This dish is the perfect summer side.  It’s easy, colorful, make-ahead and, most importantly, delicious!  I like to pack it up and take along to the beach or on a picnic, serve alongside ribs, or make a batch to take into work to have for lunch for the week.  If enjoying for lunch, you could add shredded chicken, or boiled shrimp, to make it a little more hearty, or serve alongside a summer soup or salad.

cousWhat’s your go-to summer salad?

I’m really loving cooking vegetarian on Mondays.  The challenge of eating meat-free one day a week, has me researching tasty entrees I probably wouldn’t try usually.  This tortellini dish literally blew us away.  I had my vegetarian friend over for dinner and she was also impressed.

I must say, the Georgia Olive Farms Olive Oil really made this dish.  It melded beautifully with the sharp bite of fresh garlic, the herbed pasta and the creamy goat cheese.  This recipe should probably serve four, but Jim and I ate 3/4 of it between the two of us. The only thing that would have made it any better, would be a fresh loaf of french bread to sop up the delicious sauce left at the bottom of the bowl.

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Isn’t that olive oil beautiful?

Fresh Tortellini with Asparagus, Peas & Parsley

printable recipe

  • salt
  • 1/3 cup Georgia Olive Farms Olive Oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 lb. fresh cheese tortellini (I used herbed cheese from the Farmer’s Market)
  • 1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed of tough, woody stems, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (leave the tips whole)
  • 1 cup thawed frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian Parsley
  • 2 oz. fresh goat cheese, softened
  • black pepper
  • parmesan cheese, grated

In a covered pot, bring well-salted water to a boil over high heat. In a large pasta serving bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook the tortellini, asparagus, and peas in the boiling water until the tortellini is al dente, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and vegetables and toss with the garlic-oil mixture. Add the pine nuts, mint, and goat cheese and stir until the cheese melts into a sauce, adding cooking water as needed to moisten the pasta. Season to taste with salt, pepper and parmesan and serve.

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This bowl was not full for long.

I made this yesterday for the girls in the office today.  As usual, I tasted a spoonful, to make sure it came out okay.  Oh my goodness.  I had to immediately pack up the salad and stow it in the fridge so I couldn’t have a second, third and fourth bite.  I know this will be a hit for today’s lunch and I will definitely be doubling the batch the next time I make it!

I’m serving it with a Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.  A healthy menu to kick off fall!

Roasted Broccoli and Farro Salad with Feta

printable version

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lb. broccoli
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. In a saucepan, bring salted water to a boil over high heat. Bring the farro to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat, cover and let sit about 10 minutes.  Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, remove the broccoli crown from the stem and cut into bitesize florets. Toss the stems or use them in a chicken or vegetable broth. In a baking dish, toss the florets with 2 Tbs. of olive oil. Roast until tender and browned in spots, about one hour. Add the broccoli, feta, scallions, red pepper flakes, and parsley to the farro. Sprinkle with the vinegar and 1 tsp. salt and toss. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and toss. Season to taste with more vinegar and salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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You won’t miss the meat!

Dress Up Your Salad

September 21, 2012

Homemade vinaigrettes are apparently all the rage these days.  Who knew I was ahead of the trend?  I’ve been making them for a while now and the flavor of a homemade dressing simply cannot be beat.  You can mix up the flavors with different kinds of vinegar, herbs and sweeteners.  My favorite is Balsamic Vinegar, but I’ve also used Raspberry Vinegar, Tarragon Vinegar and Red Wine Vinegar.  Fresh thyme is my go-to herb and I go back and forth between brown sugar and agave nectar to sweeten things up.  No matter what, garlic is always involved, as is a little salt and pepper.  I’ve also been known to sub citrus for the vinegar/acidity, so you can make a lemon or lime vinaigrette and even Dijon mustard can make a tasty appearance now and again.

Everyone has a different theory on the ratio that should be used.  I like to go 50/50 with oil/acid.  However, a lot of recipes call for three parts oil to one part vinegar.  It really depends on how you prefer the “tangy-ness” of your dressing, so feel free to play around with the ratios and go with what suits your palate best!
Do you make vinaigrettes at home?  If so, what’s your favorite ingredients to toss in and what ratio do you go by?

BeFunky Warming on iPhone

Always served best in a good ‘ol southern Mason Jar

Basic Vinaigrette

printable recipe

  • 1 cup evoo
  • 1 cup vinegar (I used ½ cup balsamic and ½ cup raspberry)
  • 1 tbs, fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs agave nectar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a Mason Jar, top with the lid, and shake.  Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Easy Peasy Pesto

August 30, 2012

Pesto is such a flavorful condiment, I honestly don’t know why I don’t make it more often.  The variations on this basic recipe are endless and the fact that there’s no cooking involved in preparing it, makes it perfect for whipping up on a hot summer day.  It’s so versatile it can be used on pasta, fish or even a burger.

Tell me, what do you like to serve your pesto on?

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Pesto spread on wheat buns for Portabello Paninis

Basil Pesto

printable recipe

  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and continue processing, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture forms a thick paste. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the Parmigiano. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

A Meaty Marinara

August 24, 2012

The summer is winding down and it’s time to start thinking about cooler nights, college football and hearty meals to feed your family.  A good meat sauce is a great recipe to have in your back pocket.  It’s easy to make ahead of time and freeze in batches, so you can defrost it on a busy weeknight while boiling pasta. You can also throw together a lasagna, eggplant parm or another of your favorite Italian dishes once the marinara is done and bake that night, or put in the freezer to save for a night when you have less time to cook.

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Marinara over tortellini

Traditional Meat Sauce

printable recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (29-ounce) can tomato puree
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley leaves

Directions

Brown ground beef with minced garlic and salt and pepper, to taste. Drain ground beef and set aside.

Place oil and onions in a saucepan and saute on high heat until soft. Add all cans of tomato products and chicken stock. Add all other ingredients and heat through. Once hot, add the browned ground beef and simmer on low heat for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve over your favorite pasta, top with freshly grated parmesan and enjoy!

Homemade Hummus

December 8, 2011

I have become obsessed with Mediterranean Wraps for lunch, so I thought I would try making my own hummus since the pre-made stuff can get expensive.  Plus I heard homemade tastes better (doesn’t it always?) Well, they were right.  Especially if you start with raw chick peas and soak them for a couple of days. Homemade tastes better and you can make a batch faster than you can say pita bread.

You can change up the flavor of the hummus by adding roasted red peppers, like I did here, sun-dried tomatoes, olives or even lots of extra garlic and lemon. 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • juice from 1 squeezed lemon
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/8-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 roasted bell pepper
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • parsley


1. Poor the chickpeas over a large plate. Go over them and look for damaged grains small stones, or any other thing you would rather leave out of the plate.

2. Wash the chickpeas several times, until the water is transparent. Soak them in clean water over night with 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Then, wash it, and soak again in tap water for a few more hours. The grains should absorb most of the water and almost double their volume.

3. Wash the chickpeas well and put them in a large pot. Cover with water, add the rest baking soda, a bay leaf and NO salt. Cook until the grains are very easily smashed when pressed between two fingers. It should take around 1-1.5 hours, during which it is advised to switch the water once again, and remove the peels and foam which float over the cooking water. When done, sieve the grains and keep the cooking water.

4. Put the chickpeas into a food processor and grind well. Leave it to chill a little while before you continue.

5. Add the tahini and the rest of the ingredients and go on with the food processor until you get the desired texture. If the hummus is too thick, add some of the cooking water. It should be thinner than the actual desired texture.

Serve with some good olive oil and chopped parsley.

If you are brave enough to slice up three pounds of this season’s especially pungent onions, this soup will be well worth your tears.  A great beginning to any dinner, or enjoyed in a mug, curled on the couch watching really bad tv

French Onion Soup

Serves 4-6
  1. Melt together the butter and olive oil in a large stockpot.
  2. Crush and peel the garlic. You don’t have to mince it; it will caramelize and turn soft and sweet as it cooks. Caramelize the garlic in the olive oil and butter.
  3. Pour in the onions, season with salt and pepper, and stir around just until the onions are all coated in the olive oil/butter.
  4. Add in the fresh thyme and the bay leaf and let the onions caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  5. Once the onions are caramelized and have cooked down, pour in the stock, about 4-6 cups depending on whether you prefer your soup more onion-y or more soup-y.
  6. Then, pour in the beer and simmer, uncovered, for at least an hour and as much as three hours, tasting occasionally to adjust the flavors.
  7. Meanwhile, slice down your bread. Stale bread is perfectly okay for this, just heat it up a bit in a warm (250ºF) oven first to soften it. Toast the bread; you can rub both sides with a cut clove of garlic first, if you like. You’ll want 2 pieces of bread per person – one for the bottom of the bowl, and one for on top.
  8. Grate together about 1/2 cup each of parmesan, gouda, and mozzarella and set it aside.
  9. Preheat your broiler. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the soup.
  10. Arrange your oven-safe individual serving bowls or coffee mugs on a baking tray with a thin lip.
  11. TO SERVE: drop a toast slice in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle in the soup and cover with a second slice of toast. Then cover the toast with cheese. Be generous! You want the cheese to seal in the soup and drape over the edge of the bowl.
  12. Broil for a few minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling on top. Garnish with a little fresh thyme, and serve.

Original recipe can be found here.

Trees Please

December 25, 2010

I had some left over broccoli after making Knishes and thought Broccoli Cheese Soup would be delicious in the cold weather — it was perfect.  The hot, creamy soup will definitely be making it to my winter rotation — especially with the spicy croutons!  Your family will thank you for the hearty wholesome meal.

broccoli soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup with Southwest Croutons

Directions

In a medium pot, melt the 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme cook, stirring, until fragrant, for 20 seconds. Add the flour and cook, stirring until the mixture is well blended and smells fragrant, 2 minutes. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring, until tender, for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree with a hand-held immersion blender. (Alternatively, in batches, puree in a blender or food processor and return to the pot.)

Add the cream and bring to barely a simmer to heat through. Add the cheese and cook over low heat, stirring, until melted. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter, stirring to blend.

Remove from the heat and ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle croutons over the top of the soup and serve immediately.

Croutons:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the bread in a medium bowl and toss with oil and Essence. Spread evenly on a small baking sheet and bake, stirring twice, until light golden brown on top, about 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.

Mykonos & Music & Marietta

September 16, 2010

Every year I have the opportunity to attend the Georgia Music Awards – which I love.  This year it was held at a new venue, the Cobb Energy Center (an amazing facility!).   En route to the annual show, my friend and I grabbed dinner at a Greek diner we spotted, Mykonos Grill.   Since I never go OTP (especially to eat), I thought this event should be documented. 

Dinner started off with a plate of EVOO sprinkled with red pepper flakes, parsley and shaved parmesan in which to dip pita bread.  I will definitely be making this at home. 

Oil

Greek App

My entree was so good, I forgot to take a picture until I had already dug in.  I ordered a Greek Salad with Gyro meat on top (and extra Tzeki Sauce on the side).  It was delicious.  

And if I ever venture out to Marietta again, I’d definitely stop by this joint. 

Greek Salad w/ Gyro Meat

My dinner (well, some of it anyway)

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