What to grill for July 4, and a great side dish

Bacon and Basil Pasta Salad.
Bacon and Basil Pasta Salad. ‘Betty Crocker: The Big Book of Pasta’

SUNDAY (Family)

Fire up the grill for your grilled chicken. Add this light and summery bacon and basil pasta salad (see recipe), a Boston lettuce salad and crusty rolls. Buy a chocolate layer cake for dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough pasta salad and cake for Monday.

MONDAY (Budget)

Celebrate Independence Day the all-American way with grilled burgers on whole-grain buns. Don’t forget the sliced onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise and mustard. On the side, leftover pasta salad is good. Watermelon and leftover cake are celebration desserts. Plan ahead: Save enough watermelon for Tuesday.

TUESDAY (Meatless)

We didn’t miss meat at all with tandoori garbanzo and tomato stew (see recipe) on the menu. Serve it with jasmine rice, cucumber spears and crusty bread. Slice some leftover WATERMELON for dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough stew for Wednesday.

WEDNESDAY (Heat and Eat)

Thin the leftover stew with unsalted chicken broth and make a delicious soup. Garnish it with reduced-fat sour cream. Add a spinach salad with hard-cooked egg wedges and pita bread. Try fresh blueberries for dessert.


No kid will be able to resist beef and noodle skillet. In a large nonstick skillet, cook 1 pound lean ground beef on medium-high for 5 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Stir in 2 cups uncooked medium no-yolk noodles, 1 cup frozen corn, 1/2 cup sliced green onions, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup mild salsa and 2 (8-ounce) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until noodles are desired doneness. Stir occasionally. Serve baby carrots with peanut butter and bread sticks. For dessert, the children can help prepare banana pudding (instant) using skim milk and sliced bananas.

FRIDAY (Express)

You’ll have chicken fajitas on the table in no time. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high; add 3/4 cup chopped onion. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2 medium green bell peppers cut into 1/2-inch pieces; stir frequently. Stir in 1 (10-ounce) package cooked mesquite or other refrigerated flavored chicken (such as Perdue or another brand). Cook 2 minutes or until chicken is hot; stir frequently. Spoon about 1/2 cup chicken filling onto each of 8 (7- to 8-inch) warmed fat-free flour tortillas. Top with 1 tablespoon salsa and 1 tablespoon guacamole. Roll and serve immediately. Serve with canned reduced-sodium black beans. How about fresh strawberries with light whipped cream for dessert? Plan ahead: Buy enough strawberries for Saturday.

SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)

Your guests will enjoy grilled dijon lamb chops (see recipe). Serve with corn-on-the-cob and sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese and sliced fresh basil. Add whole-grain bread. An easy strawberry pie (frozen) topped with leftover fresh strawberries is worthy of any guest.

Bacon And Basil Pasta Salad

1 (16-ounce) package penne pasta

8 ounces bacon

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

2 bell peppers (red, orange or green or mixture), chopped

4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup chopped basil leaves

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, cook bacon on medium 5 to 8 minutes; drain on paper towels and crumble. Refrigerate until serving time. In a large bowl, mix cooked pasta, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions. In small bowl, whisk together vinegar and mustard. Add oil; whisk until blended. Stir in basil, salt and pepper. Pour over pasta mixture; toss to combine. Cover; refrigerate 2 hours or until chilled. Just before serving, sprinkle bacon over salad and toss to combine.

Per serving: 269 calories, 8 grams protein, 13 grams fat (42 percent calories from fat), 2.2 grams saturated fat, 32 grams carbohydrate, 7 milligrams cholesterol, 300 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Yield: makes 12 servings

Tandoori Garbanzo And Tomato Stew

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh gingerroot

1 tablespoon garam masala or curry powder

1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added diced fire-roasted tomatoes, with juice

2 (15-ounce) cans reduced-sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt

Heat oil in 2-quart saucepan on medium-high. Cook onion, garlic, gingerroot and garam masala (or curry) in oil about 2 minutes or until onions are light brown. Stir in tomatoes with juice. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garbanzo beans; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally and moistening with a little water if necessary. Stir in cilantro, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt and additional chopped cilantro, if desired.

Per serving: 215 calories, 10 grams protein, 3 grams fat (14 percent calories from fat), no saturated fat, 35 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 165 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber.

Yield: makes 6 servings

Grilled Dijon Lamb Chops

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Coarse salt to taste

4 lamb shoulder chops, 1 inch thick (about 2 pounds)

In a medium bowl, combine oil, mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, hot sauce, paprika and salt to taste; mix well. Add lamb; turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours, turning occasionally. Grill over medium-high heat 5 to 6 minutes per side, 4 inches from heat, brushing with marinade. Discard any leftover marinade and serve.

Per serving: 234 calories, 29 grams protein, 12 grams fat (46 percent calories from fat), 3.8 grams saturated fat, 1 gram carbohydrate, 96 milligrams cholesterol, 232 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Yield: makes 4 servings