05 May 2018

Weekend Cooking: Fresh Food Fast from Cooking Light

Review: Cooking Light's Fresh Food FastAs almost always happens, we went right from winter straight into summer! Yes, last week I was wearing sweaters, and today it's a T-shirt.

With the sudden warmer weather, my style of cooking has had to take a sharp turn too. When you don't have central air conditioning, you avoid heating up the kitchen as much as possible.

All this makes me extra glad I received a review copy of Cooking Light's Fresh Food Fast (Oxmoor House, March). This book, from one of my most-trusted sources, gathers recipes that (as you might guess from the title) use fresh ingredients and take little time to put together. Just what I need to get through the summer.

Before I say anything more about Fresh Food Fast, I should mention that this is a completely new cookbook. So if you have an earlier Cooking Light book of the same or similar title, you might want to look through 2018 edition, which contains different recipes.

The cookbook offers a good mix of vegetarian, fish, and meat dishes, and I'm particularly glad for the variety of salads, grain bowls, and pastas. Fresh Food Fast includes breakfasts and desserts, but I'm drawn to the recipes for lunches, dinners, and sides.

Here are some of the recipes I've made or have marked to try (the scan of the Brussels sprouts salad is from Fresh Food Fast):

  • Review: Cooking Light's Fresh Food FastClub Chicken and Quinoa: a grain bowl dinner with bacon and tomatoes
  • Chicken Succotash Bowl: with a mix of colorful veggies
  • Sheet Pan Fajitas: steak, peppers, and onions served in corn tortillas
  • Ricotta and Zucchini Flatbread: summer veggies and cheese on naan
  • Butternut Squash and Gnocchi Skillet: with spinach and walnuts
  • Beet, White Bean, and Spinach Salad: with a basalmic vinaigrette and nuts
  • Seared Salmon with Ginger-Corn Salsa: with cilantro and fresh ginger
  • Eggplant Souvlaki Pita: with cucumbers, feta, and yogurt
  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and White Beans: includes a sliced apple
I've written many times about Cooking Light, so I'm just going to let their reputation stand for itself. Their Fresh Food Fast is a super collection of recipes that can be made in under 15 minutes or that use less than 5 ingredients or that are both. What's more, the recipes are easy to make and look pretty on the plate.

Despite my unreserved recommendation, I think very experienced cooks may want to check this one out of the library before buying. Also, I'm not 100 percent sure this cookbook is a good match for families with young children or picky eaters.

The recipe I'm sharing is one I ended up using more for inspiration than actually following step by step. Still, I think this is a solid dish. My photo shows where I ended up. Basically, I added an avocado and some red bell pepper and used a vinaigrette dressing (I'm not a big mayo fan).

White Bean and Asparagus Farro
Review: Cooking Light's Fresh Food FastServes 4
  • 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking farro
  • 2/3 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, divided
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high. Add the farro, cook until tender, about 10 minutes. (I added the asparagus for the last 5 minutes.) Drain.

Whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the dill in a large bowl. Add the cooked farro, asparagus, beans, and shallots to the dressing. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with the remaining dill.

Linking this recipe up with Souper Sundays on Deb's blog Kahakai Kitchen. Check out her linkup for soups, sandwiches, and salads.
Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

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rhapsodyinbooks 5/5/18, 6:57 AM  

These recipes sound really good, especially the flatbread. I also think Cooking Light is a great resource.

Unknown 5/5/18, 7:27 AM  

Cooking Light always has great recipes! They never let you down. Thanks for hosting.

Clarissa 5/5/18, 7:55 AM  

“Also, I'm not 100 percent sure this cookbook is a good match for families with young children or picky eaters.”

Ha! Unless it is a book of recipes for buttered noodles, you are right. :)

Thanks for sharing the farro recipe!!!!!!

Tina 5/5/18, 8:09 AM  

I agree with Patrick, Cooking Light never lets you down. I check the cookbooks out of the library most of the time so I will see about this one for sure.
When I was growing up in PA. we didn’t have have central A/C either, but I may actually die here in north Florida if I couldn’t cool the house.

Jackie McGuinness 5/5/18, 8:09 AM  

I've got a couple of cookbooks on my reader from the library I need to thumb through.
This looks interesting not a fan of asparagus, but do cook it with balsamic and parmesan.

bermudaonion 5/5/18, 8:11 AM  

That Brussels sprouts salad sounds divine. I'm all about fast meals these days.

Les in Oregon 5/5/18, 11:12 AM  

I have a couple of their cookbooks, but this sounds like another winner. The Brussels sprouts recipe and the farro one you adapted both sound delicious. My husband would love the buttermilk/mayo dressing, but I like the idea of something lighter like a vinaigrette.

Deb in Hawaii 5/5/18, 11:51 AM  

Cooking Light is always reliable for me too. I have a few of their cookbooks and pin and make a lot of their recipes so I'll check this one out. I like the changes you made to your dish. ;-)

Claudia 5/5/18, 4:00 PM  

We're now in the salad zone temperature wise, and you picked a splendid example. I love asparagus in any guise, and the recipe would be fine as for dinner.

Deb in Hawaii 5/7/18, 1:33 PM  

Thanks for sharing your salad with Souper Sundays this week too. When you get a minute would you mind throwing up a link to it on your post? To either last week's or this week's Sunday post is fine. Mahalo!

Jeanna 5/7/18, 4:43 PM  

I'm glad you mentioned it's new because I do have many old Cooking Light recipes and have found that if it's not super fast and easy I will relapse into eating junkier food. A very bad thing to do anytime but especially in the warm weather. I love ones with colorful veggies and chicken, yum.

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