Almost Greek Tortellini Salad

For the last four or so years that we’ve lived together, my husband and I have spent weekend mornings lazing around in bed. Around 10 AM, our bed became think tank HQ for plotting out weekend days and nights.  There were big, strategic decisions to be made: where might we want to go eat for dinner?  with whom should we try to make plans?  what fun things did we want to do?

Now weekend mornings are just a little different.  For one: they begin earlier, as the newest member of our household doesn’t understand the concept of sleeping in.  For another: it’s a lot less think tank, a lot more operations management.  When and where and how are we going to squeeze in naptime and feeding time and cleaning all the things time?  For one more: we spend a lot less time planning Saturday night and more time planning Monday night. As in, what can I make for dinner that will be quick and easy and also quick and easy?

The husband came up with the below.  Bonus: it’s good hot or cold and even sneaks you some veggies.

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Almost Greek Tortellini Salad

  • 1 package tortellini
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • about 3-4 oz sundried tomatoes, preferably packed in oil
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quartered
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • about 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • a big handful spinach
  • obviously optional – olives. I hear some people like these.
  • for the dressing:
    • olive oil
    • red wine or balsamic vinegar
    • dash cumin
    • salt, pepper
    • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
    • dash oregano
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the tortellini according to the directions; drain.  While this gets going, prep all your veggies and put them into a large bowl.
  2. In a small side bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients together.  (Note: the cumin adds just a hint of sweet that I really like against the general saltiness of the dish.)
  3. Add the warm, drained tortellini to the veggie bowl and give it a toss.   Add the feta and give it a thorough mix before adding spinach and dressing.  Serve warm or cold.

The Verdict:

This was deliciously easy, which is a good thing since the pictures didn’t come out (see above, obvi).  Which means I’ll get another crack at posting something a little more light-friendly.  Also: the fact that you can serve this warm or cold makes it a perfect dish to bring to your new mom friends.  Just saying: heating things in the microwave can be a challenge.

 

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Arugula and Mint Pea Salad

We had company over for the first time post-baby two weeks ago.  Prior to baby, I thought spending time at home with one small, portable child who naps on and off all day would mean I’d have lots of time to menu plan and cook and get real fancy.  I had big plans for this blog, for instance.

I know.

Clearly, I didn’t spend any time with any children before abruptly shifting into 24/7, all baby, all the time, mode.  So what made it to the table for company was a reliable friend: chicken and this simple, deceptively good salad.

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Arugula and Mint Pea Salad

  • 2 cups fresh peas
  • 1 bunch mint, torn
  • good handful of parmesan
  • arugula
  • dressing:
    • juice from one lemon
    • a bit of lemon zest
    • olive oil
    • salt, pepper
  1. If using fresh peas (which are awesome), bring a pot of water to boil and very quickly pass the peas through – about 1 minute.  You can also use canned or thawed frozen peas.
  2. Whisk dressing together.
  3. Combine all ingredients together and toss with dressing; top with parmesan.

The Verdict:

This is an old reliable for good reason. Simple, easy, and super delicious.  Definitely enough to impress post-baby company.

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese & Cranberries

Lately, most of the dinners chez nous are a fairly consistent staple of Dairy meets Starch, they have Love Child.  This is because it’s easy, because it’s filling, and because I’d like my pre-ice cream meal to be complementary to the main event.  Obvi.

Even when the husband might be thinking we could incorporate some more meat or veggies, he’s smart enough to know not to comment.  Ever.  There are some definite perks to pregnancy.

However.  Every once in a while, you do crave the green stuff.  Ina here, to the rescue.

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese & Cranberries 

(adapted from Ina Garten)

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  • 2 ripe pears
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • crumbled blue cheese
  • big handful dried cranberries
  • big handful nuts – walnuts, pecans, or almonds
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or 1/4 apple cider vinegar
  • if using apple cider and not apple cider vinegar, splash balsamic
  • big dollop of honey or 3 big tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • arugula (we used Bibb lettuce, but this would definitely be better with the bite from arugula)
  • salt, pepper (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Peel the pears and slice in half lengthwise; remove the core.  Cut just a small slice off the back – this will keep it steady on the baking pan.  Toss with about half the lemon juice and place in a small baking dish, core side up.
  3. Mix together the blue cheese, nuts, and cranberries in a small bowl and top the pears with the mixture.  Mix together the cider, balsamic, honey/sugar and pour over the pears, reserving a bit of the liquid.
  4. Bake pears for 25-30 minutes & pull from the oven.  Make a dressing by whisking together the rest of the lemon juice, the olive oil, and the reserved basting liquid.  Serve the pears on top of the arugula with the dressing.

The Verdict:

This is delicious.  Eat it.  Feel healthy.  And then, to the ice cream.

 

Two-Tomato Basil Lentil Salad

After gorging ourselves on french onion soup mac & cheese for a week, it’s time to atone for our sins.  Or at least get some new vegetables circulating in the system.

I’m practicing my future mom skills with this “recipe:” what’s in the fridge tonight, will it be done in less than 20 minutes, how can I make it look like pasta, and will it be at least as good the second and third and fourth times?

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Tw0-Tomato Basil Lentil Salad

  • 1 cup red split lentils (these turn almost risotto-y when you cook them, which is a bonus for me)
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • big handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • handful sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (green parts only)
  • big handful basil, chopped
  • big handful feta
  • dash olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt, fresh ground pepper
  • optional: salad greens (spinach, mixed greens, arugula, etc.)
  1. Combine lentils, water, garlic cloves, bay leaves, and a dash salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let it cook for about 15 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through.
  2. While the lentils cook, chop the rest of your veggies.
  3. When the lentils are done, remove the bay leaves – and if you have a garlic press, which I really, really hope you do – pass the cooked/softened garlic through the press and mix it all around.  Combine lentils with tomatoes, scallions, basil, feta olive oil, lemon and give a good toss.
  4. Serve on top of salad greens for a little more oomph, top with freshly cracked pepper.

The Verdict:

The big bonus from this lentil salad is: it actually looks and tastes like risotto.  So basically, we’re eating straight pasta for the second week in a row! Hollerrrrr.

Homemade Chicken Salad.

If I ate less chicken salad, I’d probably be wealthier.  If I walk anywhere near a deli counter, or a sandwich shop, or a brunch menu with chicken salad on the menu, it’s game time.  Part of the reason I love going home so much (other than of course seeing my parents, hi M+D) is because my dad always has a container of chicken salad chilling in the fridge.  I. Love. Chicken. Salad.

It’s a bit surprising, then, that I’ve never actually made it myself.  I was in New York a few weeks ago, eating a chicken salad sandwich on a fresh, delicious sesame seed bagel with my sister-in-law, and she mentioned that sometimes she made chicken salad for herself.

This was an earth-shattering revelation.

For some reason, I have always assumed that magical chicken salad makers just lived at the deli/grocery store/farmer’s market, just waiting for their opportunity to hop me up on too much mayo.

But no.  I could make this delicious, addicting, amazingness myself.  So I did.

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Homemade Chicken Salad

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • for the poaching liquid:
    • fresh herbs (I used some thyme)
    • 1/2 onion
    • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
    • salt
    • water
  • 2-3 stalks celery, washed and chopped
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • handful parsley, chopped
  • about 1/2 cup mayo
  • about 1/2 plain Greek yogurt
  • about 2 cups red grapes, sliced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • optional: handful toasted nuts
  1. Add chicken and all poaching liquid ingredients to a pan and bring to a full boil.  Turn down the heat and poach gently for about 10-12 minutes (the chicken should be white all the way through).
  2. While the chicken cooks, prep your veggies and grapes and place in a large-ish bowl.
  3. Remove chicken from the poaching liquid when done; discard liquid + contents.  Let chicken cool a bit, and then cut into little cubes.  Add to the veggies.
  4. Add mayo, yogurt, lemon, salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly and taste – add whatever’s missing.
  5. Put your delicious, amazing salad between two pieces of toasted bread, a slice of red onion, and a large Romaine leaf.  Fall in love.

The Verdict:

HOW WAS THIS THE FIRST TIME I MADE THIS!?!?!?!