Market Basket Challenge: Winning Reader Recipes

We challenged readers to create a recipe based on a grab-bag of seasonal foods. See our winners' delicious results.

Market basket filled with fresh produce.

Bill Bettencourt

About the Contest

In our Market Basket Challenge story, we challenged some of our favorite cooks to create an entrée based on a grab bag of seasonal foods. We wanted to show that wildly different results are possible from common ingredients. The results: recipes as varied as the participants.

We put the same test to our readers, and the response was impressive: 107 entries. After culling through each mouth-watering recipe, running nutrition, and making sure all of our Market Basket ingredients were used in each recipe, we tested and photographed the finalists. These recipes made the top three.

Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Mushrooms, and Spinach

Beau Gustafson

Grand Prize: Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach

Our grand prize winner submitted a variation of one of her favorite pasta recipes from her repertoire. She thought the texture of roasted spaghetti squash would be a nice stand-in for ubiquitous pasta, and we agree. Her results were at once satisfying, comforting, and creative.

"I found the dish to be simple enough for a quick weeknight family meal, but also elegant enough with the right kind of accompaniments to be used for entertaining friends."  ―Claudia Krempp, Plainfield, IL

View Recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach


Tuscan Chicken, Bean and Spinach Soup

Beau Gustafson

First Runner-Up: Tuscan Chicken, Bean and Spinach Soup

This soup is quick and easy to prepare, with a flavor that belies its simplicity.

"This is a complete meal containing very little fat and loads of fiber and flavor. A truly guilt-free dinner. I have served a version of this soup for many years and updated it for this contest." ―Charlene Chambers of Ormond Beach, FL

View Recipe: Tuscan Chicken, Bean and Spinach Soup

Spicy Southeast Asian Chicken and Squash Stew

Beau Gustafson

Second Runner-Up: Spicy Southeast Asian Chicken and Squash Stew

Our Second Runner-Up credits her mother's Filipino home cooking as the inspiration behind this rich, creamy, coconutty stew, infused with the full flavor of chicken thighs and a refreshing heat.

"When I saw the ingredients in the Market Basket Challenge, I knew I had to adapt them into a Southeast-Asian-inspired stew that was healthy, flavorful and comforting―with a little bit of heat. This is a little bit spicy, but one can tone it down by backing off on the hot chili peppers and ginger a bit." ―Jasmin Baron, Livonia, NY

View Recipe: Spicy Southeast Asian Chicken and Squash Stew

Reader Recipe Contest

Enter Our Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest

We're now accepting entries for the Cooking Light 2009 Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest. Enter your favorite recipe using one or more of our sponsor products and you could be one of twelve finalists who will compete in an on-site cook-off! The Grand Prize Winner will receive $20,000, and four Category Winners will each receive $5,000. Hurry―the contest ends May 25, 2009.

Need inspiration? See our best-of-the-best galleries of all past winners and finalists. Watch a behind-the-scenes video from our 2008 contest, hear the secrets of our 2007 winners, and see an insider-exclusive interview with our judges, who tell you what makes a winning recipe.

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