Menu planner: Your budget and your palate will like cheesy lentils and rice

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

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Cheesy lentils and rice.

Cabot creamery

Cheesy lentils and rice

Makes about 10 cups

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Standing time: 5 minutes


2 cups uncooked brown lentils

1 cup uncooked brown rice

1 cup unsalted chicken broth

2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, with liquid

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

8 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese, divided

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Reduced-fat sour cream for garnish

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook lentils and rice. In a large bowl, combine lentils, rice, broth, tomatoes and green chilies, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and half the cheese. Mix well and spoon into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining cheese. Cover with nonstick foil; bake 40 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes; garnish with cilantro and sour cream before serving.

Per serving: 319 calories, 19 grams protein, 8 grams fat (23% calories from fat), 5 grams saturated fat, 45 grams carbohydrate, 20 milligrams cholesterol, 616 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 3.

Broccoli-walnut noodles

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes, plus noodles


6 ounces wide or medium curly no-yolk noodles

1 pound fresh bite-size broccoli florets

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

Juice of 1/2 orange

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Cook noodles according to directions; drain. Microwave broccoli on high (100% power) 4 minutes or until tender. In a small skillet, heat oil on medium-high and add walnuts; cook 1 minute. In a large bowl, combine cooked noodles and cooked broccoli. Add walnut-oil mixture to broccoli mixture; toss to mix. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice, and salt and pepper to taste; toss again. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 161 calories, 5 grams protein, 7 grams fat (37% calories from fat), 0.7 gram saturated fat, 21 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 26 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 1.5.

Savory bean and pasta salad

Makes 5 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: for the pasta


6 ounces medium shell or penne pasta

2 (15-ounce) cans three-bean salad, lightly drained

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

3/4 cup provolone cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 ounces)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook pasta according to directions; drain and rinse. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta and all remaining ingredients; toss to mix. Cover and chill until serving time.

Per serving: 310 calories, 13 grams protein, 6 grams fat (16% calories from fat), 2.8 grams saturated fat, 54 grams carbohydrate, 12 milligrams cholesterol, 811 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 3.5.

Lentil soup

Serve it with grilled chili-cheese sandwiches on whole grain bread. Drain 1 (4-ounce) can whole green chilies. Put 1 chili between 2 slices (any) cheese on whole-grain bread. Coat both sides of bread with cooking spray and grill in skillet until cheese melts. Slice diagonally and serve with pickles.

Beany roll-ups

Mix 1 (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans, 1/2 cup mild salsa and 1/4 teaspoon chili powder in a small saucepan. Heat on medium about 5 minutes or until warm. Spread about 1/4 cup mixture along center of each of 8 (8- to 10-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce and 1 tablespoon shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Fold over sides and ends and serve with additional salsa.

Pepper-lime chicken

Place 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (flattened to an even thickness) on unheated rack (coated with cooking spray) of broiler pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat about 6 minutes or until lightly browned, turning once. Meanwhile, mix together 1/2 teaspoon lime zest (green part only), 1 tablespoon canola oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Brush both sides of chicken with glaze. Broil 5 to 15 minutes more, until chicken is tender or internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, brushing often during the last 5 minutes.

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