15 Easy Weeknight Meals for When You Want to Skip Carbs
We'd happily eat these delicious dinners even if we weren't avoiding pasta, potatoes and rice.
By Lynn Andriani
A Greek Meal Where You Won't Miss the Pita
Although many Greek dishes come wrapped in a split-open pocket, you won't need any bread to enjoy this shrimp-feta combination. You can leave the tails on and cook the peeled, deveined shrimp over the grill or on a grill pan; or, remove and pan-fry them in a skillet. Whichever technique you choose, the shrimp's lemony-garlicky flavor gets a boost from a finishing sprinkle of crumbled feta and chopped dill.
Get the recipe: Greek Shrimp Skewers with Feta
The Familiar Casserole with a Small but Mighty Tweak
There's only one swap in this low-carb lasagna—kale leaves instead of pasta sheets—but you could also sub in chard. The trick to making the tough greens tender is to give them a quick dunk in boiling water, so the leaves are bright and just wilted. Alternate layers of kale or chard, sauce and grated Parmesan and shredded mozzarella in a dish, and bake. It's wonderfully filling—and a serving has just 15 grams of carbs (compared to about 30 grams in the traditional version).
Get the recipe: Keto Italiano Lasagna
Ramen That's Way Better for You
Whether you're eating wallet-friendly, Styrofoam-bowl-style ramen or something handmade by a Japanese chef, the base for the noodles is probably wheat flour. This vegified version is a filling alternative you'll have to try to believe. It calls for zucchini, which tastes light and bright, yet the dish has plenty of oomph, thanks to some powerhouse ingredients: miso paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions, ginger and shiitake mushrooms. You can add tofu, quinoa, a soft-boiled egg, pork belly or shrimp for protein, if you'd like.
Get the recipe: Vegan Ramen Soup with Zucchini Noodles
A Succulent Twist on a Classic Chicken Dish
This mouthwatering take on chicken kebabs is a welcome break from the original, but just as easy to throw together. The key player: a garlicky, herb-flecked chimichurri sauce that you can also drizzle over vegetables or a side salad. And nothing's stopping you from cooking the skewers under the broiler or in the oven if you don't want to grill.
Get the recipe: Cat Cora's Chicken Kebabs with Chimichurri Sauce
A Gorgeous Fish Supper, 3 Ways
In this fresh recipe, a lime-miso marinade gives salmon fillets a pleasant zest, though you could easily sub in lemon or orange juice and mustard. The cooking method is up for grabs too, whether you want to bake, broil or grill (slash grill-pan) the fish. This recipe's accompanying rainbow salsa includes tomato, chili and roasted red, yellow and green bell peppers, so the finished dish is as beautiful as it is delicious.
Get the recipe: Seductive Salmon with Rainbow Salsa
Yet Another Reason to Love Chicken Thighs
Dark-meat chicken is tasty and cheap, but best of all, it tends to stay juicy longer than breast meat does, so there's a low likelihood of overcooking it. The broiler is the key here; it turns boneless, skinless cuts into a filling dinner in just 10 minutes. A sweet, spicy, chunky salsa (made of cucumber, red bell pepper, avocado and lime) is the perfect topper, and you can serve the chicken over a bed of crunchy romaine to add even more veggies to your plate.
Get the recipe: Spicy Chicken Thighs with Cucumber Avocado Salsa
The 15-Minute Shrimp
Spanish wine bars aren't just known for their Riojas; most also serve simple, uncomplicated food, such as omelets and platters of sliced ham and cheese. This garlicky shrimp belongs in that category. It starts with sautéed garlic and shallots, then you add in grape tomatoes, shrimp and white wine. The tomatoes morph into a bright and tangy sauce that tastes like it's been simmering for hours, but was actually ready in minutes.
Get the recipe: Garlicky Shrimp with Tomatoes and White Wine
An Unexpected Use for a Greenmarket Staple
We know zucchini noodles can stand in for spaghetti, but we were surprised to learn that shredded cabbage can work in certain dishes, too. In this smart recipe, green cabbage is the substitute for the typical rice noodles and forms the basis of a low-carb pad Thai. The hardy vegetable adds fiber to the finished dish, and you still get that signature salty-sweet flavor, thanks to soy sauce and a small amount of sugar.
Get the recipe: Lightened-Up Pad Thai
The Pork Chops You Just Sear, Simmer and Sauce
For busy weeknights when braising (which is basically frying, then slowly stewing) isn't in the cards, quick braising is a terrific variation. The technique works well in a skillet, especially with pork chops. A sizzling-hot pan browns the meat, helping to give it richness, then you finish the dish by adding stock and letting it simmer with the lid on, so the moisture keeps the pork tender and juicy. You can make the recipe with apples and onions, just onions or onions and peppers or mushrooms, depending on whether your tastes veer sweet or savory.
Get the recipe: Skillet Pork Chops with Apples
A Salad Where the Dressing Does Double Duty
Lemon juice, mustard, cumin, honey and olive oil: This zippy mixture can brighten up whatever veggies you like—and it also works as an excellent marinade for chicken, as this dish shows. After you've cooked the meat (whether on the stovetop, oven or grill), add some of the reserved dressing to the vegetables and toss everything together for a healthy entrée salad.
Get the recipe: Grilled Chicken, Spinach and Cashew Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
A Spanish Twist on the Classic Speedy Supper
No collection of fast, healthy meals would be complete without quick-cooking seafood, and here's a version you may not have tried before. It manages to pack a flavor punch with just six ingredients. Chorizo is the secret weapon; you only need a small amount of the richly seasoned dried Spanish sausage to bring depth and intensity. Cherry tomatoes soften in the skillet, and then you cook cod fillets until they're golden, about six minutes.
Get the recipe: Cod with Chorizo and Tomatoes
A One-Pot Asian Supper
Lettuce wraps are a great way to eat Asian stir-fries without needing a starchy accompaniment, such as noodles or rice. Just brown the meat with the seasonings, wash and dry some Bibb or butter lettuce leaves (their cup-like shape is perfect) while it sizzles, then let everyone pile spoonfuls of the filling into their edible bowls. This particular dish uses a few powerhouses to bump up the flavor, including ginger, garlic, soy and hoisin sauces. Bonus: The sauces store well, so you don't have to run to the store to buy them new each time you want to make this satisfying meal.
Get the recipe: Gingery Beef Lettuce Wraps
The Grain-Free Take on Rice
We're already on board with cauliflower as a delicious addition to mashed potatoes
and a nutritious trick for thickening mac 'n' cheese
. Turns out the tasty veg can also transform into "rice" when you shred it with a grater; you'll wind up with grain-like bits, which you can then sauté or steam. The bits cook more quickly than their carb-y counterpart and their mild flavor goes with almost anything you'd serve with rice. This simple recipe pairs the cauliflower with fresh herbs, lemon, apricots and walnuts.
Get the recipe: Cauliflower "Rice" Salad with Herbs and Dried Fruit
The Crispiest Nonfried Chicken You Can Make
If you haven't tried broiling chicken thighs, meet your new favorite weeknight-cooking technique. In fewer than 15 minutes, you'll have juicy, tender meat that's perfectly crunchy on the outside. This recipe has you make an herb-lemon-garlic mixture and slide a little under the skin of each piece to infuse the meat with extra flavor. The broiler's direct heat cooks food in a flash, so the chicken only needs about five minutes per side to be fully cooked, with a lovely golden edge.
Get the recipe: Crispy Herbed Chicken Thighs
The 3-Step Salmon Supper
The beauty of this seafood recipe is in its streamlined process: Whisk together a quick vinaigrette, cook the salmon in a skillet for a few minutes on each side and give the green beans a five-minute boil. All that's left is to put all of these vibrant elements together on the plate, alongside cut cherry tomatoes and radishes.
Get the recipe: Seared Salmon with Green Bean Salad and Balsamic Vinaigrette