowl; add to the pot along with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often, until bubbling and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in hot sauce.
Spread the noodles in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with the chicken mixture; sprinkle with blue cheese. Bake the casserole until it is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
6. Baked Bean Casserole
This recipe from Food Network is all about the beef, beans, bacon, and barbecue sauce. If you like baked beans, you’re going to adore this twist. Just add a side of veggies, and dinner is ready.
- Cooking spray
- 1½ pounds lean ground beef
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- 2 (16-ounce) cans pork and beans
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 6 to 8 slices bacon, cut into pieces and cooked
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9-by-13-by 2-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
In a large saucepan, brown the ground beef, onions and bell peppers. Add the pork and beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar to the mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the bacon over the top of the casserole. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before serving.