Menu planner: Impress your guests with pecan-crusted salmon with Brussels sprouts

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

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Pecan-crusted salmon with Brussels sprouts.

Pecan-crusted salmon with Brussels sprouts.

American Pecan Promotion Board

Pecan-crusted salmon with Brussels sprouts

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes


1/3 cup chopped pecans

4 (4- to 6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets

1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 cup pecan halves

1 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons honey

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place pecan pieces in a wide, shallow dish. Season salmon with salt and pepper and brush top side with about 2 teaspoons oil. Press salmon fillets, top side down, into chopped pecans to coat. Arrange salmon in the center of baking sheet. In a medium bowl, combine Brussels sprouts, remaining oil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, pecan halves and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine, then transfer to sheet pan in a single layer, not touching salmon. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are fork-tender and salmon is cooked through.

While salmon is baking: In a medium saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil. Continue to boil, stirring, about 10 minutes or until reduced by half. Remove from heat, stir in honey and allow to cool until ready to serve. Drizzle glaze over salmon and Brussels sprouts just before serving.

Per serving: 475 calories, 29 grams protein, 25 grams fat (45% calories from fat), 3.2 grams saturated fat, 38 grams carbohydrate, 53 milligrams cholesterol, 371 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Baked ziti

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: about 6 to 7 hours on low, or 4 to 5 hours on high


12 ounces lean ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

4 3/4 cups red pasta sauce

2 cups reduced-fat ricotta cheese

1 1/4 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

8 ounces uncooked ziti pasta

Heat a large, nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add beef and onion; cook 7 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Stir in Italian seasoning, salt and pasta sauce. Mix well and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup mozzarella and the Parmesan. Spoon 2 cups meat sauce into a 4-quart or larger slow cooker; top with 1 1/2 cups ziti. Drop half the cheese mixture, by rounded tablespoons, over ziti; spread to cover ziti using the back of spoon. Layer with 2 cups meat sauce, remaining ziti and remaining cheese mixture. Top with remaining meat sauce, completely covering all the ziti and cheese mixture. Cover with lid. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or high 4 to 5 hours or until ziti is tender. Carefully remove lid to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella; let stand 10 minutes or until cheese melts.

Per serving: 414 calories, 26 grams protein, 17 grams fat (37% calories from fat), 6.6 grams saturated fat, 38 grams carbohydrate, 61 milligrams cholesterol, 790 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Smoky gouda and brown rice casserole

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes, plus rice


1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

2 cups sliced fresh cremini or white mushrooms

3 cups hot cooked brown rice

1 (5- to 7-ounce) package fresh baby spinach leaves

1 cup shredded smoked gouda or smoked cheddar cheese, divided

1/2 cup half-and-half

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Heat broiler. Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add shallots and mushrooms; cook 6 minutes or until tender. Add hot rice, spinach, 2/3 cup cheese, half-and-half, salt and pepper; stir until cheese melts and mixture is heated through. Spoon into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

Per serving: 385 calories, 15 grams protein, 16 grams fat (37% calories from fat), 7.7 grams saturated fat, 47 grams carbohydrate, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 289 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.

Oven-fried chicken

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a shallow dish, mix together 1 1/4 cups Italian breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Use paper towels to pat dry 8 (4- to 6-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts and brush both sides with mayonnaise mixture; coat in breadcrumb mixture. (Discard leftover coating.) Place on nonstick foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 20 to 23 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Serve with your mashed potatoes, gravy and steamed fresh asparagus.

Ham and cheese salad

In a large bowl, combine 1 (10-ounce) package baby spinach leaves, 4 cups packaged coleslaw mix, 10 ounces ham (cut into matchstick-size pieces), 4 ounces 50% light cheddar cheese (cut into matchstick-size pieces) and 1 Gala apple (cut into thin wedges). Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup honey-Dijon dressing. Toss to mix and coat. Serve with crackers.

Capellini with sausage

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add 3/4 to 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (cut into 1/2 inch slices); cook 3 to 4 minutes, turning it as it browns. Add 1 chopped large onion and 2 minced cloves garlic; cook 2 or 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add 2 (14-ounce) cans unsalted chicken broth and 1/4 cup water; cover and bring to a boil. Add 8 ounces capellini pasta (broken in half) and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach (coarsely chopped) and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring into pasta and sauce. Cook 2 or 3 more minutes until pasta is al dente and spinach is wilted. Stir in 1/2 cup of half-and-half. Serve immediately.

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