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    Entries in summer (10)

    Friday
    Jul292011

    Pasta: Salad the Sequel

    Yeah, I know, I made a salad last week.  But really, watermelon salad and pasta salad can hardly be considered part of the same category.  Besides, during these hot summer months, what sounds better than some kind of cool salad?  They’re simple, refreshing, and delicious. 

    There are a million and one ways to make a pasta salad.  Here’s what you’ll need for the one I threw together today:

    1 pound pasta (uncooked)
    ¼ pound cheese
    1 bell pepper
    1 cup grape tomatoes
    ¾ - 1 pound bacon (uncooked)
    ¾ cups mayo
    ¼ cup mustard
    3 Tablespoons vinegar
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon pepper
    1 Tablespoon sugar
    ¼ cup chives

    Oops.  Somehow I forgot to include bacon in my picture.

    In spite of my repeated trips to Home Goods, Target, and Kohl’s, and my many deliveries from Amazon, I still haven’t managed to procure a sheet pan.  Yes, I really did get rid of everything when I moved.  So although the real thing is a gazillion times better, if you happen to be in a predicament like me, or it’s just too hot to turn on the oven (I refuse to go back to cooking bacon on the stove) go ahead and use the precooked stuff.  Just make sure to crisp it up in the microwave first. 

    The first thing we need to do is get the dressing made and out of the way.  In a small bowl combine the mayo, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar. 

    Chop your chives.

    Then throw them into the bowl, whisk everything together and pop it into the fridge. 

    Cook your pasta according to the package directions, then drain it and rinse with cold water. 

    While the pasta is cooking, feel free to work on your chopping.  Just don’t forget to stir from time to time.

    Any color bell pepper will be fine.  I chose green because they looked the best.  Dice it up into fairly small pieces.  If you cut strips and line them up, it makes the process quick and easy. 

    Halve your tomatoes, or quarter them if they’re really big.  If you can get your hands on a variety of different colors of the little guys, they’re fun and fabulous in something like this.  (Whoa!  That was a little too Rachael Ray like for my comfort.)

    I used an extra sharp cheddar.  I love the texture of cheddar, and the tang of one that’s been really aged… Yum! 

    Dice it up, followed by the bacon and throw them all in a bowl with your (now cold) pasta. 

    Pour on your dressing and stir gently until everything is evenly distributed and coated. 

    I like to just load up a bowl and eat it as a meal, but it’s also a fabulous side to whatever you’re grilling this weekend. 

    Do you have a favorite pasta salad?


     

    Friday
    Jul222011

    Watermelon to the rescue!

    With the heat wave we’re having up here in New England (I'm from New England now!), it’s the perfect time for something cool and refreshing.  Watermelon definitely tops the list of refreshing foods, so why not mix it up a bit and enjoy a nice watermelon salad?  It’s great by itself, but you can also pile it on top of a mound of crisp lettuce or serve it alongside a burger for your next barbecue. 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    4 cups-ish cubed watermelon
    10 Basil leaves
    4 oz. feta
    ½ cup slivered almonds
    2 Tablespoons lime juice
    1 Tablespoon honey
    3 Tablespoons olive oil
    ¼ teaspoon each salt & pepper

    First thing we need to do is toast the almonds so they can cool while we make the rest of the salad.  Nuts have so much more flavor after they’ve been toasted.  Pour them into a skillet over medium heat and continue to stir until they begin to brown and smell amazing.  Remove them from the heat and set them aside. 

    Next comes the basil.  We’re going to do what’s called a chiffonade.  Don’t worry, it’s easier to do than it is to spell.  Stack up your leaves with the largest ones on the bottom. 

    Then roll the stack up like a… well, like this:

    Now thinly slice the whole thing.

    When you’re done, you’ll end up with a nice pile of basil ribbons. 

    Next comes the feta.  Dice or crumble it into fairly small pieces.  

    Now, throw your watermelon into a bowl followed by the basil, almonds, and feta. 

    Mix it gently until everything is evenly distributed. 

    Now let’s make the dressing.  Dressing is really easy to make.  Not sure why so few people do.  Squeeze the lime juice into a bowl then add the honey olive oil and salt and pepper.  Whisk until it looks something like this:

    Easy enough, huh?  Now pour it over the watermelon mixture. 

    Mix the whole thing together and serve.  Like most salads, it is best made right before serving.  This shouldn’t be a problem since you’ll probably be picking bites out even as you make it. 

    The sweetness of the melon off set by the saltiness of the cheese and the brightness of the basil, it simply sings of summer.