Spring begins with asparagus pasta and chocolate Bundt cake

Chocolate-Buttermilk Bundt Cake: From ‘Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, Fourth Edition,’ 2011.
Chocolate-Buttermilk Bundt Cake: From ‘Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, Fourth Edition,’ 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Monday: Meatless

Asparagus Fettuccine with Lemon and Pepper (see recipe) is a fitting dish to celebrate spring. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I’d be tempted to add some big shaves of Asiago or crumbles of goat cheese.

Tuesday: Magazine recipe

As the weather turns warmer, we tend to lighten up our menus. Curried Shrimp Salad from the April issue of Food & Wine magazine is a perfect dish for spring and summer.

Make the dressing first by whisking 1/4 cup each lime juice and canola oil with 2 tablespoons green curry paste. Add 1 pound cooked shrimp, 8 ounces mixed lettuces (about 8 cups), 1/2 cup each cilantro leaves and chopped mint, 1 cup sliced carrot and 1/2 cup sliced red onion. Season with salt and toss. Top with chopped peanuts.

Wednesday: Middle Eastern favorite

Chicken Tabbouleh Salad is a classic that bears repeating. Find a packaged mix for this Middle Eastern bulgur and parsley salad (Near East makes a version) and follow the directions to prepare, then add shredded chicken and feta cheese. Serve with toasted pita bread. Great leftovers for lunch.

Thursday: Light fish

Grilled Fish with Apple-Cucumber Relish is a refreshing meal that features any firm white fish, such as mahi-mahi, tilapia, grouper, cod or halibut. (You can sauté or grill the fish. Your choice.)

To make the relish, mix 1/2 cup each diced Granny Smith apple and diced peeled cucumber, 1/4 cup apple juice, 2 tablespoons diced red onion and 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley. Chill the relish for at least 10 minutes. Serve with sautéed broccoli rabe.

Friday: Knife and fork

Messy sandwiches require utensils, and that’s the case with Open-Faced Fontina and Mushroom Burgers. Prepare burgers the way you like them and place on toasted sourdough bread slathered with brown mustard. Put bread and burgers on a baking sheet, top each with sliced or grated fontina cheese and slide under the broiler. Top the burgers with sauteed mushrooms and onions. You’ll need something crunchy on the side, such as coleslaw or a green salad with lots of vegetables.

Saturday: Easy Entertaining

Invite guests for Orange-Sesame Roast Pork Tenderloin. Place 2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins in a resealable plastic bag. In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, 4 cloves crushed garlic, 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce, 3 tablespoons sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Pour half of marinade over pork, turn to coat evenly and refrigerate 8 hours. Turn occasionally. Cover and reserve remaining marinade for basting. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove tenderloins from bag; discard marinade. Place meat in shallow roasting pan; roast 20 minutes or until internal temperature is 145 degrees, basting occasionally with reserved marinade. Remove pork from oven; cover lightly with foil and let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Moo Goo Rice goes well alongside. Add cooked sliced mushrooms and canned sliced water chestnuts (drained) to hot cooked rice; mix well. Serve with steamed snow peas and sourdough bread. Buy a coconut cream pie for dessert.

Sunday: Family Day

The family is looking forward to your Roast Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. Alongside, red cabbage, it’s perfect. In a large microwave-safe baking dish, combine 1 1/2 pounds shredded red cabbage, 2 chopped Granny Smith apples, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, coarse salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed, 2 tablespoons water and 1/4 cup cider vinegar; mix well. Cover and microwave on high (100 percent power) 12 to 14 minutes; stir after 6 minutes.

Serve with dinner rolls. This Chocolate-Buttermilk Bundt Cake (see recipe) adds a sweet finish. Top with sliced fresh strawberries.

Asparagus Fettuccine with Lemon and Pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1-inch lengths

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces uncooked fettuccine

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes or until golden. Stir in asparagus and season with salt, if desired. Sauté 2 minutes, then cover skillet, and cook 5 minutes, or until asparagus is bright green and just tender. Transfer half of asparagus to plate, and set aside. Cook remaining asparagus 1 minute more, then transfer to bowl of food processor. Add lemon juice, pepper and remaining 3 tablespoons oil and blend until sauce is smooth.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot and toss with asparagus sauce, reserved cooking water and lemon zest. Stir in reserved asparagus and season with salt and pepper if desired. Serves 4.

Source: Vegetarian Times magazine.


2 cups flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (not coarse salt)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup boiling water

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/3 cup canola oil

1 egg

1 egg white

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 10-inch Bundt pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, combine cocoa and chopped chocolate. Pour boiling water over cocoa mixture, stirring until chocolate is melted. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, canola oil, egg, egg white and vanilla; stir in cocoa mixture. Add flour mixture, stirring just until no longer visible. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan; bake 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert; remove pan and cool completely. Makes 24 servings.

Per serving: 164 calories, 3 g protein, 6 g fat (33 percent calories from fat), 1.8 g saturated fat, 25 g carbohydrates, 8 mg cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 1 g fiber. Carb choices: 1 1/2.

Source: Adapted from “Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, Fourth Edition.”