• Herbed Pasta Salad

    herbed-pasta-salad-4.jpg

    I love pasta salad, and I especially love pasta salad that has bold delicious flavors.  This pasta salad certainly has bold delicious flavors.

    I’m not sure why it’s a common sentiment that a little bit of dried herb goes a long way, but I think that’s the furthest from the truth.  I think if you use just a little bit of the dried herbs, your food won’t have much flavor, and we’re all about flavor!  Don’t be scared off by the amount of dried herbs…trust me, it’s delicious!

    A friend of mine made a similar pasta salad for an event we went to, and while she didn’t have a recipe, she told me what she put it, and this is my version.  This is a great one to bring for a potluck or picnic too.

    Ingredients:

    • 14.5 oz or 16 oz pasta of choice
    • 1/2 c. olive oil
    • 1/3 c. rice wine vinegar
    • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 4 tsp. dried oregano
    • 2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 2 tsp. dried parsley
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 4 oz. crumbled feta
    • 1 lb of grape tomatoes, halved.

    Directions:

    1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat; then add salt and pasta, and cook until al dente; then drain.
    2. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine olive oil through feta and stir to combine.  Mix so that some of the feta actually breaks down in the dressing (emulsifes) and the dressing becomes a bit “creamy;” then add the tomatoes; then add the pasta.  Toss to combine and taste.  Correct seasoning to taste.

    Herbed Pasta Salad:

    4star.jpg

  • The Bidens’ Pasta Caprese

    bidens-pasta-salad.jpg

    I saw this pasta salad in the September 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine, and I knew I had to try it.  I’ve now made this quite a few times, and I’ve adapted the recipe to our liking.

    It is delicious, and I love the addition of the lemon zest.  It’s a great summer pasta salad, which would be perfect for a picnic or potluck.  We’ll definitely be making this one again.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/3 c. olive oil
    • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
    • 2-3 shallots, minced
    • 3 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic presser
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 TBSP sugar
    • 2 lbs. grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used radiatore)
    • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    • 1/2 c. basil, chopped
    • 1/4 c. mint, chopped
    • zest of 3 lemons

    Directions:

    1. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallots and garlic in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add sugar.  Add the tomatoes and gently toss.  Marinate at room temperature, about 15 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of slated water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.  Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
    3. Add the pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mixture and toss.  Stri in the basil, mint, and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.
    4. Refrigerate, tossing occasionally until serving.

    The Bidens’ Pasta Caprese:

    4star.jpg

  • Rachel’s Famous Pasta Salad

    pasta-salad.jpg

    This is a very easy and very tasty pasta salad…even -s and TT ate it up.  I think next time I’ll do without the cheddar and jack cheese and instead try feta for an extra punch.

    Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Griffith.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 bottles light Italian dressing
    • 1 lb. pasta of your choice
    • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1 large sized cucumber, chopped
    • 1 large green, red, orange, or yellow bell pepper
    • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
    • 4 oz. pepper jack cheese, cubed
    • You could also add olives, artichoke hearts, feta instead of the other cheeses etc.

    Directions:

    • Cook pasta according to directions on the box.
    • Meanwhile chop veggies and cheese and put in a large bowl; then add one bottle of salad dressing.  Allow veggies and cheese to marinate.
    • When pasta is done, drain it and rinse it with cold water, then dump a bunch of ice cubes on the pasta to stop the cooking process and help it cool quickly.
    • Once pasta is completely cool, add to veggie mixture; toss to coat and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
    • Before serving, toss pasta salad, and add more dressing, if desired.

    Pasta Salad:

    4star.jpg

  • Salsa Fresca

    salsa-fresca-2.jpg

    We love salsa…all salsas.  I think the hardest salsa to make is red salsa–I’m not sure why, but most of the time when we make red salsa at home it’s good but just not memorable good.  Green salsas on the other hand almost always turns out great…go figure!  Anyway, I got this recipe from my friend Mary, who got the recipe from a lady in El Paso, and it really is excellent—yes it’s that good….FINALLY!!!!

    Start slowly with the jalapenos as all jalapenos vary in heat.  You may also want to add more lime juice and/or salt.  The flavors definitely meld after the salsa has been refrigerated for hours, so try to make this one in advance—it’s worth it!
    Ingredients:

    • 1 package of grape tomatoes (about 1 pound)
    • 1-2 jalapenos (more or less to taste)
    • Handful of cilantro, chopped
    • 1 14.5 can of tomatoes, diced, whole or stewed (I used diced with mild green chiles)
    • Juice from 1 lime (add more if necessary)
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic
    • salt to taste

    Directions:

    1. Blend all ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
    2. Refrigerate….tastes better with “age.”

    Salsa Fresca:

    5star.jpg

  • Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad

    mediterranea-cous-cous-salad.jpg

    We had short ribs for dinner tonight, and I needed a quick side dish to go with it.  This salad came out so delicious, and I will definitely make this one again!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 c. whole wheat cous cous
    • 1 1/2 c. water
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • salt
    • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1/2 c. English cucumber, chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 /2 of an orange, yellow, red, or green bell pepper, chopped
    • 1/2 c. artichoke hearts
    • Juice of one lemon
    • 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
    • 1/4 c. fresh herbs, minced (I used mint and basil)

    Directions:

    1. In a covered saucepan, bring cous cous, water, olive oil, and salt to a boil; then turn off heat and keep on burner for 5 to 7 minutes.  After 7 or so minutes fluff cous cous with a fork.
    2. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes through lemon juice in a bowl; then add the cous cous, and toss to combine; then add the feta cheese and herbs and toss once again. Taste and correct seasoning, if necessary.

    Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad:

    5star.jpg

  • Pasta Salad

    pasta-salad.jpg

    My mother-in-law started makes a delicious pasta salad during the summertime, and this is my version.  It’s super tasty, and it works well as a main dish or a side dish.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/8 to 1/4 c. olive oil
    • 8 to 10 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
    • salt
    • 1 lb. pasta
    • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, cubed
    • 1/4 c. fresh basil, chiffonade
    • 1 c. quartered artichoke hearts

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to package
    2. Put the tomatoes in a bowl and add some salt.
    3. Heat olive oil in a skillet; then add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes; then add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.
    4. Put pasta in a big bowl, add the tomatoes and garlic with the oil and toss to combine.  Then add the cheese, basil, and artichoke hearts and toss again.

    Pasta Salad:

    4star.jpg

  • Greek Pasta Salad

    greek-pasta-salad.jpg

    This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks: Stop and Smell the Rosemary. This pasta salad is delicious and a definite crowd pleaser. You can keep it vegetarian or grill up some chicken and top the salad with the grilled chicken. It’s also a great picnic or potluck dish as it can sit at room temperature with no problems.

    Dressing:

    • 2/3 c. olive oil
    • 6 TBSP fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 TBSP fresh oregano, minced
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. pepper

    Salad:

    • 12 oz. pasta
    • 1 1/2 c. grape tomatoes, halved
    • 3 ribs celery, chopped
    • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
    • 5 green onions, chopped
    • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
    • 1 1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
    • 12 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
    • 20 Greek olives, pitted (optional)
    • 12 pepperoncini, chopped (optional)
    • Grilled chicken breasts (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Whisk oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper until combined. Set aside.
    2. Cook pasta according to directions on box. Combine pasta, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, green onions, bell peppers, parsley, and feta (if using olives and/or pepperoncini add now) in a large serving bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours to allow flavors to blend. Serve with grilled chicken if desired.

    Greek Pasta Salad:

    4star.jpg

  • Dilled Potato Salad with Asparagus

    dilled-potato-salad-with-asparagus.jpg

    Originally I was going to make Dilled Chicken Fricasse with New Potatoes and Asparagus for dinner, but -s decided he really wanted to smoke chicken legs. I really needed to use up the asparagus and potatoes, and since the dill in our garden is exploding, we needed to use some of that too. So I created this delicious potato salad. It’s served room temperature, and it doesn’t have mayo, which makes it a good dish to bring for a picnic or potluck where the dish is going sit out for a while.

    It wasn’t until we were eating dinner that I realized the flavor components of the potato salad are very similar to the dilled chicken fricasse recipe…no wonder I loved it!

    Ingredients:

    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 shallot, minced
    • zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/4 tsp. salt (plus more for the potatoes and asparagus)
    • 1/4 c. chopped fresh dill
    • 3 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 1/2 lbs. new potatoes
    • 1 lb. asparagus

    Directions:

    1. Combine the garlic through the olive oil in a small bowl and set aside.
    2. Cook the asparagus (either in boiling water or in the microwave), until for tender. Depending on the size of the potato, either halve or quarter them and season with salt.
    3. Steam the asparagus, until fork tender. Cut the asparagus into 2 inch pieces and season with salt.
    4. Combine the potatoes and asparagus in a bowl and pour dressing over. Toss to combine and serve room temperature.

    Dilled Potato Salad with Asparagus:

    4star.jpg