Summer Tortellini Salad

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I love a really good tortellini salad. Not only are they flavorful and delicious but they are so easy to make as well. There is an Italian deli by me that makes a great tortellini salad but at $7/lb it’s a little pricey for my taste. Instead, I make my own which is just as yummy and way more wallet friendly. Plus, it feeds a crowd!

This is one of those recipes where you just need to eyeball everything and adjust to your liking. You really do not need to measure AT ALL which is why this recipe is a cinch to make. Plus, you can add in or take out anything you wish. Don’t love olives? Drop them! Like a lot of onion? Add more in! Prefer a drier salad? Use less oil! There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this tortellini salad, just go with your gut and play around with the flavors until you’re happy with how it tastes.

I really love this salad as a side dish to my BBQ meals in the summer but it also makes an awesome light lunch as well. You can even throw in a little grilled chicken and fresh mozzarella and now you have an easy summer dinner or picnic lunch. You can serve it cold or at room temperature however, I prefer it somewhere in between. When the salad is too cold, you lose some of the flavor. Allowing it to sit at room temperature for just a bit before serving really allows all of the flavors to pop. Keep a little extra oil on hand as it tends to dry up just a bit in the fridge, add some oil and toss just before serving. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs cheese tortellini, cooked al dente and cooled
  • 1 can of large black olives, sliced thick
  • 1/2 lb Sicilian cracked olives, pits removed and roughly torn
  • Oil from the Sicilian cracked olives
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, sliced
  • Handful of fresh torn parsley
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

In a large bowl, add the cheese tortellini, black olives, Sicilian olives, red onion, red pepper and torn parsley. Drizzle the reserved oil from the Sicilian olives all over the salad. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and a healthy amount of ground black pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Adjust seasonings as needed and allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes prior to serving so that the flavors can come together. Serve cold or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.

**Tip – If you do not like Sicilian cracked olives, use plain extra virgin olive oil on the salad. Alternatively, you can also toss the salad with a homemade or store-bought vinaigrette or Italian dressing.**

 

American Potato Salad

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I am SUPER PICKY about store-bought potato salads because they tend to be overly drenched in mayonnaise, too mushy or just completely flavorless. This recipe is hands down the BEST mayo based potato salad I’ve ever had and so easy to make that I’ll never buy store-bought again. EVER.

As with a few other recipes on my site, this one also comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook 10th Anniversary Edition: Every Recipe and Every Review From All Ten Seasons. If you have to add one cookbook to your collection let this be the one. I’ve made so many recipes from it and ALL of them have been “spot on“. For those who are a little hesitant in the kitchen, if offers really great tips, information and very clear step-by-step instructions. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with this purchase.

This recipe calls for the use of Yukon Gold potatoes which are my absolute favorite potato, especially for mashed potatoes. They are a rich golden color with a buttery delicious flavor that is hands down superior to other varieties. While you can substitute in another potato such as a Red Bliss, I highly recommend sticking with the Yukon Gold, they are a standout.

Instead of using dill pickles, as suggested in the recipe, I went for Kosher Dills because I love the flavorful garlic kick they offer. You can opt to use any pickle you wish, for a sweeter flavor try baby gherkins. Using the pickle juice in this recipe gives the potatoes a nice tangy and lightly sweet taste as opposed to the harsh flavor of plain vinegar. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 large hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 3 tbs dill pickle juice plus 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced

Instructions

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, add 1 tsp Kosher salt and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. A sharp knife should easily pierce through the potato without causing it to crumble to pieces.

Drain the potatoes thoroughly then spread them out on a small rimmed baking sheet. Mix 2 tbs of pickle juice and mustard together in a small bowl. Drizzle the pickle juice mixture over the potatoes, gently toss to coat and refrigerate until cooled, about 30 minutes.

Mix the remaining 1 tbs of pickle juice, chopped pickles, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, black pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, sour cream, red onion and celery in a large bowl. Toss in the cooled potatoes, cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Gently stir in the chopped eggs just before serving.

**Tip – The potato salad can be kept for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Also, if serving outside on a warm day place the salad bowl over ice to keep it cool and refrigerate soon after serving as the mayo and sour cream can spoil quickly in the heat.**

Grilled Caesar Salad

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I’ve never had a grilled salad before but now that I have, I am sold! This Grilled Casesar Salad was OUT OF THIS WORLD!! It retained the cool crispness you’d expect from a salad but with a slightly warm and deliciously charred taste from the grill. It was perfect in every way. The grilled baguette slices took this salad right over the top! This amazing recipe comes straight out of the The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook 10th Anniversary Edition: Every Recipe and Every Review From All Ten Seasons which is chock full of incredible, easy to make recipes. If you’re interested in expanding your cookbook collection, this one is a must!

This salad relies on hearty toasted bread slices instead of small croutons which are extra yummy and super easy to make however, I didn’t want to waste time oiling the bread at the grill and then rubbing each slice with a garlic clove. Instead, I decided to prepare an garlic infused olive oil that imparts a more intense garlic flavor which I love.

To make garlic infused olive oil – In a small saucepan, pour in some extra-virgin olive oil (I used more than what was called for in the recipe) and toss in a few smashed garlic cloves. Add a little Kosher salt and ground black pepper to the pan. Over medium-high heat bring the oil to sizzling and then remove the pan from the burner and set aside. Allow the garlic to sit in the oil and steep.

When you’re ready to use the garlic oil simply remove the browned garlic pieces and using a pastry brush, coat both sides of the bread slices with the garlic oil. Set aside until you are ready to grill. The bread will toast up beautifully and full of flavor! Just watch it closely once you place it on the grill as it browns quickly.

The only other small change that I made was to use an anchovy paste instead of the fillets. As it’s not an ingredient I use often, the paste is easier to use being that it’s in a tube and it can be stored in the refrigerator for later use. I didn’t measure out the paste, I just used a small squeeze. The flavor of the dressing was perfect, thick and creamy and absolutely delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the dressing

  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed OR small squeeze of anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad

  • 1 (12″ long) baguette, cut on a bias into 1/2″ thick slices
  • 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 romaine lettuce hearts, halved lengthwise through cores
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

For the dressing – Combine lemon juice and garlic in a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Process the mayonnaise, grated cheese, lemon-garlic mixture, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, Kosher salt and pepper in a blender for about 30 seconds. With the blender running, slowly add in the oil. Blend until well combined. Set aside 6 tbs of the dressing to use later on the romaine lettuce.

For the salad – Brush the bread with oil and grill uncovered until browned, about a minute on each side. Transfer to a plate and rub each side with the garlic clove. Set aside.

Brush the cut sides of the romaine lettuce with the reserved dressing. Place the romaine, cut side down, on the grill. Grill uncovered until lightly charred, about 1-2 minutes. Place on a platter, drizzle with remaining dressing and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Serve immediately alongside the grilled bread slices.

Fresh Homemade Bruschetta

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There is nothing I love more in the summertime than fresh homemade bruschetta. It’s light, healthy, flavorful and goes great with so many different foods such as chicken, crusty crostini, fresh mozzarella and more! It’s also one of the easiest things to make and doesn’t require any hard and fast measurements. Everything is done to taste and you really cannot get this wrong, I promise!

The key to really good bruschetta is to start with fresh, perfectly ripe ingredients. You want to choose beautifully ripened, juicy, red tomatoes as well as crisp red onions and fresh, bright basil. The better the ingredients, the better the bruschetta! Once you have your veggies the only other ingredients you’ll need are Kosher salt, ground black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and a good balsamic vinegar. That’s it! Super simple, super delicious. If I have it on hand, I will sometimes stir in a few teaspoons of homemade pesto too!

I LOVE to eat bruschetta on top of a good, crusty crostini brushed with olive oil and fresh garlic. It is so good and flavorful and a great summer appetizer! I also love it on top of grilled chicken or on thick slices of fresh mozzarella. It’s even delicious tossed with a little fresh pasta and served chilled. Bruschetta is the perfect accompaniment to so many of your summer dishes, it’ll really brighten almost any meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 4-5 ripened tomatoes, any variety 
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • handful of fresh basil, torn
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • few teaspoons of fresh pesto, optional

Instructions

Dice the fresh tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Add the diced red onion and torn basil. Add Kosher salt, ground black pepper, a little drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Gently toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Can be served cold or at room temperature.

**Tip – The longer you let the bruschetta sit, the more the flavors will come together resulting in a more flavorful bite.**

Fresh Summer Corn Salad

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A few summers ago a friend of mine brought this amazing fresh corn salad to a BBQ and it was love at first bite! This dish is everything a summer salad should be, it’s light, fresh, and so flavorful. It’s a great side dish for burgers, sausages, steak, and other grilled meat. I really enjoy it because it’s a nice change of pace from the standard grilled corn on the cob and it’s also very easy to pull together.

This recipe for Fresh Corn Salad comes from Ina Garten and in all the times that I have made this dish I have followed it exactly except to also add in a small, finely diced, red pepper. I like the extra little crunch and flavor that the pepper brings to the salad. You can also try substituting in other flavored vinegar however, I think the sweetness that is added from the apple cider vinegar is perfect so I’ve stuck with that.

When making this salad, be sure to not overcook the corn, you’re just looking to cook out the starchiness but you want it to stay nice and crisp, not mushy and chewy. Three minutes in boiling water is all you need and then immediately place the cobs of corn in ice-cold water to stop the cooking and set the color. This dish can be served at room temperature but I think it’s better when it’s nice and cold so that the veggies keep their firm crisp texture.

Ingredients

  • 5 ears of corn
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 1 finely diced small red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves

Instructions

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until all of the starchiness is gone. Drain and place the corn in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and set the color. Once the corn is completely cooled, cut all of the kernels off of the cob cutting as close to the cob as possible.

In a large bowl, toss the kernels with the red onion, red pepper, apple cider vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil and combine. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Quick and Easy Coleslaw

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True story. I love coleslaw but I hate mayonnaise which is a bit of an issue when you buy a store made coleslaw. They are usually drenched, mushy, soaking in liquid and taste like mayo and pretty much nothing else. I find it wholly unappetizing which is why I’ve tried out countless homemade versions in an attempt to find one that is on the drier side, remains crunchy, and has a flavor profile that extends beyond just mayo. Enter my “Quick and Easy Coleslaw“.

I am not really sure how or where I came across the original recipe but I’ve tinkered with it so many times now using ideas from various other coleslaw recipes that at this point, I’m taking all of the credit for this one! This recipe is super easy, and I do mean SUPER EASY, to make. You can pull it all together in just a few minutes and instead of “who knows how old it is store bought coleslaw” you can serve this crunchy, fresh one at your next BBQ or get together.

Ingredients

  • One bag of coleslaw mix (you can find this with the bagged salad mixes in the produce dept)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbs fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

Whisk together the mayo, sugar, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper until smooth and well combined. Toss with the bagged coleslaw mix until evenly coated. Let the coleslaw chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the flavors can combine. Serve cold. This will keep about 2-3 days in the fridge.

**TIP** – The bagged coleslaw mixes are great but I have found that on occasion the pieces aren’t shredded enough and I don’t care for huge pieces of cabbage in my coleslaw. To fix this, I simply use my kitchen shears and snip the coleslaw while it’s in the bowl (before pouring the dressing on it) until I’m happy with the size and shred. 

 

Great Grandma’s Italian Potato Salad

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This potato salad is one that I grew up on as a child and has been handed down through the years from generation to generation. To this day, it’s still a staple at every, single family BBQ that we have.  In fact, it was one of those dishes that we looked forward to the most at mealtime. It wasn’t a BBQ without Great Grandma’s Italian Potato Salad on hand!

In keeping with tradition, I made this tonight as a side to my BBQ chicken breasts and as usual, it was a hit. Even my 4 year old son who happens to be a fairly picky eater (thought not as bad as my daughter) finally gave in and tried this for the first time. He LOVED it and devoured over 3 helpings of potato salad. It’s a very simple and basic recipe and unlike other potato salads it does not include mayo. Instead, it’s generously seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little oregano. This potato salad goes great with pretty much anything you can think to grill up. In particular, it’s the perfect side dish for burgers, hot dogs, and chicken but it’s even delicious all on its own. Enjoy!

Ingredients 

  • Yukon Gold potatoes, about 3-3.5 lbs
  • 1 dozen large eggs, hard boiled and sliced
  • extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • salt, pepper, and oregano, to taste

Instructions 

Choose potatoes that are roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. Gently scrub them under water to get all of the dirt off. Leave the skins on and place them in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Add about 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt to the water so that the potatoes absorb the flavor while cooking.

Bring the potatoes to a boil and then lower the heat to a rolling simmer. Cook the potatoes about 15-18 minutes, depending on their size. When a knife easily pierces through the potato, they are ready. Do not overcook them or you will have mashed potatoes instead of potato salad.

While the potatoes are cooking hard boil a dozen eggs. Cover the eggs with cold water, bring to a boil, then remove them from the heat, cover the pot and let them sit for about 20 minutes. Run them under cold water, peel, and slice.

Drain the potatoes and run them under cold water to cool them off. Slip the skins off of the potatoes, they should come off easily, and then cut into even sized chunks.

In a large bowl combine the potatoes and sliced eggs, season with salt, pepper, and oregano and then drizzle about 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil into the bowl. Toss gently with your hands or a large spoon. Adjust the oil and seasonings to taste.

You can serve this warm or cold. If you chill the potato salad beforehand it may dry out a little in the fridge as the potatoes will continue to absorb the oil. If that happens, just drizzle in a little extra oil and give it a gentle toss before serving.

**NOTE** – You can use whatever potatoes you have on hand for this recipe, they will taste just as good in the salad. I happen to love Yukon Golds because they have a nice buttery flavor and creamy texture.

Also, you can adjust the ratio of potatoes to eggs to your liking. Sometimes I will add in a few extra eggs, you just have to adjust the seasonings and oil.