Friday, March 26, 2010

Spinach Salad with Toasted Almonds, Apple and Vermouth Vinaigrette

I've mentioned before that I have a hard time with salads. I have no idea why. A little lettuce, some mix-ins and it should be that simple. When I need to make one, I freeze. I must have a recipe. I'm not the type that follows recipes to the T, but I need a framework and the general idea of the salad.

In this case though, I followed her recipe to the T. I was a giant copycat because we had back-to-back parties and my brain power was nil. I needed a lunch salad, something fast and easy, to go with both a meat pasta and vegetarian red sauce pasta. This salad worked out great.

Buy pre-washed, bagged spinach greens and you're practically home free. I have summer dreams of making this salad with fresh garden spinach, but we'll see if I can make that into reality. My garden space isn't very big, yet I have some grandios plans.

The salad dressing mixes well and you probably have all the ingredients, minus the vermouth, in your pantry. I found vermouth next to the vinegars at my grocery store. The hint of curry powder was a nice twist and I thought it elevated the salad to party material.

A go-to easy salad that's very guest-worthy. Two thumbs up!

Spinach Salad with Toasted Almonds, Apple and Vermouth Vinaigrette
from White on Rice Couple

Bag of fresh spinach leaves (1-1 1/4 lb)
1 apple, cored and sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon vermouth
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup salad oil

Combine all dressing ingredients into a jar and shake well. Pour into the bottom of a salad bowl.

Wash and dry spinach. Remove any tough stems. Tear leaves into bite sized pieces and put in salad bowl on top of dressing, do not toss. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Toss well, just before serving, including any garnishes (apple and almonds).

Additional garnishes to consider: 1/4 cup golden raisins, 1 bunch scallions (thinly sliced), 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (toasted), 1/3 cup dry-roasted spanish peanuts

Guten appetit!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pesto, Pasta & Peas

Did you have a nice St. Patrick's Day? I really like the holiday, although I can't say I do much for it these days. There were years I went out and reveled in green beer, but those have long since passed. Especially when St. Patty's Day falls on a Wednesday. Go out on a weeknight?! Are you kidding?!

However, I have an extra special reason to love the green day - it's my brother's birthday. He's 33 this year. I love him, and even loved him and told friends how lucky I was to have him through the tough teenage 'annoy your sibling' years. He's smart, funny, genuine and a friend to all.

In honor of him and his birthday, here's a scrumptious green dinner that will have you and your whole family begging to celebrate St. Patrick's day all over again!

Just look at that green deliciousness...

Unfortunately, my batch was eaten before I remembered to take a picture.
So this picture is compliments of my sister and her blog post of the recipe.
I love the recipes you introduce me to, C!

If you need some more convincing to make this recipe, here are a few reasons:
1. I served this at a party and it was raved about and most people had second helpings.
2. One runner at our party said she had the best run/time ever the morning after eating it and asked me for the recipe. It's going to be her night before a race meal!
3. Makes EXCELLENT leftovers.
4. It includes spinach, which you can't taste. So if you need to slip some of the green veggie to non-spinach lovers (like my husband), they will never know. Wa, ha, ha (evil laughs are so fun).
5. This makes an excellent party dish, as you can make the pesto dressing hours before and the pasta a half hour before guests arrive. Since it's served at room temperature, toss everything together and have it ready to go before you start to greet your guests. Leaves you free to have fun!
6. Because I said so.

It's a new family favorite for us, so I hope you have the chance to serve it soon. Let me know what you and your family have to say!

Pesto, Pasta and Peas
from Ina Garten, via my sister's blog

Note: I made 1.5x the recipe to have enough for 12 adults. I served it with a tomato salad and bread. We had about 5 servings left, which made excellent leftover lunches.

3/4 pound Fusilli Pasta
3/4 pound Bow Tie Pasta
1/4 cup EVOO
1 1/2 cups Pesto (see below for a home-made Pesto recipe)
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup Pine Nuts
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain and toss into a bowl with the Olive Oil. Cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree.

Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Serve.

Guten appetit!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Disaster: Rolls

Hmm, note to self: Follow ones gut

Do you follow the Pioneer Woman's blog? I do. I probably read it a couple times a week, mostly the cooking section.

She's highlighted some rosemary rolls on her blog multiple times that looked divine! They were posted and talked about so often (she must like them, and they really, really look good) that I couldn't help but want them.

Pioneer Woman's Rosemary Rolls - Photo by Ree Drummond

However, I ran into a snafu. My regular grocery store only had refrigerated 'biscuit' dough OR 'crescent roll' dough. Needing dinner rolls, I went with the crescent roll dough. A roll is a roll, right? A roll is definitely NOT a biscuit.

Per the recipe, I greased my new cast iron skillet (love it! just imagine the corn bread I'll be making - yum!), rolled my dough into balls and left them to rise over a few hours. A few hours later, nothing. Crescent rolls do not rise. They are not dinner rolls. I knew this, I saw the picture on the package, but yet... they were the only 'rolls' at the market. So I caved and bought them.

I'll be off to check another store this week and let you know how attempt #2 goes. Meanwhile, we'll be eating crescent rolls this week until they're coming out our ears since I bought 4 packages (it was for a party).

Trust your gut.