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3 quick dinner ideas that are big on flavour and low on carbs

From Valerie Azinge's cookbook 30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners, these quick dinner ideas are fresh, light and easy — and perfect for summer. 

Red Curry Turkey Meatballs with Thai Peanut Sauce

Summer is finally here, bringing warm days perfect for dining on patios and a boatload of fresh, seasonal ingredients, whether you grow your own or find them at the city's farmers' markets. But the last thing we want to do when the sun is shining is spend hours over a hot stove. Instead, we're opting for fresh, light, easy and quick dinner ideas. And Valerie Azinge's coobook 30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners is chock-full of recipes that fit the bill.

After being in a tragic motorcycle accident that claimed the life of her friend, Azinge was airlifted to hospital where she spent months recovering. With her extensive injuries, the health food blogger wasn't able to cook or exercise in the way that she used to. She started making easy, low-carb recipes to "eat her way back to health."

During her rehabilitation, Azinge was offered her first book deal, and after countless hours, 30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners was born. Through her determination, love of cooking and positive outlook, Azinge was able to make something beautiful out of her unfortunate situation.

Here, we share three of Azinge's quick dinner ideas. Try out these healthy, delicious recipes that will have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.

30-Minute Low-Carb Dinners by Valerie Azinge, $32.95, chapters.indigo.ca

Garlic Butter Scallops with Broccolini

This recipe brings the gourmet to your home with banging flavour from garlic, parsley and sizzling butter — all in a low-carb package and accomplished in 30 minutes.

Quick dinner ideas | Garlic Butter Scallops with Broccolini

Serves 3

Preparation time 10 minutes

Cooking time 20 minutes

Ingredients

Broccolini

  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • ½ lb broccolini, stems chopped
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Scallops

  • 1 lb dry scallops
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp grass-fed butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup bone broth or low sodium vegetable broth
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley

Method

  1. To make the broccolini: In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water with the salt to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the broccolini. Boil for 2 minutes until tender but crisp.
  3. When ready, immediately immerse the broccolini in a bowl of ice water, and let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, place a skillet over medium high heat and add the oil. Once hot, sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds, until
    fragrant.
  5. Add the broccolini and stir until coated in garlic for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  6. To make the scallops: Pat them dry with a paper towel and press out any excess moisture, even if you purchase dry scallops. Season the scallops with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the scallops, making sure they aren’t crowded or sticking together in the pan.
  8. Fry for 3 minutes undisturbed, then flip and fry the reverse side for 3 minutes. Remove the scallops from the pan and transfer to a plate, leaving the pan on the stove to make your garlic butter sauce.
  9. Melt the butter in the same pan, scraping up the browned bits. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the broth and let it simmer until the sauce reduces for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Turn the heat off and return the scallops to the pan to coat in the sauce. Top with parsley and serve with the broccolini.

Goat Cheese Zucchini Pizza Boats

These delights are all the things we love about pizza, but without the carbs and all accomplished in less than 30 minutes.

Quick dinner ideas | Goat Cheese Zucchini Pizza Boats

Serves 4

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 zucchinis
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 log goat cheese (15 oz), crumbled
  • 1 cup store-bought organic marinara sauce, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Slice your zucchinis lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon until the zucchinis are hollow, then brush the edges with oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and place them on the baking sheet.
  3. Divide the goat cheese in half, then spread a small amount from top to bottom of each zucchini. Spoon a few tablespoons of marinara sauce on top, then layer with the remaining goat cheese. Feel free to use more sauce if you find that the suggested serving size for the marinara isn’t enough.
  4. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with parmesan (if using) and fresh parsley.

Red Curry Turkey Meatballs with Thai Peanut Sauce

Expect a delicious combination of spicy, sweet and sour hints from the curry and peanut sauce. It’s low carb and elegant, and it comes together in no time.

Quick dinner ideas | Red Curry Turkey Meatballs with Thai Peanut Sauce

Serves 6

Preparation time 10 minutes

Cooking time 25 minutes

Ingredients

Turkey Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup almond flour

Peanut Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (414 ml) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 2 Tbsp organic peanut butter
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

For Serving

  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 5 cups cooked zoodles (optional

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone ovenproof mat and set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, garlic powder, fish sauce, egg, onion powder, thyme, paprika, salt, pepper and almond flour. Form medium-sized balls and place them on the lined baking sheet. The balls should be about the size of a cookie scoop, so roughly ½ inch (1 cm) thick; you should end up with about 20 to 22 meatballs.
  3. Place the turkey meatballs in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The smaller your turkey meatballs are, the quicker they will bake.
  4. To make the Thai peanut sauce: Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the coconut milk, curry paste, peanut butter, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off.
  5. When your turkey meatballs are ready, transfer them to a large serving bowl. Pour the peanut sauce over the turkey meatballs until they are evenly coated. Use a fork or tongs to move the meatballs around a little bit to get them to absorb the sauce.
  6. Top with cilantro and serve with zoodles (if using).
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