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Menu planner: Guests will go nuts for creamy chopped chickpea pecan salad

Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes and sides to try.

Creamy chopped chickpea pecan salad
American Pecan Council

Creamy chopped chickpea pecan salad

Servings: 8

Preparation time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup pecan pieces

2 (15-ounce) cans rinsed reduced-sodium chickpeas

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped carrots

1/2 cup finely chopped apples

1/4 cup currants or raisins

4 green onions, tops only, thinly sliced

Endive lettuce

For the dressing:

6 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Generous pinch pepper

1/4 cup water

Fresh or dried dill or parsley, chopped (optional)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

In a large mixing bowl, combine pecans, chickpeas, celery, carrots, apples, currants or raisins and onions; set aside. Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk together. Pour dressing over chickpea mixture; toss to mix. Scoop salad into endive lettuce leaves; serve immediately.

Per serving: 194 calories, 6 grams protein, 9 grams fat (39 percent calories from fat), 0.6 gram saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 533 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber. Carb count: 1.5.

“Paella” Pronto

Servings: 6

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: about 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 (10-ounce) package frozen petite green peas

1 (13 1/2-ounce) package mild to hot turkey sausage, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

3/4 to 1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 (8-ounce) package yellow rice mix. Discard seasoning package. (The rice seasoning packet adds 493 milligrams sodium per serving.)

2 cups water

1/8 teaspoon coarse salt

Black pepper to taste

Microwave peas 3 minutes on high (100 percent power); set aside. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, cook sausage 3 to 4 minutes on medium-high; stir occasionally. Remove to a plate. In same skillet, add chicken and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Transfer to separate plate. In same skillet, add bell pepper, garlic and thyme; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add rice mix, water and sausage; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, 10 minutes or until most of liquid has been absorbed. Stir peas and chicken into rice mixture and cook, covered, 5 minutes or until heated through. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 338 calories, 27 grams protein, 8 grams fat (21 percent calories from fat), 2.1 grams saturated fat, 37 grams carbohydrate, 90 milligrams cholesterol, 613 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb Count: 2.5.

Curried chicken salad with blackberries

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes; chilling time: 20 to 30 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Pepper to taste

1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon dry white wine

2 tablespoons mango chutney

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 green onion, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins

2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries

1/4 cup roasted, salted cashews

Lettuce

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium. Sprinkle chicken with the salt and pepper; cook chicken 5 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from pan; chill in refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, lemon juice and ginger in a large bowl. Add chicken, onion, celery, raisins and berries; toss to coat. (If using frozen berries, refrigerate 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.) Just before serving, add cashews. Spoon salad onto a bed of lettuce and serve.

Per serving: 327 calories, 27 grams protein, 12 grams fat (33 percent calories from fat), 1.9 grams saturated fat, 28 grams carbohydrate, 73 milligrams cholesterol, 526 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.

Chicken stir-fry

Cook and stir 4 cups fresh vegetables for stir-fry (such as bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli and carrots) or 1 (1-pound) package frozen stir-fry vegetables in 1 tablespoon canola oil on medium-high 3 or 4 minutes or until softened. Add 1 (8- to 10-ounce) package refrigerated, cooked, sliced chicken breast and 1/2 cup stir-fry sauce; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until hot. Spoon over quick-cooking rice.

Hurry-up lasagna

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and spread 1 1/4 cups (from a 26-ounce jar) red pasta sauce into dish. Arrange 12 frozen large cheese ravioli (from a 30-ounce bag) over sauce and scatter 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed dry) over ravioli. Top with 1 cup (of 2 cups total) part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover with another layer of ravioli, the remaining sauce and mozzarella. Cover tightly with foil and bake 25 minutes; uncover and bake 5 to 10 more minutes or until bubbly.

Pierogies

Cook 1 (16.9-ounce) package frozen potato-and-onion pierogies in boiling water 5 minutes or until they float; remove from heat, drain and return to pot. Meanwhile, combine 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, 1/2 cup sliced green olives and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper in separate saucepan; bring to a simmer. Pour sauce over hot pierogies; stir gently. Serve on individual plates and garnish with dollops of reduced-fat ricotta cheese.

Green beans with tomatoes and feta

Add green beans with tomatoes and feta: Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil on medium in a wide saucepan. Add 1 cup finely chopped yellow onions and 2 cloves minced garlic; cook 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add 1 thinly sliced fennel bulb; cook 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Add 2 (14-ounce) cans undrained stewed tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 30 minutes or until mixture becomes saucy. Add 2 pounds trimmed fresh green beans (cut into 2-inch pieces); simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Add 1/3 cup chopped flatleaf parsley; simmer 5 minutes. Spoon into serving bowls; garnish with 1/2 cup crumbled Greek feta cheese. Add sourdough bread.