Every Sunday, we publish a week of Cooking Light dinner plans filled with our favorite recipes—both from current issues and classics. Each meal is designed to be ready and on the table in 45 minutes or less so that you have more time to enjoy the food you've prepared and the company of those for which you've prepared it.
The Plan Monday: Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing Tuesday: Grilled Individual Hawaiian Pizzas and Spinach Salad Wednesday: Greek-Style Pork Chops and Homemade Pita Chips with Red Pepper Dip Thursday: Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples and Baby Potatoes with Tomato-Corn Sauté Friday: Grilled Salmon and Brown Butter Couscous Dessert: Honey Glazed Plums with Almonds and Crème Fraîche
School is back in session here in Alabama, and though I know we're a bit earlier than most of the country, back-to-school season makes me crave three things: school supplies, college football, and comfort food. The pork chops and pork tenderloin in this week's meal plan help me fulfill that last hankering, but I've mixed it up with a few favorites to hopefully make a plan the whole family can enjoy each night.
Monday: I come back to our recipe for Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing time and time again when making a weekly meal plan. It's incredibly easy to prepare—the only thing you cook is the orzo—and it saves well if you have leftovers. Black beans and avocado slices add protein and fiber, which help you feel full without meat. It is Meatless Monday after all.
The toasty, roasty heat of the chili powder and red pepper make this salad sing, so don't skip it. If you're preparing this for kids or people with heat-sensitive palates, divide the pasta mixture in half and combine it with half of the buttermilk dressing. Then add half the spices to the remaining portion of the dressing, and toss that with the undressed portion of salad. This way everyone gets to enjoy this delicious salad.
Tuesday: Individual pizzas are quickly becoming one of my favorite weeknight meals. They bake fast--these Grilled Individual Hawaiian Pizzas take just 35 minutes total--and everyone gets their own pizza. That's particularly handy if you can't convince the pickier palates at your table to try the classic combination of pineapple and ham. The instructions call for grilling these pizzas, but if you don't want to heat up your grill tonight, don't worry. You can bake them. Just cook the dough on a hot pizza stone at 500° for 4 minutes, add toppings, and bake an additional 8 minutes or until done. Serve with a simple green side like our Spinach Salad.
Wednesday: You'll be surprised how much flavor you can pack into pork chops in just 45 minutes. An easy marinade lends these Greek-Style Pork Chops bright, Mediterranean flavors. A simple side of tomatoes, cucumber, and onion is crisp and refreshing. The creamy, tangy yogurt-dill sauce blends the whole dish beautifully. Instead of serving this with toasted pita wedges, think a bit smaller and bolder, and try our Homemade Pita Chips with Red Pepper Dip. You can bake the chips while the chops cook, and then whir together the red pepper dipping sauce just before serving the whole meal.
Thursday: Peter Brady only wishes he could enjoy this flavorful update on the classic pork chops and applesauce: our Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples. Sweet spices coat lean pork tenderloin, and apples take a savory turn with thyme and shallots. It's a dish that begs to be served in the fall, but you'll likely enjoy it year around. A speedy, starchy side like our Baby Potatoes with Tomato-Corn Sauté completes the meal.
Friday: I'm convinced that finicky fish eaters can be wooed with grilled salmon. Grilling gives fish a smoky flavor that can't be replicated on the stove top. Try our Grilled Salmon and Brown Butter Couscous on the grill and be convinced. Brown butter gives couscous a nutty, toasty flavor. You could use a whole grain like millet or quinoa if you've got it on hand. While you've got your grill going, quarter a few squash and zucchini, coat with a little EVOO, and grill until tender for an easy veggie side.
Dessert: Before they're gone for the year, let's take one last moment to enjoy stone fruit in a dessert like our Honey Glazed Plums with Almonds and Crème Fraîche. If you are planning to make this Friday night, keep your grill going long enough to cook the plums. You'll love how grilling imparts a deep, caramelized sweetness to the fruit. Balance that sweetness with slightly tart crème fraîche.
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