Menu Planner: Make a no-meat night special with quick bean chili

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

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Quick no-meat bean chili.

Quick no-meat bean chili.

Daniel J. van Ackere/America’s Test Kitchen

Quick bean chili

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes


1 tablespoon canola oil

1 finely chopped onion

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 to 3 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce

2 teaspoons cumin

4 (10-ounce) cans Original Rotel Tomatoes & Green Chilies

4 (15-ounce) cans reduced-sodium beans (a variety of pinto, chili, black, cannellini, navy or kidney beans), rinsed

Coarse salt and black pepper to taste

Chopped onion, diced avocado, cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream for garnishing, as desired

Heat oil in Dutch oven on medium-high until shimmering. Add onion, cook 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in chili powder, chipotle and cumin and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes and their juices and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Process 2 cups chili in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Stir puree and beans into pot and bring to brief simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish as desired with chopped onion, diced avocado, cilantro, lime wedges and sour cream. (Adapted from “The Complete Modern Pantry,” America’s Test Kitchen.)

Per serving: 207 calories, 12 grams protein, 2 grams fat (9% calories from fat), 0.2 grams saturated fat, 41 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 981 milligrams sodium, 15 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3

Pork and mushroom quesadillas

Makes 4 quesadillas

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes


12 ounces cooked (leftover) pork, sliced 1/4-inch thick

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

6 ounces sliced fresh cremini mushrooms

1/3 cup sliced green onions

4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese

4 (9- to 10-inch) flour tortillas

Stack pork slices and cut crosswise in half, then cut each stack lengthwise into matchstick-size pieces; set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, nonstick skillet on medium-high until hot. Add mushrooms and onions; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until softened. Remove from skillet; add pork and stir-fry 1 minute. Remove pork and wipe skillet with paper towels. To assemble, sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over half of each tortilla. Top each with pork and mushroom mixture. Sprinkle each with remaining cheese. Fold in half, pressing gently. Add 1 teaspoon oil to skillet. Cook quesadillas, 2 at a time, on medium heat for 2 to 4 minutes or until golden and cheese is melted, turning once. Remove quesadillas from skillet; loosely cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and quesadillas. Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve.

Per quesadilla: 456 calories, 37 grams protein, 18 grams fat (36% calories from fat), 7 grams saturated fat, 36 grams carbohydrate, 89 milligrams cholesterol, 568 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2 1/2

Arroz con pollo

Makes 12 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: less than 40 minutes; standing time: 5 minutes


1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon each paprika and black pepper

2 pounds bone-in skinless chicken breasts

1 1/2 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 red bell pepper cut into 2-inch strips

1 coarsely chopped medium onion

1 cup long-grain rice

2 cloves minced garlic

1 (14-ounce) can unsalted chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron or turmeric

1 1/2 cups frozen tiny green peas, thawed

1/4 cup sliced Spanish olives with pimentos

Mix salt, paprika and pepper. Sprinkle evenly over chicken. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium. Add chicken; cook 5 to 6 minutes per side or until golden. Remove chicken from skillet. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Add bell pepper and onion; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in rice and garlic. Continue to cook about 1 minute. Stir in broth and saffron or turmeric. Bring to boil. Return chicken to skillet; cover. Reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes or until chicken is 165 degrees and rice is tender. Remove from heat. Stir in peas; cover. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with olives.

Per serving: 218 calories, 24 grams protein, 6 grams fat (25% calories from fat), 1.2 grams saturated fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 87 milligrams cholesterol, 307 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 1

Italian roast pork loin

Pour 1 cup Italian salad dressing into a resealable plastic bag; add 1 (2- to 3-pound) boneless pork loin. Seal and refrigerate overnight. Remove pork; discard dressing marinade. Pat pork dry and sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon garlic pepper. Place in a shallow pan and roast 1 hour at 350 degrees or until internal temperature reaches 145. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with roasted red potatoes, green beans, mixed greens and sourdough bread.

Baked beans-tuna chef salad

Divide among 4 dinner plates: 1 (12-ounce) bunch romaine, cut into 1/2-inch pieces. On top, arrange 2 to 4 cooked eggs (cut into 6 pieces each), 2 (5-ounce) cans drained and flaked albacore tuna, 1 cup halved grape tomatoes and 1 (16-ounce) can reduced-sodium vegetarian baked beans (such as Bush’s). Drizzle with 4 tablespoons Italian dressing (or your favorite flavor). Serve with crusty bread.

Garden BLTs

For a quick meal, spread 8 slices whole-grain toast with low-fat mayonnaise. For each sandwich, layer 1 slice toast with 2 slices each cooked bacon and tomatoes, 8 thin slices cucumber, 1 thin slice sweet onion, 1 medium lettuce leaf and coarse salt and pepper to taste. Top with remaining toast. Cut in half on the diagonal. Serve with hash brown potatoes (refrigerated).

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