Category Archives: Salads

Summer Salads- Tortellini Salad with Asparagus and Lemony Dressing

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Summer…nothing better than the lazy days of summer on an educator’s schedule.  We have had a great summer of just relaxing and enjoying each other.  It has been a few years since we have been able to do that with the house on the market back in 2013 and then our move last summer from PA to TX.  Add to that a full year of working crazy long hours as teachers with our schedules being set by others and you can imagine how we have taken great pleasure in having a very loose schedule and hardly any “hours” to keep during the summer of 2015.

Summer 2015!

Summer 2015!

Summer has also allowed me to be in the kitchen again and try some new recipes.  Those that know us, know that the girls and I make frequent trips to the library in the summer.  Recently I picked up some cook books.  This recipe is from The Make-Ahead Cook.  One could prep it in advance and then store it up to 2 days…but I made it for my family to each for lunch today!

Tortellini Salad with Asparagus and Lemony Dressing

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

  • Add 1 pound of thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into about 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon salt

Cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes or so.  While the asparagus boils, prepare a large bowl halfway with ice and water.

Once the asparagus is crisp-tender, remove it with a slotted spoon- transferring it to the ice water and let it cool for about 2 minutes.

Remove the asparagus from the ice water and then pat it dry with paper towels.  (If making this ahead now you would put the asparagus in a storage container and cover it…but if making to eat immediately just leave it out on the counter like I did!)

Return the pot of water to boil and cook according to directions on package:

  • 12-16 ounces of dried cheese tortellini

Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water- in case you need it later.

Drain tortellini and rinse it with cold water and drain it again.  You want to leave the tortellini slightly wet.

While the tortellini cooks…

Whisk together in a large bowl

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (I used lemon juice out of a bottle but you can use fresh—you will need about 2 lemons for the entire recipe)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 cup of yellow onion minced

While whisking the above mixture together constantly, drizzle in:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Remove 1/4 cup of the dressing to a small bowl and stir in:

  • 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice

Cover the extra dressing if you are saving it for later.

Now add the tortellini to the large bowl with the dressing

Toss the dressing and tortellini to combine.  Add reserved pasta cooking water as needed to adjust consistency (I didn’t use any when I made it but I’m leaving the step in just in case!)

Cover the tortellini if you are saving it for later.

To store the salad:

Refrigerate the asparagus, tortellini mixture and dressing separately for up to 2 days.

When ready to serve it get the items out and let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.  You can stir in some boiling water to the tortellini to loosen it up and whisk the dressing to recombine it.

Last Steps:

Drizzle the dressing over the tortellini

Stir in the asparagus.

Add:

  • 12 ounces of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 -1 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved
  • 3/4 cup of fresh basil  (you can try mint or parsley too if you don’t have basil)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted (I threw mine in the oven on a cookie sheet at 350° for about 10 minutes)

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.  I sliced and apple and made some iced tea (sweet of course, is there any other way!)

Serves 4-6

 

Enjoy!

Grilling Goodness: Chicken-and-Fruit Salad

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The absolute best thing about our house is the ability to have dinners on the deck on a gorgeous evening.  Tonight was one of those evenings.  The trees still aren’t green in our view but the evening was perfect nonetheless.  We fired up the grill too in order to make another new recipe from the “Southern Living Ultimate Quick and Easy Cookbook” that I checked out from our library (I’m going to have to purchase one of these as I’ve rechecked it now three times and I want to copy way too many of the recipes.)

The Back Deck

Not the best picture of our deck but this gives you a glimpse at why it is so wonderful. This was from the end of April last year. Our deck is up in the trees.

 

Chicken-and-Fruit Salad

Plan Ahead- Chicken and Pineapple need to marinade for 6-8 hours.

Place in a ziploc bag:

  • 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I like to prick my chicken with a fork to help the marinade ooze into the chicken a bit more)
  • 3/4 cup of Lawry’s Santa Fe Chili Marinade with Lime and Garlic (the recipe calls for a lime and garlic marinade….this was the closest I could find!)

Seal the chicken in the ziploc bag and chill for 6 to 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Cut into fourths:

  • one cored fresh pineapple

Place the pineapple into a ziploc bag and pour 1/4 cup of the marinade over the pineapple. Seal and chill for 6 to 8 hours.

Ready to Grill:

Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Drain the pineapple.

Grill chicken 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until done.

Grill pineapple 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile:

Wash and prepare:

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups of strawberries, halved
  • 1 cup of raspberries

Once the grilled items are cooked as needed, cut chicken into strips and the pineapple into bite-sized pieces.

Arrange the lettuce, chicken, and fruit into bowls.

You could toss the fruit with some of the marinade before adding to to the salad or just let each person add extra marinade as desired.  We just added as desired as my girls don’t really care for dressing on their salad.

This was a great dinner and easy to prepare.  Everyone left the table happy….even the extra child that joined us for dinner!

Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad- Great one for hot summer days!

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I really enjoyed this salad last night.  We were going to have the leftover pizza from the birthday party but I wanted something else to go with pizza that fell more on the healthy side of the spectrum.  I loved the dressing on this!

Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad

Grill your 2 ears of corn by:

  • Removing the husks from the corn and grill it over medium heat for 10 minutes.  The corn should have some brown spots and be tender and not mushy.  Let it cool slightly before cutting the corn off the cob.

True confessions—I don’t work the grill at our house, and I didn’t want to ask my handsome fella to fire it up just for a little bit of corn.  So I tried to find some roasted corn at the grocery store….no luck.  Trader Joe’s has some but it wasn’t on my route home, so I simply cooked some frozen corn in our cast-iron skillet on the stove top.  It worked just fine—-but roasted or grilled would be even better!

Add to the cut corn:

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Make the dressing by whisking together:

  • 2 Tablespoons of lime juice
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pour the dressing over the corn mixture and toss it gently to combine.

Refrigerated it for at least 15 minutes before serving.

 

Kitchen Tip
Cilantro can go limp in just a few days if you simply leave it in the vegetable crisper in the refrigerator.  Somewhere I read that you should put it in a glass of water and wrap the plastic vegetable bag –you know the one you brought it home from the store in—well wrap that around the cilantro down over the glass.  My husband hates this but it does keep the bunch of cilantro fresh longer and available for more recipes.