Spring Time Pasta Salad

I just signed up for a weekly co-op package in the community where we live and it’s making my gleefully excited.

I used to do a delivered co-op years and years ago when we were in Boston. It was so great since it was all organic and it helped us get creative with meals when things like kale, watermelon radishes, pea shoots, etc. The variety was nice and it helped us be creative with our meals as we tried out new recipes to use the fruits and veggies we received.

A neighbor told me about the co-op that is hosted on FB so I checked it out and immediately signed up. It’s affordable at $20 for a small box and $30 for a larger one. But they aren’t small to begin with, you get plenty of things! You can swap things out and even add things on. It’s great.

I think it will help save us money since this box is really affordable (not everything is organic) and will help us eat more fruits and vegetables throughout the week. This week the box I purchased included: 3 Beefsteak Tomatoes, Mangoes, 1 Hydro Bib lettuce,  Miniolas (Honeybells), 5+ Yellow Squash, Gala Apples, 1 bunch Asparagus, 2 Avocados,1 bag of Mini Carrots, a bunch of Bananas, 1 Red Onion, and 1 Yellow Onion. A total deal for $20A As well, they had a 1 ounce bag of microgreens from a local farm as a bonus that was added to the box. There are always add-ons you can select but I stuck with the standard box for now, but I know I’ll be checking them out too in the future.

 

The pickup for our community is on Tuesday nights and we already have been using up the goods. Apples sliced up at breakfast, avocados added to turkey tacos, and the bunny and I split a tomato.

I was really excited about the bunch of tender asparagus since and I just knew what do with it… Pasta Salad!!

I whipped up this pasta in no time to serve along with some chicken. It was such a great side dish for some chicken that we were having for dinner. I certainly could have just steamed the asparagus and squeezed some lemon on it, and it would have been great, but I really wanted something extra fun as a side dish.

The rotini is a great shape for pasta salads, but if you don’t have that on hand then grab a box of penne or bow ties. I almost used a box of whole wheat rotini but I didn’t think it would be as pretty. ha!!!

There is a lot of shallot in this recipe. It is not a mistake. Trust me. It cooks down and gets nice and mellow in flavor. It gives it a great complex oniony flavor without you just tossing in some red onion (which is delish, by the way) or garlic.

I used a sun-dried tomato basil seasoned one from Aldi, but a plain goat cheese would be just as awesome. Just make sure the pasta salad is nice and cool before you add it in or it’s just gonna melt through as you mix it in. Not a bad situation, but I think the little chunks of goat cheese as you take a bite gives it such a good pop in flavor.

Now, grab a blanket, some fried chicken, chilled rose, and this pasta salad to enjoy a picnic in the gorgeous spring weather!

Spring Time Pasta Salad

Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rotini pasta, or pasta with a similar shape
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 Cup diced shallot
  • 1 pound thin stalked asparagus, cut into pieces similar in size to the pasta (approx 1″)
  • 2-3 ounces of sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 8 ounces of crumbled goat cheese

For the dressing

  • 3/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Process

  1. Cook the pasta in well salted water until it is al dente, according to the pasta’s instructions. Drain and rinse well, let cool in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat, saute the shallots until translucent and tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Add the asparagus to the shallots. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the asparagus is bright in color and soft, but still crisp.
  4. While the asparagus is cooking, mix together all of the dressing ingredients.
  5. Add the cooked shallots and asparagus to the cooled pasta. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and dressing. Mix well.
  6. Chill for 30 minutes prior to adding the goat cheese, mix well again. Enjoy!
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Roasted Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Dip

Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Dip

Let’s be honest here, I approach award show season like how I approach the Super Bowl…

I’m in it for the food and booze.

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I don’t get to see many movies so I have no idea what actor, actress, or movie to root for. But I still like to watch the red carpet coverage and the award show anyway.

It’s so much fun to sit back and relax (after Autumn has gone to bed… bliss!) with some fun food and a big glass of wine. It’s time to take in the fashion and fun of the night.

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Since doing my previous Whole30’s, as well as being pregnant and pumping for over a year, I don’t drink as much. I just haven’t craved wine or beer like I used to. Sorta like, if you don’t use it, you loose it? I dunno.

But the point I am trying to make is that, when I do drink it’s something that I do actually want. Does that make any sort of sense? Let’s pretend you get me, even if you don’t.

So when the occasion strikes when I want to drink wine, it’s a wine that I really do enjoy. And I’ve been enjoying this Pinot Noir from Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi. Which is ‘surprising’ since I normally like lighter whites, but this wine gets me. It’s rich and has a nice body so it’s something I like to pair with ‘hearty’ dishes like a herby roast chicken or a pasta dish with a Bolognese sauce on it.

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This Roasted Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Dip is ridiculous. It has a great sweet, yet earthy flavor and velvety texture. Plus it’s loaded up with goat cheese. Dear lord, goat cheese gets me too. It has a healthy splash of the Pinot Noir in the dip so it adds a nice pop of flavor too.

The best thing is that you can make it up to 2 days in advance so that it can make your Oscar party prep even easier. Make it, let it hang out in the fridge and then heat it back up prior to serving. Transfer the dip to an oven proof serving dish and heat for about 30 minutes at 375F before serving. Take the dip out and sprinkle some goat cheese and pine nuts over top. Put back in the oven on broil on low for another few minutes to toast the pine nuts and warm the goat cheese.

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Get ready to cheer on Leo in winning his first Oscar!

And feel free to eat all of this dip. I will be!!!

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Roasted Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Dip

Makes 4-6 appetizer servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons pine nuts, plus more for garnish
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped green onions for garnish, (optional)
  • Crostini for dipping

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Toss together the butternut squash, carrots, garlic, and olive oil in a medium sized bowl to coat with the oil.
  3. Spread them out on the baking sheet and bake until butternut squash is fork tender, about 40-45 minutes.
  4. Place the roasted vegetables with the pine nuts, goat cheese, lemon juice, pinot noir, and lemon zest. Pulse until smooth. Add a bit more oil to thin, if necessary Add salt and pepper to taste. . Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until smooth
  5. Spoon the dip into a serving bowl and top with extra pine nuts and goat cheese. Serve warm with crostini, and a glass of Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir.

Adapted from Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi

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This post was sponsored by Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi but all opinions are my own

Spiced Black Bean, Grilled Avocado, and Goat Cheese Tacos- SRC

For my Secret Recipe Club post this month I had Melissa’s blog. She shares great sounding and looking recipes on her blog called Fried Ice and Donut Holes. While her blog is not a vegetarian blog she does have a great number of veggie friendly posts that look mouth watering. I have several recipes bookmarked for some healthy comfort food eating this fall and winter.

When it came time to pick a make a recipe I had a very hard time because I had a whole list of great things like, Barbecue Chicken PizzaBaked Pumpkin Donuts, and Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie. In the end I picked the Spiced Black Bean, Grilled Avocado, and Goat Cheese Tacos. I simply picked these tacos to make because I was having a crappy, super busy week. I had these bookmarked since I loved how they could be a great recipe to use when I didn’t feel like cooking. Well, that is exactly what happened. I had just about everything at home so I just ran out for an avocado and some wine (since I really needed that as well) and was quickly on my way to dinner once I got back home.

 

 

I made a few changes to the original recipe but I think you have to do what works best for you and you taste preferences/ingredients on hand/sanity. For example, I could not find coriander seeds at our grocery store so omitted them and decided to amp up the other flavors I did have. I switche using olive oil out for corn oil as corn has a more subtle flavor as a higher smoking point, which I figured would be best for the grilled avocados. I added some cilantro since I love it and always have it around (for us and the rabbits). I mashed my black beans as I like that texture and I figured that it would more easily stay in the taco to eat (while balancing a glass of wine on my lap and watching Parenthood). I really enjoyed these and since I typically have the ingredients around on hand I know I can always have a great dinner at the ready with some easy adaption.

Spiced Black Bean, Grilled Avocado, and Goat Cheese Tacos

makes 4 tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, preferably low sodium
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon corn oil
  • juice and zest from 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 oz from a goat cheese log
  • fresh cilantro
  • 4 Flour Tortillas or 8 Corn Tortillas

Process

  1. Rinse the black beans, reserve 1/2 cup of the liquids.
  2. In a small skillet, warm the corn oil over medium heat. Add the cumin and pepper flakes. Once the spices have ‘toasted’ and are fragrant, add the black beans and liquids. Cook for 5-10 minutes on medium-low heat to reduce the liquids. Prior to preparing the tacos, mash up the black beans with a potato masher.
  3. Cut the avocado in half, gently score to create slices, and brush with some oil. Put on a grill or grill pan on high heat just to char the outside of the avocado.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the juice and zest of 1 lime, the honey, and salt and pepper.
  5. To assemble the tacos, place 1/4 each of the beans, avocado, and goat cheese into 1 flour tortilla or 2 layered corn tortillas. To finish add fresh chopped cilantro and a drizzle the lime-honey mixture over the filling and serve

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Secret Recipe Club

Check out my previous Secret Recipe Club Posts:

August: Birthday Cake Oreo Truffles

July: Tropical Pork Pineapple Kebabs

June: Cheesy Garlic Knots

May: Berry Brownie Torte

April: Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

March: Sauteed Green Beans with Lemon and Almonds

February: Fried Pickles

Jan: No SRC postings

December: Shrimp Sriracha Stir Fry

November: Vegetable Enchiladas

October: Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Check out the rest of the reveal day posts!

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