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Weekday dinner inspiration: Brown Rice Gratin With Lemon, Pine Nuts and Chicken and more

Mon | Meatless meal

Bea Dreier of Tampa has been so generous sharing her ideas for meatless meals. Here's her Broccoli Cheese Soup, which she says even those who don't like broccoli will love. Bring 3 cups vegetable broth to a boil. Add one chopped onion, 6 cups chopped broccoli, a dash of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried thyme and 2 bay leaves. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and put in blender, pulsing until smooth. In same saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add salt and pepper to taste. Slowly add 2 cups milk, then add 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, stirring until well mixed and the cheese is melted. Add broccoli mix to milk mixture, heat through and serve.

Tues | Simply salmon

When you see salmon on sale, grab it and make a Stir Crazy favorite, Sauteed Salmon With Grape Tomatoes. Saute fillets seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil, about 4 minutes a side. Remove from skillet and add grape tomatoes, a bit of butter, fresh lemon juice and capers to pan. When tomatoes go soft, dump the chunky sauce over the salmon and serve. Five-minute couscous on the side.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

If you're making brown rice for a meal, make double for Brown Rice Gratin With Lemon, Pine Nuts and Chicken (recipe below). Rice can be cooled and stored in a sealed plastic bag and frozen. Thaw before mixing with casserole ingredients.

Thurs | The big salad

Top leafy greens and fresh, chopped vegetables (go for radishes!) with marinated, grilled and sliced skirt steak for a Grilled Steak and Greens Salad. Add crumbled blue cheese and whatever dressing you'd like. Serve with a hunk of fabulous artisan bread that you bought at an outdoor market. (Freeze bread until you're ready to use it. It'll stay just as fresh as the day you bought it.)

Fri | TGI-pasta

Make a simple Shrimp Scampi Pasta by sauteing minced garlic and a bit of shallot in equal parts butter and olive oil. Add some white wine and toss in peeled shrimp and small broccoli florets that have been steamed. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook through and serve over angel-hair pasta with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley. (Save some of the pasta water in case you need to loosen the sauce.) French bread and a spinach salad complete the meal.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8586. Follow @roadeats on Twitter.

>>MODERATE

Brown Rice Gratin

With Lemon, Pine Nuts and Chicken

5 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

½ cup toasted pine nuts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

½ cup white wine or low-sodium chicken broth

1 small bunch scallions (green onions), trimmed and chopped into ½-inch pieces

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease the baking dish with olive oil. In a large bowl toss the cooked brown rice, shredded chicken, lemon zest, pine nuts and salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the olive oil in large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until it is fragrant and golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn.

Add the lemon juice and white wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, then pour over the rice and chicken mixture and mix well. Stir in the scallions and Parmesan and spread in the prepared baking dish. (At this point, the casserole can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Let it come to room temperature before baking.)

Bake, covered, for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until a slightly golden crust forms on top. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese if you'd like.

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Not Your Mother's Casseroles by Faith Durand (Harvard Common Press, 2010)

Weekday dinner inspiration: Brown Rice Gratin With Lemon, Pine Nuts and Chicken and more 10/21/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 21, 2013 5:15pm]
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