My Favorite Pasta Salad Ever!

Yesterday I had a small 4th of July dinner, per usual tradition. For dinner, I served rump steak cuts marinated in balsamic vinegar and molasses, summer squash sautéed with onions and pasta salad, followed by a dessert of red velvet cake, served with summer berries. Meat has slowly worked its way back into my life after a month without it.

Back to the menu, I must say, the pasta salad was really the true star of the show. The meat and zucchini– only backup dancers. This salad is so refreshing and light. It’s chock full of delicious flavor and has a light citrus taste. This morning I actually contemplated eating it for breakfast with a slice of red velvet, but then realized that would leave me without lunch.

This recipe is really simple to make, hope you enjoy it. And for those back home, hope you had a fun 4th!

 

What you need.

  • 200 grams / app. 1/2 pound of pasta (I used whole wheat fussili)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 of a bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/4 of a red onion, minced
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 – 1/4 c of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp of chives, chopped
  • 1 TBSP of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c of shredded parmesan
  • paprika, sea salt and pepper, to taste

 

  1. Boil pasta according to directions, strain, and run under cold water until cool.
  2. Place pasta, avocado, peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, in a bowl. Pour lemon juice on top and gently mix.
  3. Mix garlic and mayonnaise in a separate bowl. Add to salad and gently mix, evenly distributing sauce.
  4. Mix in fresh herbs and cheese, then season to taste.
  5. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

 

 

 

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Potato Frittata with Scallions and Cheese

My good friend Kate and I both heart  Deb Perelman’s food blog, Smitten Kitchen. I was thrilled when Kate gave me The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for my birthday!

I absolutely love this cookbook, it’s wonderful and so refreshing. It includes wonderful tips, cute and funny personal stories about the author and her family. It’s written in a very intimate way. At times, you feel as if you’re sitting at a bar stool in her tiny Manhattan kitchen, while she walks you through the recipe step by step. This books gives me a case of teeny-tiny kitchen envy– I love small spaces, but that’s a story for another day! My favorite part of the book is the simple, colorful and vibrant pictures, the images just pop right off the pages.

Last week, I adapted her recipe for Potato Frittata with feta and scallions. She listed this recipe under breakfast and I made this for dinner. This would definitely be a big hit at brunch. It’s very filling, so have your appetite ready or a few hungry stomachs around the dinner table, if you try this recipe. The original recipe calls for bacon and since I don’t like bacon, I excluded it. Additionally, she used feta, but I used Gruyère, a little ricotta and added mushrooms.

You can totally make this without meat and use vegetables and cheese. I actually was going to make it without any meat, but my husband suggested throwing in the leftover ground beef we had in the fridge. The final result was a rich, protein packed frittata with lots of flavor. I paired it with a salad to lighten things up a bit. My husband loved this dish, I think it had all the makings of Swiss food that he’s used to: potatoes, cheese, eggs, and meat.

Serves 3 – 4

What you need.

  • Olive oil
  • 4 medium large potatoes, diced
  • salt, black pepper
  • 1/4 lb or 115 g rams of cooked ground beef (optional)
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • 5 -6 mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c of Gruyère or cheese of choice
  • 1/4 c of ricotta (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 – 2 TBSP of milk or cream

How you make it.

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F/ 200 C.
  2. Peel and dice potatoes into small cubes.
  3. Pour about 1 – 2 TBSP of olive oil into a baking pan or oven proof skillet.
  4. Toss the potatoes in the oil and season generously with salt and pepper (and a pinch of nutmeg if you like).
  5. Place in the oven and roast for about 25- 30 minutes or until they’re almost cooked.
  6. While your potatoes are cooking, chop up your vegetables and prepare your cheese (and prepare your meat if you’re using it. I had a small amount of day old ground beef, so just put it on the side).
  7. Beat eggs, ricotta and cream, season lightly/to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. When your potatoes are light brown and almost done roasting, take them out of the oven and cover with your vegetables and cheese.
  9. Pour eggs on top, cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until the eggs set in the center.

Remember, bring your appetite for this dish, because it’s very nutritious and filling! Enjoy!

Quick Pan-Seared Herb-Crusted Salmon

I typically try to post on Mondays, however I came down with the flu on Sunday. The hubs quarantined me in the bedroom and forced me out of the kitchen. He served me snacks, tea and even gave me a little bell to ring if  I needed him to bring me anything else. I’ll admit it, I rang the bell once or twice *hides in shame*. It was my chance to have a  Downton Abbey experience (minus the sprawling estate, fabulous 1920s attire and the artillery of maids).

Now all is back to normal and I’m back in the kitchen, apron and all. Here’s a quick recipe for salmon. If you love salmon and are short on time, this recipe is perfect. It’s packed with flavor and will be on the dinner table within 15 – 20 minutes.

What you need.

  • (Wild) salmon with skin
  • dried pepper, sea salt, red pepper, thyme, dill (or your seasoning of choice)
  • olive oil
  • fresh lemon, to taste

How you make it.

  1. Season both sides of the salmon
  2. Heat about 3 – 4 TBSP (or enough to cover the surface of your fish) of olive oil in pan on medium-high heat.
  3. Carefully place salmon in the pan – skin side down. Cook the salmon for about 4 minutes.
  4. Flip the salmon and cook for about 1 -2 minutes. Pour a small amount of water about 1/8 cup or enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan, to create a steam effect. Cook salmon (still on med-hi heat) for about 5 minutes and allow it to absorb the water.  If you have a very thick piece, it might take 8 – 10 minutes.

Serve with a side of rice and salad and you’re good to go!

 

Moroccan Country Bread

I really missed blogging about food. I’m happy to post again after a long hiatus. Rest assured, I’ve been eating well, I just haven’t had the time to snap pretty pictures and blog about it.

Speaking of pretty pictures, last year, I traveled to Morocco with my husband. This was truly one of my favorite vacations. The beautiful hues of blue painted on the doors of houses, the trance-like rhythm of Gnawa music, the aroma of spices and all the beautiful artwork of artisans. It really was a total sensory experience. One couldn’t help but feel inspired by the beauty of Morocco.

Moroccan food is also delightful and lovely. In the morning, we were spoiled with platters of crepes or pancakes, served with freshly squeezed orange juice and mint tea. Dinner typically involved tender stewed lamb tajines, vegetable soups,  desserts with hints of fig and dates. I especially enjoyed the variety of breads that accompanied our meals.

Not long ago, a good friend gave me a Moroccan cookbook, with lots of beautiful pictures and descriptions. Reminiscing on my amazing vacation, I decided to make Kesra or Moroccan Country Bread. This bread is SO GOOD, I could eat it all day! It has a crispy outside and moist, buttery  inside. I paired it with a curried pea soup (recipe to come in later post) and was very pleased with the results.

What you need.

2 loaves of country bread (kesra)

  • 1/2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP melted butter (or ghee, if you’re lucky enough to have it)
  • 2 1/4 c. lukewarm water
  • 2 oiled baking sheets or flat pizza pans
  • sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional) – I used flax seeds b/c I didn’t have sesame

How you make it.

  1. Put yeast, sugar + 1/4 c water in a small bowl
  2. Place flour, cornmeal and salt in a large bowl and stir well with a fork (about 1 min)
  3. Melt 2 TBSP of butter over low heat
  4. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in yeast mixture and melted butter
  5. Gradually add the lukewarm water and use your hands or a wooden spoon to form the dough
  6. Place dough on a lightly floured and need until elastic and smooth
  7. Divide dough into 2 pieces and roll each piece into a ball then flatten to about 8 inches in diameter
  8. Place the flattened dough on the prepared baking sheets and cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place  for about 1 hour or until they’ve doubled in size
  9. Preheat the oven to 425 F
  10. Prick the dough with a fork about 4 -5 times and sprinkle with seeds
  11. Bake 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and back another 15 minutes
  12. Dough is done when it’s crisp, golden and sounds hollow when tapped

Bon Appétit!

(Recipe adapted from Ghillie Basan’s Flavors of Morocco)

Roasted Tomato, Squash, Red Onion and Goat Cheese on Honey Flatbread

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my husband’s 31st birthday. He wanted a cozy, quiet celebration for what he deems the forgotten age. Actually, he almost forgot his birthday was approaching until I reminded him the day before. To respect … Continue reading