Food & Drink

Easy recipes for busy weeknights

Crispy salmon cakes are a good way to use salmon fillets that are not quite perfect.
Crispy salmon cakes are a good way to use salmon fillets that are not quite perfect. The Washington Post

Fall’s looming, vacations are winding up, and some schools are prepping for the students’ return, while others are already back in session.

It’s a busy time of year, even if it is still summer, and cooking time is at a premium.

Here are three summer dinners that work for weekday meals and are quick to prepare.

Crispy salmon cakes

These nubbly, crisp-edged cakes are the perfect vehicle for salmon fillets that skew toward imperfect, such as tail-end cuts, splits in the flesh, uneven freezing. They’re also a tender introduction to, and slightly different way to serve, the popular and healthful fish.

The original recipe called for red bell pepper; feel free to use it. We tossed in carrot instead. Serve over greens or with a cool corn-and-bean salad.

Adapted by The Washington Post from “Express Lane Cooking: 80 Quick-Shop Meals Using 5 Ingredients,” by Shawn Syphus (Page Street Publishing, $19.99, 192 pages).

Canola oil

4 white button mushrooms (3 ounces total)

1 small carrot (not baby-cut; may substitute 1/4 seeded red bell pepper)

Leaves from 1 or 2 stems flat-leaf parsley (optional)

1 pound skinless salmon fillet (see headnote)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

2 tablespoons regular or low-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

2/3 cup plain panko bread crumbs

Heat enough oil to generously coat the bottom of a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place a wire rack over a few layers of paper towels.

Meanwhile, combine these items in a mixing bowl as you prep them: Clean and stem the mushrooms; finely chop. Scrub the carrot well, then finely chop. Mince the parsley (to taste), if using. Cut the salmon into 1/4-to-1/2-inch dice.

Lightly beat the egg in a cup, then add to the bowl, along with the garlic and onion powders, salt, mayonnaise, teriyaki sauce, vinegar and panko. Use your clean hands to gently blend and form into 8 equal-size patties (about 3 1/2 inches wide).

Add half of the patties to the hot oil; cook for about 2 minutes or until crisped on the bottom, then turn them over and cook on the second side for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to the rack; cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining patties.

Season lightly with salt, as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per serving (using low-fat mayonnaise): 390 calories, 27 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 26 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 115 mg cholesterol, 570 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

Serves 4

Weeknight chicken enchiladas

Leftover cooked chicken or a rotisserie chicken forms the base for these enchiladas. Serve with pico de gallo and a dollop of sour cream. From Susan Selasky of the Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen.

One 28-ounce can enchilada sauce (mild, medium or hot)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced green pepper

1 jalapeño pepper, minced, optional

3 1/2 to 4 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 heaping tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and black pepper to taste

15 to 18 corn tortillas

2 1/2 cups shredded Mexican-style cheese or favorite shredded cheese, divided

Pico de gallo, optional:

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/2 cups diced roma tomatoes

1 small white onion, chopped

1 avocado, halved, pitted, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the enchilada sauce into a medium saucepan and heat over low to warm. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper and, if using, the minced jalapeno. Add the cooked chicken, chili powder, cumin, salt and black pepper to taste. Stir in about 1/2 cup of the warm sauce and 1/2 cup cheese. Stir to combine. Spread about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Working with several corn tortillas at a time, place them on a plate and microwave about 45 seconds to soften.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the sauce on a warmed tortilla, spreading it around. Put about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture on the tortilla and roll up. Place in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, fitting them snugly in the baking dish.

Pour the remaining sauce over all the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining 2 cups of cheese. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes to melt the cheese and heat through. Remove from oven and serve with the pico de gallo, if desired.

To make the pico de gallo: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and serve with enchiladas.

Per enchilada: 173 calories (31 percent from fat), 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 15 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 647 mg sodium, 37 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber

Serves 5 to 6

Turkey, spinach and white bean hash

Strictly speaking, the dish is not a hash; its components aren’t all chopped or sautéed. But it is a filling heap of food, healthful and easy to put together. Serve with sliced tomato or with bread that has been toasted and rubbed with extra virgin olive oil.

Adapted by The Washington Post from “Mr. & Mrs. Sunday’s Suppers: More than 100 Delicious, Homemade Recipes to Bring Your Family Together,” by Lorraine Wallace (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24.99, 240 pages).

2 cloves garlic

10 ounces fresh spinach

About 30 ounces (3 1/2 cups) canned, no-salt-added cannellini beans

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey (light or dark meat)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1 1/2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth

1 cup loosely packed small basil leaves

Freshly grated or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving (optional)

Mince the garlic. Discard any tough stems from the spinach. Rinse and drain the cannellini beans.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute, then stir in the ground turkey.

Season lightly with salt and pepper, and a pinch of the crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Cook for about 8 minutes, using a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meat, until no trace of pink remains.

Add the broth to the skillet. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium; cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the liquid has reduced slightly.

Stir in the beans and spinach; cook until heated through, stirring, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Scatter the basil leaves over the pan, letting them fall into the mixture.

Divide among individual plates; top with the cheese, if using. Serve warm.

Serves 4