Want to tweak a recipe but not sure how? Your fellow home cooks are here to help with variations on these speedy dishes — perfect for those busy weeknights!

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salmon cakes
Credit: Brie Passano

Quick Dinner: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Honey-Glaze

pork tenderloin with veggies
Credit: Brie Passano

Variation 1

"Instead of using regular dark balsamic vinegar, I used white balsamic vinegar for a lighter flavor. Before brushing the glaze on the meat, I brushed some of it on nonstarchy veggies like zucchini and yellow squash and grilled them, too," says Paula.

Variation 2

"I changed up the glaze by sautéing chunks of onion and apple in a skillet, then adding ½ cup Riesling wine. I also stirred together 1 cup apple jelly with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and spread it on with the glaze," says Hyakurin.

Variation 3

"I whisked up a marinade of ½ cup olive oil; ½ cup balsamic vinegar; a little minced garlic; and 2 teaspoon each of honey, Italian seasoning, and Dijon mustard. I used half of this to marinate (about 30 minutes) and half to glaze the pork after grilling," says Perry.

Quick Dinner: Pesto Pasta Caprese

Get the recipe for Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad

overhead view of Pesto Pasta Caprese recipe with farfalle pasta, fresh tomatoes, basil leaves, mini mozzarella balls, and pesto
Credit: Brie Passano

Variation 1

"I made the pesto with basil from my garden and used Formaggio's marinated mozzarella cheese balls (cut in half) from Sam's Club. I also added a teaspoon of Aleppo pepper for a little kick. For the pasta, I used pipette, which has openings large enough for the pesto to get inside. I served this with poached salmon topped with scallion-ginger sauce, a green salad, and naan. So good," says Spyce.

Variation 2

"I added 2 tablespoons of balsamic, 1 cup thawed frozen green peas, and a small can of drained and sliced black olives. I didn't have any fresh mozzarella on hand, but it was still good without it," says Ferryal Lackey.

Variation 3

"I added halved black olives, extra black pepper, a hard-boiled egg, the juice of half a lemon, and my homemade spinach pesto. Delicious," says nosugarnoflour.

Quick Dinner: Grandma's Famous Salmon Cakes

salmon cakes
Credit: Brie Passano

Variation 1

"I added a little flour to give it substance, cornmeal for crunch, and a dash of cayenne pepper for a little kick. For some Southern charm, I served it as a breakfast dish for dinner with cheese grits and scrambled eggs and cheese," says Shericka N. Leary.

Variation 2

"A few of my riffs on this wonderful recipe:
- For flavor twists, replace the black pepper with lemon pepper and a splash of lemon juice, or add a little fresh dill or some chopped bell (or jalapeño) pepper.
-Replace a little of the oil with a spoonful of Greek yogurt to add a bit of creaminess.
-Use smoked fresh salmon (yum!) instead of canned. If you do use canned but want smoky flavor, add a dash of liquid smoke," says Angie Fuller.

Variation 3

"I used five Hawaiian rolls, shredded, to thicken and sweeten the cakes. I sautéed onions and sweet corn with olive oil while cooking the patties, and I added ¼ teaspoon sweet curry and Old Bay seasoning,"  says Kelly D Easterling.

Quick Dinner: Grilled Chicken, Plum, and Arugula Salad

grilled chicken, plum, and arugula salad
Credit: Brie Passano

Variation 1

"I topped the salad with some goat cheese and crushed pecans. This is the perfect weekday summer dinner," says Susan Heckman.

Variation 2

"Grilled strawberries (use a grill pan) are my latest obsession and are wonderful in place of the peaches; they pair so well with balsamic vinegar. Another option is to use grilled pineapple and shrimp instead of the plum-chicken combo. If you prefer a meat-free alternative, grill up some Halloumi cheese slices; the salty cheese is delicious with the sweet plums," says France C.

Variation 3

"I doubled the dressing, then chopped up peaches and put them in the dressing. I poured the dressing over chicken tenders on a 9x13-inch pan and baked at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) about 30 minutes. I served it with rice and broccoli. It was a quick, easy, yummy dinner," says visum4us.

Quick Dinner: Easy Bacon and Cheese Quiche

Get the recipe for Easy Bacon and Cheese Quiche

bacon and cheese quiche
Credit: Lauren Grant

Variation 1

"This is a great base recipe that allows your creativity to shine. Over the years, I've added broccoli, chopped tomatoes, and mushrooms; substituted ham for the bacon; and gone Tex-Mex with pepper Jack cheese, jalapeños, and salsa," says Susan Logsdon.

Variation 2

"I added a can of well-drained crab meat and fresh spinach, and cooked it for 10 minutes longer. I love this recipe. It's quick and easy and tastes so good," says Dee.

Variation 3

"Instead of onion, I used ⅓ cup of butternut squash, and substituted ½ cup each of whipping cream and almond milk for the half-and-half. I also used ⅓ cup of three different cheeses. This was the first quiche I made all by myself, and I loved it," says Lily.

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2021 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.

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