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Loaded Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Nothing better than a pasta salad full of vegetables and NO MAYO for a pool party. The peppadew peppers are the best sweet and spicy addition, don’t skip them!

Loaded Lemon Pasta Salad – Serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS

THE SALAD:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked al detnte
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1 can black olives hearts, cut in 1/2
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in 1/2
  • 4-5 Persian cucumbers
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 10-15 peppadew peppers
  • 6 green onions, chopped green & white parts
  • Feta Cheese, crumbled

THE DRESSING:

  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or red/white wine vinegar can be used)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 salt & 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Make Dressing: Put all ingredients (except olive oil) in a blender. Turn blender on low and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Set aside.

Cook Pasta: Cook pasta according to directions, making sure not to overcook. Drain immediately and add to large bowl. While warm, toss with a little of the dressing to coat so it will absorb the flavors. Add spinach to warm pasta to wilt slightly. Let cool for 10 minutes. Add rest of the ingredients, toss with more dressing (to your liking) and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Place in the refrigerator  for a few hours for the flavors to develop. Serve cold or room temperature.

 

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Tart

The best thing about this recipe… I was able to get every last ingredient at Trader Joe’s. The onions take some patience, but well worth the wait. It’s impossible for anything topped with cheese & crème fraîche to be anything but delicious.

It’s rich, decadent and perfect as an unexpected Thanksgiving side.

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Tart – Serves 8
adapted from Vanessa Larson, Food52

INGREDIENTS

1 pie crust – rolled out slightly larger to fit an 11″ tart pan
medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed small (about the size of a chicklet)
tablespoon olive oil
large yellow onions, halved and sliced
tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
eggs
7.5 ounces crème fraîche
ounces Gruyère, grated
ounces Parmesan, grated
teaspoon sea salt
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
sprigs thyme – leaves removed

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring to mix. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until dark golden brown, about 30 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and cook an additional 5 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450° F. Toss butternut squash with olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and spread out on baking sheet. Bake until browned and very soft, stirring once, about 20 minutes.

Reduce oven heat to 375°. On a lightly floured surface roll out store bought pie crust into a 12-inch round. Fit dough into an 11” tart pan with a removable fluted rim. Prick all over with a fork. Freeze pastry shell 20 minutes.

Line pastry shell with foil and fill with pie weights or raw rice. Bake shell in middle of oven until edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights or rice and bake shell 10 minutes more, or until bottom is golden. Leave oven on. Cool shell in pan on a rack.

Reduce oven heat to 350° F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, crème fraîche, gruyère, Parmesan, and black pepper.

Spread caramelized onions in bottom of tart and top with butternut squash. Pour gruyère mixture over the squash, making sure to spread it evenly over the tart.

Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Spiced chickpeas & fresh vegetable salad

Lots of chopping I know… but lots of satisfaction at the end. I promise. Try a little greek yogurt drizzled on top – it’s delicious!

INGREDIENTS

  • 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 small cucumbers (10 oz)
  • 2 large tomatoes (10.5oz)
  • 8-1/2 ounces radishes
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and ribs removed
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and 1/4″ dice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Greek yogurt (optional)
  • salt and black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cut the cucumber, tomato, radish, and pepper into 2/3-inch dice; cut the onion into 1/4-inch dice. Mix everything together in a bowl with the cilantro and parsley.

In a jar or sealable container, mix 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, and sugar and mix well to form a dressing, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly. (Take care when dressing the salad. I found I only needed about half of the dressing).

Mix together the cardamom, allspice, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and spread on a plate. Toss the cooked chickpeas in the spice mixture in a few batches to coat well. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly fry the chickpeas for 2 to 3 minutes, gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly and don’t stick. Keep warm.

Serve this salad on a plate, in a large circle with the warm spiced chickpeas on top. You can drizzle some Greek yogurt on top to make the salad creamy.

Sweet potatoes with maple curry yogurt

The new Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook, Jerusalem, is stunning. I’ve made it through the first few sections and love the history of the recipes and family influence that permeates his meaningful food.

On my last visit to his restaurant in London I had an amazing salad with curried yogurt. I can’t even remember what the yogurt was on top of… but I’ve not forgotten the delicious combination. The cold & fragrant yogurt on top of the warm sweet potatoes will not disappoint.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 sweet potatoes, skin on, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 shallots, sliced lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp madras curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
  • salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the sweet potatoes and shallots with enough olive oil to coat and put on a baking sheet. Spread out evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. When warm, sprinkle with a little salt. Set aside.

Mix the yogurt, curry powder and maple syrup all together in a bowl.

To serve, place the sweet potatoes on a plate and spoon some of the yogurt in the middle. Top with chives and pistachios. Serve room temperature or slightly warm.

Serves 4.

Corn and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Chimichurri

This was an accident waiting to happen… the kind of accident that lots of “needy” veg in the fridge & a pool party in need of a snack brings on.

It must have been that large bunch of parsley just begging to become chimichurri.

Chimichurri wears many hats in my kitchen. A topper for eggs, a dip for bread, a sauce for lamb & salmon… a spoon full of satisfaction can go a long way. The edge of vinegar, garlic & slight heat of crushed red pepper add a delicious dimension to the sweet vegetables.

Use any green vegetable you have on hand. Green beans would be great too. Serve as a side or even better – scoop it up on a chip.

INGREDIENTS

Vegetables

  • 6 ears of Fresh Corn – cooked & kernels removed
  • Bell Peppers – 2 red, yellow or orange
  • Sugar Snap Peas – 3 cups
  • Heirloom Tomatoes – 1 pint, cut in half or quarters

Chimichurri

  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, trimmed of thick stems
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

To make the chimichurri, add the parsley, fresh oregano, and garlic to a food processor and pulse several times. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil with the food processor running. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Remove the core from the bell peppers and cut into large pieces. Rub the peppers with a little olive oil & bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. They should be slightly soft but still have some crunch. When cool, cut into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Boil the sugar snap peas for 3 minutes. Remove the peas from the hot water and place in a bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Drain. Set aside.

To assemble toss the corn, tomatoes, peas & bell peppers with the chimichurri sauce (you may not need all of it). Adjust seasonings. Serve room temperature.

Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Blue Cheese

Our Thanksgiving Feast included these crunchy, salty & sweet morsels. There wasn’t much leftover, but what wasn’t gobbled up for lunch my sister and I polished off the next morning for breakfast. Cold.

They are that good.

Make them for Christmas or heck for go crazy and make them for breakfast with some scrambled eggs.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound pancetta, cut into small cubes (or bacon)
  • 3 pounds Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons firmly-packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of blue cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Cook the pancetta until crisp in a large skillet. Remove using a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Reserve 1/4 cup drippings in the skillet.

Combine the Brussels sprouts, olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Place the sprouts on the prepared baking sheet and bake until tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the vinegar, brown sugar and mustard to the reserved bacon drippings in the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Pour the mixture over the sprouts, tossing gently to coat. Sprinkle with the bacon & blue cheese Serve immediately.

Serves 10.

Asparagus with Bacon, Shallots and Pine Nuts

What a great side dish for the holidays. Fast, delicious and so addictive. Use bacon, use pancetta, use a different nut. Drizzle with a little meyer lemon olive oil if you have it on hand. You can’t mess this one up.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ounces bacon or pancetta, cut into 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a large non-stick pan, sauté bacon or pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pan. Add asparagus pieces and shallot and sauté until asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.

Add garlic, lemon and orange zest and toasted pine nuts and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Chargrilled Broccoli with Chili & Garlic

Another Ottolenghi win… simple ingredients and delicious leftover!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 mild red chilies (Fresno), thinly sliced
  • coarse sea salt
  • black pepper
  • lemon slices (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Separate the broccoli into florets and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes – don’t be tempted to cook longer! Remove immediately to a bowl of ice water, then drain and leave to dry completely.

Once the broccoli is dry, toss with 1/2 cup of the olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place a grill pan on high heat and leave for 5 minutes until smoking hot (or grill on your outdoor grill). Grill the broccoli in batches on the hot pan, turning to get lovely char marks on all sides.

While the broccoli is cooking, place the remaining oil in a small saucepan together with the garlic and chilies and cook on a medium heat until the garlic begins to turn golden brown. Be careful not to let the garlic and chilli burn – they will continue cooking in the hot oil even when off heat.

Pour the garlic and chili oil over the hot broccoli and toss well. Season to taste and toss in lemon wedges. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Chargrilled Cauliflower with Tomato, Dill & Capers

 On my most recent trip to London I came across a foodies paradise – Ottolenghi. When I walked in the front door my eye didn’t know where to look first! Beautiful floating layers of salads, whole grains, breads and OH MY desserts had my mouth watering. This cauliflower salad is a perfect example of why Ottoleghi is so successful – he brings bright and satisfying flavors to the simplest of vegetables.

I can’t get my nose out of his cookbook so expect lots more from Ottolenghi on The Fifth Tine.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon French whole grain mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A good handful of arugula
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
  • sea salt
  • pepper

DIRECTIONS

You can make the dressing in a food processor or by hand (we used the processor). Mix together the capers, mustard, garlic, vinegar and some salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously or run the machine while adding half the oil in a slow trickle. You should get a thick, creamy dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Add the cauliflower to a large pan of boiling salted water and simmer for just 3 minutes. Drain and run under a cold tap to stop it cooking further. Leave in the colander to dry well, then put it in a mixing bowl with the rest of the olive oil and some seasoning. Toss well.

Heat a ridged griddle pan over the highest possible heat and leave it for 5 minutes or until it is really hot. Grill the cauliflower in batches – don’t over-crowd the pan. Keep turning until they are nicely charred all over and transfer to a bowl. While the cauliflower is still hot, add the dressing, dill, spinach and tomatoes. Stir together, taste and adjust seasoning again.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lime Bulgur Wheat Salad with Cucumbers & Tomatoes

In Texas we’ve been complaining about the heat for months. It’s been a long summer and my kitchen has gotten a big break – I’ve just not felt like cooking (my absence explained). But when my friend Laura brought over this salad a few weeks ago it was decidedly the thing I was going to make and could enjoy eating in 107 degrees. My inspiration will return in the Fall – already have lots of new things I can’t wait to share.

This recipe is based on the traditional tabouleh salad, a popular Middle Eastern side dish containing vegetables, olive oil and spices. There are a few differences – the use of lime and much less parsley, which I prefer. The base of bulgur wheat and the vegetables makes it super nutritious and a perfect summer side. I like to add grilled chicken or shrimp and make it a meal – but it’s a perfect side dish for my Greek Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Yogurt Sauce.

Bulgur wheat is a natural whole grain food that is quick cooking and very nutritious. It’s high in fiber, rich in B vitamins and has fewer calories, less fat, 4 times the folate and more than twice the fiber of brown rice. It’s nutty flavor is perfect in this Mediterranean inspired salad.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bunches flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 large English cucumber (or 2 medium garden variety), peeled, seeded & diced
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup wheat bulgur (fine)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3-4 tomatoes, seeded & chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl add the wheat bulgur and lime juice. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and layer as follows:

1. Cucumber
2. Salt
3. Onion, cumin, coriander & parsley

Refrigerate for 2 hours then remove and add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir to combine. Add tomatoes and feta and mix all together.

Serve as a side dish or make it a meal by adding grilled chicken or shrimp.