Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Greek Pasta Salad

During any kind of pot-luck you can be sure to find your array of mayo-based salads. While I like them as much as the next person, my first love will always be vinaigrette based salads. They are so much easier to keep fresh, especially when it's hot outside and the salad needs to be transported.

This Greek pasta salad is another one of those "what's in the fridge" recipes that just came about. I knew what flavor profile I was going for and just rolled with it. The end result is extremely tasty and can be enjoyed by itself for a quick lunch, a vegetarian dinner or simply served with some grilled chicken, fish or tofu on the side.

Cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers add a freshness to this salad that is enjoyable, especially on a hot summer day. The olives, artichokes and feta add a little richness, and the balsamic vinaigrette balances it all out. This recipe comes together quickly and can be made a few hours ahead to let the flavors mingle. I hope you'll give this Mediterranean inspired salad a try for your next pot-luck or casual summer dinner.

Greek Pasta Salad
~Serves 8-10~

1 pound Pasta Fusilli
1 English Cucumber, peeled and diced
2 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup marinated Artichoke Hearts, chopped
4 oz. pitted Kalamata Olives, halved
6 oz. Feta Cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
6 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp. Mustard
1/2 Tbsp. Honey
1 tsp. Dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the diced vegetables (cucumber, grape tomatoes, red pepper, onion, artichoke hearts and olives). Add the cooked pasta and gently toss together.

In a small bowl whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Add half of the vinaigrette to the pasta mixture and toss. Let the salad sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature. Add the other half of the vinaigrette and refrigerate for at least one hour. Before serving gently fold in the feta cheese.

A Susi's Kochen und Backen Original Recipe

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

I love mushrooms in every shape or form and Portobello mushrooms rank pretty high on my favorite foods list. I love how versatile they are and how you can turn them into a filling, delicious, vegetarian meal with very little effort.  This recipe came about simply by checking the pantry and refrigerator. What started as a meal to get rid of a few extra vegetables, turned into an unforgettable dinner and inspired me to get back on this computer to write a short post.

While trying to come up with the finished recipe I decided to forgo the usual breadcrumbs as a binder and instead turned to Quinoa, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite grains to incorporate into recipes. By doing so, I was actually able to create a recipe which is not just vegetarian, but also gluten free. Served with a big salad on the side and bowl of watermelon this turned into a great meal that none of us will soon forget.

Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms 
~Serves 4~

4 Large Portobello Mushrooms
1/2 cup Quinoa
1 cup Vegetable Broth
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Red Onion, diced
4 cups Baby Spinach, rough chopped
4 Tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chiffonade
1/2 tsp. dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper
4 oz. Fresh Mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

Clean Portobello mushrooms by removing the stem and cleaning out the gills and gently wiping the mushroom tops. Chop the stems and reserve. 

Meanwhile bring 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup of vegetable broth to a boil in a small pot. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all the broth is absorbed. Take off the stove and cool to room temperature.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan. Add the red onions, and cook until the onions begin to soften. Add the reserved chopped mushroom stems, spinach and tomatoes and saute until the spinach is wilted and the mixture is heated through. Season with oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Add the basil and remove from the stove. Gently stir in the quinoa and let everything cool to room temperature. Once the mixture has cooled, fold in the cubed mozzarella.

Take the cleaned mushroom caps and brush them lightly all over with olive oil. Season the inside with salt and pepper. Divide the filling equally into each mushroom cap. 
Sprinkle each with Parmesan.

Grill for 15 minutes over medium heat or until the mozzarella starts melting and the mushrooms are heated through.
Serve immediately.

A Susi's Kochen und Backen Original Recipe


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