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.

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Creamy chopped chickpea pecan salad

American Pecan Council

Creamy chopped chickpea pecan salad

Servings: 8

Preparation time: 15 minutes


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


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


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


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.


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.

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