Green Olive Pesto Pasta

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

I absolutely love PESTO.  I think the best thing about pesto is that there’s practically a million ways you can use it and even make it.  That’s the thing that gets me… there are so many different combinations to try, how will I ever feel like I’ve found the best?!  A few months ago, I was reading my cooking magazines and found this awesome guide for mixing and matching your own pesto.  I have to share it with you… it’s crazy how many different types you could try and also get super creative with it!  (Mix-Match Pesto!)

Let me break it down for you… here’s what you need to make your own perfect pesto:

1.  Nut or Seed (almonds in this case)

2.  Add your base (olives and parsley)

3.  Choose your seasoning(s) (garlic and pepper)

4.  Pick a cheese (Asiago!)

5.  Finish that pesto! (more cheese!!)

I can’t wait to try a few others… I have already made another one with this gorgeous heirloom tomato and fresh mozz pizza the other night… whoa!

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YUM!  I’m hungry for that again…

Okay but really I have to share this crazy pesto recipe with you.  It was so easy to make and it was creamy, delicious, and just all around awesome.  Enjoy!

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Campanelle Pasta (or other pretty shape!)
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 oz) Pitted Manzanilla Olives
  • 1/2 cup Sliced Raw Almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley Leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper 
  • 1 large Garlic Clove
  • 2 tablespoons Water
  • 1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) Grated Asiago Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  
  2. Put the olives, almonds, parsley, pepper, and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With the processor on, add 2 tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon of vinegar through the chute, processing until the mixture is finely chopped.  
  3. Combine pasta, 1/4 cup olives, sliced almonds, flat-leaf parsley leaves, black pepper, and garlic in a food processor; pulse 3 times or until coarsely chopped. With processor on, add 2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon vinegar through the food chute, processing until mixture is finely chopped.
  4. Combine pasta, the reserved liquid, and the olive mixture in a large bowl and toss well.  Sprinkle with extra cheese and serve immediately.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light

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Tex-Mex Pasta Salad

It’s finally summertime again!  

Well, not officially, but once Memorial Day is here… it’s summer as far as I’m concerned!  What types of food remind you of summer?  For me, it’s Watermelon, Peaches and Plums, Ice Cream, and of course Grilling.  Last week, we fired up our grill and made an amazing BBQ spread with tons of veggies and juicy chicken covered in our Homemade BBQ Sauce.

Dave really wanted pasta salad for a side dish but I wasn’t interested in getting  all Mayo-ey.  I adapted this Tex-Mex Pasta Salad from Cooking Light to make it into a side-dish.  The pasta salad turned out fabulous, we all really liked it.  It was a nice light side that went along perfectly with our grilled veggies and chicken.  I’d love to try this with ground turkey as the original recipe calls for to make a complete meal next time!

Tex-Mex Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 box Short Pasta (I used Pipette)
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1 clove of Garlic, minced
1 packet of 40%-less-sodium Taco Seasoning or 1-2 Tbsp pre-made seasoning
1/2 cup Shredded Reduced-Fat Cheddar or Mexican Blend Cheese
1/2 pint Grape Tomatoes, sliced
1/2 Bell Pepper, diced
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Green Onions, chopped
1 small can Sliced Black Olives, drained
1/2 can (15.5oz) Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 Lime, Juiced
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt & Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cumin

1 Jalapeno, chopped, for topping optional

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain; set aside.
  2. Combine the garlic, tomatoes, bell pepper, cilantro, green onions, olives, and black beans in a bowl.  Carefully stir to combine.  Add the pasta and stir again.
  3. Add the oil, lime juice, taco seasoning, salt, pepper, cumin and stir until combined.  Add extra taco seasoning if desired.  

Recipe inspired by:  Cooking Light

We grilled Zuchs, Onion, Bell Pepper, and Tomato Halves (which is my new fav thing)

We grilled Zuchs, Onion, Bell Pepper, and Tomato Halves (which is my new fav thing)

So many pretty colors!

So many pretty colors!

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photo 3 (30)

The original recipe not only included ground turkey, but the sauce was made with sour cream and topped with salsa.  I was planning on using some fat free sour cream to keep it healthy, but when I tasted the pasta salad just using the seasonings, oil, and lime juice… I loved it so much that I just left it alone.  If you prefer a creamy pasta salad, go ahead and add some sour cream.  OR, if you want it to just be a little less dry, you could always add the salsa.

Do you have an awesome pasta salad recipe?  Please share!!

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

I’m finally back on track with the blog people.

I’ve been running around like crazy (as always) but this time, I was getting ready for my first vacation with Dave in a year and a half!!  We just returned late last night and I cannot wait to tell you all about it soon.  Our trip took us to Seattle and Vancouver… and was full of lots of fun sightseeing, exploring, family time, and of course good food & drink.

The view from our run in Vancouver.  Absolutely gorgeous!  Worth torturing myself for a few miles while on vacation...

The view from our run in Vancouver. Absolutely gorgeous! Worth torturing myself for a few miles while on vacation…

I just wanted to make you really jealous and give you a preview… this beautiful picture was taken on our run along the beach one morning in Vancouver.  How gorgeous?

Feeling selfish lately after basically neglecting you all, I thought it’d be only fair to give you a new recipe today… a really awesome one.  I saw this recipe on a blog that I’m just loving, it’s called Iowa Girl Eats.  Check it out!  I think Kristin’s pictures on her blog are absolutely amazing.  Anyway, I saw her Mediterranean Orzo Salad in March and realized that I had all of the ingredients at home… my favorite type of recipe.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Makes 4 Servings as a side dish

Ingredients:
4oz Orzo
1 handful Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 5oz container Reduced Fat Feta Crumbles
1/4 cup Olives, sliced 
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped (I used my handy dandy freeze-dried herbs again)
2 Tablespoons Capers
1/4 cup Lemon Juice (2 Lemons)
1 teaspoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
Sea Salt, Black Pepper
1/4 cup EVOO or other Oil (grapeseed)
Directions:
1.  Cook Orzo in a large pot of salted water, boiling until al dente as the box instructs.  Drain, set aside.
2.  Make the dressing.  Whisk or blend the lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper (pinches of each, taste test).  Slowly drizzle in the oil while pulsing the blender or whisking if you’re not using the blender.  
3.  Combine tomatoes, feta, olives, parsley, and capers in a large bowl.  Add cooked orzo and the dressing.  Toss to combine.  
*This can be served warm or room temp.  Also, if you’re planning on not eating right away, save some dressing on the side so you can top it off before you’re ready to eat it.  The pasta will probably have soaked up a lot overnight.*

Recipe slightly adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats

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I decided to make this to eat as a side for both lunch and dinner.  It was a delicious change of pace for us, since I rarely ever make pasta salads.  The pasta salad had such great flavor from the freshness of the lemon juice and the salty from the olives and capers.  Yummy, simple yet special.

You should be warned though that I don’t like my pasta salad drenched in oil, so I halved the oil that the original recipe calls for.  If you don’t like yours on the dry side, I’d recommend doubling the dressing.

Be on the lookout for my post in the next week or so about our trip!

 

A Taste of Olive… Olive YOU!

Apparently, this has been the year of overcoming my food fears. If you’ve read the story about me overcoming my fear of tomatoes, you’ll now really think that I don’t eat anything… but I actually do I swear! The only other food besides tomatoes and brussles sprouts that I didn’t eat until recently (I now eat them all fyi!) is the OLIVE.

My Dad always tried to convince me to eat them, enticing me with stories of their saltiness, thinking that would spark some interest… but I wanted nothing to do with them. They were just one more item to pick off of my house salad when I went out to eat. It wasn’t until I met Dave that I was inspired to try these little green and red guys. Dave had a habit of eating Manzanilla Olives out of the jar while we cooked dinner, which obviously irritated me… since I didn’t like them! One day I decided I was going to force myself to like them. Crazy, right? Every day for about a week after that, I ate one olive out of the jar, made a disgusting face, chugged some water and regretted this decision- anyone that knows me would think this description is of me drinking alcohol… but that’s another story. Sure enough, as the week progressed, I stopped making the face, and maybe even had TWO olives at a time. It worked! I started to enjoy them, and of course now I LOVE them!

The only bad news about this discovery, for anyone that knows me (especially Dave) … is that I am now convinced that anyone can get over their food fears and convince their minds to try and like new things. What are your food fears? I’m calling Dave out on his, as I’m completely determined to get him over at least 2 of them: MUSHROOMS, SHRIMP, and HAM! Yum, right?

I’m glad my hatred of olives has been overcome, as today Dave and I stumbled upon an unbelievable store called… you guessed it… A Taste of Olive. The store sells different types of Olive Oils and Vinegars from around the world. They are displayed and stored in fustis– big metal vats with little spouts attached… and the best part is that you’re encouraged to TASTE as many as you’d like! We must have taste-tested at least 20 different kinds. They had flavored olive oil, flavored balsamic vinegars and white balsamic… truffle oil, chili oil, and even avocado oil (im going back to buy that one!). You had to have seen me, I was a kid in a candy shop. It was so fun, and you will soon learn to expect… it took me FOREVER to decide on which to buy!

We ended up buying three small bottles for $32 which wasn’t too bad. I cannot wait to use them at home! Here are the lucky winners:

Castello Monte Vibiano-Umbria (from Perugia, Italy): Our unflavored EVOO

Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar (from Modena, Italy): Sweet and tangy, so yummy.

Serrano Chili Honey Vinegar (from the Pacific Northwest): Hot and sweet and sour all at the same time! MMM!

I will keep you posted when I get to try them all out! I’m feelin’ a big salad (plus some toms and olives, duh) with some homemade dressing comin up! Hope everyone is having a nice weekend and enjoying this beautiful wintery weather on the east coast.