Now that it really feels like fall, we're cooking up some heartier recipes. Let us help you get some delicious dinners on the table.
These weeknight recipes take less than an hour of mostly hands-off time. And the whole family will enjoy them.
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Lentil cakes with feta-yogurt sauce and cucumber-cress salad
Like falafel, only better — truly. These lentil patties are made with raw lentils and take just 30 minutes (but you need to soak the lentils ahead of time). And they are made on the stovetop, so no deep-frying needed. Serve with our lovely feta-yogurt sauce and crunchy, spicy salad of cucumber and cress.
Serves 4 (makes 8 cakes)
- 1 cup red lentils
- 3 scallions, pale-green and white parts chopped; greens thinly sliced on bias
- 1 tablespoon harissa
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Coarse salt
- 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
- 2 1/2 ounces goat’s-milk or sheep’s-milk feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon finely grated garlic (from 1 small clove)
- 1/2 English cucumber, cut into half-moons (1 cup)
- 1/2 ounce upland cress or watercress (1 cup)
- 1/4 ounce fresh mint leaves (1/2 cup)
- 2 teaspoons safflower oil
1. Cover lentils with 2 inches cold water. Soak 4 hours at room temperature or up to 1 day in refrigerator. Drain well. Pulse pale-green and white parts of scallions in a food processor until minced. Add harissa, turmeric, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and egg and egg white; pulse to combine. Add lentils; puree until almost smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in a little more than half the feta.
2. Whisk remaining feta, yogurt, lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Combine cucumber, cress and mint in another bowl.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place a scant tablespoon of scallion greens in pan, and spoon about an eighth of the batter on top, spreading to make a 3-inch cake. Repeat, making 4 cakes at a time. Cook until golden brown, flipping once, about 6 minutes. Add remaining teaspoon oil and repeat.
4. Divide sauce among 4 plates; top with salad. Place cakes next to greens and serve.
Cook’s note: Peppery cress is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and other powerful cancer-fighting compounds.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 286 calories, 8 grams fat, 34 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams protein, 69 milligrams cholesterol, 290 milligrams sodium, 16 grams dietary fiber, 24 percent of calories from fat.
Eggplants stuffed with lamb, rice and currants
Meaty eggplant and just a little ground lamb makes for a tasty and economical dinner. Hearty brown rice plus plenty of fresh mint and parsley round out the filling for this most delicious Middle Eastern-inspired entree. Add a green salad and you’re done.
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 ounces ground lamb (90 percent lean)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 2/3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup short-grain brown rice
- 3 tablespoons dried currants
- 4 small eggplants (about 8 ounces each)
- 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Garnish: chopped fresh parsley and mint, and finely grated lemon zest
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in an ovenproof pot over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring often, until soft and lightly caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes. Add lamb, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until lamb is cooked through and no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Add stock, rice and currants. Bring to a simmer. Cover, and transfer to oven on lowest rack. Cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, slice eggplants in half lengthwise; brush each cut side with 1/4 teaspoon oil. Roast, cut sides up, on a rimmed baking sheet on top oven rack until centers are soft and tops are browned, about 40 minutes. Let cool.
3. Gently scrape eggplant flesh into a large bowl, reserving skins. Stir in lamb-rice mixture, and some of the chopped herbs and lemon zest. Divide stuffing among eggplant skins. Garnish with more herbs and lemon zest.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 367 calories, 11 grams fat, 57 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 16 milligrams cholesterol, 923 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber, 27 percent of calories from fat.
A quick-to-cook turkey chili that’s just as flavorful as the beefy original — and it’s all made in one pot.
- 3 ounces ancho chiles (about 5), rinsed and patted dry
- 2 cups whole fire-roasted tomatoes (from one 28-ounce can)
- 1/2 large white onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup safflower oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 pounds ground dark turkey meat
- 3/4 pound cooked smoked turkey necks or wings, skin and bones removed, meat shredded (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) pink beans, rinsed and drained
- Sour cream and cilantro sprigs, for serving
1. Assemble ingredients: Ancho chiles (dried poblano peppers) and canned fire-roasted tomatoes add smokiness, while cinnamon, oregano and cumin bring spice and warmth. Onion, garlic, chicken broth, salt, pepper and oil also contribute to the flavor base.
2. Make flavor base: Remove stems and seeds from chiles; tear into large pieces. Transfer to a blender. Blend with tomatoes, onion, garlic, 1/2 cup broth, cinnamon, oregano, cumin and 2 tablespoons oil. Generously season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a saucepan; simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until thick and slightly darkened, about 20 minutes.
3. Cook turkey: Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey; season with salt. Cook through, breaking meat up, about 5 minutes.
4. Simmer chili: Stir in tomato mixture, smoked turkey, beans and remaining 1 cup broth. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, topped with sour cream and cilantro.
Cook’s note: This recipe can be made up to three days ahead. In fact, it gets better the longer it sits. Make sure to buy the precooked variety of smoked turkey for this recipe, which requires only brief simmering to heat through.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 408 calories, 12 grams fat, 41 grams carbohydrates, 39 grams protein, 109 milligrams cholesterol, 148 milligrams sodium, 8 grams dietary fiber, 25 percent of calories from fat.