Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer Weeknight Dinners Roundup

A few weeks ago I was contacted by to share some tips on healthy weeknight dinners, and it got me thinking about some of my summer go-to meals when I'm too tired to cook much but don't want to resort to takeout. We still have a few weeks left of warm weather and fresh produce, so without further ado, here's a roundup of some of my favorites - they're all healthy, easy, and of course tasty.

Fish "Tacos"

I always have some kind of flaky white fish in my fridge or freezer, whether it's haddock, tilapia or flounder. To make my "tacos," I bread the fish lightly with cornmeal or panko breadcrumbs and saute it in a pan. Then I stuff the filets inside a Tumaro's low carb wrap and top them with a quick salsa made with mangos (or any other tropical fruit you have on hand), fresh tomatoes, and some citrus. Protein, veggies and healthy carbs all rolled up in one. :)

Zucchini Tomato Quick Casserole

Having a garden means we always have an abundance of zucchinis and tomatoes around. When I want a hot summer meal, I'll saute the zucchinis with some onions and garlic, then layer them in a baking dish with thick slices of fresh tomatoes. I cover the whole thing with breadcrumbs and some parmesan cheese, then bake until bubbly. This "casserole" is done in a half hour, and goes great over whole wheat pasta or as a veggie side dish.

Thai Peanut Noodle Salad

Cold noodles! I love this stuff. It's great on a sweltering summer day and is filled with Thai flavors and crunchy veggies. I make mine with whole wheat spaghetti, but soba noodles are great too. Grab the recipe here.

Falafel with Tzatziki 

I've loved falafel since I was 12 years old and first became a vegetarian. It's smoky, slightly sweet and aromatic, and has great texture. You can get decent falafel mix at the grocery store - just add water, mix and then cook. Traditional falafel is rolled into balls and deep fried, but I just flatten mine out into little patties and fry them in a dry pan with cooking spray. They still come out slightly crispy and don't have all the grease. Then I stuff them into low carb, whole wheat pitas, and top with chopped tomatoes and cucumber-Greek yogurt sauce. Cool and refreshing, and something a little different.

Pan Seared Salmon

Grilled fish, the good ol' standby. Salmon is one of my favorites, and when I pan sear it, I start by picking a flavor, any flavor - a jam (lately I've been using a homemade habanero peach, but I've done blueberry and raspberry jams too), a spice blend, or a marinade. Then I coat the fish with the sauce/spices and sear it on medium-high heat flesh side down in a cast iron skillet. Once the fish is seared and starting to turn opaque, I flip it, transfer it to a 400 degree oven, and cook for another 15 minutes until it's just cooked through. The top ends up caramelized and the skin gets crispy enough to pull right off. We ate this last night with some fresh, garlicky zucchini rounds and (gasp!) white rice. Sooo good.


And without fail, sandwiches come up at least twice a week in my summertime rotation. Vegetarian BLT's or plain old cucumber tomato sandwiches are my favorites, but I also do veggie wraps with goat cheese and salads stuffed into pita pockets. When your veggies look that fresh and juicy, they don't need much!

Alrighty, back to work - gotta power through my to-do list if I'm going to finish it off my 6:00. :)

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