Easy dinner recipes: Lentils, chicken and more from our new searchable cookbook!

On a chilly fall evening, you can't go wrong with a simple one-dish meal or comforting classic. Check out these ideas from our new recipe database:

Lentils with sausage: "Among a few staples that I keep in the cupboard, just in case a friend stays for supper, is a bag of lentils, one of the ingredients I always turn to when I need a last-minute dinner," writes cooking legend Marion Cunningham in the introduction to her recipe. This comforting one-dish meal comes together in 45 minutes using only a handful of ingredients.


Chicken Gorgonzola: Tender chicken breasts topped with a creamy spinach Gorgonzola sauce along with grated Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (that's three kinds of cheese, folks!). Rich, yes? Perfect served alongside a simple salad, it's dinner in about an hour.

Winter squash risotto: Creamy risotto is cooked with tender cubes of butternut squash, the colorful dish garnished with toasted walnuts and fried sage leaves. A perfect choice, whether you're fixing a quick meal for the family or are planning dinner for company.

You can find the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at

Lentils with sausages

Active work time: 5 minutes | Total preparation time: 45 minutes | Serves 4 to 6

2 onions
2 cloves garlic
2 baking potatoes
3 cups water
1 1/4 cup dried lentils
1/2 pound sausage, such as kielbasa, chorizo, Italian or linguica, cut into 1/2-inch slices
Salt, pepper
1 bay leaf

Step 1 -- Cut the onions in half from the stem top to the root bottom. Lay each half cut-side down on a chopping board. Slice each half horizontally into 1/4-inch slices. Then cut down vertically into thin slices, and finish by cutting down crosswise so you have many small pieces of onion. Set aside.

Step 2 -- Cut the garlic into thin slices lengthwise. Turn the slices on their side and cut into lengthwise thin slices. Holding the slices together, cut into small pieces vertically. Set aside with the onion.

Step 3 -- Peel the potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. Add them to the onions and garlic.

Step 4 -- Place the water and lentils into a pot. Add the onions, garlic, potatoes, sausage and salt and pepper to taste. Tear the bay leaf into several pieces and add to the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Step 5 -- Remove the lid and poke a piece of potato; if tender, fish out a little of the lentils and taste for tenderness. If both the potatoes and lentils are tender, they are ready to serve. If either is still firm, simmer another 10 minutes. Most of the liquid will have been absorbed. Serve in bowls.


Each of 6 servings:
204 calories; 359 mg sodium; 19 mg cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 25 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 4.84 grams fiber.

Petto di pollo con Gorgonzola

Total time: About 1 hour | Serves 4 to 8 Note: Adapted from La Finestra.

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 pound Gorgonzola cheese
2 pounds fresh spinach, cleaned and stemmed
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour to dredge the chicken, about 1/2 cup
2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, preferably whole milk
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Step 1 -- In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Reduce the heat to a good simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until it is thickened and reduced by about half, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the Gorgonzola and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the cheese is melted and combined with the cream, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve in a warm place.

Step 2 -- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Blanch the spinach to bring out the color, then drain and shock in a bowl of ice water. Drain again, pressing out all excess water. Set aside.

Step 3 -- Pound the chicken: Place each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to a thickness of one-fourth inch without tearing. Season each breast with a pinch of salt and pepper on each side, then dredge in flour to coat.

Step 4 -- In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot, then brown the chicken on each side, one piece at a time, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the chicken from burning, and add oil as needed to keep a thin film on the bottom of the pan. Remove the chicken to a platter to keep warm.

Step 5 -- In the same saute pan, add a little oil if needed to maintain a thin film, then stir in the garlic. Cook over medium-heat just until aromatic. Stir in the spinach, then the sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or so to merge the flavors. Remove from heat.

Step 6 -- Heat the broiler and place each chicken breast on an oven-proof plate. Spoon one-fourth of the cream and spinach over each breast, then evenly sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over each portion.

Step 7 -- Place each plate briefly under the broiler to melt the cheese and brown the sauce slightly. Sprinkle the plates with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Each of 8 servings:
471 calories; 25 grams protein; 17 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 37 grams fat; 21 grams saturated fat; 149 mg. cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 437 mg. sodium.

Winter squash risotto with walnuts and fried sage leaves

Total time: 50 minutes | Serves 6


2/3 cup walnut halves
Oil for frying
18 to 24 fresh sage leaves
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup finely diced onion  
1/2 pound peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into 3/8 -inch cubes (scant 2 cups diced)
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for passing

Step 1 -- Heat the oven to 400 degrees and toast the walnut halves in a dry pan in the oven until lightly browned and nutty smelling, about 8 to 10 minutes. Chop coarsely and set aside.

Step 2 -- Pour the oil into a small saucepan to a depth of about 1 inch and place over high heat. When the oil reaches 375 degrees, add the sage leaves and fry just until they darken slightly and turn crisp, only a couple of seconds. Remove the leaves with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Step 3 -- Combine the chicken or vegetable stock and 4 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a bare simmer.

Step 4 -- In a large skillet, place 3 tablespoons of butter and the onion over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the squash and cook until it is shiny and beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it reduces to a syrup, about 3 minutes.

Step 5 -- Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring, until the mixture is dry enough that the rice makes a "singing" sound as it scrapes the bottom. Add 1 cup of simmering stock and the salt to the pan and stir it in. Cook until the rice absorbs enough liquid that you can see dry pan when you stir, about 5 minutes. Repeat, adding more stock each time, until the rice is firm but tender, with no chalky center; reserve the last one-half cup of the stock. This will take about 20 minutes in all. You don't need to stir continuously, just when you add the stock to the pan and when it is nearly dry.

Step 6 -- When the rice is done, add the reserved stock to loosen the mixture slightly and remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the one-fourth cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Stir vigorously in order to free as much starch as possible, which in combination with the cheese will thicken the mixture slightly.

Step 7 -- Spoon the risotto in generous mounds in the center of heated flat bowls. Scatter the toasted walnuts over the top and place the fried sage leaves on top of that, 3 or 4 to the bowl. Serve immediately, passing additional cheese for those who want it.

Each serving:
472 calories; 11 grams protein; 54 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 22 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 33 mg. cholesterol; 1,060 mg. sodium.