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Tomato-Pasta Salad

P1050847

Yesterday’s bounty from my yard and some bonus homemade salsa

Tomato season is in full swing. Every meal has tomatoes in one form or another. This is a nice combination of flavors to shake things up from the usual pasta salads:

Tomato-Pasta Salad

  • 10 oz dry rotini pasta, cooked, drained, chilled
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon or stone-ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 oz fresh basil
  • 4 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 oz Kalamata (Greek green) olives
  • 4 oz shredded parmesan
  • 2 oz crumbled Feta
  • 8 oz diced ham (opt)

serving bowl, bowl, saucepan

In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, pepper, garlic & basil.  Slowly whisk in oil.  To serving bowl, add pasta, fresh basil, spinach, tomatoes, olives, parmesan, opt. ham and toss with dressing.  Garnish with crumbled feta.



 

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Dinner Menu: Spring Flavors

Apple Salad1

Lots of fresh spring flavors in this dinner menu, which is what I need after a long cold week.

On the board tonight:

  1. Herbed Fettuccini
  2. Apple Salad
  3. Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt

Herbed Fettuccini

  • 9 oz fresh fettuccine
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz fresh spinach, torn
  • ¼ cup snipped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz fresh parmesan, grated or goat cheese (chevre)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 6 oz artichokes hearts (opt)

2 large saucepans, large serving bowl

Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. Next bring broth to boiling in second saucepan. Add green onion and spinach. Reduce heat, cook and stir for 2 to 4 minutes or until spinach is slightly wilted. Add parsley, herbs, salt & pepper; mix well. Remove from heat; cover and set aside. Drain cooked pasta and remove to serving dish, cover and keep warm

In saucepan combine cheese, milk, and butter. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Add pasta; toss to coat. Remove from heat. Add vegetable mixture, hazelnuts, opt artichokes, half of the tomato to the pasta mixture; toss gently to mix, heat until warm through. Transfer back to a serving bowl, garnish with remaining tomato.

Apple Salad

  • 16 oz spring greens, washed
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 Fuji (or other sweet red) apples
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 oz toasted  slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

serving bowl

Layer greens in bowl.  Core and cut apples into large chunks.  Layer over greens, add raisins and nuts.  Mix together vinegar, oil, salt & pepper.  Drizzle over salad, toss, then crumble feta over the top.

Note: If you can’t find toasted almonds, heat a skillet, add almonds and stir constantly until they are lightly toasted.

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Copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Spring Edition

Burger Pr0n

DSC_1152 (1600x1060)Make mine POM – pickles, onions, and mustard.  It might just be my favorite version but I won’t turn down a nice mushroom swiss burger.  That tomato cucumber salad in the back was the enhanced version, it had feta and balsamic glaze and was terrific.DSC_1155 (1600x1060)

Pasta Salad

DSC_8366 (1600x1060)I had a block of feta I bought a while back with no clear idea of what to do with it.  I was afraid it would go bad so we used it up in a pasta salad.  This one has kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, the feta, and fresh basil in a store bought roasted pepper vinaigrette.  The local market has been stocking various pasta shapes lately and we grabbed these in a bag that was labeled “gigli Italian pasta” – something I hadn’t seen before.  Turns out it’s another name for campanelle “little bells”.

Also on the plate is a sandwich done in the style of a Cubano out of my new panini press.  I guess I’ll eventually get around to doing a gadget post on that.

Mmm… lamb burger

DSC_7075 (1600x1060)My local Kroger store surprised me with lamb patties but I dithered about using them until tonight when I threw this dinner together.  The yogurt came from one of those little cups – plain Greek yogurt with dried dill weed added and a little garlic.  I’ve been collecting olives, the plate tonight has three kinds: Baby kalamatas, country style cracked green olives, and stuffed manzanillas.  The garden is still producing tomatoes but the nights have been cooler so they will be coming to an end.  Love them with feta and kosher salt.

Greek Salad

DSC_6492 [1600x1200]We needed to finish out the ground lamb we had thawed so gyros were in order.  I looked for suggestions for a side and saw mentions of a Greek salad in several places.  A search for “Greek salad” turned up one from Rachael Ray.  It turned out rather well, I think.DSC_6496 [1600x1200]

Dinner Menu: Greek Chicken Wraps

Check the Blog

I’ve decided to begin the full dinner menus and shopping lists again. I’m shooting for every Monday night. I’ll pull from the old Thursday Menu series and add new ones as I go. Most menus are seasonal, so you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding ingredients, but if you need additional information, just ask away in the comments and I’ll do my best to help.

Tonight has an international flair, three distinctly different locales, but flavors that complement each other. Full of garden fresh items.

I am partial to pitas, but it can be difficult in my area to find good, fresh pita bread.  So tortillas make a great substitute.  For the main course you can use spinach or sun-dried tomato wraps to really kick things up.  Whether you use pita bread or tortillas, these are easy and quite flavorful wraps.

To save time, chicken can be grilled the night before when you’re grilling another meal, and cut up for a quick dinner on a busy, hot day.

On the menu tonight:

  1. Greek Chicken Wraps
  2. Avocado-Tomato Salad
  3. Persian Apples

Greek Chicken Wraps

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Dijon or stone ground mustard
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled & chopped
  • 4 oz plain yogurt
  • ¼ tsp dill
  • 2 oz crumbled feta
  • 2 oz sliced black olives (opt)
  • 4 burrito size flour tortillas, spinach tortillas are a fun choice
  • ½ head of green leaf lettuce, shredded

skillet  & bowl

Mix together chicken, lemon juice, mustard, 1 tsp garlic, oregano & pepper in bowl, coating chicken thoroughly, let sit for 30 minutes. Prepare cucumbers, add yogurt, dill and remaining garlic and mix well. Refrigerate until served.  OPT: Wrap tortillas in foil and heat in a 350° oven for 10 minutes, turn oven off and let them stay warm until served.

To cook:  Grill over medium heat, turning  at least once, until cooked through. Usually 20 minutes, depending on thickness of breasts. Or stove top: Heat oil in skillet on medium-high and add chicken and marinade. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about  20 minutes. Let chicken rest 10 minutes and cut into 1″ pieces.

To serve, add chicken mixture, yogurt mixture, feta, olives and lettuce to each tortilla and roll up. Use any remaining yogurt mixture to dip tortillas in.

Avocado & Tomato Salad:

  • 2 slices bacon, fried crisp & crumbled
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp limejuice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 3 to 5 drops Cajun hot sauce
  • 2 medium avocados, pitted & cubed*
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut in wedges
  • 6 green onions, chopped

large serving bowl

Mix oil, limejuice, salt, pepper and Cajun sauce.  Add avocados, tomatoes and onion to serving bowl and toss with dressing.  Add bacon and refrigerate until serving.

*Easiest way to cube an avocado is to halve it, remove the pit, score it with a knife and then run the knife along the edges to loosen flesh from the skin and turn the skin inside out.

Persian Apples

add to a blender:

  • 4 small apples, cored & quartered,
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice,
  • 1 tbsp orange juice,
  • 1 tbsp water

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chopped walnuts as garnish (opt)

Blend until coarsely chopped. Add chopped walnuts if desired. Serve in bowls, over vanilla ice cream if desired.

Shopping List:

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 small cucumber
4 oz plain yogurt
2 oz crumbled feta
2 oz sliced black olives (opt)
4 burrito size flour tortillas, spinach lor sun-dried tomato tortillas are a fun choice
1 head green leaf lettuce (you’ll use half)
2 slices bacon,
Cajun hot sauce
2 medium avocados
2 large tomatoes
6 green onions
4 small apples

Also: lemon juice, orange juice, limejuice, chopped walnuts, olive oil, dill, oregano, garlic, stone ground or Dijon mustard

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Italian Lentil Salad

From FoodNetwork.com

From FoodNetwork.com

Italian Lentil Salad

Adapted from Food Network

Salad:

  • 1 pound green lentils
  • 2 green onions, chopped (including greens)
  • 1 cup halved seedless green grapes
  • 1 cup halved seedless red grapes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Crumbled feta

Instead of boiling the lentils and getting watery, mushy lentils, baking them preserves their flavor and texture. First, cover lentils with water and 1 tsp salt. Soak for 1 hour, then drain well. In a large covered casserole dish or oven proof saucepan, add lentils, cover with water, 1/2 tsp of salt, cover and bake at 325 degrees for 40-60 minutes until tender.  Drain and toss with remaining ingredients, except feta and toss with vinaigrette. Refrigerate to chill. Sprinkle with feta just before serving.

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Place the lemon juice in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste

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Mmm… your dog wants your steak

DSC_5307 [1600x1200]

Greek Grilled Potatoes

As promised a tasty grilled potato recipe to go with the Spicy Flank Steak

Greek Grilled Potatoes

  • 4 large red potatoes
  • 3 tbsp Greek or Caesar salad dressing
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 4 oz crumbled feta

serving bowl

Scrub and thinly slice potatoes. Mix together dressing, salt, pepper & garlic. Toss with potatoes. Place on foil (enough to create a closed pack), sprinkle with parmesan, bring up foil sides and seal. Grill for 20 minutes, turning often over medium coals, until potatoes are tender. Open foil carefully and place in serving bowl, crumble feta over potatoes & serve immediately.