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In a hurry to put dinner on the table? These recipes can be prepared in advance

Staff Writer
Austin 360

These two weeknight dinners from The Washington Post can be started ahead of time. The squash can be roasted several days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container, and the chicken can be frozen in freezer-safe resealable plastic food storage bags for up to 1 month and reheated to serve with rice or pasta.

— Addie Broyles

Curried Butternut Squash Risotto

4 Tbsp. shelled, unsalted pistachios

4 Tbsp. unsweetened coconut flakes

2 small or 1 large butternut squash, cut in half, seeds removed

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

About 4 cups low-sodium or homemade vegetable broth

1 tsp. curry powder

2 small shallots, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2/3 cup arborio or other risotto rice

2 tsp. unsalted butter

Toast pine nuts for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly, in a dry, nonstick skillet over medium heat, until the nuts have browned evenly. Toast the coconut in a small skillet over medium-low heat until it is light brown and fragrant, stirring often to prevent burning.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a small roasting pan with aluminum foil. Season the squash halves lightly with salt and pepper, then place them cut side up in the roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the oil. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork. Let it cool, then scoop out the flesh; the yield should be about 1 cup. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cover.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed small saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry powder and cook for about 1 minute, stirring to dissolve. Add the shallot and garlic; cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have slightly softened. Add the rice and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring until the grains are evenly coated.

Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth; cook the rice, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan frequently to keep the rice from sticking. Repeat with 1/4 cup amounts, allowing the broth to be absorbed before the next addition; this will take about 20 minutes. You should end up using about 3 cups of broth. The rice should be tender but al dente: still slightly firm to the bite inside the rice grain.

Add the roasted butternut squash. Cook for a few minutes, until the rice is tender but not mushy, adding some of the remaining broth to keep the risotto moist but not soupy. When the rice is done to your liking, add the butter, stir to combine, taste and add salt as necessary. Sprinkle with the pistachios and coconut; eat while the risotto is hot. Serves 2.

— Washington Post food editor Joe Yonan

Chicken With Rosemary and Lime

1/4 cup rice flour or cornstarch

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 oz. each), trimmed of excess fat

2 tsp. safflower oil

2 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press or minced

2-inch piece peeled ginger root, grated or minced

Leaves from 1 sprig rosemary, minced (1 or 2 tsp.)

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime (1 tsp. zest and 1 or 2 Tbsp. juice)

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Combine the rice flour or cornstarch, the salt and pepper in a resealable plastic food storage bag. Cut the chicken breasts into 2-inch chunks and add to the bag; shake to coat evenly.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and rosemary; cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant but not burnt. Move the mixture to the edges of the skillet. Add the coated chicken to the skillet a few pieces at a time, shaking off any excess rice flour or cornstarch; leave some room around each piece. (Discard the remaining coating mixture.) Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned but not cooked through.

Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the lime zest, lime juice and broth and stir to incorporate. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot, or cool thoroughly before storing in the freezer. Serves 4.

— Adapted from 'Quick, Thrifty Cooking' (Readers Digest Editors, 1985)