We attended the annual end of year family picnic for my son’s Cub Scout den. The other moms usually request my Pasta with Pesto and Peas side dish that both adults and children love, but I decided to go rogue this year and bring a sun-dried tomato pasta salad.
The recipe is a little risky because it uses black olives. Many people (meaning TheRoomMom) avoid olives. However, this recipe has just enough olives to give a salty/briny taste without actually having a super olive-y flavor. I originally got the recipe from an Ina Garten cookbook and have tweaked it a little over time. With Memorial Day picnics just around the corner, this recipe might be something to consider.
1 lb. fusili pasta (corkscrew pasta)
good olive oil
1 lb. ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
1/4 c. black kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 lb. fresh mozarella, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 c. basil leaves cut in chiffonade (thin ribbons)
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 T. red wine vinegar
6 T. good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 t. capers, drained
2 t. kosher salt
3/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for the time given in the directions on the box (about 12 minutes). Drain well. Add pasta to a large bowl, and toss with a little olive oil (~2 t.) to keep from sticking together. Let the pasta cool.
While pasta is cooling, seed the tomatoes and dice. I used Roma tomatoes because they looked like they would be the reddest and tastiest of my choices in the store. If you can get really good homegrown tomatoes in another variety, use them.
Pit (if needed) and chop the black olives into a very small dice. Chop 6 sun-dried tomatoes. Cut the mozzarella into medium dice.
Add diced tomatoes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella to the cooled pasta and toss gently.
For the dressing, combine the dressing ingredients (sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper) in a food processor and run the food processor until the dressing is almost smooth.
Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss well.
Just before serving, add basil and Parmesan cheese and toss again.
Can be made ahead.
It is served at room temperature, so it works well for tailgates, picnics, or group meals.
Diced artichoke hearts are a good addition.
Pairs well with grilled chicken or grilled steaks.
Aunt B will be visiting with her two boys for Easter. I have my parents in town too. That means I need to prepare food for a group, which is actually something I like to do. I am not sure why cooking for a large group is so much more appealing to me than the daily cooking for my own small(er) family, but it is (see previous post). One idea I have for Easter brunch is Hash Brown Casserole. It is easy to assemble ahead, and it includes melted cheese, which automatically gives the recipe bonus points.
There are many variations of this casserole available, but I am sharing the recipe I use. I like to serve this casserole with ham or scrambled eggs. I also think it works well with steak or hamburgers later in the day.
1 2-lb package frozen, diced hash brown potatoes– thawed (the cubes)
1/2 c. melted butter
1 10-oz. can Campbell’s cream of celery soup (could replace with cream of chicken)
8-oz. sour cream
1/2 c. chopped green onions
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (+ a little extra to sprinkle on the top before baking)
1 t. salt (or to taste)
1/4 t. pepper (or to taste)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
Spread in a 9×11 casserole dish.
Sprinkle extra shredded cheddar cheese on top.
Cover in foil and bake for ~35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes or so until the top is slightly golden and edges are bubbly.
As soon as school starts, I lose touch with many friends until I resurface again in May when school ends for the year. This year, I am going to make more of an effort to be in better contact. It starts today with a Sunday family lunch/dinner. One of my mom friends from swim team is having us over this afternoon for late lunch/early dinner. It is a perfect time. I can still get all of my Sunday chores finished. We will be home in plenty of time to get kids ready to go back to school tomorrow and be in bed at a reasonable time, and I don’t need a babysitter since the kids are included. My contribution to this afternoon’s linner is a tomato pie.
What are other easy ways to stay in touch with adult friends during the school year? Do you feel like you disappear when after school activities and school projects start?
1 pie crust (I use store bought)
1/2 bag basil, chopped
1/2 bag chives, chopped
4 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. to 3/4 c. grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Cook pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until browned. Remove from the oven and let cool. You may need to put uncooked beans or other pie weights in the pie crust to keep it from puffing up while it cooks.
Turn the oven down to 350 degrees after the pie shell is finished.
While the pie crust is baking, cut tomatoes in slices and let drain on paper towel for 30 minutes.
In cooked pie shell, layer tomatoes, basil, chives, and green onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and repeat.
Mix mayonnaise and grated cheese and top the pie with the cheese mixture. You don’t have to spread the cheese mixture too much. Just dollop on the center and push down with the back of a spoon. It will spread as it bakes.
Sprinkle the bacon bits on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
I would like to give a shout out to the 30306 Book Club without which I would not have this tomato pie recipe. Many years ago when I was fun and single, I had an amazing book club in Atlanta. This recipe is from that book club. I miss you!
My son had his 2012-2013 Cub Scout kick-off meeting this afternoon. It was a family picnic at a local park. We brought a yummy pasta salad courtesy of Ina Garten to share with the group. This is one of my best large group recipes. It is easy to make, is colorful, and tastes delicious. The peas and spinach are kind of disguised, so even children like to eat this; my son actually requested this dish for his birthday dinner. If you want to use this as an entree rather than a side dish, serve with grilled chicken or salmon on top. What are your best recipes to share with a big group? I love anything that can be made ahead and is (fairly) easy to prepare.
2 boxes bow tie pasta (2 lbs)
good olive oil
1 1/2 c. pesto (homemade or purchased)
1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 c. good mayonnaise
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c. frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 c. pine nuts, toasted
3/4 t. kosher salt
3/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until pasta is al dente. Drain and toss in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil to keep from sticking together. Cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and continue to puree.
Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta, then add the Parmesan cheese, peas, pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.