Menu planner: For a low-cost meal, try garlicky spaghetti with clams

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

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Garlicky spaghetti with clams.

Garlicky spaghetti with clams.

Joe Keller/America’s Test Kitchen

Garlicky spaghetti with clams

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: fewer than 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, divided

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 quarts water

1 pound spaghetti

2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more to taste

2 (6 1/2-ounce) cans whole clams, drained and chopped

4 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry and minced

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (3/4 cup), plus more for serving

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook 2 tablespoons garlic and the oil in small, nonstick skillet on low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is pale golden brown, 9 to 12 minutes. Off heat, stir in red pepper; set aside. Bring water to a boil in large pot. Add pasta and 2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water; drain pasta and return it to pot. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic, clams, anchovies, lemon juice, reserved garlic-oil mixture and reserved cooking water. Stir until pasta is coated with oil and no water remains in bottom of pot. Add Parmesan and parsley; toss to combine. Season with coarse salt and black pepper to taste. Serve, passing additional Parmesan separately.

(Adapted from “Foolproof Fish,” America’s Test Kitchen.)

Per serving: 644 calories, 26 grams protein, 19 grams fat (26% calories from fat), 3.8 grams saturated fat, 93 grams carbohydrate, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 769 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 6.

Greek stuffed peppers

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 red, orange or yellow bell peppers, halved and seeds removed

1 tablespoon water

2 cups cooked brown rice or orzo

1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)

3/4 cup crumbled Greek feta cheese

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and diced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Place peppers cut side down in a large baking dish; add water. Cover; microwave on high 6 minutes. Cool slightly; drain and set aside. Cook rice or orzo according to package directions. Meanwhile, mash chickpeas into a chunky paste with a fork; leave some whole. Heat oil in a large nonstick skill on medium. Add onion; cook 6 minutes or until soft. Add spinach and oregano; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Stir in rice or orzo, chickpeas, 1/2 cup feta, tomatoes, vinegar and salt; cook 2 minutes or until heated. Divide filling among peppers; sprinkle with remaining feta and serve.

Per serving: 387 calories, 15 grams protein, 13 grams fat (30% calories from fat), 5.1 grams saturated fat, 54 grams carbohydrate, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 704 milligrams sodium, 10 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.5.

Lemon lamb chops with couscous pilaf

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: about 20 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes, plus couscous

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup couscous

2 teaspoons salt-free lemon and pepper seasoning

2 1/2 teaspoons cumin, divided

4 shoulder lamb chops (3/4 inch thick, see NOTE)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with sweet onion, with liquid

1/2 cup crumbled Greek feta cheese

Prepare couscous with water according to directions; set aside. Mix lemon pepper seasoning and 2 teaspoons cumin in a small bowl; rub on both sides of chops. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Cook lamb 3 minutes per side for medium doneness. Combine chickpeas, tomatoes and remaining cumin in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir tomato mixture into prepared couscous; toss to combine. Sprinkle feta over pilaf and serve with chops.

NOTE: If your budget can afford it, use loin lamb chops.

Per serving: 399 calories, 30 grams protein, 14 grams fat (32% calories from fat), 5.5 grams saturated fat, 36 grams carbohydrate, 79 milligrams cholesterol, 727 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Mediterranean herb potato salad

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Add 1 pound red potatoes (boiled and cut into bite-size pieces, still warm), 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes and 2 tablespoons capers. Toss gently to coat. Serve with broccoli and biscuits.

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