Menu planner: For a simple, no-meat dinner, have skillet tortellini

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

SHARE Menu planner: For a simple, no-meat dinner, have skillet tortellini
This skillet tortellini takes less that 30 minutes from start to serve.

This skillet tortellini takes less that 30 minutes from start to serve.

Scott Feldstein

Skillet tortellini

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: Less than 10 minutes, plus pasta


12 ounces dried cheese tortellini

Table salt for cooking pasta

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, 8 minutes, stirring frequently until not quite al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain; set aside. Heat oil; add garlic and cook about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in half-and-half, pepper, pasta and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water and bring to a simmer over medium. Cook 4 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until tortellini is al dente and sauce has thickened and coats pasta. Stir in peas, Parmesan, lemon zest and lemon juice and cook 1 minute until warmed through, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing additional Parmesan separately.

Per serving: 329 calories, 15 grams protein, 12 grams fat (33% calories from fat), 6.5 grams saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, 48 milligrams cholesterol, 435 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Taco casserole

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 30 to 35 minutes


1 pound 93% to 95% lean ground beef

1 small onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup water

1/2 cup mild salsa or taco sauce

1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies, drained

1/2 cup sliced ripe olives, divided

1 (1.25-ounce) packet less-sodium taco seasoning mix

3 cups baked tortilla chips or taco shells, broken

2 cups shredded 50% light cheddar cheese

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Cook beef, onion and garlic 7 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and onion is softened; drain if necessary. Stir in water, taco sauce, chilies, 1/4 cup olives and seasoning mix. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 3 to 4 minutes. In a 7-by-11-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, layer half the broken chips and half the meat sauce: sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Repeat with remaining chips, meat sauce and cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Top with remaining olives and the tomatoes.

Per serving: 392 calories, 30 grams protein, 16 grams fat (36% calories from fat), 6.6 grams saturated fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, 63 milligrams cholesterol, 1,078 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.

Turmeric-spiced chicken with tomato-avocado salsa

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes; marinating time: 30 minutes to 2 hours

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

8 (4- or 5-ounce) chicken cutlets

For the salsa:

6 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)

2 ripe Hass avocados, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

In a small bowl, combine oil, garlic powder, salt, turmeric and red pepper; mix well. Pour into a resealable plastic bag; add chicken. Turn to coat; marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 2 hours. Meanwhile, for the salsa, in a medium bowl, mix salsa ingredients. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove chicken; discard marinade. Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side or until internal temperature is 165 degrees. Serve with salsa.

Per serving: 236 calories, 26 gram protein, 11 grams fat (41% calories from fat), 1.8 grams saturated fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 73 milligrams cholesterol, 380 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Marinated flank steak

In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 clove minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon sugar; pour into a resealable plastic bag along with a 1 1/2 pound flank steak. Refrigerate 6 hours to overnight, turning occasionally. Remove steak; discard marinade. Grill 17 to 21 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness. Carve crosswise into thin slices. Serve with corn on the cob, any grilled vegetables, mixed greens and whole-grain rolls.

Fresh berry cream tart

Bake a refrigerated pastry crust in a 9- or 10-inch tart pan according to package directions; cool. Blend 8 ounces softened reduced-fat cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon orange juice with an electric mixer; spread over the cooled pie crust. Top with 4 to 5 cups mixed berries, such as blueberries, raspberries or small strawberries. Spread fruit with melted red currant jelly or all-fruit blueberry spread. Refrigerate 2 hours before slicing.

TIP: If using a 10-inch tart pan, stretch dough to fit, and add more berries.

French onion burger

Combine 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef with 1 (1-ounce) packet onion soup mix in a small bowl. Form into 4 patties. Grill 5 to 6 minutes; turn. Divide 1/2 cup roasted red peppers among the burgers; top each with 1/2 slice Swiss cheese. Cook 4 more minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Place burgers on sesame seed buns to serve. Add oven fries and green beans. Cherries are a fun dessert.

Tuna Nicoise

Drain and flake a 12-ounce can albacore tuna in water in a medium bowl. Mix tuna with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Toss tuna mixture with 9 cooked bite-size new potatoes, leftover green beans, 3 or 4 sliced hard-cooked eggs and 3/4 cup Kalamata olives. Serve on a bed of red-tipped lettuce.

Cherry ice cream pie with chocolate cookie crust

Gently combine 3 cups softened vanilla ice cream and 1 cup pitted fresh or frozen cherries in a bowl. Transfer to a 9-inch chocolate cookie pie crust. Garnish with chopped cherries and mini chocolate chips. Freeze until firm. Soften to slice.

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