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7 Day Menu Planner: Impress your friends with sesame-crusted pork tenderloin

by Andrews McMeel Syndication | September 13, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
America's Test Kitchen/Steve Klise

SUNDAY (Family) -- Enjoy crispy roast chicken with orange and thyme for family day: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a 5- to 7-pound roasting chicken, breast side up, in a shallow roasting pan. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves and some coarse salt and pepper all over the skin. Remove ends from 1 large navel orange, cut into thin slices and stuff into cavity, along with 6-8 thyme sprigs. Roast 1 hour 45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove chicken from oven; tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Slice and serve. (Remove skin before eating to reduce fat and calories.)

Serve with jasmine rice, sugar snap peas and sourdough bread. Buy a coconut cream pie for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough chicken and pie and cook enough rice for Monday.

SHOPPING LIST: roasting chicken, olive oil, fresh thyme, coarse salt, pepper, navel orange, jasmine rice, sugar snap peas, sourdough bread, coconut cream pie.

MONDAY (Heat and Eat) -- Sesame brown rice bowl with shredded chicken and peanuts is a wonderful way to use leftover chicken and rice. Into 4 individual serving bowls, place ¾ cup cooked leftover rice. To each bowl, add ½ cup shredded leftover chicken breast, ½ cup shredded carrot, 1 tablespoon sliced green onion, 1 tablespoon dry-roasted peanuts, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro and ½ teaspoon coarse salt; toss to combine. For four servings of dressing: In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 4 teaspoons canola oil, 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil; mix well. Drizzle dressing over each bowl. Sprinkle each serving with additional peanuts and cilantro.

Serve with a lettuce wedge and sesame breadsticks. Leftover pie is all you need for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: carrots, green onions, dry-roasted peanuts, cilantro, coarse salt, limes, canola oil, dark sesame oil, lettuce, sesame breadsticks.

TUESDAY (Meatless) -- We're big fans of savory garbanzo beans with vegetables (see recipe) for its flavor and simplicity. Serve with a romaine salad and whole-grain rolls. Chilled red and green grapes are good for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: dried garbanzo beans, coarse salt, pepper, olive oil, fresh sliced mushrooms, shredded carrots, green onions, garlic, lemon, prepared horseradish, yellow mustard, romaine, whole-grain rolls, red and green grapes.

WEDNESDAY (Express) -- Make it quick tonight with deli egg salad. Stir in some capers and sliced black olives. Place packaged mixed greens on a serving platter. Top with the egg salad and add tomato wedges and sliced orange bell pepper rings around the egg salad. Add whole-grain bread. For dessert, try pineapple sorbet.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough sorbet for Saturday.

SHOPPING LIST: deli egg salad, capers, sliced black olives, packaged mixed greens, tomatoes, orange bell peppers, whole-grain bread, pineapple sorbet.

THURSDAY (Kids) -- Call the kids in for turkey tacos (see recipe). Serve the favorite with canned vegetarian pinto beans and guacamole. Keep dessert simple and serve pears.

SHOPPING LIST: unsalted chicken broth, onion, red bell pepper, fresh or frozen whole-kernel corn, ground turkey breast, mild salsa, fresh cilantro, flour tortillas, reduced-fat sour cream, canned vegetarian pinto beans, guacamole, pears.

FRIDAY (Budget) -- Always a favorite at our house, tuna with cannellini beans is super easy. In a medium bowl, combine 3½ cups canned reduced-sodium cannellini beans (rinsed), 1 (12-ounce) can water-packed light tuna (drained and flaked) and ½ cup finely chopped medium red onion. Add ½ cup chopped parsley, ¼ cup sliced black olives, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves and coarse salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to mix. Cover and chill for at least one hour. To serve, line a large platter with red-tipped lettuce and mound tuna mixture on lettuce. Garnish with more chopped parsley.

Add garlic bread and enjoy plums for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: canned reduced-sodium cannellini beans, canned water-packed light tuna, red onion, parsley, sliced black olives, lemon, red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh thyme, coarse salt, pepper, red-tipped lettuce, garlic bread, plums.

SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining) -- Tonight would be a great night to invite friends for sesame-crusted pork tenderloin with celery salad (see recipe), brown rice with sliced almonds and spinach salad with red onion rings. Add poppy seed breadsticks to the meal. For dessert, try mochi sweet rice cakes(see TIP).

TIP: Look for mochi sweet rice cakes at Asian markets.

SHOPPING LIST: extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, fresh thyme, garlic, coarse salt, pepper, celery, dried currants, pork tenderloins, sesame seeds, goat cheese, brown rice, sliced almonds, fresh spinach, red onion, poppy seed breadsticks, mochi sweet rice cakes.


The recipes

Savory garbanzo beans with vegetables (Tuesday)

Servings: makes about 9½ cups

Preparation time: less than 15 minutes

Cooking time: 4 to 5½ hours


1 pound dried garbanzo beans

5½ cups hot water

½ teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (8-ounce) package fresh sliced mushrooms

1 cup shredded carrots

1 bunch green onions, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons yellow mustard

Rinse beans and add to a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, along with water, salt and pepper. Cover; cook on high 4-5 hours or until beans are tender. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium. Add mushrooms, carrots, onions and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until softened. Stir into beans along with lemon juice, horseradish and mustard; mix well and cook 15 minutes more on high.

Per cup: 203 calories, 10 grams protein, 4 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 0.2 gram saturated fat, 32 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 144 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.


Turkey tacos (Thursday)

Servings: makes 8 tacos

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 20 minutes


½ cup unsalted chicken broth

½ cup finely chopped onion

½ cup diced red bell pepper

1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) whole kernel corn

½ pound ground turkey breast

½ cup mild salsa

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

8 (8- to 10-inch) flour tortillas

Reduced-fat sour cream

In a large nonstick skillet, heat broth to boiling on medium. Add onion, bell pepper and corn; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Reduce heat to low. Stir in turkey. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salsa and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until turkey is no longer pink. Stir in cilantro. Spoon slightly less than ½ cup turkey mixture down center of each tortilla; roll and serve with sour cream.

Per serving: 175 calories, 11 grams protein, 1 gram fat (5 percent calories from fat), 0.1 gram saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, 19 milligrams cholesterol, 419 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.


Sesame-crusted pork tenderloin with celery salad

Servings: makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 12-15 minutes


6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon pepper

6 celery ribs, thinly sliced on bias

3 tablespoons dried currants

2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed

½ cup sesame seeds

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Whisk ¼ cup oil, lemon juice, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Add celery and currants; toss to combine and set aside.

Pat pork dry with paper towels; season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Spread sesame seeds on large plate and roll pork in seeds until fully coated. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet on medium-high until shimmering. Add pork and cook until seeds are lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to prepared wire rack. Roast until internal temperature of meat reaches 135 degrees, 12-15 minutes. Transfer pork to cutting board and let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer salad to platter and sprinkle with goat cheese. Slice pork ½ inch thick and serve with salad. (Adapted from "Meat Illustrated," America's Test Kitchen.)

Per serving: 449 calories, 36 grams protein, 31 grams fat (61 percent calories from fat), 8.3 grams saturated fat, 7 grams carbohydrate, 97 milligrams cholesterol, 501 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: [email protected]. Follow Susan on Twitter: @7DayMenu. The Menu Planner is also accessible at Read Susan's blog: And check out Susan's book! "7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies" is on shelves now.


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