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.

img_5121

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.

 

Advertisements

Greek-ish Barley Salad with Sundried Tomatoes

Fun fact about me: in college, when most of my female classmates were dressing as “under-dressed fill-in-the-blank (nouns)” for Halloween, I went as a teenaged boy.  A teenaged Newsie, to be precise.  Because there’s nothing like a light-hearted song and dance number about ending child labor, right?

On Friday, it took all of 30 minutes to conceive of and execute on this salad (inspired by Cooking Light).  Meaning I had plenty of time to drink some vino and get to Newsies the Musical (!!) on time, along with my former roommate, also a former Newsie for Halloween.  Word to all my Boston friends: it’s coming (as in the production, not this salad) to your city next.

IMG_3424

Greek-ish Barley Salad with Sundried Tomatoes

  • grated lemon rind from one small lemon
  • juice from one small lemon
  • olive oil
  • about 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • arugula
  • about 10 oz cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and quartered
  • about 2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes in oil, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz Feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Bring two cups of salted water to a boil, add barley, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed.
  2. Meanwhile, combine lemon rind through salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk to create a nice dressing.
  3. Add red onion through cucumber to the dressing bowl and toss gently.  When the barley finishes, mix that in and add sundried tomatoes with oil, as well as Feta cheese (the heat from the barley combined with the oil and the Feta cheese will create a nice creamy texture).
  4. This is lovely served both immediately and chilled.

The Verdict:

Since the blueberry mint salad extravaganza, I’ve been decimating the Trader Joe’s shelves of quick-cooking farro and barley.  It’s just so good, and so easy, and so…tasty, while being healthy.  Perfect for seizing the day.

Blueberry Barley and Mint Salad.

The last couple of days have been both joyful and deeply sad.  We celebrated our friends’ marriage over the weekend with a beautiful ceremony in Brooklyn, and today, I turn 31.

We also lost my husband’s grandmother this past weekend.  Mimi, as we all called her, has acted as a stand-in grandmother for me over the past decade.  She made us hand-knit slippers at Christmas and cooked the best French toast man has ever tasted.  She stocked her freezer with Peppermint Patties for the women in the family and her fridge with Yuenglings for the men.  She was an amazing mother, grandmother, and all-around person.

Last night, we made this salad, inspired by Cooking Light, as a way to nurture the soul a little bit.

IMG_3403

Blueberry Barley and Mint Salad

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup quick-cooking barley
  • about 1 cup mint leaves
  • about 1/3 cup olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • about 5 oz arugula
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water for about 10 minutes (removes some of the sting!)
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  1. Salt the water, add the apple cider vinegar, and bring to a boil.  Add barley and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, chop all of your vegetables and place in a large salad bowl with the arugula.
  3. Add mint, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  4. Add hot barley to the vegetable mixture, add goat cheese, and toss thoroughly with dressing.

IMG_3399

The Verdict:

Even if you think this is weird – especially if you think this is weird – give this a try.  THe Husband, who doesn’t like blueberries or red onions, (& doesn’t think of salad as a “real” meal), went for seconds.  And then brought the rest for lunch.

Spicy Sesame Turkey Meatballs & Smashed Chickpeas with Tzatziki

I’ve been waiting all week to post these bad boys.

This past weekend, Husband and I hosted my parents.  Normally, this is a good excuse to shuttle off to that restaurant we’ve been dying to try but can’t quite justify the expense…but since my parents were coming off a 3-day Civil War/college reunion tour, they wanted some home-cooked food. Enter sandman Deb Perelman.

Tip: next time your parents are coming off a 3-day Civil War tour (I’ll let you all ponder that in your heads.  Parental units hopping on and off a bus, checking out battlefields, dressed in orange and/or tiger stripes, chanting about Old Nassau.  My dad , the civil war buff, bopping about in his Abe Lincoln t-shirt.  My mom, the bewildered German, wondering when the part is when she gets to see her kids.  Makes me giggle.) make them this.

IMG_3391

Spicy Sesame Turkey Meatballs & Smashed Chickpeas with Tzatziki (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

for your meatballs

  • 1 pound ground turkey (use a mixture of lean and fatty meat, so it does not dry out)
  • about 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • small handful cumin
  • small handful coriander
  • large pinch of salt & pepper
  • about a tablespoon of crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (better if toasted quickly)

for your chickpeas

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • small handful sumac
  • a big bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • a bit of lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch salt, pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
  • olive oil
  • optional: olives (blech) or anchovy paste (yum), to add brininess

for your tzatziki sauce

  • about two cups plain Greek yogurt
  • about 1/2 cucumber, finely diced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon, plus a little grated zest
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • optional: fresh dill, 1 clove minced garlic (there’s lots of garlic in the rest of this recipe, so I omitted it, or I should say, Husband omitted it, since he’s in charge of tzatsiki in our house!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Comine all of your meatball ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly, using your hands, but do not overwork the meat.  Shape the meat into little golf balls.
  3. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a large saute pan and brown the meatballs.  Do not overcrowd the pan.
  4. On a large pan covered with aluminum foil (to make your cleanup easier!), bake the meatballs for about 10 – 13 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, get your smashed chickpea salad going.  Combine all of the chickpea ingredients in one bowl, minus olive oil.  Mash (a potato masher works well!) together – leave it a big chunky.  Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste.
  6. Finally, mix all of your tzatziki ingredients together in another bowl.  Season to taste.
  7. Serve everything together, all at once, and let the praise wash over you like a college fight song.

IMG_3385

The Verdict:

I know it LOOKS like a lot, but if you have the ingredients, this is easy-peasy and oh-so-good.  Mom, Dad & Husband all raved about this little combination, which we also served with salad and pita bread…tiding us all over until the next Civil War battlefield tour.

Slow-Braised Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

It’s one of my New Year’s resolutions: cook more fish at home (sorry, Husband-who-doesn’t-like-fish).  The only problem is: I don’t actually like the smell of fish lingering in my kitchen after I grill or saute it.  In general, I use the oven to bake fish (a little soy sauce, a little brown sugar, and poof! Dinner!), but I wondered: could the solution be even easier?  As in, could I, as in all things tasty and easy, use my crockpot?

It turns out, yes, yes I can, and so can the Husband, who executed this recipe, inspired by Williams Sonoma.

salmon in the crockpot? yes.
salmon in the crockpot? yes.

Slow-Braised Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

for the salmon

  • about 1/2 cup veggie, seafood, or chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • pinch salt
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or dill, which pairs great with salmon, but I can never find)
  • as many salmon fillets as you can stand to eat (or fit in your crockpot without layering)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • baby spinach, for serving

for the sauce

  • 1 shallot, diced
  • about a cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon light mayo
  • another sprig or two of thyme, twiggy parts discarded
  • fresh parsley, chopped (the Husband used cilantro, which, if you’re like me, you’ll also find works, despite the weird-sounding combo.  Parsley would work slightly better with the lemony notes of thyme, though.)
  • pinch ground cumin
  • 2-3 small cucumbers, diced
  • optional: wedge lemon
  1. In your crockpot (yay!), combine the stock, wine, onion, thyme, salt, pepper and about a 1/2 cup of water.  Stir, cover, and cook on low for 30 minutes.
  2. Add salmon, skin side down, cover, grind a little bit of pepper on top, and cook on low for about an hour.  The fish will turn opaque and be completely, deliciously tender.
  3. As the fish cooks, whisk together the yogurt, a touch of mayo, shallot, more thyme, parsley, pinch cumin and the cucumber.  Season with salt and pepper and if you so desire, a squeeze of lemon.
  4. Serve the salmon on top of the baby spinach and spoon the sauce over each fillet; garnish with parsley.  Eat up.
after this: meal of chocolate-covered pretzels.
after this: meal of chocolate-covered pretzels.

The Verdict:

The Husband smothered his in sauce, but he declared this highly edible, if not outright…good.  I loved this – so easy, so tasty, so healthy, and delicious the next day, served cold with a salad of spinach and avocado.  Bonus: you can eat as many chocolate-covered pretzels as you like after this; you earned them.