Convection Oven Dinners
March 6, 2010 11:26 AM   Subscribe

What can I do with a tabletop convection oven? I bought it so I can have more options than a microwave provides when we work late and eat dinner at our office. I know convection ovens are used a lot for bakery goods and for the toaster-oven function but I am not interested in either of these. What would be good to cook in a convection oven in our office that we couldn't just make at home, freeze, and warm up in the microwave? I like healthy low calorie meals.

We do not have a kitchen at our office and I am trying to make it more dinner-friendly since my husband and I often work very late at night and are tired of going out to eat in the neighborhood. As stated, I have been making a lot of dishes in advance and freezing them in smaller portions to bring in with me, thaw during the day, and warm up in the microwave at dinner time. I am hoping the convection oven can bring more possibilities. We have a refrigerator, but no real prep-space or utensils, so it would be best if it is something I could prepare at home and bring with me to cook. Any ideas?
posted by Lylo to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
We use our convection toaster oven all the time, especially when it gets hot outside. Basically, it can do anything a stove can do. Some healthful options include roasted veggies (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli), and baked potatoes/sweet potatoes. We've even roasted a half chicken in ours. Maybe you can marinate at home, then roast at the office? If you keep a roll of foil around to line the tray, cleanup will be a snap.
posted by Gilbert at 11:41 AM on March 6, 2010

I've got a convection oven like this, which I've had for about ten years (the later ones are halogen, but mine's just radiant fan heat). But the boxy ones work just the same.

You could marinate overnight a piece of fish or a chicken breast in a marinade of your choice, bring it to work in a Lock & Lock and roast it in a loosely-wrapped foil parcel in the oven. Bring in some raw veggies and get a little microwave steamer. One healthy lunch.

Also good is roast asparagus (in a foil dish, drizzled with a little olive oil) or for a scrummy dessert, roast pineapple. Put chunks of fresh pineapple in a foil dish, drizzle with cinnamon and honey or maple syrup and roast for 20 minutes on medium heat. Serve warm, not hot, with crème fraîche, Greek yoghurt or ice cream.
posted by essexjan at 12:07 PM on March 6, 2010

Shirred eggs, also called scotch eggs.
posted by bilabial at 2:27 PM on March 6, 2010

Best answer: If you have a sink, you could get one of those cutting boards that fit over it (like this maybe?) and make yourself some space. Keep one knife around and maybe two nesting stainless steel bowls and you've practically got an entire kitchen at your disposal.

I love roasting beets. They can be messy, but they taste delicious, and you can peel them and keep them refrigerated for a while. Just wash, wrap in foil, put in a dish in the oven at home until you can slide a knife easily into the center, and toss them straight into the fridge to cool overnight. Chop them up and put them in salads, or re-roast them with less-dense vegetables like cabbage or fennel, tossed in olive oil. I love caraway seeds on something like that, with rolls that you could also heat up in your oven, or even just in a tray sitting on top of it.

The yummiest quick fish recipe I have is basically this:

1 fillet of any fairly sturdy white fish, trout is the best
Chopped tomatoes, a few tablespoons per fillet
Sliced fresh shitake mushrooms, maybe three per fillet
Minced ginger
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Salt & Pepper

Line your tray with foil and set your oven to 400. Put a little drizzle of sesame oil in the tray, a little salt and pepper. Place the fillets skin side down. Toss the tomato, mushroom, ginger, cilantro, and sesame oil together and top the fish with it. Sprinkle with some soy sauce. Cook in the oven on the highest rack until the fish is done. Top with more cilantro if you love it like I do.

This could easily be set up for your purposes, just by keeping the salt, pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil in the office. Cut everything up that morning, wash & dry your fillets of fish, and transport them in sealed containers.
posted by Mizu at 4:59 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Next time, consider carefully a combination microwave/convection. I've used those for years, and swear by them. You get the pleasant textures of real roasting/baking combined with the speed of microwaves.
posted by Goofyy at 10:12 PM on March 6, 2010

We've had a combo convection/conventional oven for years, and we use convection for everything, probably 95% of our baking.

Lower the temperature by 25 degrees - if the recipe calls for 325° F, set the convection for 300° F instead. Do NOT preheat it. Set the timer for the longest suggested time, but watch carefully the last few minutes. Roasts, pizza (homemade, of course!), bread, cookies - you name it, it gets convection treatment.

Don't be shy about trying it for anything you normally microwave or bake. It uses much less energy and it thoroughly heats the food.
posted by lambchop1 at 11:01 PM on March 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks Lambchop, interesting you say to lower temp. but cook for suggested time (watching it during last few minutes)......the instruction book says to keep temp same (as in conventional oven recipe) but to reduce time by 30%.....Any reason you've found it better to do it your way? I thought one advantage of convection is a shorter cooking time?

Mizu-- Unfortunately, no kitchen sink--jJust a small bathroom sink that really wouldn't work for food prep. I like the fish recipe, but would probably bring it to office already marinated with oil, salt, and pepper, then bring topping in small baggie or container to put on top. Instead of soy sauce, I could easily keep a spray bottle of Braggs at office, it is very convenient, healthier than soy sauce, and comes in pump spray bottle. Thanks!
posted by Lylo at 9:48 AM on March 7, 2010

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