Antipasto Spinach Pasta Salad


Hello all– What is the easiest, freshest, yummiest way to have friends in for dinner in the summer??  A big bunch of Bible study friends came couple weeks ago for a salad/dessert pot luck.  As they trickled in the door, brimming bowls of chicken salad and fresh fruit and Asian slaw… lined up in the kitchen.  Plus pies– beautiful pies!

We sat down with plates full and settled into easy conversation that you have with old friends.  Love a summer evening with these ladies.

And this was my salad contribution– so much flavor from the sun dried tomatoes and garlicky salami, played against chewy pasta and creamy fresh mozzarella.  I think it would be good on your summer able too.

ANTIPASTO SPINACH PASTA SALAD
8 oz. Cellentani pasta (or your favorite pasta)*
salt
3 cups spinach leaves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/3 cup red onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 cup cured olives
1 cup fresh mozzarella balls (or cubed)
4 oz. salami, cut to pieces
14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed

Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup parmesan romano cheese, grated
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package (mine was 11 minutes in boiling water).  Drain, rinse and cool the pasta to room temperature in a large bowl.

Add in the spinach, red, pepper, red onion, dried tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, salami and garbanzo beans.

To make the dressing, put the olive oil, white balsamic, cheese and salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake well until it’s all blended.  Pour over the salad and mix to coat all the ingredients with dressing.

Stick it into the fridge until you’re ready to serve it up!

*I used Barilla Cellentani in the blue box– nice and chewing and soaks up the dressing.

Easy Chicken Parmesan


Hello– This was dinner tonight and I’m definitely adding this recipe to my chicken dinner rotation.  So quick & easy and it turned out tender and so savory good. To keep it light, we just added a big bright salad and some chunks of sturdy bread.  Super summer supper.

EASY CHICKEN PARMESAN
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
3/4 bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tab. olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, broken to bits
1/2  cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. dried basil
garnish: fresh basil or marjoram*

Slice the chicken breast horizontally to form two flatter chicken filets.

Take 3 flat bowls.  In the first put the flour.  I the second put the egg, well beaten.  And in the third the bread crumbs and parmesan, mixed together.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Then dredge the chicken filets first in the flour, next in the egg and lastly in the crumb-parmesan mixture.  Lay the chicken in the hot skillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side until nicely browned and cooked through.

Place the chicken on a baking sheet or baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Top with with the mozzarella and set under the hot broiler for just a minute or two until the cheese is well melted.

Take if from the oven and top with a mixture of the tomato sauce and dried basil.  Garnish with fresh basil or marjoram and serve it up hot.

*I used marjoram because it grows like a weed in the side yard.

Easy Zucchini Lasagna

IMG_1133Hi there you all– I’m loving this zucchini lasagna because it’s a little lighter than my heavy duty standard, filled with sausage and all that spicy tomato.  I think this must be the summer version of lasagna– just in time for when all those zucchini start ripening in your side yard.

And it’s easy with no bake noodles, a sauce you just whiz up in the blender and grated zucchini that you don’t have to cook ahead.  You pretty much just throw it together– and make a salad while it’s in the oven– summer dinner!

P.S.  I know it’s not summer yet.  But all the teachers at school (that’s me) are anticipating summer break around the corner (and the kids are too!).  I guess it’s just on my mind!

EASY ZUCCHINI LASAGNA

Topping:
1/4 cup parmesan romano, grated
2 tab. bread crumbs
1/4 pine nuts

Sauce:
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Other ingredients:
16 oz. fresh mozarella, broken into small bit with you fingers
2 cups zucchini, grated (2 small)
2 cups yellow crooked neck squash, grated (2 medium)
9 non-cook lasagna noodles (I use Barilla)

Mix the 1/4 cup parmesan and 2 tab. breadcrumbs and set aside.  Hold on to the pine nuts til later.

With a blender (or stick blender or food processor), mix together the ricotta, parmesan, eggs, milk, garlic, basil, salt and pepper– into a creamy sauce.

Then in a 8″x10″ baking dish layer the ingredients:

First, a thin layer of sauce, then 3 noodles-side by side, the zucchini & squash, mozarella and then 1/3 of the remaining sauce.

Do a second layer and then a third.  To them all off with the parmesan mixed with the bread crumbs.  Cover it closely with foil (try not to touch the top of the lasagna with the foil– it will stick).  And pop it into a 375 degree over for 45 minutes.

Pull out the lasagna.  Take off the foil.  Sprinkle on the pine nuts and cook 10 minutes more to brown the top a bit.

When you take it out of the oven, let it sit about 15 minutes before you dig into it so it will firm up a bit.  Oh yumm.

Pesto Pasta Salad

IMG_3727Hey there–  It’s the end of those lazy summer days.  On a warm evening I love this simple supper out under the maple trees, when the evening breeze starts up.  Serve it up with a hunk of sturdy bread with butter and a glass of something delicious and cold.

PESTO PASTA SALAD
8 oz. elbow macaroni*
8 oz. tub of pesto
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
3 cups baby arugula
8 oz. tub of fresh mozzarella pearls (small balls)
1/4 cup pine nuts.

Cook the macaroni according the package directions.  Cool to room temp.  (a little visit to the freezer for a few minutes helps this along!)  Then add in all the other ingredients except the arugula. Set it in the fridge to cool it and meld the flavors.  Stir in the greens just before you set it out to eat.  It’s that simple.

*Any small macaroni will do.  I used the tiny elbow macaroni from the Mexican food aisle at the grocers– only 33 cents!