Greek Pasta Salad

  The month of April is a crossover month–hockey and baseball going on, plus of course swimming. I hate that we don’t sit down together every night as a family, but that’s reality.

This recipe is great to make on a Sunday and eat as a snack or side throughout the week. It’s easy to adjust the accessories for preferences (of course the boys would add meat if I asked them!)

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

  • 1 box orzo pasta
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3c olive oil
  • 1/2 c kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/3c red onion, diced
  • 1c yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 3tbsp sundried tomatoes, julienned
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • Handful of spinach, chopped
  • 4 oz feta

Juice the lemon, add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil, whisk to mix dressing. Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water. Add remaining ingredients and toss together.

Swimmer soup

Pasta pasta pasta.

Make ahead, heat and eat quickly.

Easy.

This isn’t gourmet living, but it works as an easy weeknight meal or on those days when we’re all eating at different times.

Just remember to tell the 16-year-old after swim practice that the container serves 4 (is not his alone!)

Swimmer soup

  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage (we prefer hot)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 28 oz water
  • 2 c chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb pasta shells
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • Salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste

Saute meat until cooked through, drain fat. Add onion and cook 2-3 min, add garlic and cook another minute. Add tomatoes, sauce, water and broth, bring to simmer, add pasta and herbs. Cook 15-20 min on low until noodles are tender. Top with mozzarella or parmesan.

  

Better the second time peanut butter noodles

My darling 16-year-old graciously offered to make spaghetti one night last week when I was late getting home. His version of portion sizes for 3 adults: 2 lbs of noodles. Needless to say, I had to figure out a couple ways to use up the leftovers! 

This recipe is great for that because it’s got a different flavor profile (Asian), and it’s very flexible–you can add whatever veggies you have on hand, and it can be served warm or chilled.

Peanut butter noodles

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 3/4c creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3c low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp hot chili oil or 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1/2c chopped cilantro
  • Veggies of your choice: I threw in sauteed napa cabbage, cucumber, shredded carrots. Pea pods, peppers and broccoli are also good!

Chop garlic in food processor. Add remaining dressing ingredients (through sesame oil) and puree until smooth. Cook noodles. Toss noodles in sauce, thinning sauce with pasta water as needed. Add veggies, top with green onions and cilantro. Drizzle with more sesame oil if desired. We serve with chili-garlic sauce for the half of our family that likes spice.

  

Comfort food (bacon & egg pasta)

With the holidays behind us, this is the toughest part of the year living in Minnesota. Short days, cold temps and snow. Ugh.

I do what I can to cheer myself up with comfort foods like this pasta. The boys love it too.
Tips:

  1. Freeze the bacon for about an hour, it’s easier to chop.
  2. Using pasta water to temper the eggs makes for a silky smooth sauce
  3. Adjust the dairy to your liking–skip it and use only pasta water or lower the fat with whatever you’ve got in the fridge, half & half, milk.

Bacon & Egg Pasta

  • 1/2 lb bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb pasta (spaghetti or other long noodle)
  • 1/3 c cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 c pasta water
  • 1 c parmesan

Cook pasta. Chop garlic. Beat egg yolks in large bowl, add cream. In saute pan, cook chopped bacon. Remove from pan. Drain all but 2 tbsp fat. Sautee garlic in bacon fat for 30 sec. Remove from heat. Use reserved pasta water to temper egg/cream mixture, using approximately 1/2-3/4c. Add pasta to sauce, toss with garlic/fat until noodles are coated with sauce. Top with cooked bacon and parmesan.

  

Healthy Mexican lasagna

For easy weeknight meals, I’m a huge fan of recipes that involve opening cans, yet are healthy and tasty. This one is a nice change from heavy lasagna recipes that quite frankly are a ton of work. There’s a time and place for those, but generally not on Tuesday in our house.  This one is also easy to adjust to your palate–make it spicier (green or chipotle salsa), use different mixes of beans (black, pinto) and cheeses (Mexican blend, cheddar, colbyjack).

Mexican Lasagna

  • 1 package oven-ready lasagna noodles (4 layers of 3 noodles each)
  • 2-8 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes (I used petite diced)
  • 1 16oz jar salsa
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cans beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 12 oz cheese
  • Cilantro, green onions

Preheat oven to 350. Coat 13×9 pan (or lasagna pan) with cooking spray. Mix together tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salsa and cumin. Put 1 cup sauce in bottom of pan. Place first layer of 3 noodles on top of sauce, followed by 1/3 of corn, bean and cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times, followed by one final layer of noodles. Top with sauce and cheese. Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven, top with cilantro and green onions.

Photo Oct 12, 5 48 49 PM

Golden end to summer

My mom (a master gardener) is the caretaker for the Runestone Museum heirloom garden in Alexandria, near our lake place. She brought home a huge bag (estimating 3lbs) of various heirloom tomatoes — small yellow, apricot gold (golf ball size) and red cherries.

This roasted tomato recipe is great for using up end of season tomatoes–the ones that might be a bit overripe or otherwise “imperfect”. Any variety works, as well as using several varieties. I decided to use it for spaghetti and meatballs and pulled the last of the basil and threw in some oregano too. The boys couldn’t believe there wasn’t any cream in the sauce, as it was so thick and luscious.

A delicious last meal to celebrate the season’s best! Thanks Mom! I imagine using this recipe this winter when the tomatoes are, well, “meh” and I need to be reminded why I live here.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 3 lbs tomatoes, cut to consistent size (I left the small yellows whole, halved the grape/cherry size and cut the golf ball size apricot ones into quarters)
  • 1 onion quartered
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper

Toss tomatoes and onion in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 for 30 min until juices burst and edges are singed. Puree.

I could have used this as is, but added a few basil and oregano leaves and some chopped garlic, sauteed in olive oil.

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Eat your spinach! (and other green stuff)

Honestly, it takes some effort to try some of these CSA vegetables, especially the bitter greens. If they didn’t arrive each week in a box that I’d already paid for, I might be tempted to never try kale, swiss chard, escarole, mustard greens or turnip greens.

But, they do, so here we are 🙂

This pasta with sausage and escarole featured in our CSA newsletter went over well with the boys! I was surprised that the escarole held up well when cooked–not bitter, just enough tang to give the pasta some crunch and a bright pop of green. A definite make again.

I also have a basic vegetable soup recipe that is my personal favorite because it’s quick and super low fat. Admittedly, I am probably the only one in the house that loves it, but it’s a great way to use miscellaneous vegetables anytime of year. This week, I threw in the swiss chard, turnips and carrots. The secret ingredient is anchovy paste, which gives the vegetable stock an umami depth of flavor (This is why I like it, but younger palates might not — skip it for picky eaters). Photo Jul 07, 1 12 16 PM

Umami vegetable soup

8cups stock (vegetable or chicken)

3 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp chopped rosemary

1tsp anchovy paste

1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chopped

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Heat olive oil, saute garlic for 30 sec, add anchovy paste and rosemary, stir to combine, add stock, bring to simmer, add swiss chard, lower heat, add cannellini beans, simmer 10-15 minutes until heated. Season with salt and pepper. Top with parmesan cheese and more olive oil if desired.

PS I couldn’t resist sharing this pic of Alec finishing off the homemade chocolate velvet ice cream last week at the lake. Yes, that’s a quart size container! Photo Jul 04, 8 01 51 PM