Whenever I too busy, I get the urge to buy take-out dinners. Rather than surrender to this impulse, and to save money, I turn to tried-and true recipes like these three dishes. Each dish uses five ingredients and takes minutes to prepare. Served together they make a three-course dinner for four.
The salad, inspired by the flavorful shredded ones Moroccans serve as the start of a meal, makes a crunchy, colorful change from tossing together the usual greens. The sautéed chicken served with rice is Mediterranean, too. If you like, add a splash of white wine or balsamic vinegar as it cooks. Buying sliced mushrooms reduces its modest prep time even further. The fruit dessert elegantly shows off citrus now in season.
If you enlist help, someone to make the vegetable salad and another set of hands for the fruit salad, then this delicious dinner is ready in 20 minutes. When preparing the meal on your own, start with dessert, and then the chicken dish. While the chicken cooks, prepare the salad. To make this 3-course dinner even easier, here is a shopping list to print out. The recipes follow the shopping list.
3 Course Dinner
Before you shop, check your pantry for staples such as herbs (dried basil or oregano; thyme), spices (red pepper flakes, vanilla extract), condiments (honey; white wine or balsamic vinegar) and extra virgin olive oil called for in recipes
Shredded Zucchini and Carrot Salad: 1 large carrot, 1 large zucchini, 2 scallions, 1 lemon
Easy Mediterranean Chicken Sauté: 1 large red pepper bell pepper, 1 leek, 1 package (8-oz sliced cremini or baby bella mushrooms), 1 lb. boneless and skinless chicken breast, 3 cups frozen brown rice
Winter Fruit Salad: 1 large pink grapefruit, 1 apple, 1 box (4.4-oz fresh blueberries (1 cup)
Winter Fruit Salad
Peel and section grapefruit. Holding one section at a time over big bowl to catch juice, pull open membrane with your fingers, pull out flesh, and drop into bowl, discarding membrane. Core and thinly slice apple, and add to bowl. Add blueberries (1 cup if from larger container), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon honey. Toss gently. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 8 hours.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 82 calories, 21 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 2.5 g dietary fiber, 1 mg sodium.
Easy Mediterranean Chicken Sauté
Seed and dice red pepper. Chop white part of leek. In medium skillet over medium-high heat, in 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, cook pepper and leek, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, and cook 4 minutes. Add chicken, cut into bite-size pieces and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Toss in splash of white wine or balsamic vinegar and pinch of red pepper flakes, if you wish. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is done, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over reheated frozen brown rice prepared according to package directions.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 357 calories, 6 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 42 g carbohydrate, 32 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 90 mg sodium.
Shredded Zucchini and Carrot Salad
Coarsely shred carrot and place in serving bowl. Halve zucchini lengthwise and with spoon scoop out soft center. Shred zucchini and add to bowl. Toss vegetables with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil. Chop scallions and add to bowl along with 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or oregano, and juice from 1/2 lemon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 35 calories, 1 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 1.5 g dietary fiber, 22 mg sodium.
Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.