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Weekday dinner inspiration: Minnesota Wild Rice Soup and more

Mon | Meatless meal

Pappardelle With Tomato Sauce and Ricotta is a get-it-to-the-table-quick meal. The wide noodles are a bit more expensive than the usual BOGO but the splurge is worth it. You want a lot of noodle for this dish. Cook pasta according to package instructions, then mix with a favorite marinara sauce. Serve in wide, shallow bowls with torn pieces of fresh basil, a big dollop of ricotta cheese and a healthy grind of black pepper. The heat from the pasta will incorporate the ricotta into the dish and make it creamy. Salad on the side.

Tues | The cherry on top

Cheese and sour cream are typical toppers for chili, but it's the new year and we are trying to cut the calories to lose some of that holiday heft. Make a pot of your favorite Chili and then consider these toppers instead: sliced radishes, toasted pine nuts and diced avocado; a salsa of corn kernels, diced peppers and red onions mixed with a lot of lime juice and chopped cilantro, or diced jicama and zucchini mixed with lime juice and a bit of cayenne.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup (recipe below) is so named because that state is the top producer of wild rice, which isn't really rice at all but a seed that comes from an aquatic grass. Botany lesson aside, it's good to know that when cooked, wild rice gives off a creaminess that helps to cut the fat in this scaled-back soup from the editors of Cooking Light magazine. Florida's chilly season has finally arrived, such as it is, and soup is a go-to tummy warmer.

Thurs | Hello, citrus

We're using some of the backyard bounty in Marmalade-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops served with sauteed spinach. I use bone-in chops because I think they are more flavorful. Bread lightly and brown on both sides in olive oil. Remove to a baking dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, heat ½ cup marmalade mixed with the juice of 1 medium orange (or tangelo!) and a tablespoon of grainy mustard. Brush mixture over chops and bake for about 20 minutes.

Fri | Swimming in bacon

Sometimes, you've just got to turn to Martha Stewart. Her Bacon-Wrapped Cod With Frisee is a low-carb meal that really satisfies. Make a vinaigrette by whisking 1 ½ teaspoons each Dijon mustard and honey with 1 tablespoon white wine (or sherry) vinegar and ½ cup of grapefruit juice. Slowly incorporate ⅓ cup olive oil. Set aside. Wrap cod in bacon and cook in a skillet for about 9 minutes, browning bacon on all sides. To serve, mound peppery frisee (curly endive) on plates, dress with vinaigrette and top with cod.

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

>>MODERATE

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

2 leeks (about 1 pound)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 celery stalks, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)

10 ounces sliced button or cremini mushrooms

7 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided use

¾ cup uncooked wild rice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)

1 cup half-and-half

3 tablespoons dry white wine

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Remove roots, outer leaves and tops from leeks. Cut in half lengthwise. Rinse thoroughly with cold water, and cut each half into ¼-inch slices.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks, celery and mushrooms; saute 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in 6 cups broth. Add rice, salt, thyme and pepper; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 to 55 minutes or until rice has "popped."

Spoon 1/2 cup flour into dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour and 1 cup broth, whisking until smooth. Add mixture to soup. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; add chicken, half-and-half, wine, and mustard. Cook 2 minutes or just until thoroughly heated (do not boil).

Serves 8 (1 ¼-cup servings).

Nutritional information per serving: 350 calories, 9.5g fat (5.1g saturated), 30g protein, 34g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 598mg sodium.

Source: Cooking Light Lighten Up, America! by Allison Fishman Task (Oxmoor House, 2013)

Weekday dinner inspiration: Minnesota Wild Rice Soup and more 01/06/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 6, 2014 4:25pm]

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