Showing posts with label pasta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pasta. Show all posts

7/26/13

Broccoli, Grape and Pasta Salad



You know that salad that shows up at every potluck? The one with broccoli, sunflower seeds, bacon and a coleslaw dressing?  I like it, but it's a little heavy on green for some of my fam (code for the boys). This salad is a twist on that old favorite.  I opted out of the bacon and didn't miss it a bit. Make sure to give the sunflower seeds a try. The original Southern Living recipe calls for pecans, but I thought staying with the original idea of broccoli and sunflower seeds would be a nice combo and I loved the end result.  If you're looking for a newbie to take to your next bbq, give this recipe a try. You're going to love it.


Broccoli, Grape and Pasta Salad
Adapted from Southern Living by A Bountiful Kitchen

salad:
1- 1 lb package farfalle (bow tie shaped) or other pasta
3/4 pound fresh broccoli, blanched if desired
2 cups seedless red grapes
8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled (optional)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds

dressing:
1 cup light mayonnaise ( I like Best Foods or Hellman's)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup red wine or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
Cut broccoli into bite size pieces. 
Wash grapes and leave whole, or if desired, cut in half.
Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Separate about half of the dressing and set aside in small bowl or cup, cover and set in refrigerator.  Add broccoli, cooked pasta, and grapes to bowl with remaining dressing.  Stir to coat pasta, broccoli and grapes. Cover and chill 3 hours or overnight. 
When ready to serve, add remaining dressing and bacon (if using) and toss. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds just before serving. 


7/2/13

Baked Ziti (new and improved) and Girl's Camp 2013





Last week I joined 300+ young women and their leaders in the mountains above Heber City. Depending on the day, we had between 330-350 girls and leaders in attendance.
With a crew of 7 joyful, hardworking women, we planned, cooked, and served about 3300 meals in 5 days. Did you just go back and re read that? Me too. Our meals included some ABK favorites: Teriyaki Spinach Pasta Salad,  Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing, Sweet Baked Beans (click on links for recipes) , and our favorite pasta- Baked Ziti. Ziti for camp? You know how they say food always tastes better when you're camping? I never fell for that line, but it's true if you are eating Baked Ziti.
We also made some new favorites I'll post in the next few weeks:  Kash's Black Cherry Chocolate Dutch Oven Cobbler, Janis' Hot Fudge Sauce, Slow Cooked Roast for French Dip and Cooler Corn for 350.  
Here are a few pics of our adventures in the mountains  kitchen...
The kitchen crew: Janis,Jenny,Brenda, me, Michelle, Mims, Stephanie, Kash.
Amazing women. 

Remember when I first posted Cook's Illustrated Baked Ziti  back in 2009? After making the Cook's recipe several times, I decided it needed a little tweaking. The biggest issues I had with their recipe were:
1. It was a bit on the dry side, especially when heating up for leftovers. 
2.There were too many steps (dishes to pour in and out of and other unnecessary complications). The recipe needed to be streamlined. 
I set out to make a dish with more sauce and easy to create in about 30 minutes. 
The result-we love this dish. 
The girls loved this dish. 
All 300 of them. 





Baked Ziti
A Bountiful Kitchen, adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 pound Ziti or other short, tubular pasta (it is usually easier for me to find Rigatoni)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced
2-15 oz can tomato sauce
1-8 oz can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper, about 1 teaspoon each
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound whole milk cottage cheese or low fat  cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

Cook pasta for about 9 minutes. Drain and set aside. 
Place oil and garlic in large pan and sauté over medium heat just until fragrant. Add all of the tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes until thickened a bit. Turn off heat and add 1/2 cup of chopped basil. 
Pour heavy cream into a second large saucepan. While cream is cold, whisk in 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.  Simmer over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1lb of cottage cheese, 2 beaten eggs, 1 cup of the tomato sauce mixture, and half of the Parmesan and cubed mozzarella (reserving the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella for top of dish). Stir until combined (this mixture will now be a light red/pinkish color). 
Add the cooked pasta to the cream mixture. Stir until all of the pasta is coated. 
Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Pour remaining tomato mixture over the top and sprinkle the remaining cubed mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top of the pasta in dish. Top dish with remaining chopped fresh basil ( I like to save a few leaves for after baking as well for color). 
Cover dish tightly with foil. Bake at 350 degrees on middle rack of oven for 30 minutes with foil, then remove foil for last 30 minutes. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving. 

Tips (longer than the recipe):
-We made 17x this recipe for the girls and divided it into 8 large (20 3/4 x 12 3/4x 3 inches deep-disposable foil steam table pans) The pans served about 35-40 each.
-We prepared the Ziti and covered each pan with foil until baking. The dish was prepared Saturday morning, and was baked Monday late afternoon. It was as good as if it were prepared on the same day.
-This dish may also be frozen after ingredients are poured into the pan.  About two hours before baking, remove from freezer and set on counter. When ready to bake, place in oven at 325 for 1 1/2 hours on middle rack.  After 1 1/2 hours, turn oven to 375, remove foil,  and bake an additional 15 minutes. Allow more time if multiple pans are being baked in the same oven (about 15  minutes per pan, while covered).
-If you don't have a basil plant, or enough basil to make this dish, I suggest a trip to Trader Joes, where you can buy (the biggest basil plant you have ever seen in your life) for $2.99 . That's right $2.99.  We used three trees plants to make 17 times this recipe, it was more than enough fresh basil for our Ziti-a-thon.
-When I first started making this dish as a child (jk) , I thought fresh mozzarella was always the best choice when following a recipe that called for mozzarella. Not so. It has way too much moisture for this dish. A firm mozzarella, that can easily be cut into cubes works best. It melts into the pasta dish without leaving water in the bottom of the dish.
-If you are making this recipe in large quantity, I found that the #10 cans found at Costco and other restaurant suppliers will cover 3x this recipe for the tomato sauce. So instead of: 2-15 oz cans and 1-8 oz can of tomato sauce for every three times this recipe, I used 1 #10 can of tomato sauce (approx 96 oz), and one additional 15 oz can of tomato sauce. If you 6x the recipe, use 2 #10 cans of tomato sauce and one #10 can of diced tomatoes.




5/7/13

Lobster and Shells



If you want to splurge on Mom for Mother's Day, try this salad from Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa.  Ina says it's important to use small shells in this salad so the corn kernels can get stuck inside of the shells. These things are important. Yes, they are. 
If you are as anxious for summer to get here as I am, you'll love this recipe. It tastes like a bite of summer in a salad. 






Lobster and Shells

Kosher salt
olive oil
1 pound small pasta shells, such as Ronzoni
Kernels from 8 ears of corn (about 6 cups) cooked, or about 1 1/2 small bags frozen corn*
12 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
2 yellow or orange or red bell peppers, seeded and small-diced
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 pounds cooked fresh lobster meat, medium-diced, about 2 medium size lobster tails
1 1/2 cups Best Foods or Hellman's mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream, regular or light*
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-4 lemons, depending on how juicy)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 cup minced fresh dill*

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt and some olive oil. Add the pasta and cook it for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente.  Drain the pasta pour into a large mixing bowl.  Add the frozen corn. Add the scallions, diced pepper, tomatoes, and lobster, tossing gently to combine. Allow to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, 4 teaspoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper until smooth. Pour over the pasta and mix well to bind the ingredients. Stir in the dill. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to 6 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Check the seasonings and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Tips:
-*Fresh corn is always best. Cook the cobs of corn for about 4 minutes in a pot of boiling water. Cut the corn off the cob and let cool before adding to the salad.  If fresh is unavailable, use frozen corn, unthawed. The corn will thaw in the salad and help keep the rest of the salad ingredients cool.
-*Sour Cream-I used regular sour cream, but thought the dressing was a bit heavy. This salad could use a little lightening up, next time I make it I will use light sour cream.
-If you make this ahead of time and set in the fridge, you may need to thin the dressing a bit  by whisking in a tablespoon or two of milk. 
-Fresh dill- If at all possible, use fresh dill. If fresh is not available, 1 tablespoon of dried dill will work. 


Here's the link to Amazon and Ina's "How Easy is That?" cookbook. It's the perfect Mother's Day gift. 



3/5/12

Sheri's Creamy Southern Mac and Cheese




Mac and cheese. What comes to mind when you hear those words? If it's a pan filled with an unnatural yellow/orange color sauce coating macaroni, your world is about to change.
In a good way.
My SIL,  Sheri, is famous for making huge pans of luscious, creamy mac and cheese. She perfected the art of making an amazing pan of one of my favorite dishes when she lived in the South.
I love it when we have a family dinner that includes a pan of her mac and cheese. Love it for days after too. This dish re-heats beautifully.  Sheri's version includes lots of sauce,  coating the pasta generously,  so it doesn't become a thick, gluey mess when heated up for leftovers. This is mac and cheese heaven.
You're gonna love it.






Creamy Southern Macaroni and Cheese
print recipe

½ cup butter
3-4 tablespoons grated or crushed onion
1 cup flour
6 cups skim milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons pepper
5 cups sharp or combination of sharp and extra sharp cheese
1 ½ cups fresh grated Parmesan
1 pound macaroni

Boil macaroni until al dente. Set aside.
Melt butter. Sauté onion in butter until onion is translucent not brown. Add flour and cook for about two minutes. Add milk and stir with wire whisk. Cook until thickened. Add nutmeg, dried mustard, salt, and pepper. Turn off heat. Add 3 ½ - 4 c. sharp cheddar and 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan. Put in greased 9x13 pan and cover with 1 c. sharp cheddar and ½ c. Parmesan. Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes until lightly browned.

Tips:
-You may add any of the following in the recipe above: sautéed mushrooms, diced tomatoes, diced jalapenos, chopped spinach, chopped broccoli, smoked chicken.
-Also, you may substitute Gouda, smoked Gouda, smoked Cheddar, Swiss, or any other type of cheese you like as part of the cheese. Mild cheddar is not recommended, as the flavor is too bland.
-This is also great as a make ahead dish. Prepare as directed, refrigerate and bake within two days.
-This dish also freezes well. To cook, remove from freezer and keep covered with foil. Bake at 325 for  about 1 hour. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.
 

2/16/12

America's Test Kitchen Spaghetti and Meatballs



Who doesn't love a good spaghetti dinner?  The America's Test Kitchen  recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs intrigued me because it calls for bread soaked in buttermilk, instead of the dried bread crumbs I use in my go-to recipe. The meatballs were extra tender, and the buttermilk added a bit of tang, as the Test Kitchen book promised. Yummy.
If you are looking for the perfect Sunday meal, (which in my opinion includes a good part of the meal prepared ahead) make these Saturday afternoon. After completely cooking the meatballs and preparing the sauce, let the meatballs bathe in the sauce overnight in the fridge.
Trust me, you'll want to double this recipe.
One step closer to the day of rest.





Spaghetti and Meatballs
adapted from America's Test Kitchen
print recipe

Meatballs
2 slices white bread (crusts discarded), torn into small cubes
1/2 cup buttermilk or 6 tablespoons plain yogurt thinned with 2 tablespoons sweet milk
3/4 pound ground beef  ( or 1 pound if omitting ground pork below)
1/4 pound ground pork (to be mixed with ground chuck)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 large egg yolk
1 small clove garlic , minced (1 teaspoon)
3/4 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for pan-frying

Simple Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste

1 pound spaghetti
grated Parmesan for topping pasta

For the meatballs: 
Combine bread and buttermilk in small bowl, mashing occasionally with fork, until smooth paste forms.
Mix all meatball ingredients, including bread mixture and pepper  in medium bowl. Lightly form 2 tablespoons of mixture into 1 1/2-inch round meatballs; repeat with remaining mixture to form approximately 18-20 meatballs. (Compacting them can make the meatballs dense and hard. Can be placed on large plate, covered loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for several hours.)
Meanwhile, heat  about two to three tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat in 10- or 11-inch non stick saute pan. When edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles, add meatballs in single layer. Fry, turning several times, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes, regulating heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking. Transfer browned meatballs to paper towel--lined plate; set aside. Repeat, if necessary, with remaining meatballs.

For the sauce:
Discard oil in pan, leaving behind any browned bits. Add olive oil along with garlic; saute, scraping up any browned bits, just until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, bring to boil, and simmer gently until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in sugar and basil; add salt and pepper to taste. Add meatballs and simmer. Keep warm over low flame.


For pasta:
Heat 4 quarts of water to boiling in a large pot to cook pasta. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water. Follow package directions and cook until al dente, drain, and return to pot until serving. 

Tips:
-This recipe serves about 6 adults. 
- The longer the sauce simmers, the more flavorful the dish will be. Preparing the dish the day before allows for best flavor. This dish may be prepared up to five days before serving. On day of serving, cook pasta and heat up sauce on stove top over low to medium heat for about 45 minutes. 



9/7/11

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach



A few weeks ago, I received an email asking if I wanted to join a group of bloggers (about 50) to post mac and cheese recipes they find on the Internet. Same day, same time, random recipes. The only rule: the recipe had to be found on a blog.

Remember when I told you there were approx 40 THOUSAND food blogs out there?  I think almost every single one of those blogs has a mac and cheese post. How to find a special recipe? One worthy of a mac and cheese challenge? I turned to my cheese drawer, and my good friend Google. In the fridge,  I found some Baby Gouda (still in the wax) that Brookie brought me back from Henri Willig while in Amsterdam.  Also, some white cheddar,  yellow cheddar, and about 7 other types of cheese. Cause you never want to be without at least 10 varieties of cheese in your fridge, right? Just in case. Anyway.  I had eaten some of this special Gouda months ago, but was saving this round for a special occasion. Btw, if you are thinking whaaa? Didn't Brooke go to Europe last year? Answer, yes. But hard, low moisture cheese wrapped in wax stays good indefinitely, so no worries.  I googled Gouda Mac and Cheese and came up with a great little recipe from A Cozy Kitchen .
Result: move over children, this mac and cheese is for grownups.




Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach
adapted from Chase Livengood, a Cozy Kitchen
print recipe


1 lb package short pasta (penne, elbow macaroni, etc) I used large macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
5 cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
8-oz block sharp or regular white cheddar cheese, grated and divided (about 2 cups)
8-oz block smoked Gouda cheese, grated and divided (about 2 cups)
4-oz  medium cheddar cheese, grated and divided ( about 1 cup)
4 oz  regular Gouda cheese, grated and divided (about 1 cup)
2 cups fresh spinach, washed
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, drained


Cook the pasta about 7-8 minutes in boiling salted water, remove when pasta is al dente.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Continue whisking and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Whisking constantly, cook for 5 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat to low and stir in salt, black pepper and most of the cheese, reserving about two cups of cheese. Stir in the fresh spinach and sun dried tomatoes. Remove from heat.

Pour the pasta in a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Spoon the cheese sauce over the pasta. 
Using a large spoon, evenly distribute the sauce without stirring. 
Sprinkle the top with the remaining cup of assorted cheeses.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven, let sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving.



Tips:

- This recipe is easy to half. I halved this recipe, and baked it in a 8 inch casserole. Perfect!
-You may use any combo of cheeses in this recipe, I would not suggest using more than 2 cups of smoked Gouda, the flavor is very distinct, and 2 cups of smoked Gouda goes a long way :)

linked to:






Photobucket



8/12/11

Caesar Pasta Salad




This is my new favorite super simple go-to salad. It came about when I was making a salad for a missionary farewell a few months ago.  Farewell food is kind of like funeral food. It has to be able to stand up to sitting on a table for a while without wilting or melting. It has to appeal to a large crowd, young and old.  And doubling or tripling the recipe should be easy.  I know your Aunt Edna's gonna love it.





Caesar Pasta Salad
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

1 lb pasta, any shape (I like Radiatore) cooked al dente
1 envelope Good Seasons Italian dressing, dry
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halve them if you like
2 large or 6 hearts of Romaine lettuce, washed, chopped
4 cups croutons, home made or store bought
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese*
1/2 to 3/4  (32 oz) bottle Cardinis Original Caesar Dressing*, refrigerated before using if possible

Make ahead- if possible, the night before serving:
Place cooked pasta in a bowl.  Sprinkle with dry Good Seasons Italian dressing and about 1/2 cup of the bottled Cardinis dressing.  Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, before serving:
Place the prepared pasta, grape tomatoes, chopped lettuce, croutons and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl.  Toss with about 1/2 of the bottle of dressing.  Let sit for a few minutes, add additional dressing to taste just before serving.

Tips:
-I purchase the grape tomatoes, Romaine, croutons, Parmesan cheese and Cardini's dressing at Costco.
-*I usually prefer fresh grated Parmesan, but in this case, I like the bagged grated Parmesan. It holds up better and won't "fade" into the salad. A big bag will last forever, and can be frozen, if needed.  Found in the refrigerator section next to other bagged, grated cheese.
-*If you can't find Cardini's, any other name brand of Caesar dressing will work. Also, it's best to refrigerate the salad dressing before adding to the salad. Helps keep the salad cooler.
-If grape or cherry tomatoes aren't available or too expensive, use chopped Roma tomatoes instead.
-Adding chopped or sliced chicken makes this a nice main dish salad.
-This makes a huge salad, enough to serve about 30-40 as a side dish. Depending on how polite your peeps are.

8/1/11

Mango Chicken Pasta Salad with Tarragon Lime Dressing




We have this cute little place called Plates and Palates in Bountiful. Not Plates and Pilates (what everyone thinks it's called until they realize its  a restaurant, not a workout studio).   Plates and Palates. It's locally owned and operated by Jared, Justin and Nina Christensen. Their shop has been a popular lunch spot for girlfriends in Davis County  since 2004. They make all of their salads and dressings in the shop each day. My usual combo is a half green (usually Pear and Pecan with Sweet Red Wine Vinaigrette) along with half of one of their pasta salads. My favorite pasta salads are the Mango Avocado Chicken with Basil Dressing or the Lemon Bowtie with Tarragon Dressing. This salad is my creation,  a combo of the two, with a little bit lighter version of their dressing. You know how crazy I am about sweet and savory together, I loved the way the flavors all blend. Perfect for a summer bbq.
Oh and if you are in Btown, make sure to stop by and have lunch or take-out from Plates. They treat everyone like family... you'll be feeling like a local in no time.






Mango Chicken Pasta Salad with Tarragon Lime Dressing
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

3/4 lb bow tie pasta
1 1/2 cup chopped celery
1 bunch chopped green onion, green parts only
3 cups seedless grapes, red or green
1 ripe mango, cubed
1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked, cubed, (about 2 cups)
1-2 avocados, chopped
slivered almonds, toasted, optional

Tarragon Lime Dressing:
1 1/4 cups mayo (not low fat)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2-3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dried tarragon or 1/4 cup fresh chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta as directed on package.  Drain and rinse with cold water, set aside to cool.
Prepare the dressing by mixing all ingredients in a bowl. If you are using fresh herbs, place ingredients in a blender and blend until herbs are chopped fine.  Pour half of the dressing over the pasta and place in the refrigerator overnight if possible, or for at least 2 hours.
Place chopped celery, green onion, grapes, mango and chicken in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.
To assemble, place three quarters of the vegetable, mango and chicken mixture in the bowl with the pasta that has been mixed with dressing. Most of the dressing will have been absorbed into the cooked pasta.
Toss in the remaining half of dressing.
Place the pasta mixture on a serving platter or bowl and top with the remaining vegetable, chicken and fruit mixture, and chopped avocado.  Top with almonds.

Tips:
-I think tossing the pasta with the dressing and letting it rest in the fridge allows the flavors soak into the pasta. If you don't have time for that, just mix up the salad and let the pasta sit in the dressing for at least a half hour. Then proceed as directed.
-If you want make a  fresh basil-lime dressing, just sub 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves for the tarragon.
-I made this up with 1 lb pasta originally, but thought the veggie to pasta ratio was a bit on the heavy side for the pasta, so I reduced the amount of pasta in this recipe to 3/4 lb.
-Did I mention Plates and Palates caters? If you are not the cooking type, you can purchase a whole BOWL of salad for your next gathering at a very reasonable price :) 

6/5/11

Orzo, Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette





For some unknown reason, I feel the need to have an orzo salad with our Easter meal. Why orzo? Why at Easter? We don't really need to answer these questions.    Information that actually might be useful: Orzo is a small rice shaped pasta.  It comes in different sizes, some look more flat and like short grain rice. Other varieties of orzo are more similar to a piece of long grain rice. I prefer the longer, thinner shape. It's not rice, just pasta shaped like rice. Find it in the pasta section of your grocery.

The Easter orzo salad changes a little each year. I love shrimp, orzo and vegetables together. I tried a new recipe this year, and everyone agreed it's a keeper. I know you're going to love it too.





Orzo, Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette
Adapted from Bon Appetite 2008
print recipe

8 ounces orzo (about 1 1/3 cups)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium zucchini or summer squash (about 9 ounces total), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 red or yellow bell pepper, quartered
3 tablespoons purchased pesto
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 cups tomatoes, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups) or 2 cups grape tomatoes, slice in half
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves plus sprigs for garnish
1 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped

Cook orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well. Transfer to large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon oil.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush zucchini and bell pepper with 2 tablespoons olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk pesto, lime juice, remaining 4  tablespoons oil, and remaining 1-2 tablespoons vinegar in small bowl for pesto vinaigrette. Place shrimp in medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons pesto vinaigrette; toss to coat.
Grill zucchini and bell pepper until crisp tender, about 2 minutes per side for zucchini and 3 minutes per side for bell pepper. Transfer to work surface. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper; grill until charred and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place shrimp in bowl with orzo. Chop zucchini and bell pepper; add to bowl with orzo. Add remaining vinaigrette, tomatoes, sliced basil, and mozzarella; toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Garnish with basil sprigs and serve cold or at room temperature.
Serves 4-6 as a side salad
This can be made ahead and kept in refrigerator for up to a day before serving. 


Tips:
-This can be prepared without a grill. If you have a convection oven, turn the heat to about 425 and cook just until vegetables start to turn golden. You may cook the shrimp in the oven as well, or saute in a pan on the stove. The flavors are definitely better when the vegetables ad shrimp are grilled on a barbecue grill.
-Don't overcook the vegetables.  They should be barely softened when cooked properly. 

4/16/11

Pasta with Creamed Leek and Spinach






It's baseball season again.  Caught me by surprise, again.  You would think I'd get the hang of this after years and years of boys playing ball, but it always sneaks up on me. The first night of the regular season, there I was sitting at a game, 7 PM, eating mini Reese's and Red Vines for dinner.  Then, the "after meal" on our way home at 9:30.  The choices were fast food and fast food.
Ok, so now I'm resolved to get my act together.  Either start dinner early in the day, in a slow cooker, or find some quick and easy meals to make. I found this one in a new cookbook "Food and Wine Annual Recipes 2011".  It's a compilation of all of the recipes found in their 2010 magazines.  Remember this recipe for Sweet Potato Meringue Pie with Ginger Pecan Crust we made in November?  Same magazine.  Wonderful recipes.  I threw this dish together in a matter of minutes. Served it with a simple salad and bread.  The guys liked it so much they ate seconds when we returned from the game.  This is my kind of fast food.





Pasta with Creamed Leek and Spinach
Food and Wine Magazine 2010
print recipe

3/4 pound fusilli, penne, ziti or other pasta
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups packed baby spinach 4 oz, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup lightly packed basil leaves, finely chopped
pinch of nutmeg, optional
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
shaved Parmesan

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta al dente, drain, reserving a bit of the water for thinning sauce.
Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet, heat the oil.  Add the chopped leek and cook over moderate heat until softened about 10 minutes.  Add the cream and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss over medium low heat until the pasta is coated with the sauce.  Remove from heat and add the basil.  Season with salt pepper and nutmeg if desired. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little bit of the warm pasta water to thin the sauce.  Top with fresh Parmesan cheese.

Tips:
-This is a creamy and rich dish, if you want to cut some of the calories, you may use half and half.  The sauce will not be as thick, but the flavor will still be great.
-To shave the Parmesan cheese,  simply lay the wedge of cheese on a cutting board and take a sharp knife and run it from the top to the bottom of the piece of cheese.  The cheese will come off in large pieces.
-Great side to serve with chicken or fish.

1/10/11

Barefoot Contessa Capellini with Tomatoes and Basil







The Recovery Room. That's what our family room has been for the past 6 days. Started with Brooke's sinus surgery. Two days later, Stephen had his tonsils removed. Ouch. Lots of time together on the twin sofas. Loads of cold drinks, soft food, Kleenex, ice cream, movies, straws, visitors, Slurpees, Concretes and Rainbows (Btown treats). 
Now that I'm a pretend nurse, and a teacher (did I tell you Jake has been homeschooling since mid November??) cooking time is a bit more limited. Found this recipe in House Beautiful magazine and knew I would love it. Why?  It made the cut for ABK's "Seriously Simple" category. It takes about 10-15 minutes, pan to table. And it's absolutely delicious. 
Made this last night, for the second time in a week. 
New favorite dish: this is it. 





See this tool? It's called a microplane grater.
If you don't have one, you need one. Now.














Capellini with Tomatoes and Basil
adapted from Ina Garten
print recipe

7/8/10

Alton Brown's Baked Mac and Cheese



Alton Brown. Like most FN stars, you either love or hate him. I love his quirky show. He is kind of the Cooks Illustrated aka Test Kitchen of the FN. Does it bug you that I like to abbreviate? My friend KD likes it, I like it, it saves time, and causes you to think- "Why does she do this?" Or "What does FN stand for?"
So I'm going to keep doing it.
Anyway. I usually make the Foster Family version of Mac and cheese, but thought the panko topping on this recipe looked yummy, and gave it a try. I learned something while reading the notes on this recipe. Have we talked about this before? Warning! Long ramble on comments: When you get a recipe off of the WWW, always look to see if there are any comments from cooks who have tried the recipe. Some of the comments need to be taken with a grain of salt (haha just realized this is a pun on the following ramble) - you know, kind of like when you read reviews on Trip Advisor (love that site). Some comments are really helpful. If I read a recipe with multiple negative reviews, I steer clear. If you read over and over that a cube of butter can be left out with great results, prob true. So when I read a few pages of reviews on this recipe (there were over 1200), some readers stated the recipe was bland. Then I read a comment about salt in the water. This cook suggested that salting the water meant salting it to the point where it was like SEA water. Ok, well, I spent some time at the ocean recently, and got a little of that in my mouth. I can tell you this. I never salt my pasta water that much. So this time, I did. And it made a difference. Thanks commenter lady. You helped me become a better cook today.
Oh btw - you are going to love this dish. Creamy, cheesy (but not in a sick, processed cheese kind of way) and a little crunchy with the Panko topping.





Alton Brown's Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Food Network
print recipe

1/2 pound elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced*
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

Topping:
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

For Topping:
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Tips:

- *I minced the onion, bc I was making it for a family with younger kids, who I thought might not like onions, I could not detect the onions in the dish after baking.
-To learn how to temper an egg into hot liquid, click on this link for a nifty video tutorial.
or read this: When egg yolks are added into a hot mixture, to help ensure that they do not suddenly cook or scramble, a technique called tampering is used. With a ladle, gradually add about 1 cup of the hot mixture into egg yolks, mixture constantly. Then, add egg yolk mixture to mixture in pan and continue cooking according to the recipe.

3/16/10

Spinach, Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad







Loved reading all of your thoughts about Spring! Winner of the "Bliss" cookbook is Leanne, who said:

"My very favorite thing about Spring is the parallel it draws from Winter---Winter allows the rain and snow, for a couple of months, from dark, threatening clouds. Then, as if nothing ever happened, we rise to a perfectly sunny, cloudless day. A lovely, clean slate from the seemingly neverending cold. Forgiveness.It is my favorite time of year."

Beautifully said, Leann!

Spring always steers me in the direction of salad instead of soup. Found this recipe years ago in the cookbook "Favorites". It's another local cookbook, put together by the Ivory family. If you live in our neck of the woods, the Ivory Homes name is familiar. I talked to one of the authors right after she finished this book and she told me it was a compilation of family and friend recipes they had used and grown to love over the years. They originally printed the cookbook for giving to family, and quickly had requests for so many they decided to do a second printing. Ten years later, they are still printing and donating the proceeds to the Make A Wish Foundation. It's available here.
I made this salad last week, much to my son's dismay. Fruit in pasta salad? They hate it.
I love it.
They would, on the other hand, rather eat a frozen (breakfast) burrito (yes, for dinner). Personally, I would rather gnaw my hand off, than eat one of those burritos.

Happy Spring!



Spinach, Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad
adapted from Favorites, A Collection of Ivory Family Recipes

Pasta:
16 oz Bowtie pasta, cooked al dente

Dressing:
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2/3 cup teriyaki sauce
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Salad:
1 1/2 bags fresh spinach (about 8 cups)
1- 6 oz bag craisins
3- 11 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained
2-8 oz cans sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped, green part only
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 small can honey roasted peanuts or cashews (about 2 cups)
2-3 cups cooked chicken, cut into slices

Blend dressing ingredients together in blender or food processor. Mix dressing and cooked pasta in medium bowl and marinate for two hours. Combine rest of salad dressing (except nuts) in large salad bowl, add pasta and dressing and toss gently.
Add nuts just before serving.

Tips:
-I like to marinate the chicken in about 1 cup of teriyaki sauce overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the chicken and discard the sauce. Broil the chicken for about 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before adding to salad.
-"Very Very Teriyaki" is my favorite sauce. If using this brand, reduce the amount of teriyaki sauce to 1/3 cup. Make sure to shake the bottle well before using.
_ I usually skip marinating the pasta after it is cooked, I like the pasta to be lighter in color, and the chicken to have a darker color.

2/4/10

Cook's Illustrated Baked Ziti






I've tried several recipes similar to this, and I believe the Cook's people got it right, again. Perfect Baked Ziti. If you haven't read the article, here it is.



"...Most versions seem like they went directly from the pantry into the oven, calling for little more than cooked pasta, jarred tomato sauce, a container of ricotta, and some preshredded cheese. The results—overcooked ziti in a dull, grainy sauce topped with a rubbery mass of mozzarella—more than earn the dish its reputation as mediocre church-supper fare."

YIKES. (My commentary)

The Goal
To make this dish the way it’s meant to be—with perfectly al dente pasta, a rich and flavorful sauce, and melted cheese in every bite.

The Solution
We didn’t want to spend all day hovering over a pot of stewing tomatoes, so we needed a sauce that was big on flavor and light on prep. Most “quick” tomato sauces call for sweating garlic in olive oil before adding some type of tomato product. Whole canned tomatoes and crushed tomatoes both had good flavor but took time to cook down. To speed things up, we added a can of diced tomatoes. Next, fresh basil added rich, aromatic savor, but more herbs were essential. In the test kitchen, we usually opt for fresh herbs, but for convenience and without sacrificing flavor, we chose dried oregano. Just when the tomato sauce seemed perfect, we added ricotta, and a familiar problem reared its head: Rather than baking up creamy and rich, the ricotta was grainy and dulled the sauce. A different dairy product was clearly in order.

First we tried cottage cheese, and, to our surprise, it was a success. Its pillowy curds have a texture similar to ricotta, but creamier and tangier. And since cottage cheese curds are bigger, they bake up with none of ricotta’s graininess. For our next batch, we boosted the flavor by combining the cottage cheese with eggs, Parmesan, and heavy cream thickened with a bit of cornstarch. Adding this milky, tangy mixture to the tomato sauce produced a sauce that was bright, rich, and creamy—all at the same time.

As for the pasta, most recipes cook the ziti in boiling water until al dente before tossing it with the sauce and baking. But pasta continues to absorb sauce as it bakes, with two drawbacks: overcooked pasta and sauce that has been robbed of moisture. We found that cooking the pasta for about half the cooking time that most recipes call for and with nearly twice the amount of sauce yielded perfectly al dente pasta in the baked dish with plenty of sauce left to keep the whole thing moist.

The remaining question was how to deal with the cheese. Grated cheese congeals into a mass that makes the dish unappetizing and difficult to portion. Instead of shredding the mozzarella, we cut it into small cubes—reasoning that they would melt into distinct but delectable little pockets of cheese—and mixed half of the cheese with the sauce just before adding it to the pasta, then sprinkled the rest over the top. This strategy yielded a hot, bubbly success. The cubes on top remained perfectly distributed, and the casserole below was dotted with gooey bits of cheese."


Me again. Absolutely delish. I loved it. Grant loved it. The boys loved it. Hardly any leftovers. That pretty much says it all.





Cook's Illustrated Baked Ziti

Note: The test kitchen prefers baked ziti made with heavy cream, but whole milk can be substituted by increasing the amount of cornstarch to 2 teaspoons and increasing the cooking time in step 3 by 1 to 2 minutes. Our preferred brand of mozzarella is Dragone Whole Milk Mozzarella. Part-skim mozzarella can also be used, but avoid preshredded cheese, as it does not melt well.

1 pound whole milk cottage cheese or 1 percent cottage cheese
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
Table salt
1 pound ziti or other short, tubular pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves , minced
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander (do not wash Dutch oven).

2. Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.

3. Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl; transfer mixture to now-empty Dutch oven set over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and ¾ cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.

4. Transfer pasta mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

5. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

Tips:
- Use fresh grated Parmesan.
-I used regular, not heavy cream.
-Not a huge garlic fan, so I only used about 1 clove.


1/27/10

Sheri's Greek Pasta Salad



Yum yum. Loved this pasta salad recipe from Sheri. Cook the pasta while chopping the veggies and mixing the dressing. Full of flavor and color. Takes about 1/2 hour tops-start to finish. I know you're gonna love it too.




Sheri's Greek Pasta Salad
print recipe

salad:
1 lb. small- shell shaped pasta
1 cup diced celery
1 lg can (small or medium) pitted olives, drained well
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
3 green onions, chopped
3 tomatoes seeded and chopped,
or 8 oz grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, optional
8-10 oz. crumbled feta (reserve some for topping salad)

dressing:
1 cup prepared Zesty Italian dressing
1 cup mayo
1 tablespoon oregano

Cook pasta according to package directions, taking care to not overcook. Rinse with cold water and drain well.
Add celery, olives, cucumber, green onions, and tomatoes to pasta in large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing, mayo, oregano and pepper. Fold dressing and cheeses into pasta- vegetable mixture. Add tomatoes, folding in gently. Sprinkle reserved feta on top of salad before serving.

Tips:
-I used about 2/3 of the dressing. I think next time I'll cut the mayo to 1/2 cup and try 1 1/4 cup Italian dressing.
-Best to make and let sit for a couple of hours in refridge.
-I used about 1 1/2 lbs pasta total.
-the large can of olives have "6 oz drained weight" label on front of can.

10/26/09

Sheri's Pesto Veggie Lasagna






A few weeks ago Sheri made this dish for a soccer team dinner. The girls on the team loved it. I figured if they loved it, maybe my boys would love it too. So I got to work on Saturday night, and made a pan for Sunday. You know, the day of rest. All of those veggies, layers of cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan. Tomatoes. Pesto. Yum, the pesto totally sets this dish apart from other veggie pasta dishes. Gave the ricotta layer a nice flavor boost. As I was putting it together, I thought- am I going to hear crying from the boys (like they are girls) when they discover this is an all veggie lasagna? Arrrrrgh. So, being the perfect mother I am, and part psychic, I made half vegetablearian (I know, not a word) and half sausage. Sunday comes. I bake up the dish. What is this, they ask? I tell them. Uh. "NO MEAT?" They say.
"No, it's a veggie lasagna and you are going to love it" I say. They are all giving each other "the look". Finally I admit I hedged and made half with meat. I tell them if they would try the veggie side, they would love it! Grant looks at me and says (in his Neanderthal way):
"We like meat because we are Carnivores."
Oh, really. Wow. Revelation.






Sheri's Pesto Veggie Lasagna

Sauce:
1 sweet medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-15 oz cans of tomato sauce
1- 6 oz can tomato paste
1- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons basil
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
pepper
6 drops hot pepper sauce, optional

Other filling ingredients:
8-10 mushrooms, medium, washed and sliced
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3-4 cups fresh spinach, washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 3/4 cups Ricotta cheese
1 egg
7-8 oz pesto (Sheri uses about 1 1/2 cups)*
1 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan, grated
1 cup grated mozzarella, for top of lasagna
1 box no boil lasagna pasta

Combine olive oil and one chopped onion in large saucepan over medium high heat. Cook just until onion is softened about 5 minutes. Add rest of ingredients, turn down heat and simmer while preparing rest of dish.
In another skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat, add mushrooms, saute until lightly browned. Remove from pan and place in bowl. Saute chopped onion and red pepper until softened, about 5 minutes. Add onion back to skillet, and toss in spinach. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the spinach starts to lose shape, but is not completely wilted. The spinach will continue to cook in the oven. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium size bowl, whisk together the Ricotta cheese, egg, and pesto. Slice the fresh mozzarella and set aside.
Spray a 9x13 pan with Cooking spray. Cover the bottom of the pan with about 3/4 cup of the sauce. Spread around until sauce is covering the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of the lasagna noodles across the pan. Do not overlap the noodles, they will expand when baking. Place the pasta three across. There will be a little gap between the edge of the pasta and the pan. Layer the lasagna as follows:

pasta
1/2 of ricotta mixture
1/3 of remaining sauce
1/2 of vegetable mixture
1/2 of sliced cheese
3 more sheets of pasta
repeat layers and end with sauce layer on top

Cover pan with foil. Place in refrigerator overnight if using next day, or you may freeze at this point. When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator, and let sit on counter for 1/2 to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil. Bake an additional 15 minutes until hot and bubbly. Top with remaining 1 1/2 cups of combined grated Parmesan and mozzarella. Broil or set oven to convection bake until cheese on top is slightly golden.
Remove from oven, and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing.

Tips:
-*Sheri uses pesto to give more flavor to the veggie based lasagna. I loved it. She buys the Costco pesto and uses about half of the container, which I love, but didn't have any in my fridge and didn't want to make another trip to COSTCO just for pesto, cause you know then it would have cost me $100 (at least) for that one jar of pesto, bc you can't buy just one item at Costco. Instead, I bought a 7 oz container of Butoni pesto in the refrigerated section at my local grocery.
-If you aren't into the no-bake pasta( I like it because it is thinner than the traditional style lasagna that needs boiling) you may use traditional style and boil the pasta. Assemble and bake the same.
-If freezing the dish for later baking, cover with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze. Remove from freezer when ready to bake. Remove plastic wrap and replace foil. Bake for about 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove foil about last 30 minutes of baking. Top with last layer of cheese just before broiling.

8/19/09

Orecchiette with Fresh Mozzarella, Pear Tomatoes and Garlic Chives




I took one look at this recipe and knew I had to make this salad. The only problem was - well two problems. One - no garden= no tomatoes. Especially no pear tomatoes. This is where great neighbors come in. A call to the Farr's. Beg their girls to go out into the garden and see if any of those cute little pear or cherry tomatoes are ripe. Problem solved. Second problem: Read the recipe and look at the ingredients really fast, and you might think this is a SALAD recipe. It looks like a salad in the pic in August Bon Appetit. Re-read the recipe. A little more carefully this time. Right before making dinner. This is not a salad, but is a hot dish. Oh well. I decided to go with my vision, and make it as a salad. Loved it. Hopefully, you have neighbors like the Farr's, or maybe you grow your own pear tomatoes. If not, you are missing out. Big time. This salad is so yummy. Fresh. Hurry summer is slipping away...




Orecchiette with Fresh Mozzarella, Pear Tomatoes and Garlic Chives

10 Oz Orecchiette (little ear shaped pasta, about 3 cups uncooked)
1 pound fresh mini mozzarella balls (found these at Costco)
1 pound grape or pear tomatoes, red and yellow if available
8-10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6-8 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons minced fresh garlic chives or regular chives* see note below
4 tablespoons minced fresh oregano

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain, and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Pour into large bowl, and add all of the remaining ingredients. Season with kosher salt and lots of fresh ground pepper.

Tips:

-I added extra oil and vinegar to the pasta after the salad sat for a while. The pasta absorbs the oil and vinegar, and becomes a little dry.
-Using a white balsamic is important, if using red, it will discolor the pasta and cheese. White balsamic is found in Italian markets, and in some grocery stores.
-*Note that the recipe calls for 5 tablespoons minced garlic or regular CHIVES,
not 5 tablespoons of garlic.