These recipes will help home cooks make healthier swaps and more affordable choices for delicious, vibrant summer dishes.

Check out how to make a summer pasta salad and sheet pan Tandoori chicken from "The Well Plated Cookbook" by Erin Clarke and make them in your own kitchen for a fast meal the whole family will love.

PHOTO: "The Well Plated Cookbook" by Erin Clarke.
Penguin Random House
"The Well Plated Cookbook" by Erin Clarke.

Summer Celebration Orzo Salad with Chickpeas and Creamy Basil Pesto

PHOTO: Erin Clarke's pasta salad with creamy basil pesto.
Penguin Random House
Erin Clarke's pasta salad with creamy basil pesto.

Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 10 to 12 servings as a side or 4 to 6 as a main


3 medium zucchini, yellow summer squash, or a mix (about 1 pound)

3 ears of corn (about 2½ pounds), husks and silks removed

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

8 ounces whole wheat orzo

¾ cup Creamy Basil Pesto, plus additional to taste (see below recipe)

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)

1 (15-ounce) can reduced sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 cups lightly packed baby arugula (about 3 ounces)

¾ cup crumbled feta (about 4 ounces), divided

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 small lemon)


Option 1:

Cook the zucchini and corn on the grill: Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium heat. Trim off the ends of the zucchini and halve lengthwise. Place on a large plate or sheet pan with the corn (leave the corn on the cob).

Drizzle the vegetables with the oil and season with the salt and pepper, then rub to coat them evenly. Grill on all sides until the vegetables are lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 10 minutes for the zucchini and 15 minutes for the corn. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.

Once cool enough to handle, stand the corn on one end and carefully cut away the kernels. Coarsely chop the zucchini into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Option 2:

Cook the zucchini and corn in the oven: Place one rack in the center of the oven and one rack in the upper third, about 6 inches from the top. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Trim the ends off of the zucchini and cut into a ¼-inch dice. Place the zucchini in the center of the baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Spread into a single layer and bake on the center rack for 10 minutes. Stand the corn on one end and carefully cut away the kernels. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully stir in the corn kernels. Return the pan to the center rack and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, stirring once halfway through.

Move the sheet pan to the upper rack and switch the oven to broil. Broil until the corn is browned and lightly crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully towards the end of the broiling time so that the vegetables do not burn. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the vegetables grill or bake, cook the orzo to al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain, then add to a large mixing bowl. Immediately stir in the pesto while the orzo is still warm.

To the bowl with the orzo, add the tomatoes, chickpeas, arugula, ½ cup of the feta, the lemon juice, and the cooked corn and zucchini. Stir gently to combine.

Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as desired and add a little more pesto if you’d like the salad to be creamier or have a stronger pesto flavor. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup feta over the top. Enjoy immediately or press a sheet of plastic wrap against the top to protect the pesto from air and refrigerate.

Storage Tips

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container with a sheet of plastic wrap pressed over the top for up to three days. I find this salad most enjoyable at room temperature, so remove it from the refrigerator at least 15 minutes prior to serving.

Market Swaps

Not a fan of feta? Swap it for part-skim mozzarella, cut into a ¼-inch dice, or mini mozzarella pearls. Since feta is saltier than mozzarella, you may want to season the salad with a bit of extra salt to balance its flavor.

Creamy Basil Pesto

PHOTO: Erin Clarke's pasta salad with creamy basil pesto.
Penguin Random House
Erin Clarke's pasta salad with creamy basil pesto.

Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: Generous 2 1/4 cups

½ cup raw walnuts
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1½ ounces)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about ½ medium lemon)
⅔ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt


Place the walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Blend for 10 seconds.

Add the basil, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour in the oil through the feed tube. Puree until smooth, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Add the Parmesan and puree for 1 minute, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.

Place the spinach in a mesh sieve or small colander and squeeze out as much water as possible. Place a double layer of paper towels on top and press it further so that the spinach is as dry as possible. Add the dried spinach to the food processor, then add the lemon juice. Puree until smoothly blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Greek yogurt and continue blending, until the pesto is smooth, creamy, and the most gorgeous green color, about 1 minute more. Use immediately or store for later use.

Sheet Pan Tandoori Chicken

PHOTO: Erin Clarke's easy sheet pan Tandoori chicken.
Penguin Random House
Erin Clarke's easy sheet pan Tandoori chicken.

Total Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4

For the Chicken:
1¾ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (any mix of thighs, drumsticks, or breasts; wings are not recommended, as they will overcook)
½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Chickpeas and Vegetables:
1 (15-ounce) can reduced sodium chickpeas
1 small or ½ large head cauliflower (about 1½ pounds), cut into ¾-inch-wide florets (about 4½ cups)
1 small-medium sweet potato (8 to 10 ounces), scrubbed, peel on, and cut into ¾-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon kosher salt

For Serving:
1 large lemon, halved
Freshly chopped cilantro
Naan or prepared brown rice
Nonfat plain Greek yogurt


Prepare the chicken: Remove the skin from the chicken by pulling it with your fingers, then cutting away any stubborn pieces with a knife. If using chicken breasts, with a very sharp, sturdy chef’s knife, cut them in half crosswise (that’s through the shorter side if you think of the breast from left to right and top to bottom), placing the knife on top of the breast and cutting straight down through the bone.

Carefully but firmly wiggle the knife as needed. For each breast, you should be left with two pieces of chicken that are roughly the same size (this will help the pieces all cook in the same amount of time). For thighs and drumsticks, remove the skin but leave them whole.

To a large ziptop bag, add the Greek yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Seal the bag, removing any air. “Squish” the ingredients around until they are evenly combined. Open the bag, add the chicken pieces, reseal, then gently squish and turn the bag to coat the pieces evenly with the yogurt mixture. Place the bag in a shallow dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Once ready to make the chicken, place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. For easy cleanup, line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat generously with nonstick spray. If you prefer not to use foil, use parchment paper or coat the baking sheet directly. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator.

Prepare the chickpeas and vegetables: Rinse and drain the chickpeas, then spread them onto a double layer of paper towels. Place more paper towels on top and pat them as dry as you can. Remove any chickpea skins that come obviously loose (no need to get them all). Place in a large mixing bowl.

To the bowl, add the cauliflower and sweet potato. Drizzle the vegetables and chickpeas with the oil and sprinkle with the chili powder, turmeric, and salt. Toss to evenly coat, then spread into a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off any excess, then arrange the pieces on top of the vegetables and chickpeas. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, then with a small spatula or large spoon, gently turn any vegetables and chickpeas that are visible and not covered by the chicken. No need to perfectly flip them all; simply move them around a little so that you promote even cooking.

Return the pan to the oven and continue baking an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F at the thickest part and the juices run clear when sliced. If some of the chicken pieces finish earlier than others, remove the done pieces to a plate and cover to keep warm, then return the pan to the oven and continue baking until the remaining chicken is cooked through.

Return any chicken pieces you removed early back to the baking sheet, then squeeze the lemon over the top of the chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve hot with naan or brown rice and Greek yogurt as desired.

Make ahead and storage tips

For the speediest possible dinner, marinate the chicken up to 24 hours in advance and store it in the refrigerator, as suggested in step 2. The vegetables can also be chopped 24 hours in advance and refrigerated in a separate container.

Store leftover chicken and chickpeas/vegetables separately in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat the chickpeas/vegetables in a 400-degree-F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until hot. To reheat the chicken, pull it from the bone in large pieces and place on a microwave-safe plate or in a wide bowl.

Splash lightly with water or chicken broth, cover, and reheat gently in the microwave or in a covered skillet on the stove over medium-low heat, just until warmed through.

Idea to upgrade leftovers

Chop the leftover chicken and use it to top salads throughout the week or to make Chicken Shawarma Wraps.

Excerpted from The Well Plated Cookbook by Erin Clarke with permission of Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Erin Clarke, 2020.