Red Curry Peanut Noodles

Photo: Food & Wine/Kana Okada

Faster, Healthier and Tastier Chinese Takeout
You already know about the superspeedy stir-fry, but curried peanut noodles are another quick Chinese meal you can throw together faster than most restaurants can deliver. Mung bean sprouts and carrot add plenty of crunch, and you can also add water chestnuts and chopped red peppers. Red curry paste adds a nice kick. If you prefer spicier, use green; milder, use yellow.

Get the recipe: Red Curry Peanut Noodles
Grilled Avocado Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Photo: Marcus Nilsson

The Grilled Salad
Though they're most often served raw, avocados take to the grill wonderfully. Even if yours seem overripe, a quick run over a hot grate will help them firm up on the outside (and they'll still stay soft on the inside). Combined with grilled romaine hearts and topped with a creamy avocado-based green goddess dressing, this salad is a fantastic mix of smoky and fresh, crunchy and soft.

Get the recipe: Grilled Avocado Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
Huevos Rancheros Spaghetti

Photo: Gentl & Hyers

The Breakfast Pasta
Melissa d'Arabian, host of the Food Network show Ten Dollar Dinners, offers a dinner-friendly variation on the Mexican morning dish huevos rancheros: She substitutes spaghetti for the usual tortillas. Corn and black beans add heft, and a silky sauce made from salsa and the pasta cooking water tastes light and fresh.

Get the recipe: Huevos Rancheros Spaghetti
Portobello mushroom caps

Photo: Thinkstock

Yes, We Said It: Portobello Mushroom Sandwiches
We know: Portobello mushrooms are not steak. Still, they often show up on menus as the token vegetarian option for a good reason. They're thick, have a rich flavor, and can stand up to marinating and roasting or grilling without wilting the way some other vegetables do, which makes them the ideal filling for meatless sandwiches. They take just 12 minutes to brown in a 375-degree oven.

Get the recipe: Roasted Portobello Mushrooms
Baked Falafel Balls

Photo: Ditte Isager

A Lightened-Up Middle Eastern Classic
The much-loved fast food falafel is, by definition, vegetarian; it's usually made from ground chickpeas, fava beans or both. But this version is lighter than most because it's baked, not deep-fried. A hot oven turns the patties golden and crispy, and they're a terrific fast supper when tucked into a pita with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

Get the recipe: Baked Falafel Balls
Pan-Fried Pizza

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Pizza Without a Blisteringly Hot Oven
Pizza itself doesn't take long to bake, but getting the oven hot enough can take 45 minutes or more. Enter this recipe for stovetop pizza, which has you cook dough in a pan until the bottom is crisp and then finish it under the broiler (which heats up in a flash). Thin slices of zucchini or fresh spinach or arugula leaves are great on top; they'll wilt under the broiler within minutes.

Get the recipe: Pan-Fried Pizza
Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Sauteed Mushrooms, Shallots and Mint

Photo: Christopher Baker

Better-for-You Noodles
This mushroom pasta dish gets a healthy, flavorful boost from hearty Japanese soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat, not semolina, and are lower in carbs and calories than regular pasta. A mixture of oyster, shiitake and cremini mushrooms gives the dish layers of flavor (without simmering for hours) and a variety of textures too.

Get the recipe: Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Sautéed Mushrooms, Shallots and Mint

Next: Slim-down dinners from around the world