While rice is perhaps the most traditional starchy side dish, there are indeed other grains to swap in when you’re looking to switch up your usual dinner routine. Just like rice, easy-to-make farro, bulgur and couscous become tender and satisfying when boiled, and they stand up well to bold ingredients and flavorful sauces. Think of these grains as blank slates; use them as a way to put leftover vegetables to work, to experiment with new-to-you herbs and to introduce unfamiliar flavors to your family for the first time. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite grain salads below, then browse these photos to find more ways to cook with grains.
In her top-rated recipe for Mediterranean Farro Salad (pictured above), Giada pairs these slightly chewy bites with colorful produce like green beans and red pepper, plus black olives and chunks of nutty Parmesan cheese. A key element to her salad is the simple vinaigrette. To prepare it, just mix a splash of sherry vinegar with fruity olive oil and tangy Dijon for a light topping that won’t disappoint. Watch this video to see how Giada makes the salad from start to finish.
Keep reading for more recipes
As tempting as it is to resort to a quick delivery dinner after a hectic day, there are surely far healthier and less costly meal options that can be made in a hurry at home without sacrificing flavor or ease. Asian-style takeout in particular often gets a bad rap for being deep-fried and greasy, but if you make some of your favorite white-box picks at home, you’ll be able to ensure that what you’re eating is wholesome and fresh, plus you can tailor the ingredients to your family’s individual tastes.
Bobby’s Buckwheat Noodle Salad (pictured above) is a lighter take on traditional noodle dishes that are often swimming in pools of oil. Here, he combines protein-packed buckwheat noodles with a sweet and tangy sauce of honey, grated ginger and tamari — Japanese soy sauce — that pairs well with cool vegetables like chopped carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers. Ready to eat in just 25 minutes, this top-rated recipe is an almost no-cook classic and makes a simple all-in-one meal. Watch this video to get Bobby’s secrets to making this family-friendly dish.
Keep reading for more recipes
Don’t let the fact that this recipe was created by an Iron Chef fool you into thinking that it’s difficult to make or features particularly unusual cooking techniques. Alex Guarnaschelli’s Eggplant Parmigiana (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine is simply a dressed-up version of an Italian classic, and is in fact easy to prepare at home.
The secret to her family-friendly dish is the garlic-laced tomato sauce, made deliciously sweet not by the dash of sugar she adds (that’s there to balance the acidity of the tomatoes) but by the onions that are slowly cooked until tender and translucent. To make this all-in-one meal, she coats slices of eggplant in herbed breadcrumbs, then fries them and layers the golden-brown beauties in a deep baking dish with the tomato sauce and a trio of cheeses including mozzarella, provolone and parmesan. After 40 minutes in the oven, the top layer of mozzarella will be melted and bubbling and each tier of eggplant will be piping hot and ready to enjoy.
Similar to Southern-style grits, traditional Italian polenta is made from dried corn and churns out rich and creamy results after simmering for a while in liquid, often water or stock. Many classic recipes feature a how-to for making polenta from scratch, but the process can be challenging to tackle on a hectic weeknight. Luckily, most grocery stores now sell prepared polenta in firm, chilled tubes, and these go-to conveniences make easy time-savers when you’re in a hurry.
Food Network Magazine relies on premade polenta to prepare its simple recipe for Polenta With Fontina and Eggs (pictured above) in only 40 minutes. After making a basic tomato sauce with garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, add sliced, seared polenta discs to the same pan, crack some eggs on top and finish with grated fontina cheese. Just a few minutes in the oven is all it takes to set the eggs and melt the cheese, delivering a hearty, one-skillet supper that the whole family will enjoy.
Keep reading for recipes
Tofu often gets a bad culinary rap—and rightfully so. When eaten on its own, plain tofu can be quite boring and doesn’t taste like much of anything. When given an intense flavor boost in the form of bold sauces or complementary ingredients, however, it takes on rich, enjoyable flavors and becomes a go-to substitute for meat in countless traditionally beefy dishes, like meatloaf, meatballs and burgers.
In Food Network Magazine‘s recipe for Spaghetti and No-Meat Balls (pictured above), extra-firm tofu is incorporated into a mixture of garlic-laced mushrooms, sauteed onions and a pinch of red pepper flakes, which adds a hearty punch of flavor without a lot of fat. Together with breadcrumbs, the tofu binds the blend together so that it can be rolled into two-bite no-meat balls. A quick pan-fry turns the balls a deep golden-brown hue and gives them a slight crust on the outside. After simmering them in a light tomato-basil sauce, toss the nonmeatballs with your favorite kind of pasta for a family-friendly dinner than can be prepped in less than an hour.
Keep reading for more recipes
If you’re stuck in a dinner rut, try introducing simple, comforting fondue to your weekday recipe repertoire. Packed with deliciously soft, creamy cheeses, Food Network Magazine‘s Perfect Fondue (pictured above) recipe is a must-try for both first-time fondue makers and experienced cheese-melters alike.
The beauty of this recipe is that you get to pick what cheese is used based on your tastes and the ingredients you have on hand. If you have cheddar left over from game-day nachos, use that, but if you happen to be cooking for a cheese monger, it may be best to melt a creamy Brie or Gouda instead. No matter which cheese — or combination of cheeses — you choose, just add it to a garlic-rubbed saucepan simmering with white wine and lemon juice and finish with a few tablespoons of flour. This binding flour will help thicken the fondue and ensure that the end result is deliciously thick and creamy. Served alongside an array of dippers like crusty bread, fresh or roasted vegetables, grilled polenta and French fries, this 10-minute recipe is the ultimate in complete, go-to dinners. Although a fondue pot may add to the wow factor of presentation, it’s not necessary to pull off a successful dish; a standard slow cooker set to low will do the job just as well. To maintain a meatless meal, skip the meaty dippers like meatballs and prosciutto.
When you eliminate meat from your diet — even just one day a week — you likely end up craving the taste and texture of something hearty and beefy, something substantial to sink your teeth into. For that, look to lentils. These protein-rich rounds are indeed small in size, but they pack a surprisingly satisfying punch and a chewy firmness similar to beans. No matter which color lentil you pick up (there are almost as many varieties as there are colors of the rainbow), you can be sure that you’ll feel full long after eating them, thanks to their high protein and fiber contents. It takes little more than a drizzle of olive oil and tangy balsamic vinegar to complete a humble bowl of lentils, but these budget-friendly bites add heft to dressed-up plates like soups and salads as well, especially when combined with other hearty ingredients and bold flavors.
Food Network Magazine puts yellow lentils to work in its Slow-Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup (pictured above), simmered with fresh leeks, ginger and just a pinch of curry powder. Though warming winter soups are often thought to be weekend-only fare, this one is a go-to weeknight pick, since the slow cooker will do most of the cooking for you. Just prep the ingredients and set the machine to low before you leave in the morning, then come back later to a comforting soup made deliciously thick from the lentils. A last-minute addition of garlic, a bit more curry powder, plus refreshingly light lemon juice and fresh cilantro is all it takes to finish this fuss-free supper.
Keep reading for recipes
Just when you thought between the late nights at the office, your child’s after-school sports practices and a seemingly never-ending list of errands that you simply don’t have time to cook a from-scratch supper during the week, Paula introduces her recipe for Cheese Quesadillas (pictured above), a family-friendly dinner pick that is ready to eat in only 20 quick minutes. With just a handful of ingredients, she turns kid-approved favorites like cheddar cheese and soft tortillas into warming comfort food that can be finished with any number of Mexican-inspired toppings. If you have salsa, sour cream and guacamole left over from your big game tailgate last weekend, give those dips a second life atop the quesadillas — Paula looks to those tried-and-true favorites to complete this simple supper.
Cooking for adults or perhaps a young eater with an adventurous appetite? Try Rachael’s vegetable-packed quesadilla for another easy weeknight dinner. In her Wild Mushroom Quesadillas With Warm Black Bean Salsa, she flavors both cremini and shiitake mushrooms with fresh thyme and cooks the mixture with sharp white cheddar cheese inside tortillas until the cheese is melted and the tortillas have crisped slightly. A bold topping of warm salsa with hearty black beans, tender corn and barbecue sauce finishes this top-rated meal on a flavorful note.
Read more »
How many times have you gone to a restaurant with a deliciously full menu of tempting offerings only to order that healthful, lower-calorie salad you think you should eat instead of what you really want? At the end of the meal, you’re still craving fettuccine Alfredo and now are a bit cranky because that bowl of lettuce leaves just didn’t fill you up, right? The same scenario likely plays out at home, too, as you wrestle with hankerings for pizza and instead tuck into an everyday tossed salad.
Now that the healthy-eating season is in full swing and it seems like everyone is committed to making smarter food and fitness choices in the New Year — well, at least in the month of January — it’s time to master the entree salad: that flavor-packed dish of not just lettuce and lemon juice but also other, more filling ingredients that surely won’t leave you feeling deprived. The key to enjoying a salad as a meal is to incorporate creamy cheeses, crisp vegetables, crunchy crackers, good-for-you grains and just about anything else you have on hand so that it becomes something substantial that you look forward to eating.
Keep reading for the recipes
If you’re looking to update Mom’s tired, predictable lasagna to something fresh, seasonal and full of flavor, try recipes from some of your favorite Food Network stars, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Both chefs are sharing can-do recipes to help you transform this tried-and-true comfort food and put good-for-you winter produce to work. Check out their veggie-packed lasagna recipes below, then tell us in the comments: What’s your favorite way to enjoy lasagna?
Bobby’s big-batch Wild Mushroom and Cauliflower Lasagna (pictured above) is a rich, comforting dish made with two different sauces: a garlic-laced tomato sauce and a smooth, buttery cauliflower sauce with Romano cheese. He assembles this crowd-pleasing casserole by layering the sauce between partially cooked lasagna noodles, a creamy ricotta-herb mixture, sauteed mushrooms and a sprinkle of cheeses, then bakes the dish until it’s piping hot and bubbly. Let it sit for about 15 minutes once it’s removed from the oven before digging into the all-in-one supper, so that the melted cheeses don’t ooze out into a hot pool when you cut into the lasagna.