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Menu planner: Baked brown rice with roasted red peppers perfect for a meatless dinner

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

Baked brown rice with roasted red peppers and onions is a delicious vegan dish for lunch or dinner.
Baked brown rice with roasted red peppers and onions is a delicious vegan dish for lunch or dinner.
America’s Test Kitchen

Baked brown rice with roasted red peppers and onions

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours

INGREDIENTS

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste

2 1/2 cups water

1 cup unsalted vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice, rinsed

3/4 cup roasted red peppers, rinsed, patted dry and chopped

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

Black pepper to taste

Grated parmesan cheese

Lemon wedges

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in Dutch oven on medium until shimmering. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until softened and well browned. Stir in water and broth; bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover and transfer pot to oven. Bake 65 to 70 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove pot from oven. Sprinkle red peppers over rice, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Add parsley; fluff gently with fork to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan and lemon wedges.

Per serving: 328 calories, 7 grams protein, 7 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 1 gram saturated fat, 61 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 51 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 4.

Broiled steak with cheesy polenta and pasta sauce

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: about 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes for polenta; 16 to 21 minutes for steak

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE POLENTA

1 2/3 cups water

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided

1 cup no-salt-added or regular red pasta sauce

FOR THE STEAK

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 clove minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1 boneless top sirloin beef steak, cut 1 inch thick (about 1 1/2 pounds)

In a 1-quart baking dish, combine water, cornmeal and salt. Cover and microwave on high (100% power) 6 to 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of each cheese. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese. Microwave, uncovered, on medium (50% power) 1 or 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Heat sauce; set aside.

Meanwhile, combine Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper; press onto steak. Place steak on rack in broiler pan so surface is 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 16 to 21 minutes for medium-rare to medium, turning once. Carve steak. Serve with polenta and sauce.

Per serving: 220 calories, 25 grams protein, 6 grams fat (26 percent calories from fat), 2.6 grams saturated fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 62 milligrams cholesterol, 399 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb choices: 1.

Brunswick stew

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 (16-ounce) package frozen succotash, thawed

3/4 cup chopped onion

1 (14-ounce) can unsalted chicken broth

2 cups coarsely chopped cooked boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with liquid

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Coarse salt to taste

1/4 cup dehydrated potatoes

In a 3-quart microwave-safe baking dish, place succotash and cover. Microwave on high (100% power) 4 minutes and drain. Put the chopped onion in a microwave-safe 1-cup measure; cover and cook on high 1 minute. Drain and add to the succotash. Add the chicken broth, cooked chicken, tomatoes with liquid, sugar, black and cayenne peppers and salt; mix well. Cover and cook on high 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. (From now on, leave the dish covered for a thinner stew or uncovered for thicker.) Stir in the dehydrated potatoes to thicken and cook on medium (50% power) for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Serve.

Per serving: 308 calories, 28 grams protein, 4 grams fat (10 percent calories from fat), 0.9 gram saturated fat, 41 grams carbohydrate, 60 milligrams cholesterol, 178 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 2.5

Thai beef salad

Whisk together 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons minced jalapeno pepper, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt. Add thinly sliced leftover steak, 4 cups fresh bean sprouts, 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper, 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced seeded cucumber and 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (chopped); toss to mix. Line serving platter with 8 cups lettuce; spoon meat mixture on top and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Serve with any deli soup ad crusty rolls.

Pizza dogs

Cut diagonal slashes in 8 less-sodium less-fat hot dogs and cook them according to directions. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup pizza sauce. Serve the hot dogs on whole-grain buns and top with pizza sauce and shredded 50% light cheddar cheese. Add baked chips and deli carrot salad.

Dilled halibut with vegetables

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Coat 4 (12-by-18-inch) pieces of foil with cooking spray. Center several lemon slices on each sheet. Place 4 (4- to 6-ounce) halibut fillets on lemons. Sprinkle halibut with coarse salt and pepper. Cut into thin strips 1/2 medium zucchini, 1/2 yellow squash, 1 medium carrot and 1 medium onion; combine vegetables. Divide vegetable mix to top each fillet. Sprinkle each portion with 3/4 teaspoon fresh dill (or 1/4 teaspoon dried). Bring up foil sides; double-fold top and ends to seal, leaving room for heat to circulate. Bake 15 to 18 minutes on a baking sheet. When ready to serve, open packet away from your face to allow steam to escape. Serve the colorful entree with roasted red potatoes, mixed greens bans whole-grain rolls.