(Family Features) When busy mornings give way to a hectic workday followed by homework and after-school activities, a fresh, simple meal is often the only option. Before you hit the drive-thru or settle for an equally unhealthy alternative, check out these delicious dishes you can prepare and serve without the hassle.
Find more ideas to make your busy weeknights easy at Culinary.net.
Savory and Scrumptious
Take a nutritious dish to the family table that still brings a flavorful bite. This savory lasagna recipe boasts meaty eggplant, fresh zucchini and lycopene-rich tomatoes. Whole-wheat noodles pack fiber and natural plant compounds, called phytochemicals. Find more better-for-you recipe ideas at AICR.org.
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research.
- 2 eggplants (about 3 pounds), quartered lengthwise
- 6 medium zucchini (about 3 pounds)
- canola oil cooking spray
- 1 pound whole-wheat lasagna noodles
- 15 ounces low-fat ricotta or low-fat cottage cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese
- 4 cups low-sodium tomato sauce, divided
- Heat oven to 450° F. Grease 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan; set aside.
- Slice eggplant and zucchini in 1/2-inch slices. Layer on two baking sheets and coat both sides of vegetables with cooking spray. Roast 20 minutes. Toss vegetables and continue roasting until well browned and soft, about 20 minutes more. Transfer vegetables to large bowl.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375° F.
- Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Separate noodles and let cool slightly.
- In medium bowl, mix together cheese, eggs, Parmesan, nutmeg and garlic powder.
- To assemble: Spread thin layer of sauce over bottom of prepared pan. Cover with layer of pasta (noodle strips slightly overlapping). Spread with one-third of ricotta mixture.
- Sprinkle 1/4 of the mozzarella over ricotta. Spoon 1/3 of roasted vegetables on top. Top with 1/2 cup tomato sauce and continue assembly as directed until there are four layers of pasta and three layers of filling. Spread remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
- Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes more. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Quick, Flavorful Meal Idea
It’s not always easy to make healthy food choices. When time is of the essence, look for delicious recipe ingredients that are convenient and easy to prepare while also offering great taste and health benefits.
In fact, 40 percent of American consumers said shorter cooking times are especially important when buying grocery items such as rice, grains and pasta, according to research from Statista, and 83 percent said taste is an important factor when purchasing food.
Ready in 10 minutes with flavor infused in every grain, Uncle Ben’s Flavor Infusions rice is ideal for those looking for quick and healthy meal options. With its one-step cooking process, it makes it easy for families to cook with their kids and quickly get dinner on the table. The resealable pouches ensure freshness for multiple uses, and any of the five flavors can be combined with fresh vegetables, proteins and herbs for a simple meal that’s ready in less than 20 minutes.
Simple recipe options using Flavor Infusions, such as Easy Thai Chicken Satay and Rice Salad, are quick meals the entire family can enjoy, even when short on time. Find more meal ideas at UncleBens.com.
Easy Thai Chicken Satay and Rice Salad
- 1/4 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons hot water
- 1 cup Uncle Ben’s Flavor Infusions Roasted Chicken
- 1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup sliced pea pods
- 1 cup sliced red pepper
- 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
- 4-6 red radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
- To make dressing: In small glass bowl, stir together coconut milk, peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, red curry paste, cayenne pepper and hot water; set aside.
- Cook rice according to package instructions. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
- In center of individual plates, place about 1 cup rice. Arrange chicken, carrots, pea pods, red pepper, avocado, radishes, peanuts and green onions around rice then drizzle with dressing.
Fish with a Twist
Add a little variety to your dinnertime protein with a smart, heart-healthy option like fish. Fillets cook quickly and a slightly sweet white fish like farm-raised catfish has a mild enough flavor to entice picky young eaters. White fish is also quite versatile; it can take on other flavors such as this citrusy topping with ease. Find more family-friendly fish recipes at USCatfish.com.
Catfish Quesadilla with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream
Recipe courtesy of The Catfish Institute
- 4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish Fillets, grilled or baked
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- smoked paprika or chili powder
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 3/4 cup whole corn kernels
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 4 flour or wheat tortillas (10 inches each)
- 1 can (16 ounces) refried black beans
- 2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream:
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- lime zest
- salt, to taste
- Lightly brush fish with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika or chili powder. Prepare fish on grill or bake until done. Place in refrigerator to cool. When cool, cut into bite-size pieces.
- In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Saute red pepper and onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add corn, red pepper flakes, cumin and salt and pepper, to taste. Toss to incorporate and saute 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl and add cilantro.
- Heat pan large enough to hold flat tortilla to medium heat. Lightly brush pan with remaining olive oil.
- Spread tortilla on work surface. On half of each tortilla, spread refried beans and vegetables; top with fish.
- Place in heated pan and sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on other half of tortilla. Heat until cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly crispy. Fold cheese side over vegetable side and remove to plate.
- Using serrated knife, cut each tortilla into four pieces. Serve with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream.
- To make Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream: In small bowl, mix all ingredients until combined.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Roasted Vegetable Lasagna and Catfish Quesadilla with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream)
Photo courtesy of Uncle Ben’s (Easy Thai Chicken Satay and Rice Salad)