Quick and Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad 1Do you need a quick and easy side dish to take to an office party or family gathering? I’m almost embarrassed to share this recipe because it’s really so simple  and all the flavor comes from a store bought pesto sauce.  But, hey you had to cook the pasta and cut up everything yourself.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound rainbow rotini pasta (or whatever shape of your choice)
  • 8 ounces cubed Colby Jack or Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 8 ounces grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3.8 ounce can of sliced black olives, drained
  • 3/4-1 cup pesto or Italian dressing of your choice
  • 8 ounces hard salami cubes (this is optional. I didn’t have any on hand but it tastes wonderful in the salad.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Chill in ice bath and remove once pasta is cool.
  2. While pasta is cooking, cut up cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, and salami if using.
  3. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and stir in pesto. Mix well.
  4. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight for the next day.

Pasta Salad

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Bacon, Chicken and Spinach Linguine

Bacon and Chicken Linguine PlatedSo one of the ways I get my son to eat things he normally says he doesn’t like to eat is to disguise them. Well more like hide them by mixing them with other foods he really likes. For instances, bacon. By adding bacon to this dish he doesn’t seem to notice the spinach or tomatoes or the cream sauce. But at least he gets one of his favorites in this dish. I remember when I was little and my mom tried to pass of cooked daikon radishes as potatoes. She straight up lied and said they were potatoes! Right then and there I told myself if I ever had kids I wouldn’t lie to them about food. Disguise maybe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces linguine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 6 slices cooked bacon, cut up in pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups reserved pasta water
  • grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Italian parsley or basil for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook linguine noodles according to package until al dente. Drain and reserve 2 cups of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook chicken until cooked through. Depending on thickness, 4-5 minutes per side.  Set chicken aside on a cutting board and cut into bite size pieces or strips.
  3. To the skillet, add garlic, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning and spinach. Stir well.  Add heavy cream and the reserved pasta water. (Use 1 1/2 cups pasta water to start. Add more if needed.) Combine and season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Lower heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add linguine and toss until noodles are fully coated.
  5. Add chicken and bacon to skillet and toss.
  6. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley or basil.

Bacon and Chicken Linguine

One Pot Lasagna Soup

Lasagna SoupHappy New Year everyone! I wish you a year of health, happiness and tasty food!

It’s been mighty chilly here in Northern California. We are having a week of much needed on and off rain showers. So today felt like a hearty soup kind of day. I know, lasagna soup doesn’t sound like the healthiest way to start your year. But eat in moderation and you should be fine. Right?!

Okay, will it make you feel better knowing I added spinach and mushroom to the recipe and used low fat cottage cheese instead of ricotta to make this soup a little healthier and lighter?

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 medium size red or yellow onion, diced
  • 4 ounces of white or brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (32 ounces) box chicken stock
  • 2 (14.5 ounces) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 10 uncooked lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • low fat cottage cheese (1 tablespoon per serving)
  • chiffonade of basil for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Turn heat to medium high. Add olive oil to Dutch oven or heavy bottom large pot.
  2. When oil ripples, add ground beef and Italian sausage to pot and stir occasionally until meat is browned.  Add onions, mushrooms and garlic. Mix and continue to cook until onions become translucent.
  3. Drain any excess fat from pot.
  4. Add chicken stock, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce,Italian seasoning, sugar, kosher salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and lasagna noodles. Mix well.
  5. Bring soup to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. During last 5 minutes of cook time, add spinach to soup and stir.
  7. Serve soup with a tablespoon of cottage cheese and basil for garnish.

Lasagna Soup 2

One Pot Pasta with Sausage, Spinach and Mushrooms

One Pot Pasta PlatedA one pot meal done in 30 minutes? Challenge accepted. All those years of watching Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals must have rubbed off on me in more ways than I like to admit. For one, EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) is my oil of choice. Always. And if there is a way to make a complicated dish easier (and in less than 30 minutes) I’m all over it. I’m no Rachael Ray, but I think even she would approve of this recipe.  This recipe makes 4 generous to 6 small servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage (or mild your choice)
  • 2 cups Cellentani (corkscrew) pasta or small pasta shape of your choice
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 package (6 ounces) baby spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmigano Reggiano cheese

DIRECTIONS:

In your skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. When oil ripples, add onions and mushrooms. Saute for 3-5 minutes. One Pot Pasta 1

Once onions are translucent and the mushroom have browned, add Italian sausage to skillet. Mince the sausage and brown until sausage is cooked through. About 5 minutes. One Pot Pasta 2

Add pasta to skillet. Yes, uncooked pasta. We are going to let the chicken stock cook the pasta. One Pot Pasta 3

Add the chicken stock to skillet and stir to mix ingredients. The stock will cook the pasta and all the flavors from the onions, mushrooms and sausage will infuse with the pasta. Stir occasionally until pasta is al dente. ( Add 1 extra minute to pasta package instructions.) One Pot Pasta 4

When pasta is cooked to your preference, add spinach and incorporate into pasta mixture. Don’t worry, all that spinach will magically fit into your skillet.One Pot Pasta 5

Once the spinach has wilted, your pasta is ready to serve. Salt and pepper to your taste. Garnish with grated Parmigano Reggiano cheese. One Pot Pasta 6

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta with Spinach and Bacon (Farfalle Spinaci)

Bow tie pasta 14How does bow tie pasta in a garlic cream sauce with spinach, bacon bits, caramelized onions and red bell peppers sound? It sounded good to my stomach. I know you’re thinking I’m trying to fatten us up by eating pasta, bacon and cream sauce in one dish. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There is no cream in this recipe. Instead I used two ears of sweet corn and chicken stock to make this creamy sauce. And I’m going to show you how easy it was.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 ounces uncooked bow tie (farfalle) pasta; about 1/2 a box.
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 2-3 whole cloves garlic
  • 4-5 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese to top (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot, boil water and cook bow tie pasta for 10 minutes.

Bow tie pasta 7

Meanwhile, cut corn kernels off cob into a bowl. I turned over a small dipping bowl to use as a base for the corn cob.

Bow tie pasta 3

Add corn kernels to a blender along with garlic cloves and chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Bow tie pasta 6

In a large skillet, cook bacon bits and onions over medium high heat.

Bow tie pasta 9

When onions start to become translucent, add red bell peppers and continue to stir until bell peppers are tender. About 3 minutes.

Bow tie pasta 10

Using a strainer, pour corn cream sauce into skillet. Mix until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bow tie pasta 11

Add pasta to sauce and mix well.

Bow tie pasta 12

Add spinach and mix until spinach is wilted.

Bow tie pasta 13

After a few minutes, spinach should be cooked and pasta is ready to serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with fresh spinach. Bow Tie Pasta plated