Menu planner: Creamy macaroni salad can top a fine family meal

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

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Cool and creamy macaroni salad.

Cool and creamy macaroni salad.

America’s Test Kitchen/Carl Tremblay

Cool and creamy macaroni salad

Makes 10 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Resting time: about 15 minutes


1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni

1 tablespoon coarse salt, plus more to taste

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1 celery rib, minced

1/4 cup minced parsley or chives

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups low-fat mayonnaise

Black pepper to taste

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in large pot. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, according to directions. Drain; rinse with cold water; drain again, leaving macaroni slightly wet. Toss onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and macaroni together in a large bowl; let stand 2 minutes to let flavors meld. Stir in mayonnaise and let stand no longer than 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve.

Per serving: 212 calories, 6 grams protein, 3 grams fat (14% calories from fat), 0.1 gram saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 399 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Adapted from “The Complete Salad Cookbook,” America’s Test Kitchen

Turkey enchiladas

Makes 7 enchiladas

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: about 1 hour


1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms

3 to 4 cups shredded cooked turkey (see NOTE)

3 cups shredded 50% light cheddar cheese, divided

1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream

1/2 cup minced red onion

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

7 (7- to 8-inch) whole-grain tortillas

2 cups salsa

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Microwave mushrooms on high 3 minutes; drain. In a large bowl, combine mushrooms, turkey, 2 1/2 cups cheese, sour cream, onion and chiles. Spoon about 1 cup of turkey mixture into each tortilla; roll. Place each roll, seam side down, in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread salsa on top. Cover with nonstick foil; bake 45 to 50 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Remove cover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts.

NOTE: If you don’t have enough leftover turkey, used canned chicken breast.

Per serving: 466 calories, 38 grams protein, 19 grams fat (35% calories from fat), 9.9 grams saturated fat, 38 grams carbohydrate, 113 milligrams cholesterol, 1,053 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Garlicky tomatoes with olives and whole-grain spaghetti

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 5 minutes, plus pasta


1 (13.25-ounce) package whole-grain spaghetti

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium seeded tomatoes (about 1 pound), coarsely chopped

3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup crumbled Greek feta cheese

Cook spaghetti according to directions; drain. Return to pot. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and olives; cook 3 minutes or until tomatoes are softened and heated through. Add tomato mixture to spaghetti. Stir in remaining oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Sprinkle each serving with feta cheese as you serve.

Per serving: 384 calories, 11 grams protein, 16 grams fat (37% calories from fat), 2.8 grams saturated fat, 51 grams carbohydrate, 11 milligrams cholesterol, 504 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.5.

Walnut-crusted chicken tenders

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together crumbs of 6 whole-grain crackers, 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; place in pie plate and set aside. In another pie plate, whisk 1 egg white until foamy. Place 3 tablespoons flour in third pie plate. Place a wire rack coated with cooking spray on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Coat chicken in flour, then in egg white and finally in cracker mixture. Lightly coat chicken on each side with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on wire rack; bake 18 to 20 minutes, turning after 12 minutes.

Herbed baked tilapia

Place 4 tilapia fillets on 4 pieces (12-by-18-inch) heavy-duty foil. Season with coarse salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan-herb seasoning mix. Bring up foil sides; double fold top and ends to tightly seal, leaving space for air circulation. Grill over medium-high heat 10 to 12 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout.

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