Here, another week’s worth of fast, healthy, and tasty menus. It’s not the love of cooking that deters so many of us from the kitchen each night; it’s actually deciding what to cook from the millions of options bombarding us from so many different places. Here, we’ve done the planning for you. Not just menus, but healthy menus that are fast – on the table in less than 45 minutes.
The Plan Monday: Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese (p. 50) and Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Walnuts (p. 77) Tuesday: Enchilada Casserole (p. 21) with Spicy Black Beans (p. 21) Wednesday: Tuna Salad Niçoise (p. 29) Thursday: Honey-Orange Pork Tenderloin (p. 50) with sautéed fresh Brussels sprouts Friday: Grilled Chicken Florentine Pasta (p. 49) and Grilled Broccolini (p. 49) Bonus Dessert: Cool, Creamy Chocolate Dessert (p. 84)
Monday: Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese (p. 50) is always a winner for dinner, any time of the year. Are you wondering why we paired a “premium” ingredient such as extra-sharp cheddar cheese with the bright orange “plastic” cheese from your childhood grilled cheese sandwiches? This is one of those recipes we didn’t get on the first try. In the tricky process of lightening a dish, our cooks test, taste, and try new ingredients and techniques until the recipe gets a passing mark. Although we rarely use processed cheese, we agreed it was the key to a super creamy texture in a mac and cheese, which does not rely on heavy cream. Top with a sprinkling of fresh breadcrumbs, run it under the broiler, and dinner’s ready. Steamed green beans are a quick side or if you’re not in a big hurry, add Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Walnuts (p. 77) to the menu. The caramelized onions add a rich-tasting buttery sweetness. It makes enough for 8 servings so remember it when you’re planning Thanksgiving as a healthy alternative to the ole green bean casserole.
Tuesday: Taco’s cousin—the enchilada—is our pick for Tuesday. Enchilada Casserole (p. 21) with Spicy Black Beans (p. 21) is ready in less than 45 minutes. Skip the fussy step of filling and rolling up tortillas. The taco-seasoned ground beef is layered between flour tortillas in a pie plate and topped with cheese. To serve, simply cut the “pie” into 4 wedges. While the casserole bakes, you have time to cook the Spicy Black Beans. Look for organic no-salt-added black beans to keep the sodium in check. A small substitution like using whole-wheat flour tortillas brings more grains to your diet and improves the nutrition profile of the dish.
Wednesday: The takeaway in today’s menu choice, Tuna Salad Niçoise (p. 29), is balancing a combination of convenience and premium quality ingredients. Timesavers, such as refrigerated potato wedges that brown in 5 minutes in a skillet and refrigerated hard-cooked eggs, compliment a few superb ingredients—fresh tuna, haricots verts, imported kalamata olives, and a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil—totally worth the splurge for a satisfying, eye-catching main dish.
Thursday: Honey-Orange Pork Tenderloin (p. 50) is a recipe you’ll find yourself going back to often, and the glaze would also work for chicken or salmon. Orange marmalade, cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and honey add a sweet charred flavor when brushed over the meat after a quick sear in a skillet before finishing the cooking in the oven. Follow these two tips and for perfectly cooked pork every time: Use a thermometer to test the doneness early to avoid overcooking. The tenderloin is lean and cooks fast, and requires a watchful eye. Then, after removing the pork from the heat, let it stand 10 minutes. If meat doesn’t rest, it will spill its juices and meaty flavors when carved. Serve with sautéed fresh Brussels sprouts.
Friday: Grilled Chicken Florentine Pasta (p. 49) is a great way to end the week. A rich tasting white sauce is made with whole milk and thickened with flour; a little bit of salty Parmesan cheese turns a simple dish into something sensational. If you have some fresh spinach in the fridge from the week, here’s a great use for it. Stir it in before serving for a boost of color and nutrients. To complete the menu, add Grilled Broccolini (p. 49) since you’re heating up the grill for the chicken. A little crushed red pepper gives it some pizazz.
And don’t forget about dessert! Our cover recipe—Cool, Creamy Chocolate Dessert (p. 84)—has been a family favorite with our readers for years. The three-layer sweet is so easy to prepare: a simple buttery, nutty crust topped with chocolate pudding and whipped topping. It’s your perfect dessert for the summer. Make it over weekend; there’s enough to serve a crowd with some leftover for you to enjoy during the week.