The store deli had an interesting pasta salad that we brought home for a quick side. They called it a bacon and tomato pasta salad and I found it delicious. This is an attempt at a copycat recipe. I went to Google for some ideas and this came up. It seemed incomplete as the Kroger salad had some dried herb flakes that I decided must be basil. I added a lot of basil, maybe 2 tablespoons or so to my small test batch.A lot of the recipes I turned up in the search included ranch dressing, and I think that may be the way to go in the future. After sitting overnight in the fridge the pasta shells I used had absorbed most all of the liquid and were looking dry. I added more mayo cut with half and half and chopped another tomato to fold in. It’s an interesting dish, and fun to experiment with. The Kroger deli used rotini but just about any bite size pasta will work.
Doesn’t roll off the tongue like sticky wings but they are pretty good. I noticed that the drumsticks were cheaper than wings so I said “why not”? They got the two-step treatment, steaming then baking in the sauce.They spent 20 minutes in the steamer then I managed to crowd the entire batch into one pan with the sauce. These baked at 425 for 25 minutes then were turned over to get color on the other side.The sauce for these was me winging it: Honey, soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, sweet soy sauce, rice vinegar, fresh grated ginger, and chili garlic paste.We bought a big bag of green beans and had a few of them stir fried like those in a Chinese buffet line. Cook, covered, in oil and a splash of water for 5 minutes, then add oyster sauce, soy sauce, and a teaspoon of sugar and toss to coat.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had requests to pull together some of my recipes that go easy on the salt. I found quite a few and this week lemon made the biggest appearance, but tonight’s featured recipes bring in a whole host of other flavors that make it easier to go lighter on the salt.
Reducing salt with out losing flavor can be managed with several steps. First of all, try to use fresh foods whenever possible. If you begin to read labels you’ll see many packaged foods contain extra fat, salt & sugar that you wouldn’t add if you prepared it fresh. And good, fresh ingredients bring their own flavors to a dish.
When you need to buy something, such as canned tomatoes or frozen vegetables, go with the no-salt version whenever possible. Then you can be in control of the sodium.
Adding flavors that enhance a dish is the key to cutting back on salt. Wine vinegars (especially on potatoes and meats), lemon juice (great for fish, vegetables and chicken), limejuice, and different spice mixes, including peppers, garlic, basil, rosemary, celery seeds, dill, toasted sesame seeds and citrus zest – go wild, try something new, you might surprise yourself – can transform a dish. You can also buy prepackaged spice mixes to shake on, just make sure to read the label looking for sodium content.
With all that in mind, I went searching through my recipes to find ones that used a dash less salt.
I started the week with Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Chicken and Spinach, recipe here.
This week’s dinner menu (pictured at top) is Cranberry Chicken and Lemon Cheese Cauliflower, click here for menu, recipes and shopping list.
JeffreyW makes a flavorful Shrimp,Ham and Kale in Garlic Lemon Sauce, recipe here.
And finally, click here for Grilled Lemon Salmon with Corn Pepper Relish.
For the pet lovers, lots of pictures of Bixby in the next Bixby Diaries installment here.
How about you, what do you use to spice up a dish? What’s on the menu this weekend?
Tonight I’m featuring a few recipes that bring in some sweet and spicy flavors. These beans and rice are a nice change-up from the standard Wash Day Beans and Rice I usually make.
Caribbean Jerk Beans & Rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup rice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- ½ green pepper, sliced
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 lb lean boneless pork, cubed in large pieces
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- salt to taste (this is a good recipe to substitute white wine vinegar for salt)
- pepper to taste
- ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 to 2 tsp Caribbean jerk spice (you can buy it or make your own, recipe below)
- ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro (Italian parsley works well in this recipe if you aren’t a fan of cilantro)
- 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or substitute dry beans, soaked and cooked)
saucepan & skillet
Add water & rice to saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Heat oil in skillet, add pork and brown on all sides for 5 minutes, add onion, celery, pepper & garlic, sauté for additional 5 minutes. Add tomatoes & spices. Let simmer 15 minutes, add cilantro, black beans and simmer additional 5 minutes, until beans are heated through. Add cooked rice & mix thoroughly.
Caribbean Jerk Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons crushed dry thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Blend together and store tightly covered (I keep old spice jars around for mixtures like this)
- 8 cups shredded green cabbage
- 1-1/2 large mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
- ½ medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Combine cabbage, mangoes, bell peppers, green onions and cilantro in large bowl; stir gently to mix. Add Orange-Mango Dressing; toss gently to coat. Serve, or store in refrigerator up to 1 day.
- ½ mango, peeled, pitted and cubed
- 6 ounces plain nonfat yogurt
- ¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate (not diluted with water)
- 3 tablespoons limejuice
- ½ to 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and rough chopped
- 2 tsp minced fresh ginger (substitute 1/2 tsp ground ginger if desired)
Place mango in food processor; process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients; process until smooth.
That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara
This is a great recipe and you can cook it on the grill or indoors in the oven. Add baked potatoes or rice and fresh greens from the garden for a nice summer meal. Serves 4.
Grilled Lemon Salmon:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 4 – 6 oz skinless salmon fillets
Add ingredients to bag and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Grill on a clean, oiled grill or use a well oiled grilling pan, or broil in oven in a heavy skillet or broiler. Cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily. Serve with relish.
Corn Pepper Relish:
- 1 cup cooked corn (or canned, drained)
- 4 green onions, chopped
- ½ green pepper chopped
- ½ red pepper chopped
- ½ yellow pepper chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp chopped jalapeno
- salt & pepper to taste
- ½ tsp crushed garlic
Combine all ingredients and let marinate while salmon cooks. You can use the remaining peppers in a salad for your next dinner.
There was a variation of this at the Chinese buffet we frequent. It was pretty tasty but I didn’t know what to call it and so asked the woman tending the counter. She named it Coconut Shrimp. I’ve seen the version of it that has battered shrimp coated with shredded coconut for deep frying but not this creamy version. A search for “creamy coconut shrimp” found several recipes – after discarding several that mentioned mayonnaise I settled on this one. I didn’t have amaretto and didn’t want to buy a bottle for the two tablespoons the recipe called for so I subbed in a little almond extract, adding a teaspoon to the coconut sauce mixture. In another departure I used cooked shrimp instead of raw. These two things were bad calls in retrospect. The dish really needed that bit a caramelization from cooking in the amaretto. That said, it was still an enjoyable meal.
I see this on offer at the Kroger deli pretty often and I’ve bought, and liked it, but it seemed a tad too expensive so I looked for a recipe. I found this one and used it for a guide. This one has two potatoes and the other ingredients are scaled to suit. I used four slices of bacon and two or three green onions and a handful of a cheddar/Monterey jack mixture left over from another dish. Use about 2 to 1 sour cream to mayo in a quantity sufficient to lube it all up. I boiled 6 eggs to make deviled eggs for an additional side and Mrs J suggested adding a couple to the potato salad. They work fine in there. I saw a recipe that mentioned baking the mixture until the cheese melts but I went with a cold dish. Made an excellent side for the roast pork sammich.