Salad


This pasta salad comes together easily and can be made in large quantities for potlucks and picnics.

Ingredients:

2 16oz boxes of pasta shells
2 12 ounce containers of grape tomatoes, rinsed and drained
1 English cucumber
1 can of sliced black olives
1 bottle of Greek feta vinaigrette
1 cup of baby spinach, washed and dry

How I Made It:

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. While it cooks, drain and rinse the sliced olives; set them aside.  Chop the cucumber and set it aside.

When the pasta is done, drain and rinse it in cold water.  In a large glass salad bowl, combine the pasta, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, and spinach.  Dress with the vinaigrette to your taste (I don’t like too much dressing, but you don’t want it to be dry or the pasta to clump).  Also, I hold back some of each of the ingredients (except the pasta) to decorate the top of the salad so it looks pretty.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  Shake the bowl, flipping over a couple of times, to thoroughly toss the salad and distribute the dressing.

Refrigerate the salad until ready to serve.

How It Turned Out:

Greek Pasta Salad

It’s better if you can make it the night before and let it sit to have the flavors meld. Give it a good toss before you present it, and it will be as pretty as it is tasty.

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Rather than feed my stale bread to the birds, I decided to make these easy peasy croutons.

Ingredients:

6 medium size sourdough rolls, 5-7 days old (stale, not moldy)
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs garlic herb blend (I like the Spice Islands blend in the grinder)
olive oil cooking spray

How I Made Them:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare a cookie sheet with foil, sprayed with cooking spray.

Cut the rolls into 1 inch cubes.  Put the bread cubes in a gallon size Ziploc bag and drizzle with the olive oil. Zip closed and shake until the bread cubes are evenly (but lightly) covered in olive oil.

Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on the foil-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the garlic herb blend.

Bake for 8 minutes and then turn the oven off.  Let sit in the hot oven for another 7 -8 minutes, until they are crisp and golden brown.

Let cool before using.

How They Turned Out:

A basic crouton — good for topping salads, creamy tomato bisque ,or potato soup.

Croutons

I made this easy pasta salad for the annual church picnic today and it was a big hit.  This version has salami in it, but you can leave that out for a wonderful vegetarian option. This recipe makes 20 servings, so you might want to halve or quarter it for a family-size dish.

Ingredients:

1 lb farfalle (bow tie pasta)
1 lb mini farfalle
2 cups fresh organic broccoli florets
1 cup chopped sweet red, orange, and yellow salad peppers
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half longways
1 cup genoa salami, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled low-fat feta
4 tbs organic balsamic vinaigrette

How I Made It:

Cook the pasta according to the box. With 90 seconds left to go, add the broccoli to blanch (for that bright green color).  Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water.

In a very large bowl (preferably one for which you have a lid) toss the pasta and broccoli with half the balsamic vinaigrette.  Add the peppers, olives, salami, and feta.  Toss again.  Add the last of the dressing, and give it a good final toss.

Keep cool until ready to serve.

How It Turned Out:

Picnic perfect!!

Greek Pasta Salad

Summertime is Strawberry Time.  I remember going as a little girl to a local patch with my Nanny and picking strawberries (popping them into my mouth instead of the little bucket she gave me), and relishing in winter the super-sweet strawberry jam she made the summers before.  Maybe this is why I love them so much.

Tonight, when I found myself with 3 quarts of strawberries fixing to round the bend, I decided to make a feast of them.  Two strawberry sauces and one lovely fresh salad later, we had a supper perfect for a summer evening.

Strawberry Salad

Toss organic baby spinach and spring greens with almonds, feta, and sliced strawberries. Dress with a balsamic vinaigrette.  Voila!

Strawberry Salad

Salmon in Strawberry White Wine Sauce

This is a basic packet salmon in parchment recipe (25 minutes in a 400 degree oven). The innovation is a sauce made of white wine (chardonnay is what I had on hand), sliced strawberries, a pinch of ginger, and 1 tbs of honey.  Combine these ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat, stirring periodically until it begins to simmer and the sauce turns a lovely strawberry pink. Spoon the sauce over the salmon in the parchment (or foil) packet, seal, and cook until done though.

Strawberry Salmon

My supper companions said that the fish was moist without being mushy, and flavorful without being too sweet.  Seconds were had, so I’m thinking this concoction was a winner.

Strawberry Pinot Sauce

I also made a red wine sauce with 1 cup of Irony Pinot Noir and 1 cup pureed strawberries, brought to a boil in a saucepan and then slowly reduced. I used this one to finish a pan-cooked boneless sirloin steak.  Also yummy, but not as pretty as the salmon with sauce (hence, no picture).

This summer salad couldn’t be easier.  Slice fresh organic tomatoes and avocados.  Stack and dress with this greek yogurt dressing:

6 oz plain low fat greek yogurt mixed with 2 tbs olive oil mayo, 1 tbs lemon juice, 2 tbs low fat milk, 1 tsp minced garlic, and 1 tbs fresh basil (chopped finely).