Corn and Black Bean Salad

Corn and Black Bean SaladSummer means grilling, and if the cooking is being done outside, it’s time to whip up some easy sides that are packed with veggies and don’t require turning on the oven. I love making dishes that use a bunch of fresh ingredients, but sometimes if I’m using a piece of an onion or half a bunch of cilantro, as much as I plan to make something with the other half, a few days later I wind up throwing a wilted bunch of cilantro in the trash. Making this Corn and Black Bean Salad on a night when I also make Guacamole for an appetizer, uses several of the same ingredients, so less waste and the flavors complement each other nicely. Besides, everyone loves to snack on Guacamole while waiting for dinner!

Corn and Black Bean Salad 2Ingredients:
16 oz. bag frozen corn, thawed and drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
2 tbsp. red onion, minced
2 tbsp. cilantro leaves, stems removed and chopped

For the dressing:
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of ½ lime
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. canola oil
¼ tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper

Corn and Black Bean Salad 3In a medium bowl, mix together corn, black beans, diced bell pepper, diced jalapeno, minced red onion and chopped cilantro. In a separate bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, lime juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Stir in canola oil, cumin, salt and pepper and pour dressing over vegetable mixture. Stir and refrigerate for one hour before serving to let flavors fully incorporate.

Enjoy!

 

Note: this makes a great summer side, but I’ve also been known to make this as an appetizer and scoop it up with some chips!

Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and Farfalle

Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and FarfalleSpring is upon us, and that means fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden. Even if you don’t do any gardening at home, the quality of vegetables found in the grocery store has improved significantly over the past few weeks, and makes me want to ditch the red sauce and full bodied red wines with pasta in favor of fresh veggies and a lighter, crisp white wine.

Nothing tastes more like summer than fresh basil.  If you have no other vegetable or herb plants, get a potted basil plant. Dried basil loses so much flavor, and the little packets of basil cuttings are pretty expensive – $4.00 for a little packet!. I picked up a big beautiful potted basil plant at Trader Joe’s for $3.49. With a little TLC, it will last the whole summer long. Or even better, I’ll take enough cuttings from it to make 4 or 5 plants, and live happily in pesto-Calabrese-salad heaven all summer long!  (More on how to propagate basil from cuttings later.)

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch chunks
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 zucchini, grated, excess liquid squeezed out and discarded
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
8 oz. Farfalle, prepared according to package
½ cup reserved pasta water
Salt and pepper
8 basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Note: the easiest way to chiffonade basil is to stack the leaves on top of each other, gently roll the stacked leaves and chop into ribbons using a sharp knife. It’s the perfect garnish for any summer dish.

Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and Farfalle 2

Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and Farfalle 3

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and Farfalle 4Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes, and season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. In a heavy sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil on medium heat. Cook chicken for 4 minutes per side until golden. Meanwhile, grate zucchini into a bowl using the medium side of a grater, squeezing out and discarding the excess liquid. Remove chicken from pan and add additional tbsp. olive oil. Sauté zucchini, garlic and crushed red pepper for 10 minutes. Add chicken, cooked pasta and reserved pasta water, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with basil ribbons and parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pinwheels

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage PinwheelsIf you’ve ever walked into a pizza place in New York, you’ve seen the counter lined with pizza you can order by the slice, calzones and pinwheels.  My first stop when visiting New York is always my favorite pizza place, but I still need to get my fix between visits. These pinwheels are hearty, grab-able, appetizers for game day or just having some friends over. My all-time favorite is the classic pepperoni pinwheel, but you can put just about anything in them. Got a meat lover? Make this pepperoni and sausage variety. Feeling vegetarian? Broccoli and roasted garlic makes a divine pinwheel. Just don’t forget the cheese! Take some store bought pizza dough (or make your own) and roll away. One pound of dough makes 2 rolls, and each roll makes about 10 pinwheel slices, so this recipe is great for a group. If you’re making appetizers for just a few friends, cut the recipe in half, and make the leftover dough into garlic knots to have with dinner, or a thin crust pizza for tomorrow.

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pinwheels 2Ingredients (makes approximately 20 pinwheels):
1 lb. pizza dough
¼ lb. sliced pepperoni
¼ lb. crumbled Italian sausage, browned in skillet
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
¼ tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. melted butter
Marinara sauce for dipping

 

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pinwheels 3Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pizza dough in half and roll each half into an approximately 9×9 square on a floured surface. Top each square with half of the pepperoni, crumbled sausage, mozzarella and Italian seasonings. Carefully roll into a log, pressing ends together so the cheese doesn’t melt out when baking. Cook for approximately 25 minutes until deep golden brown on outside and dough is cooked throughout.

 

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pinwheels 4 Let cool for 5 minutes, brush with melted butter, slice each roll into 10 pinwheels and enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli

Roasted BroccoliWe eat broccoli in our house probably 2 or 3 times a week. And while broccoli is good steamed, served plain, with a little butter or a lot of cheese, sometimes it can feel like the same old, same old. Roasting a vegetable brings out its natural sweetness, and makes lots of savory caramelized bits that are downright addictive! I could eat this like candy and it’s the perfect side dish for Roasted Chicken, when the oven is already preheated. How great is it to have a full dinner prepared on just two cookie sheets? Delicious, healthy and easy clean up sound good to me!

Roasted Broccoli 3

 

Ingredients:
1 lb. broccoli
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of half lemon
Salt and pepper

 

Roasted Broccoli 4Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse broccoli, cut into florets and toss in a large bowl with olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well so broccoli is evenly coated. Pour broccoli mixture onto large cookie sheet, arranging in an even layer so the broccoli cooks evenly and gets deliciously brown. Roast for 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Enjoy!