Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Dinners — April 10-14
Monday: Mini Mozzarella-and-Kale Pita Pizzas + Garlic-and-Sesame Green Beans
We split the pitas in half before toasting so that the “crust” for the pizzas can get extra crisp. They’ll also be slightly shallow rather than flat, a perfect vessel for the sauce and toppings. Be sure to position your oven rack in the middle of the oven or just above before preheating the broiler. The heat will be less direct this way, allowing the thin pitas to crisp without burning and for the cheeses to melt evenly. Baby kale is a fantastic all-purpose green: hearty yet tender, delicious fresh or sautéed. It’s a great introduction to greens other than lettuce or spinach. Serve with Garlic-and-Sesame Green Beans.
Tuesday: Mostly Veggie Pasta with Sausage + Black Pepper-Parmesan Wedge Salad
Spaghetti sauce is typically about a pound of browned meat bound by a scant amount of marinara and served over pasta. Here we reverse the ratio, letting hot Italian turkey sausage be the flavor agent while adding plenty of colorful vegetables like yellow squash, broccoli florets, and mushrooms. Canned whole peeled tomatoes are less watery than diced, but have a little more texture than crushed. Break the tomatoes apart with a spoon in the pan. Tomato paste will add a robust tomato flavor; look for the kind sold in tubes so you can use as little or as much as you need. Serve with Black Pepper-Parmesan Wedge Salad.
Wednesday: Chicken and Poblano Stew with Polenta + Avocado Salad
Think of this saucy chicken stew as a Mexican twist on Italian food, especially when served over creamy polenta. Poblano chiles become smoky and lose some of their intensity when broiled until blackened and tender. Wrap the peppers in the same foil used to line the pan and let stand so that the steam can loosen the skins before peeling. Adobo sauce adds to the smokiness in the tomato mixture; skip the chipotle peppers for a heat that’s well-rounded, not fiery. The stew would also be delicious as a taco or enchilada filling, or even finely chopped and reduced for a tamale filling. Serve with Avocado Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette.
Thursday: Pretty "Parslied" Spaghetti + Pan-Roasted Carrots
Leftover flat-leaf parsley is likely lurking in your crisper. This unassuming herb has a bright, grassy personality that, combined with cheese, garlic, and good olive oil, makes this dish sing. Try embellishing with lemon zest, toasted nuts, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, or even sardines. Serve with Pan-Roasted Carrots.
Friday: Zucchini and Shrimp Cakes with Snap Pea Relish + Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Just a little shrimp goes a long way in these spring-inspired cakes. If using frozen shrimp, make sure to thaw completely before peeling and chopping, otherwise the shrimp may fall apart. The cakes cook quickly, just 3 minutes on each side. If you can’t fit all the cakes into your skillet, divide the oil in half and cook the cakes in 2 batches, keeping the first batch warm while you cook the second. Sweet onion is best for the delicate snap pea relish; regular white onion would be too pungent. If you can’t find sweet onion, substitute halved thawed frozen pearl onions. Serve with Black-Eyed Pea Salad.
Dessert Bonus: Vegan Carrot Cake Truffles
Everything there is to love about carrot cake made into 2-bite, no-bake truffles. Our plant-powered, vegan treats are brimming with heart-healthy omega-3 fats, and free of added sugar thanks to naturally sweet dates. Use the smallest setting of your box grater or food processor's grating attachment to grate the carrots into fine, fluffy pieces. Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg compose the heady spice trinity, so don’t be shy about adding extra, if you like. Enjoy these truffles for a snack or dessert, or share them with family and friends for easy spring entertaining.