Greek Pasta Salad

When I have leftovers, I love to recreate something different with them. I feel like I am just wasting a meal if I just eat the same thing I ate the night before. Does that make sense? Anyway, thats what I did with this Greek Pasta Salad. I decided I wanted pasta, but not just pasta like I had the night before . But maybe cold pasta salad because spring is in the air? And what goes well with Sun-dried Tomato and Artichoke pesto? Feta does. So do green olives, and red onions, and tomatoes, and red pepper, and even more (un-pureed) artichokes. So I tossed together a Greek Pasta Salad...

I do not have a great camera, obviously, but sometimes I just like to play around. Food makes a spectacular muse.

Greek Pasta Salad

1 cup Pasta, preferably Fusilli
1/2 medium tomato, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
10 green olives, sliced
4 marinated artichokes, chopped
2 tablespoons feta cheese
1/2 cup Sun-dried Tomato and Artichoke Pesto (Recipe here)
salt and pepper

1. Prepare pasta.

2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a lid.

3. Shake.

4. Refrigerate.

5. Eat...

6. ...and enjoy the warmer temperatures and the sun shine!


Meatless (Meat) Loaf

Picture Courtesy Whole Foods Market

My first concert was Meatloaf. How appropriate, right? My parents took my older brother, Patrick, and I when we were still in elementary school. Mind you, if the concert had been a movie, it would have been rated R for language. That didn't really phase Patrick and I, though. We loved it!

Ironically, I don't really like meatloaf, the food...not the band. I actually love the band. How could you not love "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" or the just the entire Bat out of Hell album?

Back to the point. My mom used to make meatloaf every now and then for dinner and I remember always being really disappointed in her decision. The thought of meat in a loaf grossed me out. I do have to say, however, in recent years, I gave more thought to the idea of meatloaf. My conclusion...I like meatballs, and meatballs are basically the same thing. So I guess meatloaf is not so bad. It is definitely not my favorite, but not as gross as I once believed.

Then I saw this recipe on Whole Foods website and was intrigued. It's not your average loaf. The idea is meatloaf, but minus the meat. Instead it is filled with nutritious ingredients like quinoa and oats and chickpeas. I am a sucker for strange things. If a recipe is out of left field and something you would never think of on your own, I have to try it out. So I did just that (now that I have really built you up for the exciting world of meatloafs)...

Quinoa Loaf with Mushrooms and Peas adapted from Whole Foods Market

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups cooked quinoa ( Learn to Cook: Quinoa)
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley and/or 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 cup (about 1 onion) chopped red onion

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Lightly grease an 8-inch loaf pan with oil; set aside.

3. Prepare your quinoa (use directions on quinoa box).

4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

FYI...this is my favorite cooking utensil. This little spatula and I are best friends.

5. Put beans, oats and 1/2 cup water into a food processor and pulse until almost smooth. In a large bowl, combine mushrooms, bean mixture, quinoa, peas, parsley, tomatoes, onion, salt and pepper.

6. Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan, gently pressing down and mounding it in the middle. Bake until firm and golden brown, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Set aside to let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

A few notes:

1. Feel free to switch up ingredients. Originally, the recipe called for sundried tomatoes, but I didn't have any so I used a raw tomato. Also, you may hate peas and want to omit them all together. I actually didn't have fresh parsley, so I used dried parsley and dried thyme.

2. Bake a bit longer than recommended. Mine was still very moist in the middle after 1.25 hours.

3. Use as a veggie burger!

4. This was not my favorite recipe as of yet. There is a good chance I may not make it again. (This is the first time I have said that on my blog.) But really, I'd probably prefer meatloaf with meat! However, that said, if you are a vegetarian, you may really enjoy this recipe. I think it would be greatly improved if you played around with the spices.

Happy Monday!


More soup for your soul

This soup makes me really happy. It's perfect. It probably beats all other soups I have made, even the Carrot, Ginger, and Cashew soup. I'll leave you with that...and, of course, the recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup

3 whole butternut squash, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1 qt. vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper

1. Sauté onion, carrot, celery and squash until onions and celery are translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add ground ginger and vegetable stock. Simmer 15-25 minutes until squash is soft.

3. Puree mixture; season to taste with salt and pepper.

P.S. This recipe is from my friend Maggie's sister, Claire's, cookbook. It is no normal cookbook. In an effort to raise money for the Evanston Community Foundation, she went around and asked for recipes from a few favorite restaurants in Evanston, IL. Well, she did a great job. The cookbook has a lot of great recipes, and it makes you wonder why the restaurants even gave away their secrets! This butternut squash soup recipe is from a restaurant called Prairie Moon. Great idea, right?

P.S.S. This soup is actually one of three parts. It is one part of New Mexican Painted Soup. The second part is a tomato soup and the third part is a roasted poblano potato puree. You are supposed to layer the three soups. Start with the squash soup, then the tomato soup, and then the roasted poblano soup. If you want, you can swirl them all together, or enjoy them separately. Don't worry, I will give you the two other recipes! Did you really think I would leave you with just that?

Tomato Soup

8 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 whole onion, diced
1 tbsp. garlic
2 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

1. Sauté onions until translucent. About 5 minutes.

2. Add garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds.

3. Add bay leaf. Sauté to toast leaf, releasing flavors.

4. Toss in diced tomatoes.

5. Add vegetable stock. Bring to boil, and then reduce to simmer 20 minutes.

6. Puree.

7 Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted Poblano Potato Puree

2 poblanos
1 diced onion
1 large potato diced
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1-1/2 cup vegetable stock
salt and pepper

1. Roast poblanos in oven (high heat!). Cover in bowl with plastic wrap for 10 minutes until skin is tender. Remove skin and seeds.

2. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes, add potatoes and cook another 5 minutes. Add chilies.

3. Add vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Puree and season to taste.


A diamond in the rough: mussels, frites and beer

My roommate, Maggie, and I recently discovered this website, LivingSocial, and let's just say it has become my new favorite thing and perhaps my largest expense as of recent. The deal is that you buy these coupons from LivingSocial, which LivingSocial bought from restaurants/boutiques/salons/etc. in your city, and you usually get a decent discount. You also have approximately 6 months to use them, depending on the coupon. Sound too good to be true?

It's true. I swear. We tried it!

Our first purchase: a 25$ coupon for 50$ worth of food at Granville Moore's . And let me just tell you, this place really is a diamond in the rough, that is if you like mussels and good beer. The Belgian restaurant is located on H Street, an up-and-coming (if you will) area of DC. The narrow, pub-like restaurant probably holds about 30 people. When we arrived, of course, all of the rugged, wooden tables were full, along with the bar. The tiny back patio, which is where we managed to score a table, definitely did not scream up-scale dining. There were a few random tables with mismatching chairs that looked like they had been picked up from a garage sale.

But the food...oh my...the food was tip-top! I have had good mussels and I love a good beer, and this place is definitely worth every penny that you spend...coupon or no coupon.

We started our meal with appetizers. Two actually: the Fried Risotto Cakes and the Crab Croquettes. Necessary? Absolutely not. One...because they weren't all that amazing. Fried food is fried food. And second, I would probably never get an appetizer again because the mussels (plus the dipping bread) and frites were plenty. But we had a coupon...so why not?

Then there were mussels, our sole reason for being there. Maggie and I had the Moules Navigateur. They were spectacular...and really spicy, which I love. They were so spicy that I had to take long breaks in between and my face was breaking out in a sweat! I would get them again, but I am dying to try all the other options too. I did, however, get to try the Moules Moroccan because Jon had them (sharing makes decision making so much less troublesome.) They were also delicious, especially because of the extra treat...sausage.

I have to say though, one of my favorite parts were the frites. I contemplated giving up french fries for lent, but then decided that was not feasible. Not only were there frites, but there was an array of dipping sauces. I love condiments of all sorts. My go-to is ranch, but when you add options like Truffle Aioli and Horseradish Creme and Garlic Ranch and Chipotle Mayo...I get overwhelmed. We, of course, had 5 dipping sauces. For the record, I do think that the Garlic Ranch won.

OK. I'm done raving.