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Weekday dinner inspirations: Chicken Whole Wheat Fusilli With Red Pepper and Almond Pesto and more

Mon | Going meatless

Potato Pierogi With Sauteed Apples and Cabbage is a Stir Crazy favorite from Real Simple magazine. Prepare frozen pierogi according to the package instructions. To make the side, saute sliced onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes then add cubed apples. (Go for a sweet honey crisp over a tart Granny Smith.) Cook another minute, then add shredded cabbage, a few splashes of apple cider vinegar and salt and black pepper. Offer low-fat sour cream with the pierogi.

Tues | Fusion food

Shrimp Stir-fry Salad is an interesting and different dish. In a large skillet or wok, saute peeled shrimp in vegetable oil. Remove shrimp and add chopped peanuts, grated fresh ginger and about ¼ cup Asian sesame salad dressing to the pan. Remove from heat and return shrimp to pan. In a large bowl, toss baby spinach leaves, packaged broccoli slaw, thinly sliced cucumber and red pepper strips with another ¼ cup of the dressing. Toss with warm shrimp mixture.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Most people think basil, when they think pesto. But the sauce that enlivens pasta can be made of a number of herbs or nuts. Chicken Whole Wheat Fusilli With Red Pepper and Almond Pesto (recipe below) is just one example. It calls for toasted almonds, and you can do that in a dry skillet over medium heat. Watch carefully because toasted quickly turns to burned.

Thurs | A bowl comfort

Hamburger Rice is a simple weeknight dinner that's appealing to kids. To make it, brown 1 pound ground beef. Drain fat, return meat to pan and add 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, 2 cups cubed potatoes, 2 sliced carrots, 1 chopped onion, ½ cup rice, 6 cups water (or half water and half beef broth) and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 25 minutes.

Fri | Stress free

Kiss the workweek goodbye with a romantic dinner for you and your honey. Throw steaks on the grill along with pineapple rings and thick slices of red onion brushed with olive oil. Garnish the steaks with the sweet-heat produce. Serve with rice that's been cooked with diced red pepper. A bold red wine — I like Argentinian malbec — drinks nice with this meal.

Read Stir Crazy online at www.blogs.tampabay.com/food. Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8586.

>>Easy

Chicken Whole Wheat Fusilli

With Red Pepper and Almond Pesto

14 ounces dried whole wheat fusilli

Breasts from rotisserie chicken, shredded

Salt

For the pesto:

2 roasted, peeled red peppers (if using store-bought, two small jars)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Large handful of basil leaves, plus extra to garnish

3 tablespoons toasted almonds

¼ cup grated Romano cheese, plus extra to serve

Place the roasted peppers in a food processor or blender with the olive oil, basil, almonds and Romano to form a thick but smooth paste. Add a little more oil or a drizzle of water if needed. Season well with salt.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan or salted boiling water according to package instructions until al dente. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water, and return to the pan. Stir in the pesto, adding cooking water as needed to loosen until the pasta is coated.

Add shredded chicken to the pasta and stir to distribute. Serve in bowls sprinkled with chopped fresh basil and more grated Romano.

Serves 4.

Source: Adapted from Quick Cook: Pasta by Emma Lewis (Hamlyn, 20112)

Weekday dinner inspirations: Chicken Whole Wheat Fusilli With Red Pepper and Almond Pesto and more 04/03/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 4:30am]

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