Italian-Deli Pasta Salad

28 05 2014

Wish I could take credit for this quick pasta salad, but it’s all Food Network Magazine on this one. Love the idea of using a jar of giardiniera (Italian relish of pickled veggies) – so tasty and such a fast ingredient to use. I just so happen to have an extra jar in the pantry. So when I saw this in my #FNMag, I knew I had to whip this up for our Memorial Day cookout!

Italian-Deli Pasta Salad

The following serves 8 (adapted from Food Network Magazine):

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (original recipe called for mayo)
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 16 oz jar of giardiniera, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup diced provolone (I suggest sharp provolone)
  • 1 cup diced salami (about 3/4 of a pound) – take some help from your deli, ask them to cut quarter-inch slices rather than giving you a large chunk of salami, this will make your chopping at home much easier!
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta under cold water to stop the cooking. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil and vinegar. Toss the dressing with the pasta, along with the chopped giardinera, provolone, salami, parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This Girl’s time-saving prep tip: Save yourself time day-of, and make most of this salad a day in advance. Chop the giardiniera, cheese and salami and store in individual ziplock bags or containers in the fridge. Chop the parsley and basil and store together in a ziplock in the fridge. Finally, make the dressing and store that covered in the fridge. Then the next day, cook the pasta and mix everything together…now you’re good to go to your party in no time!


Creamy Tuscan Beans With Mushrooms and Kale

21 05 2014

This rustic Tuscan bean side dish is deliciously creamy and loaded with both flavor and nutrition! It whips up pretty quickly too. Get some chicken or steak on the grill while you prepare this, and before you know it you’ll have a lovely weeknight meal ready to enjoy.

Creamy Tuscan Beans With Mushrooms and Kale

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Pinch kosher salt to taste
  • 1 (8 oz) package sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of low-sodium, reduced-fat beef stock
  • Kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 2-3 oz fontina cheese, cubed (you want to use fontina because it melts really well)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat a few Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring, a minute or so. Add rosemary, red pepper flakes and just a pinch of salt. Next add the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans, stock, olives and cheese. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cheese will melt nicely into the stock, creating a nice creamy dish.

Meanwhile in a large saute pan, heat some oil and saute kale until wilted and cooked, 5-10 minutes. You can make as much as you like, I filled the pan (remember it shrinks when it cooks). Transfer sautéed kale to the beans and finish cooking together the final 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Dish out beans, top with parsley and enjoy alongside a protein of your choice. I served with grilled chicken breasts.

Grilled Eggplant and Shroom Napoleons with a Meat Marinara Sauce

12 05 2014

I played a little “Chopped” tonight based on a few ingredients I wanted to use up. Primarily, I wanted to turn leftover burgers into something better. So I pulled out an eggplant, portobello shrooms, cheese and crushed tomatoes…and napoleons quickly became my vehicle! If you were to join us for this dinner, you wouldn’t even know this sauce was made with leftover burgers, it’s that good! 🙂

Grilled Eggplant and Shroom Napoleons with a Meat Marinara Sauce

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1-inch slices
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps, stem removed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fontinella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup diced onion, either red or yellow will work
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 leftover burgers, finely chopped
  • Half a large 28 oz can, or a 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp reduced-fat, low-sodium beef broth
  • 3 leaves fresh basil
  • Kosher salt
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush eggplant slices and mushroom caps with a little olive oil on both sides and season lightly with salt. Grill with the lid open, a few minutes on each side until nice grill marks show and the veggies soften. Remove eggplant and shrooms from the grill to a baking sheet, place sliced cheese on top, however much you like, and set aside. The cheese will begin to melt since the veggies are hot, but you’ll want to finish them off in the oven. Right before you place in the oven, sprinkle a little grated parmesan on top of the other cheese first.

Preheat oven to 400.

Meanwhile, add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil to a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until softened and just beginning to brown, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, another minute. Add minced leftover burgers and mix everything together. Next, add crushed tomatoes, mix well, and bring to a low boil. Add the beef broth and basil, reduce heat to low. Simmer sauce, stirring often, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

I served this meal with a side of roasted broccoli. Cut a head of broccoli into florets and toss with a little olive oil, kosher salt and garlic powder to taste. Roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or so, until softened and beginning to brown, but still bright green color. Be sure to toss half-way through.

During the last few minutes of the broccoli roasting, add the eggplant and shrooms to reheat. Roast just a few minutes until the cheese fully melts.

To serve, place a little of the sauce on your plates. Place a large piece of eggplant on top, and add a tad more sauce. Next add a portobello cap and a little more sauce. Top with another slice of eggplant and finish with a little more sauce, parmesan cheese and parsley as garnish. Serve along with roasted broccoli, or a salad.

Gnocchi With Asparagus and Prosciutto

10 05 2014

Gnocchi can make for a wonderfully quick homemade meal, especially when it’s dressed in a simple olive oil and butter sauce. When I make homemade gnocchi, I save some to freeze for when I need a fast supper option. You can do the same, or use store-bought. Extra bonus about this meal is that you can enjoy it on it’s own, or add a protein of your choice on the side – like grilled chicken. Now, where’s my fork? 🙂

Gnocchi With Asparagus and Prosciutto

The following serves 3 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought Gnocchi
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 slices of thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 bunch of thick asparagus, ends trimmed and diagonally cut into thirds
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Good pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp cold butter or butter substitute
  • 4-5 large leaves of basil, rolled up like a cigar and thinly sliced
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cut asparagus and boil for 2-3 minutes until bright green and crisp. Remove immediately and run until cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Bring the water you used to blanch the asparagus back to a boil. Heads up, the water will be green from the asparagus, but no worries – that just adds flavor!

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm a few Tbsp of oil and add prosciutto. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown and crisp. Remove prosciutto to a paper towel-lined plate. Lower heat to medium and add 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Next add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking for another minute to flavor the oil. Turn the heat down to low and season lightly with salt to taste. Add the butter, and swirl to melt – this will also help thicken the sauce slightly.

Add the gnocchi to the boiling water, cover and bring up to a rapid boil. Once the gnocchi float to the top, they’re done (this will only take a few minuets, they cook fast). If using store-bought gnocchi, be sure to follow the cooking instructions on the package instead. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider strainer and add right to the sauce. Don’t worry about some of the cooking water getting into the sauce, you want that!

Once all the gnocchi are in with the sauce, add the cooked asparagus to the sauce as well. Add half the basil, increase heat to medium and cook everything together, stirring constantly for a minute or two. Taste and season with a little more salt if needed.

Transfer gnocchi, asparagus and all of the sauce to a large serving platter. Garnish with the crisp prosciutto, the rest of the basil, fresh lemon zest and as much parmesean as you like. Serve family style, with more parmesean on the side.

My choice of wine with this dish: Chardonnay.

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

5 03 2014

Baked eggplant is an Italian classic, and a great meatless meal option especially if you observe Lent. There are so many great versions, and here, I add a layer of chunky spinach and kalamata olives. A delicious, healthy Italian dinner with a boost of veggies and an extra salty bite, what’s not to love?!

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

The following serves 2-3 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into rounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup marinated kalamata olives, with some of the oil
  •  2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Marinara (I had some leftover from a previous dinner, but see below for how to make an easy marinara)
  • Reduced-fat, shredded Italian cheese blend (Sargento is a good option)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh basil, torn into pieces

Lay sliced eggplant on a non-stick baking sheet in one layer and sprinkle with salt. Set aside until eggplant starts to sweat. Pat it dry with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 350. Drizzle eggplant with a little oil and bake until it starts to loosen slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, add olives, spinach and garlic to a food processor and pulse slightly, until chunky.

Spray a medium casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add a little marinara to the bottom of the casserole. Next, add a layer of eggplant. Top eggplant with a layer of the spinach-olive mixture, and top that with some more marinara (add a glob on top and around each eggplant slice). Top with a layer of shredded cheese as well as a sprinkle of parmesan. Repeat layering: eggplant, spinach-olive mixture, marinara and finally, both cheeses.

Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove foil, raise the oven to 400 and continue baking, uncovered, another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Garnish with basil and serve.

This Girl’s Easy Marinara:

In a saucepan, add a Tbsp or so of oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add half an onion, diced and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, cook for another minute. Add 1 large can crushed tomatoes (28 oz) and few leaves of basil, chopped. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper to taste, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Off heat, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce slightly. Store any extra in a covered tupperware container in the fridge.

Sausage and Arugula Frittata Cups

12 01 2014

I’m not looking forward to starting a new work week tomorrow, but I am excited for breakfast! 🙂 These little beauties pack a punch of flavor, and couldn’t be easier to make. Rather than making a frittata (an Italian baked omelette), I made these in a muffin tin so I could easily grab-n-go. Whip up a batch on Sunday and enjoy these for breakfast throughout the week.

Sausage and Arugula Frittata Cups

Sausage and Arugula Frittata Cups

The following makes 12 frittata cups (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 10 eggs
  • 8 oz cooked breakfast turkey sausage, finely chopped (such as a box of Bob Evan’s patties)
  • 1 cup sharp provolone cheese, shredded or grated
  • 1 cup packed arugula
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non stick spray.

Whisk eggs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in sausage, cheese and arugula.

Fill the muffin tin evenly with the egg mixture, don’t worry if some of the arugula is sticking out, it will just look rustic when it’s done. Bake for 20 minutes, or until eggs are set. Remove from the oven and top with a little salt and pepper.

Store in a covered container in the fridge and enjoy cups for breakfast throughout the week.

To make an actual frittata (great on the weekends!), heat a little butter or oil in a large oven-proof skillet and add the egg mixture. Cook for a few minutes until the eggs begin to set on the bottom and the sides, then transfer to a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until eggs are cooked through and the top begins to brown. To remove the frittata from the skillet, loosen around the sides with a spatula and flip onto a plate or cutting board. Cut into pie pieces and serve with hot sauce.

Baked Shredded Beef and Cheese Flautas

11 12 2013

I was making my trusty Beef-n-Noodles ( the other night when I decided to save some of the shredded beef to make another meal out of (which I think is brilliant and will do from now on BTW). Now, que my thought for flautas….which are tortillas that have been filled and rolled up into a tube or “flute”. The perfect vessel for using up leftover meat like the shredded beef I saved! These flautas are easy thanks to the leftover beef, deliciously creamy with a spicy kick, AND healthy – my favorite part!

Baked Shredded Beef and Cheese Flautas

Baked Shredded Beef and Cheese Flautas

The following makes 6-8 flautas (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 2 cups shredded beef, could also use leftover ground beef, chicken or turkey
  • 2 Tbsp pureed chipotle in adobo sauce
  • Couple tablespoons of low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 heaping cup reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • Whole wheat tortillas (6-8 depending on what size you use)
  • Reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375.

In a bowl combine the pureed chipotles, cream cheese and beef broth. Add the broth a tablespoon at a time until the mixture thins out slightly and becomes creamy. Next, add the beef and combine.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave in a damp towel for a minute so they’re easier to roll. Place some of the beef mixture onto the center of the tortilla (make sure not to overstuff), top with a little shredded cheese and roll up. Place seam-side down on a non-stick baking sheet. Continue stuffing and rolling the rest of the flautas.

Bake for 10 minutes, then flip and bake for another 5 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.

Garnish flautas with cilantro or parsley and serve with a side of black beans (like pictured above), rice or a salad.