Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Breakfast taco

This morning I was reminded by my wonderful Witchy Sissy to use my left over roasted tomatillo sauce with eggs. I complimented her on her cooking prowess and great suggestion, when she told me that she had just read my blog on chicken enchiladas with roasted tomatillo sauce and that I was the one who mentioned it, in the blog. LOL!

Turns out the Witch was right, it was a damn good idea and it made an awesome breakfast!

If you're looking for quick, easy, portable and delicious, please look no further. From start to finish, including the time it took for my wee cast iron pan to heat up, it took about 4 minutes. If you're using a lighter weight pan I bet you can shave at least 2.5 minutes off that time.

Breakfast Taco
makes 1 taco
1 egg
1 T roasted tomatillo green chili sauce
1 T grated cheddar cheese
1 fajita size flour tortilla
pinch of kosher salt
dab of butter

Scramble egg in your favorite skillet with a dab of butter. I use my small cast iron pan for this.

Heat your tortilla in your microwave, about 20 seconds, until warm & pliable.

Heat up 1T of your roasted tomatillo sauce

Once egg is cooked transfer it to the warmed tortilla, top with shredded cheese and tomatillo sauce. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople Recipe Calculator
1 Serving
Amount Per Serving
Calories 243.2
Total Fat 10.4 g
Saturated Fat 3.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.9 g
Cholesterol 221.4 mg
Sodium 327.4 mg
Potassium 68.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 22.2 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Protein 12.1 g

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Roasted Tomatillo Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

Enchiladas are one of the Husbands' favorite Mexican dishes. I can always count on him to order an enchilada combo plate with 1 chicken, 1 beef and 1 cheese enchilada when we go out for Mexican. What can I say, the man loves his enchiladas!! And whats not to love? Spicy chili sauce, savory meats, creamy cheese and flavorful tortillas, YUM!

Most of us think that making enchiladas is hard or time consuming. I'm here to prove that wrong! Making enchilada sauce isn't hard - heck it isn't even very time consuming! All it takes is a few ingredients and a little Witchcraft, which I'm here to show you now.

Tomatillos are the secret ingredient to most green chili sauces. Tomatillos are small green fruits that look like a green tomato. They are not, however, they are members of the gooseberry family. Tomatillos have a papery skin that needs to be removed before cooking. When shopping for tomatillos look for firm fruits that are heavy for their size and paper skins that are tight and not peeling off. When you are ready to cook the tomatillos peel the papery skins off and discard. Then rinse the fruit well to remove the sticky/slimy coating that occurs when the paper is removed. The flavor of a tomatillo is tart and almost lime like. They are used often in Mexican green sauces for the acidic flavor they bring as well as the light green color. If you can't find fresh tomatillos in your grocery you can use canned ones, they are in the Mexican foods aisle, by the canned chilies.

Once the sauce is made, which takes about 30 minutes, the rest is a matter of assembly. If you are lucky enough to have left over sauce (or are smart enough to make a double batch) try it on eggs. Or heat some up and add tortilla chips, cheese and you've got chilaquiles. DELICIOUS!

Roasted Tomatillo Green Chili Enchiladas
makes 4 to 6 servings

4 cups chicken stock (homemade is best, boxed is acceptable)
4 Anaheim or New Mexico green chilies (long mild chilies), roasted and peeled
1 jalapeno, roasted and peeled
1/2 onion
3-4 cloves garlic
4 medium size tomatillos, roasted
Salt & pepper to taste
drizzle of oil for sautee

1 lb chicken breasts (2 breasts)
12-15 corn tortillas
shredded cheese, cheddar, queso fresco, Monteray jack, whatever makes you happy
Roasted tomatillo sauce

Roast the peppers and tomatillos. Click here for instructions on how to roast peppers indoors. Once peppers are roasted and peeled remove seed pod and as much of the veins as you desire. Set aside.

In a small sauce pan heat the oil. Once hot add the onions and garlic, stirring often to avoid burning the garlic. Allow onions to start to soften, then add the stock, peppers, tomatillos and S&P. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the chilies are softened.

Transfer the stock & peppers to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Return to the pan, adjust season as needed and bring to a simmer again.

Poach the chicken breasts in the green chili sauce. Cook chicken in the sauce over medium low heat, just barely simmering, for about 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160. Remove chicken and allow to cool enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 350.

Slice chicken thin against the grain or cut into a dice. Mix 1/2 cup of the sauce in with the sliced chicken, set aside.

Spray or oil a 13x9 pan.

Submerge each tortilla into the hot sauce for 10-20 seconds, until the tortilla is softened and pliable but not so long that it starts to dissolve. (be prepared to destroy a few tortillas, it happens every time!) Place softened tortilla into the pan and spread 1-2 T of the chicken in the center. Fold ends over and place seam side down into the pan. Repeat until you run out of chicken, about 12-15 enchiladas.

Pour 1 cup of sauce over top of the enchiladas. Cover with shredded cheese. Place into a hot oven until cheese melts.

To serve, pour sauce onto the bottom of a plate. Place 2 enchiladas on top of the sauce. Garnish with your favorite toppings, including avocado, tomatoes, green onions, sour cream or lettuce.

Nutrition Facts
provided by SparkPeople Recipe Calculator
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 442.2
Total Fat 12.2 g
Saturated Fat 5.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.6 g
Cholesterol 96.5 mg
Sodium 1,962.8 mg
Potassium 658.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 42.5 g
Dietary Fiber 6.2 g
Sugars 2.4 g
Protein 40.5 g

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chinese style chicken techinque, water velveting and Kung Pao chicken

While browsing one of my favorite food blogs, Home Cooking in Montana, I found the technique for velveting chicken. Ellie made Kung Pao chicken using the velveting technique on the chicken and the photos made me drool. I knew right then & there that the Kitchen Witch needed to make this. One look at Ellie's site and the Husband agreed wholeheartedly. Ellie also talks about how to precook the chicken for later use, if this is something you'd like to know more about, click on over & check out her blog. You'll be happy you did!

After reviewing the technique I decided to tackle it. It was not hard at all! It involves a few little steps but all in all, really simple. But is all this really worth it? I mean I've been making stir fry chicken dishes for years, how can this velveting really make it better?

I don't really know is the short answer. Witchcraft is the logical answer. I'm sure a lot of science goes into it as well. All I can tell you is that it indeed is worth every single second of time you invest into it. The results will rival those of your favorite Chinese restaurant. Chicken so soft, so tender, so juicy that its almost unreal. How can a simple 30 minute marinade and a quick plunge into simmering water transform a lowly chicken breast into this dish of greatness? Who cares, so long as it does. And it does lovely readers, oh it really does.

The Kung Pao sauce is from Ellie as well. I really enjoyed the flavors it provided. I will admit I was dubious that only an onion and a red bell pepper would be enough vegetables, much less enough variety, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The onions weren't overpowering, rather they were almost sweet. The red bells provided beautiful color and a sweet crunch. I chose to use cashews rather than the traditional peanut here because of a peanut allergy in the family. Feel free to use whatever nut you like.

Lastly lets talk about the heat, after all, what's Kung Pao with out some heat, right? I bought 4 small long thin dried hot chilies at my Mexican grocery, it cost me a whopping .03. Yes that's 3, three cents. I crumbled up 2 of the peppers into my sauce, the 3rd was broken into a few pieces and added to the stir fry. The last was pure garnish. A bit of Sriracha in the sauce and like magic, you've got Kung Pao chicken that will make you forget the name of that little Chinese place down the street.

Kung Pao chicken using water velveting technique
makes 4 servings
You will need:
1 lb chicken breasts or thighs, boneless & skinless, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut in 1 inch dice
1-2 T oil
1 T minced garlic (+/- depending on taste)
1 T minced ginger (+/- depending on taste)
3-4 dried chilies or chili flakes
1/3 to 1/2 c cashews

Velveting Marinade
1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
1 T white wine
1 egg white
1 T cornstarch
1 T oil

Kung Pao sauce

2-4 tsp Sriracha
6 T water(or stock)
2 T white wine
2 T sugar
4 T soy sauce
1 scallion sliced thin

Apply the velveting marinade.
1. Sprinkle in the salt while stirring the meat.
2. Stir in the wine.
3. Add the egg white and gently mix to coat each piece of chicken making sure not to froth the egg.
4. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, coating each piece.
5. Add the oil and stir to coat. Let the meat marinate for 30 minutes.

Prepare other ingredients:
While the chicken marinates, prepare the other ingredients and the sauce. Have them ready.

In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce and set it aside.
Make rice if desired to serve with dish.

Velveting the chicken: Using the water method.
Bring a pot of water with just one tablespoon oil to a boil.

Once the water boils, lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer.

Scatter in the marinated chicken, stir to separate and keep stirring gently until the coating turns white.

Remove the chicken pieces quickly with a slotted spoon or strainer.

Set the chicken aside.

Prepare the Kung Pao:

Heat a cast iron skillet or wok over medium high heat. Once its hot add 1-2 T oil to the pan. Add the garlic and ginger, stir fry until its light brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute max. Add the vegetables, chilies and the velveted chicken. Stir fry 1-2 minutes, until the chicken is done. Add the sauce and nuts, stir to coat and thicken sauce, 30 seconds longer.

Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 393.1
Total Fat 20.1 g
Saturated Fat 2.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 11.2 g
Cholesterol 68.4 mg
Sodium 799.6 mg
Potassium 541.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.1 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Sugars 7.3 g
Protein 32.0 g

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sunrise Smoothie

Ever since I bought my KitchenAid blender
I've been a smoothie junkie. They're so easy, so satisfying, so refreshing. And best of all, you can control what goes into these unlike the big franchise smoothie places. Sure, those are great for a treat, but who needs ice cream for breakfast? That's whats in most of those smoothies, ya know, which is why they taste so darn good! But never fear, the Kitchen Witch is here with a smoothie that's both delicious and healthy!

This one begins with strawberries and peaches. The berries are ones that I froze from an awesome .99/lb sale earlier this year and the peaches are standard issue frozen peaches from the grocery store. When peaches come into season I plan on freezing my own. Mmm...fresh sweet peaches! I can't wait! Add in a little yogurt, orange juice, milk, sugar and my secret ingredient, vanilla extract, and you've got a smoothie that will not only put a smile on your face but it'll wipe out memories of jamba and kiva and their calorie laden concoctions for good.

The measurements are in grams for this recipe. I had my kitchen scale handy & figured it was a lot more accurate than a handful of berries or a plop of yogurt. If you don't have a kitchen scale, get one! No just kidding, well not really, they are fabulous tools to have! But just for those of you who don't have a scale I'll also list the approximate amounts in parentheses.

Sunrise Smoothie
makes 1 hearty smoothie (16 oz)

60g peaches (about 5-6 slices)
120g strawberries (about 7-8 berries)
80g plain all natural yogurt (about 2 heaping tablespoons)
90g OJ (about 1/3 to 1/2 c)
100g milk (about 1/2 c)
7g vanilla (1t)
20g sugar (1.5T)

Blend them all together in a blender until very smooth and whipped. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
1 Serving (16 oz)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 258.1
Total Fat 3.3 g
Saturated Fat 2.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 11.0 mg
Sodium 61.4 mg
Potassium 514.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 53.2 g
Dietary Fiber 3.5 g
Sugars 40.6 g
Protein 6.3 g

Friday, June 18, 2010

Supreme Pizza pasta salad

On the menu tonight is Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad. Really, Kitchen Witch, another pasta salad? Yes! Indeed yes another pasta salad. Pasta salad is so versatile. Its perfect for summer time eating what better way to use summers fresh produce in its finest forms?

This pasta salad has a tomato dressing, pepperoni, red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and cheese, both mozzarella pearls and asiago cheeses. Its literally a supreme pizza in a bowl. Feel free to customize the toppings to what your family enjoys.

I found fresh mozzarella pearls (very small balls, 1/4 inch!) in the deli case of my grocery store. If you can find them they are worth the cost; sweet, creamy, delicious nuggets of cheesy goodness that are perfect size for pasta salads. If you find them I highly recommend trying them.

Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad
serves 4
3/4 lb pasta, spirals
3 roma tomatoes
1 green pepper diced
1/2 red bell pepper diced
3 green onions sliced thin
1 clove garlic
1 sprig oregano minced
2 T red wine vinegar
3 T olive oil
Salt & pepper
20 pepperoni slices
6 baby portabello mushrooms
1/2 c mozzarella pearls
1/4 c fresh grated asiago or Parmesan cheese

2 T olive oil for sautee

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente, about 7-8 minutes.

While pasta is cooking put the tomatoes and garlic in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

In a large bowl mix the oregano, vinegar, 1/2 t kosher salt & fresh ground pepper. Whisk in 3 T olive oil to make a thick dressing. Add the pureed tomatoes and garlic. Whisk to incorporate well. Reserve 3/4 c of this dressing for the pasta.

Dice bell peppers and slice green onion. In a preheated skillet add 2-3t olive oil and the peppers & onions. Cook about 5 min over medium high heat or until they are softened slightly and start to take on a bit of color. Add to the bowl with the tomato dressing. Stir.

Quarter mushrooms and sauté them in 2T olive oil until golden browned on all sides. Remove and let cool.

Once pasta is cooked drain well. Pour cooked pasta onto a sheet pan and pour the reserved tomato dressing on top, tossing to evenly coat pasta. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Cool cooked mushrooms with pasta also.

Cook pepperoni in the same skillet about 2 minutes on each side or until it crisps and has rendered out a lot of the fat. Drain pepperoni, crumble once cooled.

Once pasta and mushrooms are cooled prepare salad. Add the mozzarella pearls to the pepper/tomato mixture, topping with the pasta and mushrooms. Add grated asiago cheese and toss well to coat evenly with dressing and veggies. Enjoy at room temperature for fullest flavor.

Nutrition Facts provided by Spark People Recipe Calculator
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 622.7
Total Fat 34.1 g
Saturated Fat 9.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 18.3 g
Cholesterol 45.7 mg
Sodium 1,223.1 mg
Potassium 375.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 60.7 g
Dietary Fiber 4.5 g
Sugars 3.1 g
Protein 21.5 g

Monday, June 14, 2010

Roasted Chicken

I believe this makes the 3rd roasted chicken I've blogged about. There's a reason for that, they are simple and delicious!!!

This roasted chicken is Thomas Keller's recipe. I saw him make this bird on the Techniques episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain and it looked so incredible that my husband paused the show, looked at me and said

"Can you make that?"
"Yeah I can make that!"
"Then go do it woman! Do it!"

It took me a few weeks to get around to roasting the bird for the husband but I did. And boy oh boy, am I ever glad I did!! It was so easy to prepare - and cooked in less than an hour. Thomas Keller is a cooking god for a reason, after all, and Mr. French Laundry did not disappoint with this bird.

The preparation is easy for this bird: pat dry, truss and salt liberally. Roast in a 450 oven in a skillet and that's it my friends. The extreme heat of the oven liquefies the subcutaneous fat from the skin and literally deep fries itself. The skin is crispy and delicious. I am a Witch that will always pass up chicken skin, its pretty gross to me. But this chicken skin, well it was crispy, not flabby at all, golden browned and kissed with herbs. Total and complete witch craft.

Roasted Chicken
by Thomas Keller
serves 4
1 roasting chicken, 3-4 lbs
lots of kosher salt
few grinds of pepper
1-2 sprigs thyme

Wash chicken, removing giblets and neck. Pat chicken very dry with paper towels inside & out. You want this bird dry, the less it steams the better the result will be.

Truss the chicken. If you need instructions on how to truss let the Witch know.

Sprinkle the chicken with kosher salt liberally. I mean lots of it, like 1T worth. Sprinkle from high above the bird, it creates a better scatter pattern on the meat and you get better coverage. The salt is important in flavoring the chicken as well as the crispy skin so don't skimp! Cover all sides of chicken with salt, add salt & pepper to the cavity as well.

Put the chicken in a skillet and roast at 450 for 45-60 minutes, or until the dark meat temperature reads 180*F. Remove chicken from pan, sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and allow to rest for 5-15 minutes before carving.

You can make a pan gravy from the drippings if you wish, simply bring the drippings to a boil and whisk well to loosen the fond from the bottom of the pan. Add 1/2 c chicken stock and allow to reduce. Add 1t lemon juice and 2T butter to the reduced sauce. Serve with the chicken.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople Recipe Calculator
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 226.0
Total Fat 4.4 g
Saturated Fat 1.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Cholesterol 129.2 mg
Sodium 145.4 mg
Potassium 478.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 0.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Protein 43.6 g

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tamale pie, chicken version

Have you ever heard of a tiara desserts pan? If you're old like me you might remember them from the 80's. Its an awesome pan that Duncan Hines put out to go with their boxed dessert called Tiara Desserts. Its like a tart pan with a sunken part in the center, to hold a filling. They were uber cool for about a year, then fell out of vogue. I convinced my mom to buy one of the pans back in the day and when I moved out I took it with me :) She didn't even notice!

I've been making a variation of this dish for more than 20 years now. It all started with that tiara desserts pan. I baked a corn bread in the pan and filled the divot on top with taco meat & toppings, voila! Easy Mexican style dinner with minimal fuss.

Since the first time I made this dish I've been working on improving and changing it. Back in the day when I was a teen, I used a Jify cornbread mix. Now I make my own cornbread, accented with spices and roasted corn. Its a definite improvement over the boxed cornbread mix in this Witches' opinion. I've used ground beef or chicken for the meat topping, both are delicious so feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

Lastly, if you don't have a tiara desserts pan, don't fret. You can get a knock off from King Arthur Flour here or you can simply make this in an 8x8 pan. Sure it won't be as pretty but it'll taste good. And that's all that really matters, right?

Tamale Pie, chicken version
serves 6

Tamale cornbread
2 ears corn, roasted and cut off cob
1/2 c corn meal
3/4 c flour
1 t baking powder (aluminum free if you can find it)
1 t kosher salt
1/4 c butter, melted
1 egg
1/2c + 1T milk
1 t each chili powder, granulated garlic (1 clove fresh minced works too) and cumin
dash cayenne pepper, black pepper

Chicken mixture
2 chicken breasts ground coarsely (1 lb approx)
1.5 t chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t kosher salt
1/8 t pepper
3 cloves garlic minced
1 can whole tomatoes, drained
2 jalapenos, seeded
1/4 onion
juice of 1 small lime

1 can beans, black, pinto or kidney all are fine

Toppings, all optional:
shredded cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, green onions, black olives, guacamole, shredded lettuce, salsa

Roast the corn first. Shuck corn and put under the broiler of your oven with a rack at the highest position in the oven. Broil until the kernels start to brown, rotate corn until all sides are browned. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly before slicing off the cob. Slice corn off the cob & set aside.

Make the cornbread:
Mix the dry ingredients together, including spices. Mix the wet ingredients together and whisk well to mix the egg. Pour wet over the dry, fold about 10 times until its ALMOST smooth & incorporated. Add the roasted corn then finish mixing. It won't be completely smooth, that's ok. Pour cornbread mix into a greased pan and bake at 350 for 15 min or until it tests clean in the center.

Make the sauce for the chicken next:
(While the cornbread is baking) In a blender put the canned tomatoes, jalapenos (I cut them into hunks), garlic, onion and spices. Blend until desired consistency (I made mine very smooth so the Little Witch would eat it, too).

Cook the chicken in a non reactive skillet until its 75% done. Add the sauce to the chicken, reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook about 15 minutes, or until sauce has reduced by about half and chicken is cooked through.

Puree the beans in your food processor and puree until smooth. Add a touch of salt if desired.

Turn the cornbread out onto a plate (if using a fancy Tiara desserts pan, if using an 8x8 pan skip this step)

Spread beans in center.

Top beans with chicken mixture

Top chicken with cheese & desired toppings. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople Recipe Calculator
6 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 349.6
Total Fat 15.2 g
Saturated Fat 8.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.1 g
Cholesterol 86.8 mg
Sodium 723.1 mg
Potassium 452.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 38.3 g
Dietary Fiber 5.4 g
Sugars 3.3 g
Protein 17.3 g

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tzatziki Pork chops

This recipe was the result of one of those "I've got stuff that I need to use ASAP, what am I going to make for dinner types" of moments. I had made the tzatziki sauce earlier in the week for kabobs. I had thawed pork chops that needed to be used. It seemed only natural to combine the two!

Yogurt is used as a meat marinade/tenderizer in many Indian and Greek dishes. I figured the flavors in the tzatziki would only bring goodness to the pork chops. Adding the additional salt when adding the sauce to the pork makes the sauce work more like brine, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat while adding moisture back into the pork. The yogurt also helps tenderize the meat, resulting in a fantastic dinner!

The flavor on the chops was more subtle than I thought it would be. There was no stand out flavor, other than savory melt in your mouth deliciousness. The yogurt allowed the chop to gain a lot of color on the grill - it only helped deepen the flavors. I was foolish and used up my tzatziki sauce in the marinade, only to be left wanting more as a dip, so that's how I've written the recipe. I can see this becoming the basis of a lot of future meals, and that makes me happy! I hope you give this a try.

Tzatziki Pork Chops
makes 2 servings
Tzatziki sauce:
1/2 c plain yogurt, Greek is best but really any will work
3 T grated cucumber
1/4 t cumin
1/8 t garlic powder
1/4 t kosher salt
dash pepper
2 sprigs oregano minced

2 pork chops, center cut boneless
few pinches salt

Make up the sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Mix well to incorporate.

Pour 1/2 the sauce over the pork chops and add a few additional pinches of salt. Coat chops in sauce and allow to marinate for 2-4 hours.

Grill pork chops until done, 150* internal temperature. Serve with remaining tzatziki sauce.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople Recipe Calculator
2 Serving
Amount Per Serving
Calories 343.8
Total Fat 20.2 g
Saturated Fat 7.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 8.8 g
Cholesterol 86.4 mg
Sodium 100.3 mg
Potassium 684.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 5.4 g
Dietary Fiber 0.3 g
Sugars 4.3 g
Protein 33.3 g

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mediterranean style pasta salad

I realize this isn't a lot different from the pasta salad I posted last month but, come on, really what can you do to pasta salad that hasn't already been done? Regardless, I went with a Mediterranean feel with this one; lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), tomatoes, feta cheese, fresh herbs including Greek oregano and mint. The result is a flavorful, colorful, bright salad that perks up any old grilled piece of meat.

As always look at this salad as a canvas to add whatever you and your family likes. Got fresh green beans? Use them in place of the asparagus. Don't like red bell peppers? Leave them out! Hate orzo? Use spirals or shells, whatever makes you happy.

I love that more of my herbs are growing and thriving. It's true, the more you pick them the faster they grow, at least in this Witches' experience it is. My mint is finally big enough to start using, I loved it here, so unexpected yet subtle. If you've not used fresh mint I encourage you to try it, its not at all 'minty' like you would imagine. I always thought adding mint would be like adding a stick of Extra to your dish, gross! Not so. Give it a try! The chive blossom is one of the best perks of late spring & growing chives. Their pretty purple flowers have a sharp onion flavor that doesn't linger, rather gives you its essence and then moves on to allow other flavors in. And who doesn't love to eat flowers?

While easy to prepare the flavor is very complex and its stunning on a plate. The colors let you know that you're in for a delicious treat chock full of vitamins and goodness. Hooray for summertime and veggie laden pasta salads!

Mediterranean style pasta salad
serves 4
1/2 lb orzo or other small pasta
6 spears asparagus
10 grape tomatoes
1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
1 chive blossom (optional, can use fresh minced chives or shallots in lieu)
2 springs oregano
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig mint
1-2 small sprigs parsley
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 t kosher salt
dash pepper
1/2 the minced herbs listed above

Make dressing by whisking all ingredient listed, set aside for 15 min while pasta cooks.

Cook pasta according to directions on box. When there's 1 minute left in pasta cooking time add the asparagus to the boiling water and drain it off with pasta. Cook pasta & asparagus with a cold water bath or spray cold water on pasta, moving it around until its all cooled off.

In a medium size bowl combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, feta, herbs and chive blossoms. Add drained and cooled pasta and asparagus. Toss with dressing and serve.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople Recipe calculator
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 296.7
Total Fat 14.5 g
Saturated Fat 3.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 8.2 g
Cholesterol 12.6 mg
Sodium 162.9 mg
Potassium 197.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 36.4 g
Dietary Fiber 2.7 g
Sugars 1.2 g
Protein 8.3 g
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