Menu planner: Complement your dinner with a delicious herb salad

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

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Herb salad

Joseph Keller/America’s Test Kitchen

Herb salad

In a large bowl, use a whisk to combine 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 cups Italian parsley leaves and 2 cups mixed tender herb leaves; toss until evenly coated with dressing. Season to taste with additional coarse salt. Serve immediately. (Adapted from “Modern Bistro,” America’s Test Kitchen.)

Lemon chicken with rice and artichokes

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes


1 1/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch strips

2 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

3 cups cooked rice

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup unsalted chicken broth, divided

1 (14-ounce) can water-packed quartered artichokes, drained

2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Heat a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray on medium-high. Add chicken, onion and bell pepper; cook 7 minutes. Stir in cooked rice, lemon juice, salt, black pepper and half the broth; cook 2 minutes. Stir in artichokes and remaining broth; cook 1 minute or until heated. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Per serving: 409 calories, 39 grams protein, 5 grams fat (11% calories from fat), 1.2 grams saturated fat, 51 grams carbohydrate, 105 milligrams cholesterol, 517 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.5.

Beef stir-fry with spinach

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes


2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons canola oil, divided

1 pound boneless sirloin steak, thinly sliced

1 pound fresh spinach

2 yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced

4 green onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch and ginger until smooth; set aside. Heat wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles in pan. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil; swirl to coat. Add steak and stir-fry 3 minutes or until browned. Transfer to plate. Microwave spinach on high (100% power) 2 to 3 minutes or until wilted. Heat remaining oil in same skillet over medium-high and swirl to coat. Add peppers, onions and garlic; stir-fry 3 minutes or until vegetables soften. Return steak to skillet. Stir soy sauce mixture; add to skillet. Stir-fry until sauce bubbles and thickens, about 1 more minute. Divide spinach among 4 plates; top with steak mixture.

Per serving: 233 calories, 25 grams protein, 9 grams fat (35% calories from fat), 2.1 grams saturated fat, 13 grams carbohydrate, 56 milligrams cholesterol, 330 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb count: 1.

Herb-baked tilapia

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: less than 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes


4 (4- to 6-ounce) tilapia fillets

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons minced green onions

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place tilapia on a baking sheet lined with nonstick foil. In a small bowl, combine cheese, mayonnaise and onions; spread evenly over fish. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, salt and pepper; sprinkle over fish. Coat fish lightly with cooking spray. Bake 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.

Per serving: 153 calories, 19 grams protein, 4 grams fat (23% calories from fat), 1.1 grams saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 48 milligrams cholesterol, 460 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 1.

Beef stuffed peppers

Split bell peppers in half lengthwise. Place cut side down in baking dish. Cover and microwave on high (100% power) 1 minute per pepper; drain. Meanwhile, chop the leftover stir-fry and combine with leftover rice. Moisten with unsalted beef broth and heat. Stuff peppers with mixture; sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and serve. Add tiny green peas (from frozen) and whole-grain bread.

Cheeseburger melt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix 1 1/3 cups baking mix (such as Bisquick), 1/4 cup water, 2 eggs and 1 cup (of 1 1/2 cups total) shredded 50% light cheddar cheese. Spread in dish. Cook 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey breast, or a mixture of both, in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high for 6 minutes or until no longer pink; drain well. Add 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed less-fat less-sodium cream of mushroom soup and 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables; heat 5 minutes or until hot. Spread over batter. Bake 23 to 25 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake 1 to 3 more minutes or until cheese melts. Cut into squares, garnish with salsa if desired, and serve.

Spaghettini with goat cheese and fresh basil

Place cooked whole-wheat spaghettini in a large bowl. Add 2 ounces herb-flavored goat cheese cut into small pieces, 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir until well-blended. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add 2 teaspoons minced garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add 2 cups halved grape tomatoes; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2/3 cup unsalted vegetable broth; cook 1 minute. Add tomato mixture to pasta mixture; toss gently to combine.

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