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easy–peasy pasta salad 

first of all, thank you for your kind words and messages yesterday ☺️

tis the season for cookouts, barbecues ( <—–did I ever mention that I don’t like that word?  I lost my 5th grade spelling bee to this word.  There is not a ‘Q’ in barbecue)
Le sigh…  
Anyway.. where you find cookouts, you find fun side dishes!  Our family always had a slaw, potato salad, detox salad or pasta salad in the fridge this time of year. 

A favorite is my Mom’s pasta salad. Nothing fancy, just amazing. 

Recently I made this version of a pasta salad..   And while it can be tweaked to whomever is eating it, this is how I did it.  I have a lot of readers who are adjusting to cooking on their own. I’m going to try to share some easy, inexpensive ideas for y’all. 
This came out a bit on the spicy side. But we love heat around here.  I’ll put the non spicy version in parentheses.

Vinegarette-based pasta salad 

1 pound pasta of choice (we love farafalle for this) 

Sea salt

1 /2 red onion chopped 

1/2 cup pepperoni, quartered 

1/2 block pepperjack cheese ( use Monterey Jack or cheddar for less spice) chopped 

Cherry tomatoes *see tip below for easy cutting *

1/4 cup chopped olives

1/4 cup pepperincinis,sliced 

1/3-1/2 cup of premade Italian dressing ( I like Newman’s for this, use what you like)

1/4 cup herbed feta ( not pictured) 

Broccoli florets go great in this but I didn’t have any

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add sea salt. Cook pasta according to box and drain ( don’t rinse) 

Add about a tablespoon of dressing to warm pasta and toss.  Let come to room temp, tossing every once in awhile.

Add toppings

Then top with dressing and toss!

If using the red pepper flakes, sprinkle a few on top. 
I made this last week and my family devoured it. It’s so simple, yet so tasty.  It has just the right mixture of texture and flavor 
Some more of our family favorite side dishes 

Blistered tomato salad with feta and arugula 

 Spinach fennel salad with blood orange and arugula

Prosciutto cantaloupe salad

***. Easy way to halve a bunch of cherry tomatoes. ***


Take 2 deli- style lids 
Lay tomatoes single file on one lid 


Top with other lid upside down 


Use a serrated knife.  Apply gentle pressure to top lid and slowly cut between the 2 lids 

Bada bing!


The hubs and I have been playing words with friends again.  He’s terribly competitive 🙄. And I never win a match with him 😂😂😂
Anyone else have super competitive family members???

Off to hear about him winning again..

Until next time…
Ciao bellas!

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roasted vegetable gazpacho 

friends, I’m so sorry I’ve been MIA.   While in the grand scheme of things it all may seem minor, I feel like the last few weeks I’ve had one thing after another go wrong. 

The latest is that my iPad screen cracked.  About a week after the warranty expired.

  

And since this is what I use to post on my blog, I’ve been slacking. 

Anyway..  I have a few recipes lined up to share with y’all… This first one will knock your socks off ( get it.. So you’ll be barefoot with me? ) Ok, ok, I’ll stop.   If you promise to make this! 

Here is my standard Gazpacho recipe.. and I really do like it.  

However, this past weekend I scored this at the farmers’ market 

  

And by golly, I had an idea! 

 

Roasted vegetable gazpacho 

3 ripe tomatoes

2 cucumbers, peeled and diced 

1-2 jalapeños ( depending on how spicy you like it, if you don’t like heat, substitute a red bell pepper )

1/2 red onion

1 handful of roughly chopped parsley 

1-2 tbsp of roasted garlic *

1 tsp dried dill 

Sea salt

Pepper

1 tbsp  red wine vinegar 

1 tbsp lemon juice 

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

—I roasted my vegetable on my grill, you could also roast them in a 375 degree oven 

Once your grill is heated to about 350, place tomatoes, peppers and onions over heat. Let cook for about 5 minutes, then flip using tongs 

  

Grill ( or roast ) for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and place in a dish with a small lip ( to catch any juices that will release … I did not do that and ran to save the juices!

  

In a large bowl, add parsley, chopped cucumbers, olive oil red wine vinegar and lemon juice.  Season woth salt and pepper.  When roasted veggies are cool enough to touch, finely chop and add to bowl .  add roasted garlic

  

Toss

  

Take a moment to marvel at the simple beauty of fresh vegetables 😎

Blend everything together using an immersion blender or a conventional blender ( you’ll have to process in batches) 

Be careful not to over blend. A little texture is a good thing! 

  

 

Test for salt and pepper, garnish with Greek yogurt mixed with roasted garlic and parsley.  

I cannot begin to tell you how much flavor roasting the veggies adds.  There’s a layer of sweetness that adds soooo much to this soup! 

This packs up perfectly for a summer picnic ( I’ll be finding an excuse to do that this weekend 😊) not to mention how figure- friendly it is! 

Roasted garlic 

1 head garlic

Olive oil

Aluminum foil

Cut the top off of the garlic 

  

Place in a square of foil and Drizzle with olive oil

Wrap tightly like a Hershey’s kiss 😘

  

Grill or roast for about 20-30 minutes or until garlic starts to feel soft. 

  

Remove from heat and when cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic onto a cutting board and use the side of a knife to mash into a paste 

  

This stuff is liquid gold! I use it in many recipes or simply spread on toasted bread for a fantastic heart- healthy treat.

Side note….  The green center in the garlic is not good to eat. I still roasted it, but removed the tough centers before I mashed it.  If you have fresh garlic, this shouldn’t be an issue, mine was just on the verge and I knew that I could still salvage! 

Enjoy this recipe.   I know personally I’ll be making this many times this summer 😎

On a side note, 1/2 of my tomato and pepper plants have started to come back 

 

That’s 2 weeks growth from this 

 

  

Isn’t Mother Nature amazing?! 

Ciao bellas! 

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