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. 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 PlanMonday: Tomato Stack Salad with Corn and Avocado and Spiced Chicken ThighsTuesday: Prosciutto, Peach, and Sweet Lettuce SaladWednesday: Orecchiette with Peas, Shrimp, and Buttermilk-Herb DressingThursday: Crab, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Dressing, Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches (optional), and Strawberry-Mint Sparkling LimeadeFriday: Pork and Tomato Skillet Sauté and Herby Cucumber SaladBonus Dessert: Raspberry Chocolate Parfaits
It's the week of the Fourth of July, which means many of us are off work to celebrate with family and relax. I'm going to keep that relaxation going with dinnertime, too. Everything is easy, requires less than 45 minutes, and calls on the season's freshest produce. Lots of tomatoes, lots of fresh herbs, lots of delicious flavors -- everything that is so beautiful about this time of year.
Monday: The Cooking Light editorial offices are based in Birmingham, Ala., just a few miles from Hot & Hot Fish Club, restaurant of James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Hastings. A few weeks back, I enjoyed a fine dinner at Hot & Hot. The highlight of the evening was their famous Tomato Salad. It is a thing of beauty - perfectly ripe tomatoes, sweet summer corn, tart chive dressing, and smoky ham with just a few pieces of crunchy fried okra. One taste and you soon understand why it's so famous. We're going to honor that dish tonight with our own Tomato Stack Salad with Corn and Avocado. I could easily make an entire meal out of the dish, but if you need a little something more with it, try our Spiced Chicken Thighs. (Skip the part of the recipe that prepares the rice; just have the tomato stack instead.)
Tuesday: Fresh, juicy peaches are finally making their way to our Farmers' Markets. Let's embrace the summer stone fruit with our Prosciutto, Peach, and Sweet Lettuce Salad. It's a light salad, but it's big on flavor. Grab a fresh baguette and a bottle of Riesling for this meal. Don't forget to chill the wine during the day.
Wednesday: I just made our Orecchiette with Peas, Shrimp, and Buttermilk-Herb Dressing for the first time last week, and I can tell you right now, this is going to be a go-to pasta salad for me. It's flavorful but not too overwhelming. It tastes even better the second day, when all the flavors have had a chance to meld. Medium shell-shaped pasta will work in place of orecchiette if you can't find it. Make sure you have extra dill. We'll use it again later this week.
Thursday: Let's not even bother turning on the stove today if we can help it. It's the Fourth of July -- time for backyard water balloon fights, fireworks, and festive attire. I'm thinking our Crab, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Dressing is perfect for today. The tart bite of the lemon-basil dressing balances the sweetness of the corn and crab beautifully. Again, more tomatoes -- can you blame me? This time of year, the picking is good for tomato fans. If you want something a little heartier with this salad, try our Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches. They take just 15 minutes, and they're very filling without any meat.
Also, it's a holiday, which calls for a drink. Let's keep is crisp and refreshing with our Strawberry-Mint Sparkling Limeade. Make it kid-friendly by substituting club soda for the sparkling wine.
Friday: Let's end the week on a strong note with our Pork and Tomato Skillet Sauté. Use a hefty helping of chopped fresh basil to perk up the pork and tomatoes. We'll use some of the dill from Wednesday night here in our Herby Cucumber Salad. It's got just enough creaminess in the dressing to balance the tang of balsamic in the pork and tomatoes.
Dessert bonus: Dessert takes advantage of the season, too, with fresh raspberries. (You could use blackberries here, if you have them instead.) Try our Raspberry Chocolate Parfaits. The tart raspberries and orange juice are balanced beautifully by the creamy, sweet frozen Greek yogurt. You could skip the chocolate shavings on top if you wanted -- and just enjoy the berries -- but why would you? Add a few shavings of your favorite bittersweet chocolate on top and enjoy.