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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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.

Mozzarella and Sundried Tomato-Stuffed Chicken

We are home.  And we are stuffed.

For the past week, we have eaten nothing but baguettes, cheese, croque madame, pain au chocolat, croissants, steaks and frites.  We have consumed bottle after bottle of champagne and red wine.  We bought ice cream cones for the express purpose of passing the time, standing in line for museums.  We were gluttons and we are not sorry.

Paris and London were in a word, amazing.  We climbed all the monuments (sort of atones for the food? maybe?).  We took boat tours down the Thames and the Seine, and toasted each other as the Eiffel Tower lit up the sky.  We looked at crowns and wandered through gardens.  We saw close friends and family; I wandered the grand flower store at the foot of our old apartment, where my father took me the day I turned 8 and let me pick out any flowers I wanted for a birthday bouquet.

We are stuffed – food-wise, but also joy-wise.  (I know, I’m cheesy, but it’s just the truth.)  In that honor, some stuffed chicken breasts I made before we left.

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Mozzarella and Sundried Tomato-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 large ball mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • large handful fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons or so sundried tomatoes, julienned
  • about 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten with a dash of water
  • about 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  1. After you rinse and pat dry chicken breasts, rub with a little bit of olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.  Use a small knife to carefully make an incision in each chicken breast; take care not to cut it all the way in half (you want to create a little pocket for all your goodies).
  2. Place each chicken breast under a sheet of parchment and pound with a mallet or small pan.so they are each less than an inch thick.  Insert a layer of basil, mozzarella and a few sundried tomatoes into each “pocket” of the chicken breast.
  3. Dredge each chicken breast individually in the flour, shake off excess flour, coat in the beaten eggs, and then dredge in panko.  Repeat for each chicken breast.
  4. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Without crowding the pan, cook each chicken breast for about 3-4 minutes on one side.  Lower the heat and use tongs to carefully flip to the other side, cooking an additional 3-4 minutes.  Keep chicken warm while you cook the additional breasts.
  5. Serve with a side salad and some crusty bread.

The Verdict:

This is a go-to in our house: that panko crust keeps the chicken juicy and crispy at the same time, while the cheese just oozes on to your plate.  And no one argues with oozing cheese.

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.

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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.