Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
Greek flavors abound in these simple dinners for spring.
LEMON CHICKEN BREASTS WITH ARTICHOKES AND POTATOES
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
4 medium red bliss potatoes (1 pound), each cut into 8 pieces
1 (9-ounce) box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts, cut into 4 pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 9-by-7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and marjoram in a large bowl. Add potatoes and artichokes; toss. Use slotted spoon to lift vegetables out of the lemon juice mixture and transfer to baking dish; sprinkle with 1 / 2 teaspoon of the salt.
3. Whisk remaining 1 / 2 teaspoon of salt into lemon juice mixture in bowl. Add chicken and toss well to coat. Place chicken in baking dish, drizzle with any remaining lemon juice and bake, basting occasionally, until chicken is cooked to 160 degrees and potatoes are tender, about 50 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 408 calories, 43 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 15 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 732 mg sodium
BAKED ORZO, GREEK STYLE
1 cup orzo
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 ounces lean ground beef (93 percent)
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Cook the orzo in plenty of lightly salted boiling water, according to package directions. Two minutes before draining, add the peas. Drain and transfer to large bowl.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the mint, cinnamon, oregano and beef, and cook, stirring to break up the clumps, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste; simmer gently until slightly thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Combine with orzo; stir in feta, and transfer to baking dish.
4. Bake 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is somewhat set. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 485 calories, 31 g protein, 67 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 12 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 576 mg sodium
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 tablespoons basmati rice
4 whole eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
8 ounces asparagus, cut into 1-inch
1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the rice, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
2. Whisk eggs and lemon juice together in medium bowl; continue to whisk while adding 2 cups of warm broth in a slow stream. Pour mixture back into the pot in a slow stream, whisking all the while.
3. Add chicken and asparagus to soup and warm over medium heat until asparagus is bright green and crisp tender, about 10 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 285 calories, 33 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 228 mg sodium