Food

Make-ahead Monday: 2 nutritious powerhouses, 3 delectable dinners

Springtime means farmers markets a are loaded with gorgeous vegetables and fruits. So it's time to make the most of these seasonal eats.

Chef Elizabeth Heiskell, author of "What Can I Bring?: Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up," stops by for the latest edition of our make-ahead Monday series to help home cooks use two key ingredients — broccoli and quinoa — and build three versatile, delicious dishes.

These dishes, said Heiskell, "will feed your family for a week. No one will ever know that you haven’t been sweating and working in the kitchen all week!"

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Make this quinoa power salad (and get two extra meals out of it)

Play Video - 5:10

Make this quinoa power salad (and get two extra meals out of it)

Play Video - 5:10

So what's the secret to making beautiful broccoli that's packed with flavor? You just need to blanch it, which means plunging it into boiling water for a minute or two, and then putting it into an ice bath so it stops cooking and retains its rich green color. Not only does this veggie taste great, it also has wonderful health benefits.

As for quinoa, it's a protein-packed grain that is a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium and fiber.

And don't be daunted by the thought of making a quiche. It's easy, we promise! Heiskell advises home cooks to cook it "slow and low. This will keep the egg custard creamy and light."

Quinoa Avocado Spinach Power Salad
Make-ahead Monday power salad
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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Protein-packed quinoa will give you plenty of energy to conquer the world — or at least get through another day at the office.

Broccoli Cheese Quiche
Make-ahead Monday quich
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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Quiches are often seen as too complicated but this is a very versatile recipe. It is, of course, a lovely brunch item but makes a delightful lunch or light supper when served with a salad.

Creamy Chicken Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole
Make-ahead Monday casserole
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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This casserole can be made ahead and it freezes beautifully.

We also asked Heiskell to share her go-to kitchen gadgets, her hero products that she can't live without.

Juicer

Chef'n Orange Juicer, $34, Amazon

"I love a handheld lemon juicer. It makes sure you don’t get seeds in your recipes. It’s the best tool in the world. You can get the orange one and that works for lemons and limes."

Microplane grater

Microplane Classic Zester/Grater, $13, Amazon

"The finest tool in the world. You can do garlic and cheese and lemon zest. It’s life-changing. You go slow and be careful and pay attention because you can hurt your fingers."

Cutting board

Breville Bamboo Cutting Board, $45, Amazon

"I like it to be sturdy and heavy. I like a good wood cutting board, either bamboo or pressed wood. It just makes the knife feel better. It resonates with the knife better."

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