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Menu planner: Chickpea salad with carrots provides lots of flavor, protein without meat

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

Chickpea salad with carrots, arugula and olives.
Chickpea salad with carrots, arugula and olives.
America’s Test Kitchen

Chickpea salad with carrots, arugula and olives

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 1 1/2 minutes


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

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

3 carrots, peeled and shredded

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

1 cup baby arugula, chopped

In a medium bowl, microwave chickpeas on high (100% power) about 1 1/2 minutes or until hot. Stir in oil, juice, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and let sit 30 minutes. Add carrots and olives and toss to combine. Bring to room temperature before adding arugula. Toss and serve.

Per serving: 408 calories, 12 grams protein, 20 grams fat (44% calories from fat), 2.5 grams saturated fat, 45 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 737 milligrams sodium, 10 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 3.

Italian chicken-lentil soup

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 5 to 6 hours, plus 15 minutes


1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium zucchini, chopped (about 3 cups)

3 cups sliced carrots

12 ounces dried lentils, sorted and rinsed

6 1/4 cups unsalted chicken broth

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms

3 (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added fire-roasted or regular tomatoes, with liquid

5 teaspoons dried basil

Shredded parmesan, if desired

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, mix onion, zucchini, carrots, lentils, broth, salt and pepper. Top with chicken. Cover; cook on low 5 to 6 hours. Remove chicken from cooker to plate. Shred, using 2 forks; return chicken to cooker. Stir in mushrooms and tomatoes. Cover; cook about 15 minutes longer or until thoroughly heated. Top each serving with basil and parmesan.

Per serving: 336 calories, 29 grams protein, 5 grams fat (14% calories from fat), 1.4 grams saturated fat, 42 grams carbohydrate, 79 milligrams cholesterol, 442 milligrams sodium, 9 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 3.

Sweet and spicy vegetable couscous

Makes 10 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes


1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 large carrot, shredded

2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth

1 (11-ounce) can Mexican-style corn, rinsed

1 (9-ounce) package frozen tiny green peas

2 tablespoons golden raisins or dried cranberries

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 1/2 cups couscous

2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds

Heat oil in Dutch oven on medium. Add onion and carrot; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Increase heat to medium-high. Add broth, corn, peas, raisins (or cranberries), curry powder, cumin and red pepper; mix well. Bring to a boil. Stir in couscous. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 to 7 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Garnish with almonds.

Per serving: 185 calories, 6 grams protein, 3 grams fat (13% calories from fat), 0.3 gram saturated fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 167 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 2.

Flat iron steaks (also called shoulder top blade steaks.

Grill the 6- to 8-ounce steaks on medium 13 to 15 minutes for medium-rare to medium. While you’re at it, grill your own fresh asparagus and potatoes for some add-ons, and serve mixed greens and sourdough bread alongside.

Beef stew

Combine 2 cups water with 2 (0.87-ounce) packages less-sodium brown gravy mix; mix well. Pour mixture into a Dutch oven and add 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and 1 (16-ounce) package frozen vegetables for stew (potatoes, carrots, celery and onion); bring to a boil on medium-high. Add chopped steaks; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper.

For something different, serve the stew in bread bowls (follow directions on bread dough package), or serve with refrigerated crusty French loaf. Add a fresh spinach salad.

Tortas de huevos con aguacate (egg and avocado torta)

A torta is a warm and filling sandwich. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mash 1 peeled avocado with 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice; set aside. In a medium bowl, beat 3 eggs with 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt; fold in 1 (4-ounce) can drained chopped chilies. In medium nonstick skillet, melt 2 teaspoons butter over medium-high heat. Add eggs and chilies; cook, stirring until desired consistency. Spread avocado mixture on inside surfaces of 4 split, soft sandwich rolls. Spoon hot eggs onto rolls. Top each with a tomato slice and cover with tops of rolls. Place tortas on baking sheet; bake 5 minutes or until rolls begin to toast.

Baked tilapia with dill butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 7-by-11-inch baking dish in oven. Place 4 (4- to 6-ounce) tilapia fillets in dish; turn to coat. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon dried dill and coarse salt and pepper to taste. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Meanwhile, melt 1 1/2 teaspoons butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons unseasoned dry bread crumbs; cook until crumbs are light golden brown, stirring constantly. Sprinkle over fish during the last 3 minutes of baking.