Greek Salad

When my best friend Kristin studied abroad in Greece the summer before our senior year of college, she came back obsessed with Greek salads. I never really got it, because Greek salads in America are all canned olives, sub par feta, and probably contain lettuce and some kind of funky dressing. Well…Tim and I just got back from Greece, and I totally get it now. I am obsessed, I can’t get enough, I’ve had Greek salad (and only Greek salad) for dinner three nights in a row.

While we don’t have a Greek market in Paso, I have found olives and feta at the grocery store, and they have been more than acceptable (though still subpar to their official Greek counterparts). The trick is, apparently, to just buy the most expensive olives and feta that you can find. I think this Greek salad habit is going to get pricey…

The Greek word for what we call Greek Salad translates into “House Salad,” and as such, we had it prepared in many different ways. With green peppers and without, Feta crumbled or sliced or cubed, with parsley or without, already dressed or served with oil on the side… The salad in the bottom right photo was topped with capers (still attached to their leaves) that the owner had picked and jarred himself – they were amazing!

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Warm Grilled Shrimp, Zucchini and Orzo Salad

I made this delicious warm pasta salad right before we left for Europe, thinking that I’d get a little Greek going on before we got there (feta, seafood, lemon, herbs…). If vacation turns out the way I’ve imagined it, I might be eating something just like this as you are reading – probably something even better.

I adapted this salad from this Ina Garten recipe. She developed the salad to be served cold, but my version was delicious hot (and cold as well – the leftovers are amazing!). A few changes: I used grilled zucchini instead of raw cucumber, and left out the dill and red onion (I realize all of these changes make it less Greek…that’s okay). I halved the original recipe and, even with three people, we had a ton of leftovers.

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Root Veggies and Wild Rice

roots for roastin'

So I got my wisdom tooth out this morning! I only had one, which is on the rare side. Did you know you can get FIVE? Oh my gosh…I woke up from a long nap this morning and started to cry because it hurt so badly…I don’t think I’d be able to handle more than one! Anyway, Brian took fabulous care of me and I basically just slept all day…so all in all, I survived.

If you’ve ever had any kind of surgery or been put under anesthesia, you know there are some rules. You can’t drink any alcohol the night before, which is a HUGE bummer when you’re nervous and just want a simple glass of wine! You also can’t eat or drink anything for a varying amount of time the night before – I couldn’t eat from midnight on.

Because I always think about food and don’t like being hungry, I knew I needed a nice filling dinner. Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks had just posted this recipe for Autumn Potato Salad, so using that as an inspiration, I came home from class and got roasting!

Fun fact: I had never tried a parsnip before last night. They’re good! Reminded me of a combination of a yucca and a plaintain…weird I know!

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Caprese Salad

caprese stack

I know making a Caprese Salad is probably nothing new to you.  There are probably millions of recipes just like this; I know you’ve seen probably 6,000 photos that look just like these.

However.

Let us not forget that Caprese Salad is a perfect light snack.  It is a perfect summer appetizer.  It is a perfect sandwich filling, spread out between a nice loaf of crusty bread.  It can be chopped.  In its skewered cherry tomato and Ciliegine (cherry-sized) mozzarella form, it becomes the cutest appetizer ever.  It can fill a small dish or an entire bowl.  It is healthy – tomatoes and olive oil are wonderful for your body, and fresh mozzarella is low-calorie and low-fat compared to many cheeses.

You get the idea – it’s versatile, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like it.  Let’s begin.

caprese arial

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Breadless Bruschetta

bruschetta

You might argue that bread is what makes bruschetta – actually, I wouldn’t dispute that. However, sometimes, when you’ve been baking many delicious treats…containing lots of delicious butter, sugar, and flour…you realize you might want to cut back or you’re going to end up with a belly.  I won’t name any names.

Technically, this should be called a tomato salad.  But who wants to get technical?

This recipe is a way to get all the flavor of bruschetta without any of the guilt or empty calories – just the healthy stuff!  Also, it’s a great way to use up the delicious tomatoes that are probably abundant in your garden right about now.  It only takes about five minutes to make!

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Tortellini Salad

Tortellini Salad

I’ve never been a pasta salad fan, and when I think about it I think pasta and funky vegetables all covered in a thick mayo dressing…the last thing I want on a hot day is a bunch of fat weighing me down! This salad is different.  It is fairly light (it is still pasta and cheese, but no heavy dressing!), and served cool or at room temperature, and I find it to be very refreshing alongside something hot off the grill.  It is also perfect for a light dinner on an evening in the park.

This tortellini salad has been a favorite of mine my whole life.  The recipe is my mom’s, and I remember it from countless picnics and school lunches.  It’s always a hit and it’s very easy to throw together.  I made it for the Fourth of July, and everyone enjoyed it!

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