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Video: Mapping out meals: 4 nights of delicious dinners

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    >>> back now at 8:51 with "today's" kitchen. what's for dinner? this morning we're giving you a week's worth of budget-friendly recipes. printable shopping list is available right now at today.com. donnate donnatelerestaurant here in new york. you claim to me this is easy. even i could do this.

    >> even you could do it. print out the recipes and cook this week.

    >> absolutely. stuffed shells.

    >> oldie but a goody. take them out half the cooking advertisement al dente . oil them and put them right here.

    >> how long does cooking al dente , typically?

    >> about 10 minutes . after five minutes, take them out.

    >> got it.

    >> then ground lean beef i browned in garlic. simple pan of marinara with garlic. simmer 20 minutes . we're going to switch. i'm going to put you to work.

    >> yes, ma'am. for now i'm going to put some sauce in the meat and start mixing.

    >> right into the meat?

    >> right into the meat. i love stuffed shells. it's a complete dinner. everyone in the family loves it. your kids will love t you add the pasta.

    >> can you mix up the meat a little bit?

    >> yes, you can. if you want to use lean turkey, it's great. if you want to use part skim you can. i'm cooking lower fat these days now that i'm over 40 and had a baby.

    >> even stuffed shells can be low fat , really?

    >> come on. get in there. mix it.

    >> you don't really want me to, it turns out. i was going slow for a reason. no control over there. okay.

    >> now we have a casserole with oil. i'm going to put a little sauce on the bottom and i want you to take a spoon and stuff one.

    >> oh, yeah. here we go.

    >> it really is simple, but it seems like it's difficult.

    >> how did i do?

    >> pretty good.

    >> is that enough in there?

    >> perfect.

    >> do another one.

    >> you line the bottom with oil?

    >> you have an oven on at 350, then top it with a little sauce. you put a little parmesan on top and, bam!

    >> wow! how long does this go in the oven?

    >> five, ten minutes to get a nice crust. it's already cooked everything. it's great for planning if you're a mother, too. you can have it in the oven right when the kids come home, turn it on, finish it off and you're done.

    >> total time is 20 minutes ?

    >> 20, 30 minutes . it's truly easy. you want balance for the week. salmon, but i cooked it in parchment, heart healthy. i think it's heart month.

    >> it is.

    >> my husband is a heart surgeon .

    >> you should probably know that, donnatella.

    >> very balanced and fun.

    >> al and natalie.

    >> what happened?

    >> she sped me up and i started throwing it up.

    >> do you love stuffed shells?

    >> i love stuffed shells.

    >> who doesn't love stuffed shells?

    >> they remind me of my childhood.

    >> she heard stuffed shells.

    >> little salad?

    >> light salad, greens. you can do rice with salmon. complete dish. each of these are complete on their own and you just need a healthy green.

    >> and the advantage of parchment paper on the fish is --

    >> it's an easy way to cook your fish in a very healthy way. you just wrap it in parchment. cook t you can't overcook it. you put vegetables that in season like carrots, turn ips, white wine and olive oil .

    >> fancier version of boy scout packs.

    >> exactly.

    >> sorry about the mess i made.

    >>> up next, "today's" edition of

TODAY recipes
updated 2/1/2013 5:13:58 PM ET 2013-02-01T22:13:58

Try these 4 budget-friendly meals to keep your family full with dinners all week long. Donatella Arpaia, the chef and owner of New York City's Donatella restaurant serves up an Italian feast — all made with the grocery list below.

  • 1 box pasta shells
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • Marinara sauce
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Parmigiano cheese
  • Pecorino cheese
  • 1 container whole milk ricotta
  • 1 ½-pound lean ground beef
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 ½ pound large shrimp
  • 4 7 to 8-oz. salmon fillets
  • Garlic
  • Fresh tarragon
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh thyme
  • Carrots
  • 1 turnip
  • 1 onion
  • Package cherry tomatoes
  • 1 eggplant
  • 3 lemons
  • Dry white wine
  • Flour
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Recipe: Chicken with eggplant and mozzarella (on this page) Recipe: Salmon in parchment (on this page) Recipe: Scampi ribelli (on this page) Recipe: Stuffed shells (on this page)

Recipe: Chicken with eggplant and mozzarella

  • 1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise 3/8-inch thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 chicken breasts, 4 ounces each
  • 1 tbsp. white wine
  • 5 ounces of fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce, warmed
  • 6 fresh basil leaves

Season eggplant with salt and pepper. Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large pan and sauté eggplant on medium-high heat on both sides until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Preheat broiler with oven rack 6 inches from heat source.

Season chicken generously with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.

Add remaining extra-virgin olive oil to pan and sauté chicken until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes, turning once.

Drizzle wine around rim of pan. Place eggplant on top of each chicken breast, then top with mozzarella. Place skillet under broiler until cheese melts. Place each chicken breast on plate, spoon over a little sauce and garnish with basil.

Serve with salad or veggie side.

Recipe: Salmon in parchment

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the parchment paper
  • Four 7- to 8-ounce salmon fillets, skin removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 large turnip, cut into thin slices
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cups of chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Position racks in the center and top third of the oven, and preheat to 375 degrees.

Cut four 14-inch-wide pieces of parchment paper and fold each in half lengthwise. 

Brush each piece of parchment with oil.

Place a salmon fillet on the bottom half and season the fillet with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the carrot, turnips, tomatoes, onion and tarragon in a medium bowl, and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Divide the vegetables evenly over the top of each fillet.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and wine over each fillet.

Fold the top half of each and crimp the edges tightly to seal.

Place the parchment packets on two baking sheets. Bake until the parchment is lightly browned, about 12 minutes, for medium-rare salmon.

Place each parchment heart on a dinner plate. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Recipe: Scampi ribelli

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino
  • 1/3 cup fresh thyme leaves chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 large lemons cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and slick a large baking sheet with oil.

Combine panko, pecorino, thyme, garlic and pepper (to taste) in bowl. Stir in extra-virgin olive oil to moisten.

Arrange shrimp on baking sheet in single layer and spoon a little bread crumb mixture onto shrimp. Bake until crumbs are golden brown and shrimp are cooked through (about 10 minutes).

Transfer to platter and garnish with lemon.

Serve with a side of broccoli sautéed in chopped garlic and butter.

Recipe: Stuffed shells

  • 1 lb. jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 container whole milk ricotta
  • 1 1/2 cup grated parmigiano

Lightly oil baking dish and rimmed baking sheet. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.

Add pasta shells to boiling water and cook until slightly tender (4 to 6 minutes, very al dente) drain and arrange them on an oiled baking sheet, spreading them out so they don't stick together.

Heat one tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add ground beef and one crushed garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink (6 to 8 minutes).

Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and set aside to cool slightly.

In another skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add remaining garlic and tomatoes with their juices. Season with salt and pepper. Bring sauce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes on low heat.

Stir 1 1/2 cups of sauce into cooled ground beef, then add ricotta and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan. Combine thoroughly and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spoon 1 1/4 cups of tomato sauce into prepared baking dish. Fill each shell with mixture, about 2 tbsp. per shell. Arrange shells on dish and spoon remaining sauce over shells. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan.

Bake until filling is heated through and golden brown on top. Serve with a small side salad.

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