Even on the most hectic of weeknights, you shouldn’t have to settle for basic, boring meals simply because they’re easy to make. Believe it or not, in just 40 minutes — the time it takes to fix everyday chicken, meatloaf or burgers — you can whip up a three-course meal without breaking a sweat. Though multi-course meals can be heavy and rich, this one is light and seasonal, featuring a veggie-packed pasta dish, simple side salad and fresh, fruity dessert. Check out Food Network’s meatless menu below and surprise your family with this satisfying meal tonight.
Ready to enjoy in just 25 minutes, Food Network Magazine’s Fettuccine With Summer Vegetables and Goat Cheese (pictured above) is a creamy but light pasta that’s filled with good-for-you ingredients, like tomatoes, squash and wax beans. The beauty of this dish is that it requires hardly any cooking. Though you need to boil a pot of water, there’s no additional pan needed. The noodles and beans are cooked in the same water and the tomatoes and squash are left raw until they’re topped with the hot ingredients. The heat of the pasta warms the veggies, slowly melts the cheese and creates a silky-smooth sauce that perfectly coats each noodle. For added decadence, stir in nutty Parmesan and finish each bowl with extra dots of goat cheese.
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Hot tips from Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:
As soon as you add pasta to boiling water, stir it vigorously for about 5 seconds to keep it from sticking, like Food Network Magazine did with the Broken Lasagna With Zucchini-Tomato Sauce. Each piece should be able to tumble freely in the pot. Don’t add oil to the water as is often suggested: It can prevent sauce from clinging to cooked pasta.
My parents are avid vegetable and herb gardeners. My dad is responsible for digging, planting and watering, while my mom tackles the harvesting, cooking and preserving. It’s a fairly equitable division of labor for most of the season. The only time my mom complains about her end of the bargain is when the garden begins belching forth many pounds of zucchini, yellow crookneck squash and flying saucer-shaped pattypans.
Whether you’re a home gardener, CSA member or a regular farmers’ market shopper, keeping up with the flow of summer squash during its high season can easily become a full-time cooking job. I find that I am constantly looking for ways to cook it down, use it up and transform it from a rapidly reproducing raw ingredient into breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
To that end, I grate it into baked goods, cook it down into sandwich spreads and puree it into soup with tomatoes, eggplant, onions and plenty of Parmesan cheese. I also like to grill or roast it into submission and then toss it into pasta salads. Topped with a bit of cold chicken or crumbled feta, it makes for an easy dinner or potluck contribution.
Before you heat your pasta water, read these tips
A fresh, no-cook sauce that takes just moments to prepare, basil pesto is a must-have summer sauce that’s most traditionally made with bunches of fresh basil leaves, plenty of garlic, crunchy pine nuts, mounds of Parmesan cheese and fruity olive oil. If you’ve never made homemade pesto before, start with Food Network Magazine’s Basil Pesto (pictured above) — it’s an easy, versatile recipe that the whole family will enjoy. Though pesto is often featured atop pasta noodles, it can shine in salads, soups, appetizers and more. Check out Food Network’s pesto-based recipes below and let us know your favorite way to enjoy pesto.
With a smooth sauce and rich flavor, Food Network Magazine’s five-star Pesto Cream Tortellini is a go-to weeknight dinner that features tender tortellini — pillow-like pasta that is stuffed with either meat or cheese — and good-for-you broccoli. Pick up a package of store-bought tortellini to save time in the kitchen.
Giada’s Farro With Coarse Pesto is an Italian-style salad that can be featured as a hearty side dish or healthful light lunch. When making the pesto, Giada processes the basil mixture just until it’s coarse — the uneven texture will stand up well to the hefty weight of the grains. Be sure to boil the farro in vegetable broth or water, instead of chicken broth, to maintain a meatless dish.
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Here in Food Network Kitchens, we love simple, classic recipes. We are also paid to think about food all day. So we’ve taken classic foods and drinks and reimagined them into three, four or five different ways. No standard recipes here, just the occasional technique and pictures. Think of it as a picture recipe.
Orzo is pretty delicious with just some butter and salt. But why not try one of these summertime-inspired orzo salads? The options are endless. Plus, you can serve them warm, room temperature or slightly chilled.
First, start with the classic
Hot tips from Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:
Instead of the usual penne or macaroni, try stuffed pasta like ravioli, tortellini or pierogi in a pasta salad. Stick to cheese varieties (meat-filled pasta isn’t as appealing cold) and choose a subtle dressing that won’t overpower the filling, like the lemony one in this Ravioli Salad from Food Network Magazine.
Though grilling season is in full swing, you don’t have to forgo your favorite plates of pasta until the fall. Lasagna, in fact, can be cooked just as easily on the grill as it can in the oven. Just a few simple steps is all it takes to prepare traditional lasagna in a very nontraditional way.
Food Network Magazine’s Grilled Lasagna (pictured above) is made in easy-to-assemble aluminum-foil packets that are sturdy enough to hold the classic ingredients inside of them. No-boil noodles form the base of the lasagna, which is layered with sliced ripe tomatoes, fresh spinach and a garlic-laced mozzarella-Parmesan cheese mixture. Thanks to the steam cloud that forms in the pouch while it’s grilled, the noodles become soft, the cheeses melted and the spinach wilted. For an added dollop of indulgence, open the packet before serving and top each square of lasagna with creamy ricotta cheese and in-season basil.
Get the recipe
Every year when summer rolls around, I find myself on the hunt for a fresh, seasonal potluck dish. The requirements for the winning dish are that it needs to travel well, taste good whether warm or at room temperature and must not require immediate refrigeration upon arrival at said potluck destination.
Several years ago, I made many batches of a barley salad that included chunks of feta cheese and chopped cucumber. Through summer 2010, I fixated on a dish of made from chickpeas marinated in a vinaigrette made from olive oil, lemon juice and minced rosemary. Last summer, I opted for halved grape tomatoes, red onion and basil dressed lightly with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
Each of these salads did an excellent job throughout their particular season, but by the time the cooler weather rolled around, I was ready for something more autumnal.
Happily, I think I stumbled across this summer’s salad just this last weekend, and with the hot weather we’ve been having, its arrival couldn’t be timelier. It’s Rachael Ray’s recipe for Tuscan Pesto-Dressed Penne With Crispy Kale. It’s light and tastes terrific freshly made or after a night in the fridge (I’ve tried it both ways and it’s a winner). The next time you have a summer potluck to attend, stir up this Weekender.
Before you start blending your pesto, read these tips
Celebrate the bright colors and bold flavors of spring by cooking this light and fresh pasta dish. After adding sweet cherry tomatoes to al dente noodles, sugar snap peas, crunchy carrots and a bell pepper, gently mix in chopped mint, nutty Parmesan and silky goat cheese until combined. Ready to eat in just 30 quick minutes, this seasonal recipe guarantees that you can get dinner on the table in a flash.
Complete your Italian-inspired dinner by serving Food Network Magazine’s Almond Caesar Salad, featuring red-leaf lettuce tossed with a garlic-Dijon dressing and cheesy baked croutons.
Get the recipe: Pasta Primavera from Food Network Magazine
Meatless Monday, an international movement, encourages people everywhere to cut meat one day a week for personal and planetary health. Browse more Meatless Monday recipes.
I’m not a natural-born baker. Flour mishaps are all too common in my kitchen to classify me as one. Yet, despite my lack of grace, baking is what I love to do. My confectionery blunders almost always turn out tasty in the end, and I’ll admit to having a keen eye for good cookie recipes. When it comes to using measuring cups, I don’t feel limited, I feel confident.
Cooking by taste is a whole other story — it terrifies me. I overthink every step and doubts cloud my culinary judgment. How much is a dash of salt, really? How many minutes exactly does it take to roast a chicken?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily admit to my savory successes. Alton’s Skirt Steak is probably one of the best things I’ve ever made and Bobby’s Mesa Grill’s Shrimp With Green-Onion Cilantro Sauce (recipe available in his cookbook) has always been a crowd-pleaser for me. But the problem is that all my second-guessing prevents me from enjoying the process.
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