Today, we have Liz from Books n’ Cooks sharing a recipe for Salad with Pear Vinaigrette. Liz and I met in real life 2 years ago at Mixed.

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette from Books n' Cooks on KatiesCucina.com

Hello Katie’s Cucina readers!

I’m Liz from Books n’ Cooks. I first met Katie and discovered her blog a couple of years ago, at a foodie conference we attended together. I am usually a bit quiet when I meet new people, but it was easy to open up and chat with Katie, and not just because we have a love of food in common. Katie has an infectious bubbly personality and I immediately liked her. I’ve enjoyed reading Katie’s blog over the past few years, so I was flattered when Katie asked me to guest post while she’s enjoying her maternity leave.

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette from Books n' Cooks on KatiesCucina.com

Earlier this year, I was asked to bring salad to our semi-monthly book club dinner. I was looking forward to having a low maintenance contribution considering how busy my weekends have been lately, but I didn’t want low maintenance to mean boring. Enter: this salad. It felt appropriate to me – with wintery pears and summery blueberries fitting the 60 degree weather in February and March (well, 60 degrees on those weeks where we didn’t have snowstorms). The fresh and dried fruit make the salad super flavorful and visually stunning. It was anything except boring.

Adapted from Prevention RD

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 4

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette

Ingredients

    Ingredients for the Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 a pear, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbs. dried cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
  • Ingredients for the Salad:
  • 5 oz. your favorite lettuce or salad green
  • 3/4 a pear, finely sliced or chopped
  • 1 c. fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. walnut pieces, toasted

Directions

  1. In a food processor, pulse pear, garlic, cranberries, salt and pepper briefly. With the mixer running, add vinegar and olive oil until smooth. Add equal portions of additional olive oil and vinegar until desired consistency. Vinaigrette will keep for about a week in the fridge.
  2. Toss all salad ingredients, except the walnuts. Add walnuts just before serving.
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Dill Buttermilk Salad Dressing

My salad obsession continues. Today, I’m sharing a super simple creamy dill buttermilk salad dressing recipe I recently discovered and have come to love. I love making my own dressings. Since being pregnant, though, I’ve done a bad job of keeping up with making my own. If I get a boost of energy that’s when I typically make a dressing. For the most part though I’ve been counting on higher-end refrigerated varieties that don’t have a year or two shelf life. I like to buy the ones that have a month to two month shelf life. At least then I feel a little bit better about buying a store bought dressing and know (and feel) that its a little better for me.

Dill Buttermilk Salad Dressing

Normally, I would be all for the vinaigrettes, like my Greek vinaigrette dressing, but the creamy salad dressings have been wear its at all pregnancy long. This dressing, like other homemade dressings can be whipped up in less than 5 minutes and stores well in an airtight container. Utilizing fresh herbs from the garden (or store bought) brings this creamy dressing to life. For some reason, I went on a buttermilk buying frenzy a few weeks ago and when I saw I still had a carton of buttermilk to use within a week I had decided I would make a buttermilk dressing. I actually had all the ingredients on hand–so it really worked out well.

Dill Buttermilk Salad Dressing

I also used this salad dressing to top a tasty crostini I served up to friends the other weekend. Remember, salad dressings don’t have to be served just on salads. You can use them to marinate meats,  toss with vegetables, or use in an appetizer, like pictured in the background of this dressing photo. I’ll be sharing the recipe for the crostini later this week–so stay tuned.

Adapted from About.com Local Foods

Dill Buttermilk Salad Dressing

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 3/4 cup

Dill Buttermilk Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. In a food processor combine, buttermilk, mayonnaise, fresh dill, fresh chives, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Puree for 20 seconds or until well incorporated.
  2. Best if refrigerated for 30 minutes before serving. Store in an air tight jar for up to one week.
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Garlic Bacon Croutons

Easy-to-make homemade Garlic Bacon Croutons from KatiesCucina.com

I know what you are thinking… bacon in croutons?

Yes… well sort of.

Because I love bacon so much I save the bacon grease to use for other cooking purposes. The other week, I made grilled sausage and pepper subs. I cut out the middles of the sub rolls and saved them to the side. I decided I would make a few croutons out of them instead of wasting the delicious fresh bread. We have been eating a lot of salads in our home. At least one with dinner every night. I had just pulled bacon out of the oven, when I decided to cube the bread and roll it in the leftover bacon grease. For good measure, I sprinkled a little garlic powder on top and popped them in to the oven.

Easy-to-make homemade Garlic Bacon Croutons from KatiesCucina.com

Later that night when we went to eat our salads I topped each salad with a few homemade croutons. This is a luxury item for our salads. I never have croutons on hand. I love them and eat them when they are presented on a salad, but its the last thing I think about buying at the store. I will tell you that it was love at first bite–the homemade garlic bacon croutons were amazing. They do not have an overwhelming bacon flavor to them, but just enough to make you think about what is on these croutons. Even my non-bacon loving husband loved the croutons. I didn’t tell him what they were seasoned with until after he was done with his salad, and then when I told him he wasn’t surprised at all. I think he loathes the fact that I keep a small jar of bacon grease in the refrigerator at all times. No wasting in our house is my motto (especially when it comes to bacon).

This was definitely a happy accident type of recipe. I wasn’t going to blog about it, but after finishing my cup of croutons in less than a day I decided to make more. I finished the two remaining sub rolls and baked them up into beautiful garlic bacon croutons. Every night for the past 2 weeks we have enjoyed them on our salad, and I think once we are done with them I’ll have to invent another new crouton recipe. Croutons are something that you forget is so good until you have them daily.

Katie Original Recipe

Garlic Bacon Croutons

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 cups

Garlic Bacon Croutons

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp bacon fat, melted
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 cups of cubed bread (French or Italian work fine)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a frying pan, melt bacon fat if need be then spread on to a tinfoil lined baking sheet. Place cubed bread on baking sheet and rub around in the bacon fat until every piece of bread is coated. Then sprinkle on the garlic powder.
  3. Bake for 350 degrees on the middle rack for 10 minutes. Toss the croutons and bake again for an additional 5 minutes until golden brown. Let them cool and then seal in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
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Chicken Chop Salad with Smoky French Dressing from KatiesCucina.com

Back in the summer I posted this lovely recipe for Chicken Chop Salad with Smoky French Dressing, and then my server where I host my blogs decided to crash. And it ate ALL the post I published for the entire week. Like everything… even stuff I had scheduled out. I was a little devastated. And If I remember correctly this was right around the same time I had just learned I was expecting a baby! So one can only imagine the hormones flying. I was freaking out but at the same time just let it be… I did repost almost all the post that I had published that week, minus this recipe for Chicken Chop Salad with Smoky French Dressing. By the time I got to this recipe I just didn’t have the energy. So I saved it in my archives for a rainy day. 

Since most people (minus myself) are on a healthy food/dieting kick I figured I would post this delicious and tasty recipe for Chicken Chop Salad with Smoky French Dressing. I utilize leftover crunchy-baked chicken strips with fresh produce and homemade dressing to make a simple lunch or dinner. I love making homemade dressings. They don’t take long at all to make and the best part is that 99.9% of the time you have all the ingredients on hand. Don’t get me wrong, just because I’m not on the diet train doesn’t mean that I’m not enjoying my fair share of salads. I eat a salad just about every night with dinner and will occasionally have them as a snack too!

Adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray – June 2013

Chicken Chop Salad w/ Tangy French Dressing

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 salad + 1 cup Tangy French Dressing

Chicken Chop Salad w/ Tangy French Dressing

Ingredients

    For the salad:
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumbers
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 2 crunchy-baked chicken strips, chopped
  • For the Tangy French Dressing:
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp mayonaise
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

Directions

  1. Layer on a plate, spinach, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and chopped chicken.
  2. In a jar combine 1 the minced garlic clove, ketchup, red wine vinegar, olive oil, mayonnaise, and smoked paprika. Cover and shake until well blended.
  3. Pour dressing on salad and enjoy. Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to one week.
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 Greek-Style Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad via KatiesCucina.com #recipe

This Greek-style cucumber, tomato, and feta salad is one of my favorite salads. I make this salad at least once a week. Sometimes not as glamourous with the kalamata olives and the feta. Sometimes its a simple cucumber and tomato with the greek all-purpose seasoning, olive oil, and a little fresh dill from the garden. I first blogged about my Greek Cucumber & Tomato salad a few years ago. This was before I liked feta. Over the past few years, I’ve played with this recipe and its completely transformed into what I can now honestly call mine. I no longer use a processed salad dressing. I also thinly slice my cucumbers. I love using my OXO hand-held mandoline slicer. For those who know me–know that this is probably one of my favorite kitchen tools. The Greek seasoning I use has plenty of salt and flavor.

Yesterday, I shared a Grilled Greek Pork Tenderloin that compliments this salad so very well. I received a few questions yesterday as to what Greek All-Purpose Seasoning I use. I use Cavender’s. It’s the only all-purpose Greek seasoning I’ve ever used. You can find this in the spice isle. I’m sure if you find other brands that will work as well.

Entertaining this summer? No problem--make my easy recipe for Greek-Style Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad

This Greek-style cucumber, tomato, and feta salad is best consumed fresh. I’ll make it just before dinner, pop it in the refrigerator to cool, and then top it with feta right before dinner is served. I like to let the Greek seasoning marinate on the salad for a good 30 mintues. The salt from the seasoning helps break down the cucumbers and the flavor absorbs into it beautifully. I love entertaining with this salad. I’ve never had anyone complain when they received this salad on their plate at dinner. Typically, the complaints I receive is that their is not enough to take home to enjoy the next day. This salad is good the next day, but not as great. The cucumber really start to breakdown and the flavors really marinate into the vegetables making them a little softer than I would prefer. I also don’t like the soggy feta cheese–but maybe its me! Everyone else who eats the salad the next day (when their are leftovers) loves it.

Katie Original Recipe

Greek-Style Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4

Greek-Style Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pint Grape Tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Cucumber, Thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tbsp Red Onion, thinly sliced or minced
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Dill, minced
  • 2 tsp Greek All-Purpose Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Feta, crumbled

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine grape tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumber, kalamata olives, red onion, and dill. In a small bowl whisk together Greek all-purpose seasoning and olive oil. Pour the dressing over top of the salad. Mix well, and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Before serving top the salad with crumbled feta. Store leftovers in a sealed container for up to 2 days.
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Disclaimer: There is an affiliate link in this post. No brands paid me to talk about their products, I just truly love the products and want to share with my readers. 


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Today, I’m excited to introduce Rachel from Rachel Cooks! I can thank Rachel for getting me hooked on making homemade granola. Like this Almond Mocha Granola. Rachel also hosted a Pancake Party  this past July. She has 31 pancake recipes on her blog from sweet to savory and everything in between!  Rachel and I share a similar pallet when it comes to food. We both eat our fair share of veggies and that’s why I think I’ve levitated to her blog and make her recipes regularly. The most recent recipe I made from Rachel was this Angel Hair Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. If your looking for a quick and easy dinner this is the dish for you!

I digress…

Today, Rachel is sharing one of my favorite salads! Take it away, Rachel…

—————-

Hi readers of Katie’s Cucina! I’m Rachel from Rachel Cooks. If you don’t know me, feel free to stop by my blog and learn more. I won’t bore you with all the details here–I’d rather get straight to the food!

I realize that this is sorta of summery…and it’s sorta fall (is it fall?), but it really is great for any time of the year. Cucumbers are always available–so as long as you can find the dill for this recipe you’re good to go.

I used regular cucumbers for this recipe, but if you can find English cucumbers you can probably get away skipping the seeding and peeling part since they more tender skin and less seeds. Enjoy this easy recipe, with less guilt than it’s full-fat sister!

Reduced-Fat Cucumber Salad
Adapted from Martha Stewart

{Guest Post} Reduced-Fat Cucumber Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approximately one lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cucumbers, seeded, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (I used the slicer blade on my food processor)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except cucumbers. Use a whisk or a fork to combine until smooth.
  2. Add cucumbers and stir to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Best consumed the same day it is prepared.
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Verdict: So delicious. Refreshing and a perfect side dish or snack.
Husband’s take: Ben is not a huge fan of sour cream, but he enjoyed this salad!
Changes I would make: None.
Difficulty: So easy! Especially using the food processor–it takes half of the work out of the recipe!


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Earlier this year, I vowed to start making more homemade dressings and consuming less pre-packaged dressings. Of course, there are a few dressings I love and can’t live without, but for the most part you won’t see my refrigerator door loaded with salad dressings. I love to cook with lemons and had yet to make a dressing with them.

Lemon Herb Dressing

Since my herb garden is overflowing right now I figured this was an ideal dressing to make. Plus, who doesn’t love a light and refreshing dressing during the dog-days of summer? I also did a little experimenting and marinaded some chicken with this dressing (only for 30 minutes). Baked it with shallots and slices of lemon and garlic. It was divine.

Lemon Herb Dressing

Adapted from: Everyday Food, April 2012

Lemon Herb Dressing

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a pint size mason jar (with lid) add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Followed by the honey, dijon mustard, and olive oil. Next up, add the freshly chopped chives, parsley, and dill; followed by salt and pepper to taste. Seal lid and shake until all ingredients are well incorporated. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
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psst… if you love lemons you will love this weeks Google Hangout. Christine from Cook the Story and myself will be chatting with Beth & Julia from Live Pretty about lemons!

 


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Beet, Tomato, & Artichoke salad

Growing up I ate a lot of beets. But I never ate fresh roasted beets. I always ate the can ones; not that there is anything wrong with eating canned beets I was just never introduced to the fresh ones as a child. *Just want to make that clear since my mom reads and I’m sure I’ll catch hell for it later.  It wasn’t until earlier this year I started experimenting in the kitchen with fresh beets. Beet & Tomato salad

Last week, while shopping at my local produce market I decided to give them another try and challenge myself to cook with them. I scoured the internet for recipes and found this recipe from good ‘ol Martha. I also found a recipe for beet greens… yes, as in the greens that are attached to the top of the beets. I tried both, and loved both recipes; however, did not photograph the beet greens so that will be a later blog post!

Beet & Tomato salad

Ultimately, I wanted a refreshing summer salad that was light and super healthy. This recipe did just that. Served chilled with bold colors and flavors Since I love basil and cook with it just about in every meal I decided to add the aromatic herb to the dish. It complemented all the flavors wonderfully. If you are looking for a flavorful summer salad to serve… this is the recipe for you.

Beet, Tomato, & Artichoke salad

Adapted from: Martha Stewart

Beet, Tomato, & Artichoke salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 2 medium beets
  • 1 tbsp plus 3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp red-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 medium beefsteak tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 tbsp basil leaves
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 9 artichoke hearts, quartered

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop the tops of the beats off (save the greens for another meal), scrub the beats, and then place beets on a large piece of foil on a baking sheet. Top with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Fold foil around the beets and crimp ends to form a packet. Roast beets in oven until tender (when pierced with a knife: about 45 minutes). Remove beets from foil and let cool preferably in the refrigerator. Once the beets are cooled they are very easy to peel. Once the beets are peeled cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 3 teaspoons olive oil, thinly sliced shallot, lemon juice, and lemon zest and red wine vinegar; season with salt and pepper to taste. On a large platter or on individual plates, arrange beets and tomatoes (every other one being a beet) add 3 artichoke hearts per plate. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with thinly sliced basil leaves.

Notes

*You can refrigerate this salad up to 2 days; however, note that your tomatoes will become stained from the beet dye.

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Are you ready for the most amazing summer salad to date?

Fresh, sweet, and full of flavor?

If you answered, yes, then I have got the recipe for you!!! This recipe came about all because I was trying to use up some leftovers! The best part is that I was planning to recipe develop the night I created this salad, but because I’m now programed to write every ingredient/measurement known to man down on paper –I decided to write down this recipe. O-M-G I’m glad I did! This salad is perfect for picnics… does not need to be refrigerated (because it has no mayo)! The chunks of fresh corn, the diced cilantro, the zing of lime–all play big roles to this recipe. The night I made this salad I accompanied it with grilled chopped chicken tacos (recipe to come).

cherry tomato, corn, and black bean salad

I’m also excited to share this recipe today because I’m participating in the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange  hosted by Gimme Some Oven & Bake Your Day, and sponsored this week by BigKitchen. This 2 month long event is to increase awareness of the International Justice Mission’s Recipe for Change campaign.

A unique partnership between farmworkers and tomato growers called the Fair Food Program has made enormous strides in ending slavery and other abuses in Florida’s tomato fields. Supermarkets can help guarantee an end to slavery and other serious abuses in the tomato supply chain by joining the Fair Food Program. This summer, we have a Recipe for Change: Join us as we campaign for guaranteed slave-free tomatoes. Click here to learn how you can get involved!

cherry tomato, corn, and black bean salad

It wasn’t until earlier this year when I attended the Southeast Produce Council Conference that I learned about the slavery issues we have right here in Florida when it comes to tomato farming. Just a few years ago, Florida’s tomato fields were called “ground zero” for modern-day slavery in the United States. I hope you will take a stand against slavery and other human rights abuses in the tomato industry with me to ensure that the tomatoes that we love are harvested by farmworkers in an environment of safety and basic dignity.

cherry tomato corn and black bean salad

Source: Katie Original Recipe

Cherry Tomato, Corn and Black Bean Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 ears corn on the cob, removed
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, diced
  • 2 tbsp roasted red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lime, zest of and juiced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

Directions

  1. In a large bowl add corn that has been removed from the cob, drained black beans, 1/4 cup each of cilantro and green onions, 2 tablespoons roasted red bell pepper, 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered, 1 tsp salt, zest and juice of 1 lime, and 1 jalapeno. Mix well and chill until ready to serve!

Notes

*This is an original Katie's Cucina recipe.

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I’m always looking for a good non-mayo based salad to entertain with year round, but especially in the summer.  A few month back I co-hosted my best friends bridal shower. One of my tasks was to coordinate our lunch. Even though I was traveling 3 hours north I still planned to cook quite a bit. A week prior to the shower a coworker of mine shared the most amazing pesto tortellini salad with me. It was full of flavors, fresh, and at that moment I instantly knew it was going to replace the tried and true pasta salad I regularly make. He had created the recipe and I then adapted the recipe to the brides liking.

Since my friend created the recipe he never wrote it down–not intending to share the recipe with anyone. So we talked about the ingredients he used, and then I went to work on measurements and what not. The pasta salad was a huge hit at my best friends bridal shower, and I will definitely be making this pesto based salad (no mayonnaise people–perfect for summer time picnics) over and over again this summer and year round!

Speaking about summer… Maggie from Midwestern Girl DIY and Kristin from A Simply Klassic Home are hosting a Ready 4 Summer Blog Party this week! If you have a great summer recipe you’d like to share make sure you got to Maggie and Kristin’s blogs and link up your favorite recipe.

I am contributing this super simple and healthy salad for their blog party! Make sure you go check out The Gunny Sack to see what dish she is bringing to the party!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Pesto Tortellini Salad
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 package of refrigerated whole wheat tortellini
  • ½ bag of spinach
  • ¼ cup refrigerated pesto
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup artichoke hearts, drained
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large pot boil water and cook tortellini according to directions. During the last 30 seconds of cooking add the spinach and wilt. Drain the pasta and spinach and place in a large bowl.
  2. In a small saute pan toast the pine nuts until they are golden brown then set to the side.
  3. In the large bowl with the tortellini and spinach add the pesto, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, toasted pine nuts, and grated parmesan cheese. Mix well until incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and serve cold.

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