Picnic salad for grownups.

Summer is still debating wether of not to show up for real in Vancouver.  Grrrrr!  (or in this case, brrrrr!).  The good thing is the garden is still growing.

The fact that I’m gardening in a sweater most days is a rant for another day.

As I’ve been huddled in the house under blankets I came across this great blog post on 101 Cookbooks about macaroni salad. Mmmmmm.  Now that feels like summer.  Memories of picnics as a kid came flooding back to me.  My mom made a great macaroni salad.  White noodles, onions, mayo, salt and pepper and if memory serves chopped red pepper.  That was it.  I ate gallons of it.  As a broke theatre student I remember taking that recipe (minus the red pepper – they were too expensive) adding some chopped dill pickles and calling it a meal.

Years ago I found a great recipe in Cooking Light magazine for a warm pasta .  It quickly became a fast weeknight standby in my repetoire.  I soon realized that it, and variations of it, made a tasty lunch leftover.  So wether you like your noodles warm or cold, here’s a great noodle salad (completely!) based on that original recipe.

  • 4c. kamut rotini noodles
  • 1 can organic chick peas, well rinsed
  • 2c. chopped spinach, arugula or kale (or all 3!)
  • 1 clove garlic, fincely minced
  • 1/4c. toasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • olive oil, enough to moisten pasta
  • 1/2c. feta cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • Optional: chopped sundried tomato, fresh pesto, ricotta rather than feta.

Bring pot of well salted water to a boil.  Add noodles.

While noodles are cooking rinse chick peas and leave in strainer.

In large mixing bowl place greens and chopped garlic.

When noodles are cooked drain over the chick peas (this will warm them through a bit).  Add both to bowl.  Mix.

Add lemon juice, olive oil feta cheese and nuts or seeds.  Salt and pepper to taste.


The Tomato Sandwich

Tomato season isn’t really upon us.  (Although, there are a few on the vine!)

Yet I can’t stop thinking about this….

  • 2 slices of fresh toasted bread spread with fresh guacamole.
  • A thickly sliced juicy tomato.
  • A handful of lettuce or arugula.
  • 2 slices of extra old cheddar cheese (or for pure decadence skip the guac and cheddar and try a few slices of cambanzola cheese) .
  • Lots of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

That’s it.  Is there anything more noble than the tomato sandwich?


Actually.  Yes.

A tomato sandwich with bacon.

Pumpkin, noodles & dreams.

Awhile ago I took a cooking class at The Dirty Apron Cooking School .  It was the second class I’d taken there and aside from having nightmares about sauces (not kidding… it was bad…. the nightmare that is, not the sauce!) it was amazing.  My brain was positively exploding from all the information.  To be honest I kind of felt like I had never been in a kitchen before in my life.  Until we hit pasta.  Then, not surprisingly, I found my happy place.

I made tortellini.  They were quite tasty.

Now I can’t stop dreaming about making pasta in my own kitchen.  I’ve been stockpiling ideas like crazy.  Then, in my garden I saw this….

A pumpkin blossom.  Now I’m dreaming of fresh pumpkin puree, stuffed in fresh ravioli.  What are you dreaming of?

Fitness Friday Veggies.

Over in the twittersphere different days of the week have different themes.  Wordless Wednesday.  Fitness Friday.  You get the idea.  So as it is Friday, here is a bit of a repost from my Fitness Newsletter in case you missed it.

Summer is barbeque season.  Too often though the barbeque doesn’t get much vegetable love.  As gardens and markets are starting to explode with fresh produce now is the time to experiment!

Perfect for a party you can prepare the vegetables ahead of time and have them ready to go straight into a specialized grill pan, on a skewer or straight onto the grill. Grilled vegetables are great served on their own or tossed together as a salad with a light vinaigrette served warm or cold. Cook extra. They are great the next day to add to a breakfast burrito or in a quinoa or pasta picnic salad!

Noodles. Finally.

To start the month of July I had a sleepover.  Not the pillow fights and giggling all night kind.  More the grownup version.  A glass of wine, a nice meal and some lazing on the couch watching bad tv with a friend.  It was glorious.

For me, the best thing was I actually got to cook.  On a stove.  Obviously, the sleepover was not at my construction zone house.  First on my list was pasta.  I haven’t had it in ages, and as you know, I love noodles!  So how to decide?  Knowing it might be my last noodles in awhile (it is bathing suit season after all!) I decided to go to a great resource  The Glorious Pasta of Italy by Domenica Marchetti.  Sadly, that really didn’t make the decision making process any easier!  Too many choices!  One recipe however brought to mind one of the best dishes I had when in Rome, Bucatini all’Amatriciana.

Bucatini at Ristorante Matriciella on Via St. Leone

In the cookbook I discovered a recipe for Double Amatriciana.  Decision made!

As usually happens in my cooking endeavours, the recipe didn’t quite go as planned.  I didn’t bring enough tomato’s, but had some homemade oven roasted tomato paste to add, I accidentally added the chili flakes twice and I used more bacon than pancetta.  Ah well.

Here’s my variation.  It was great.  For the record though, I’d buy the book and make the recipes exactly as written.  After all – she’s a published recipe author for a reason!

My version

  • chunk of pancetta, diced (approx. 1/2″)
  • bigger chunk of back bacon, diced
  • 1/8c olive oil
  • 2tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 large tbsps dried chili flakes
  • 1 large can organic whole tomato’s (and the juice!)
  • 1/4c homemade oven roasted tomato paste (a can of tomato paste would work in a pinch)
  • grated romano cheese for topping
  • enough bucatini for 2
  • red wine

Roughly dice the bacon and pancetta.  Place in pan at low heat until almost cooked through.  Add onion, garlic, chili flakes and olive oil.  Cook until onion and garlic is melting. Be careful not to burn it.  Add tomato and tomato paste.  Let simmer until the majority of liquid has boiled away.  Open bottle of red wine, pour a glass.  Sit and enjoy.  When sauce has started to thicken and is almost ready put on a large, well salted pot of water to boil. When boiling add noodles.  When noodles al dente (5-8minutes), drain noodles reserving 1/4-1/2c of the water.  Toss noodles with sauce, adding some reserved pasta water if necessary to allow sauce to coat the noodles.

Serve in large pasta bowls. Grate some cheese on top, pour another glass of wine and enjoy.

my version!