Chickpea Avocado Salad

This chickpea salad is a refreshing summer salad filled with fresh produce.  It tastes great served as a side salad or your main lunch meal.  Best of all, you don’t need to make a special dressing for this salad.
Continue reading “Chickpea Avocado Salad”

Springtime Lentil Salad

Spring is almost here.  I can feel it in the air and I’m so excited!  It’s one of my favorite seasons when all the flowers bloom, the grass is luscious green, and the weather is perfect!  This amazing lentil salad is a nod to that feeling and to welcome spring in my life because I cannot wait a moment longer.

Perfectly cooked, tender lentils, crisp and juicy bell peppers, fresh mint, sweet pomegranates, sharp onions, the crunchy cucumbers all drizzled with a fresh basil vinaigrette.  How can you say no to that?  While the lentils are cooking, you can chop the veggies and make the vinaigrette so all you have to do is toss the salad together when the lentils are done.  Make this on the weekend as part of your meal prep, have it for lunch, or even serve it for dinner as a side.  It’s so versatile, quick, easy, and delicious.

Not only does this wonderful lentil salad taste good and is quick to make, it is packed with protein and nutrients.  Check it out:

  • Great source of protein – 13 gm per serving
  • 23% DRI of Fiber
  • 30% DRI of Iron
  • 24% DRI of Phosphorous
  • 77% DRI of Vit. C
  • 127% DRI of Folic Acid
  • 60% DRI of Vit. K

In addition to how nutrient dense this salad is and delicious it is to gobble up, I love how versatile it is.  Add in some goat cheese for a little decadence, change out the mint to parsley if the mint is too strong for you, add in a few more veggies for more crunch or even toss in some nuts if you please.

So… try out this delicious Springtime Lentil Salad and welcome the new season with me!

Here are the tools I used to make this recipe:

 

Brussels Sprouts Grain Bowl

If you have been following me then you know how much I love my bowls.  Experimenting with different flavor profiles, playing around with new dressings, and oftentimes using whatever vegetables are left in the fridge waiting to be saved from their last moments are the best part of creating my new bowl.

My brussels sprouts were facing a similar fate as mentioned above.  I had enough left that I could create a whole new dish with just them, but so few that I didn’t want to waste them either.  Grain bowls are perfect for these types of situations especially if you are using a variety of different ingredients.

This one turned out so delicious that I actually went out and bought more brussels sprouts even though I am trying to move on to spring veggies!  We’ve now had this bowl 4 times in the last 2 weeks and no one in my household minds – in fact, they love it !

I added in some sweet potato for a little starch, sweetness, and fiber, and avocado for protein.  As for the dressing, keeping it simple was the best route.  I made a honey dijon dressing that worked wonders.  The tang from the dijon and the sweet honey are a perfect balance to the bowl.

So…what are you waiting for?  Try this delicious Brussels Sprouts Grain Bowl and become a fan too!

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad

Warm foods during the cold winter days just makes so much sense.  And I don’t just mean temperature but the actual foods and their properties.

When you eat warm foods, they take longer to digest because they are higher in healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates which in turn results in increased body temperature (thermogenesis).  Root veggies, fruits such as coconut and apples, and herbs and spices are a few examples of these types of foods.

This Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad is a great combination of many of those warm foods and the fact that it’s filled with flavor, texture, sweet, and spicy makes this that much more of a delicious dish.

This is perfect to make as an entree or a side dish, or serve it up in mini bowls/plates as an appetizer.  A small amount will take you a long way as the salad is very filling.

I honestly think this is one of the most nutrient dense recipes I have.  Here are a few healthy benefits from this one:

  • Rich in Fiber and Protein
  • Packed with antioxidants
  • Boosts Immune System
  • Good source of Vit. C, E, and B6
  • Good source of Calcium, Iron, and Folate
  • Good source of omega 3 and carotenoids which have anti-inflammatory effects beneficial to all types of arthritis (Butternut Squash)
  • Boost in energy level (Lentils)

The list can literally go on about how healthy this salad is, which only adds to the deliciousness of it.

From my kitchen to yours, I really hope you enjoy this Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad.

Sweet & Spicy Harvest Bowl

The weather is still pretty warm out but I am mentally ready for fall!  Especially with all the delicious veggies at the Farmer’s Market that are coming out for the season.  The pomegranates, Brussels sprouts, root vegetables and especially all the squash and pumpkins I’m seeing everywhere!  They’re all so beautiful, colorful and oh so yummy!

I was inspired during my last visit to the Farmer’s Market for this recipe.  I used acorn squash because it is mild in flavor and one of the easiest squash to peel and cut.  The beets added beautiful color and flavor (and lots of nutrition!), and crispy brussels sprouts once roasted are the perfect addition for texture in this bowl.

Here are a few other ingredients I used though, I definitely didn’t roast them:

  • Avocado
  • Red Pears
  • Feta
  • Toasted Pecans
  • Quinoa

As for the dressing, I debated whether to add one or not but in the end, I decided a simple squeeze of lime would do justice without taking away from the other flavors.

I was so excited just roasting the veggies because they looked so bright, bold and beautiful!  The spice that I added to balance the sweet of the beets and pears out was smoky chipotle pepper to the veggies that I roasted.

This is one dish that I think is going to come up often on our table through this season!  Make a big batch for a holiday dinner side, a small batch for a lunch or make it a meal for a weeknight!  It’s simple, healthy, delicious, and you get to eat many of your colors!

Here are some of the health benefits from this yummy bowl:

  • Low Carb
  • High in Fiber
  • High in Protein
  • Vitamins K, C, A, and B-6
  • Good Source of Iron
  • Good Source of Folate

Well!  What are you waiting for?  You have got to try this out!

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious Sweet and Spicy Harvest Bowl!

Watermelon Radish and Fennel Salad with a Ginger Lime Dressing

Ok so I know that the name alone makes this salad sound like an explosion of so many different flavors and it is!  But….. that’s what makes this salad work so well!

Between my obsession for salads and my inclination towards making my own dressings, my salad game is going strong right now.  I’ve been wanting to use watermelon radish for a while now because of it’s flavor and just how pretty it looks!

Here are a few fun facts about watermelon radishes:

  • They are nutrient dense with Vitamins K, A, E, C, and B6.
  • High in antioxidants
  • High in fiber, calcium, potassium, and iron among many other minerals
  • One serving of watermelon radishes has over 1/3 of your daily Vit. C requirements!
  • They’re just so darned pretty


The fennel was added in to balance out the peppery flavor of the radish (though, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how the hubby was going to like it as he is not a big licorice flavored guy.  The best part about eating fennels to me is the licorice!).  Luckily, the fennel taste was mild when combined with the flavors of the salad.

As to the Ginger Lime dressing, adding the hint of ginger balanced with a little honey in the dressing and the lime to brighten up the salad, it was the perfect choice to use this for the salad.

When I think about this salad, it really has a great balance of sweet, spicy and tangy!  So perfect for a lunch meal, side dish, or a Covid free Thanksgiving dinner!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this salad!

Here are the tools that I used:

Fall Nourish Bowl

I love the Autumn season.  The colors, the change in flavors, the hint of crisp air and everything else about Fall is just perfect!

Making this nourish bowl with a hint of Fall flavors was fun.  I decided to roast the veggies with oregano and smoked paprika for some warmth in the taste.

For a pop of spice, I added charred Shishito peppers which made this dish so perfect!

Instead of dressing, I used hummus which becomes smooth and creamy as a dressing when combined with the hot roasted veggies.

This nourish bowl is so filling, try it out for your next lunch or dinner.  You’ll be so satisfied and comforted.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this bowl!


Here are the cooking tools I used for this dish:

Rainbow Crunch Salad

Bright, crunchy, colorful and easy to assemble with a creamy coconut jalapeño dressing, this salad is a perfect addition to your meal.

Easy to make, this salad has plenty of texture, meets my rainbow requirements, and is quick to pull together for any meal.  A twist on the traditional slaw, the Rainbow Crunch Salad is a healthier version with a low cal coconut jalapeño dressing to finish off a delicious salad.

With school started, life still crazy between Covid, fires, and whatever else you want to throw in there, I want to keep it easy and quick for this salad.  Chopping the veggies doesn’t take very long and the Coconut Jalapeño dressing is blended in less than a minute.

Here’s what you need for the salad:

  • Red Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Colored Bell Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Edamame
  • Nuts

I’ve used this as a lunch meal, a side salad for fish and chicken dishes, or even a quick afternoon snack if I had some leftovers.

Try it out!  From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

Tomato Avocado Cucumber Salad

Summer salads are my favorite.  Simple ones that take less than 10 minutes to make are even better.  Ok let’s be honest, pretty much any salad is my favorite.  They’re just so delicious and fun and contrary to popular belief, don’t have to be filled with just greens!
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When I started making this tomato avocado cucumber salad, it was originally for the girls so I can get them used to eating fresh uncooked veggies too and in salad form.  For them of course I did a simple dressing of oil, salt and pepper, and for the adults, I added a couple more ingredients to bring it to the next level.
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Just like the salad, the dressing is simple and I didn’t worry about making it separately.  I just added the dressing ingredients directly to the salad and gave it a good toss.  Saves me on an extra dish and also, worrying about the ratios of oil to acid.

What do I need for the DRESSING?
Olive Oil
Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Salt
Pepper
Red Chili Flakes

What do I need for the SALAD?
Tomatoes
Avocado
Cucumber
Red Onions
Oregano – lots of it
Basil – definitely tons of it

Ok I know what you’re probably thinking.  Lots of Basil and Oregano in the salad?  Have I lost it?  Actually, surprisingly no!  The peppery basil and the earthy oregano completely transform this dish!
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When I made this salad, it was supposed to be for a side and I actually ended up eating a little more than a side’s worth which left no room for dinner………

So it’s safe to say this salad can be a side or an entree!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this delicious salad!

Greek Tortellini Salad

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I’m all about healthy and easy recipes that taste delicious.  With school starting around the corner, remote learning set for us and as new Kindergarten parents, I’m trying to stay ahead of the game and put together meals that take less than 30 minutes so I can focus on my family.
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When Taste Republic and I partnered together to create some delicious recipes with their fresh, gluten free pastas, I knew I was going to hit the spot with all of my cooking goals (it took me about 20 minutes to make this one – also because I kept having to add ingredients that were “disappearing”).  I have been having so much fun trying out all the different ones that they have and their 4 cheese tortellini is one of my favorites!
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The tortellinis are so delicious, light, and filling.  You can taste how fresh they are and they cook in just 5 minutes!  I did add a few twists to this salad which take it to a whole new level.
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Here’s what you need to make this Greek Tortellini Salad:

Cheese Tortellini – fresh gluten free tortellini made by Taste Republic works so well with this recipe but if you don’t have access, you can use any fresh or frozen tortellini.
Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Olives
Chickpeas 

Avocados
Fresh Basil – yep, this takes the flavor up to a whole other level
Feta Cheese
Greek Salad Dressing – I added quite a few seasonings and some red chili flakes to mine to give it an additional layer of flavor
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If you have little helpers in the kitchen like I do who eat most of my ingredients as I’m cooking (they call it quality control), then I suggest increasing the quantity.  I’ve lost pretty much every single veggie in this salad to my little munchkins and it makes my heart full that they love eating this salad as much as I do.
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This Greek Tortellini Salad is great to eat right away or even if you refrigerate it and have it at a later time.  It can keep in the fridge for up to 2 days, but if you are planning on eating it later, I recommend adding the feta right before you are ready to eat it.
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A perfect salad for the summer, you can make this for about any event!  Serve it for lunch or dinner, take it on a picnic, as a side for a barbecue, or even some backyard camping!

Check out Taste Republic for a store near you to enjoy their amazing fresh, gluten free pastas.

From our kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious salad!

Spinach Watermelon Salad with a Basil Vinaigrette

We’ve been doing some heavy eating lately so I decided to play around with some easy, simple salads.  I didn’t get past this one to try any others this week.  This Spinach Watermelon Salad is so good, I just want to eat it all the time!  The Basil Vinaigrette adds the perfect zing and hint of spice to bring it together perfectly.
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I love to cut up the watermelon and keep in the fridge so that it is nice and cold.  The cold sweet watermelon, crunchy spinach and onions, the salty feta…. yep, I want some now!
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This salad took less than 10 minutes to make (including the vinaigrette).  You absolutely have to try it out.  It’s amazing!
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From my kitchen to yours, I hope you eat this over and over again as much as I do!

Rainbow Fajita Bowl

Summertime salads are one of my favorites to eat.  They’re simple, light, filling, and don’t take much time in front of the stove or oven.  I love this Rainbow Fajita Bowl because it is so easy to pull together and you can eat it as a dinner meal or prep it on the weekends for weekday lunches.
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Yum

It’s vegan but if you’re looking to add in some chicken, super simple to do that too.  I’ll include it in the notes below!   You can marinate the chicken 30 minutes ahead or overnight but still get an amazing, tasty, juicy chicken too!
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But on to my bowl.  I just love the colors in this salad.  And the fact that my girls ate it because of the rainbow foods (ok, well maybe they ate one leaf of salad but at least I got one in!).  Drizzle with some chili lime dressing and you’re set!  The spice, the crunch, the sweet corn… I think this salad bowl is calling my name for lunch again today!
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Get your kids involved in this one.  Once you have all the ingredients ready, have them help you assemble them for make ahead lunches for you  and your kids!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this rainbow of colors and burst of flavor!

Microgreens Salad Yum

About a month back, we finally had a weekend free to take the girls to the Farmer’s Market which we’ve desperately missed during the winter months.  The girls love tasting all the fruit samples and of course stopping at the kettle corn stand, while I love to check out all the new produce and imagine different recipes I can create. Continue reading “Microgreens Salad Yum

Desi Masala Bowl Yum

Lately, I’m hooked on salad bowls.  They’re so delicious, easy to make, loaded with healthy foods and vibrant in color – ensuring you get a variety of nutrients.
I’ve been talking to my daughters about “eating the rainbow” and this was a fun way to help them do that.
Another reason I really like to do the salad bowls is because it’s so easy to play around with the cuisine type, the textures, and the flavors.  I can add raw and roasted veggies, nuts, and choose whichever grain I want.  There’s really no wrong way to make these and super easy to substitute an ingredient you may not have.  Honestly, food can’t get easier than that!
We’ve been doing a lot of non-desi (non-Indian) foods lately and I wanted to get the girls into Indian spices without going over the top.  Plus, I don’t think I can go without Indian food and spices for that long anyways.

For the sweet potatoes, I did a simple roast with an addition of paprika for color and flavor.  I’m using paprika to gradually build up the girls to trying cayenne and other types of peppers and spices so this is especially great for those of you who prefer milder spices.
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I also roasted some chickpeas as those are so easy and delicious to make.  It made me proud that both my girls were eating them as soon as they cooled down from the oven.  These turned out so good and honestly, I had to go back and make more because between the three of us, we snacked on most of the beans! I’m definitely adding it to my snack rotation list!
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The dressing on here was probably the hardest to figure out as I wanted Indian flavors but nothing too intimidating.  I used almond butter to give it a little bulk and the addition of a little protein is always appreciated.  Because I had already used a lot of spices for the chickpeas, I fell back a little with the dressing and opted for curry powder, turmeric (for the color and my youngest happened to have a cold which needed some help) and some fresh garlic and ginger (which appears on 90% of Indian cooking!).
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I left the quinoa simple by cooking it only in salt water as there are so many flavors going around, I felt if I added more, everything would get lost in a chaotic world of spice.
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For the rest of the ingredients, it was nice to have the crunch from the vibrant red cabbage, the creaminess of the avocado, and oh! those toasted cashews were just the icing on top of a great salad!
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Try it out!  From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this one.

Ingredients:
1 Sweet Potato, diced into 1″ cubes
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 cup baby spinach
½ c quinoa, rinsed
¼ c raw cashews
2 Tbsp & 1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

For the chickpeas:
1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed, drained & dried with a paper towel
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp garam masala
¼ tsp salt

For the dressing:
¼ c almond butter
½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp lemon zest
1/3 c water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp honey
1 tsp curry powder
½ ginger, grated
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400ºF.  In a baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes, 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika.  Mix well and roast for 20 minutes.
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the chickpeas.  Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes.
In a medium pot, heat water and ½ tsp salt.  When it comes to a boil, add the rinsed quinoa and reduce heat to medium low.  Cover and cook quinoa for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and use a fork to fluff it.
In a small pan, mix ½ tsp olive oil and cashews.  Toast on medium heat until they are a light golden red color.  Turn off heat and remove pan.  Set aside to use as topping.
For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar and shake well.

To assemble:
Line a bowl with spinach and add the quinoa, sweet potatoes, avocado slices, shredded cabbage, toasted cashews, and drizzle with almond curry dressing.  Enjoy!

Barley Bowl

We’ve recently started eating more barley during meal times and use it as a go to for most of the week.  When I’m cooking the barley, the aroma that wafts out just makes your mouth water.  Then you bite into the nutty flavor and it’s a home run for me.   Plus, it’s really healthy so I don’t feel guilty about eating a little extra (as I tend to do).  It’s high in dietary fiber, a good source of protein, it’s low in sodium, and is a really good grain to eat if you’re trying to lose weight.
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This recipe was born of out sheer laziness.  Nope.  Not kidding.  I had been running errands all day, doing what seems like an indefinite load of laundry for the girls, and just wasn’t in the mood to cook (a rare moment).
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I’ve also been obsessed with sweet potatoes lately.  I’m not sure why… maybe it’s a slow developing discovery that I love them whether steamed, roasted or bbq’d?  Anyways, of course then I decided I wanted to put the sweet potatoes and the barley together.
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I figured on adding avocado because, who doesn’t add avocado to everything?  But I was still missing one more thing.  As I was getting started prepping, it hit me.  Caramelized Onions!  I discovered the joy of eating these a couple of Thanksgivings ago, and I keep wondering, what was I doing with my life?! Of course, since I was trying to keep this to a healthy dish, I used EVOO but it does taste so heavenly with butter.  If you want to use butter, just swap out the EVOO for equal measurement of butter.
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Little by little, I started putting this bowl together without having a real sense of direction and now, my husband wants it in the rotation weekly!  Score for me!
I added a chimichurri dressing to this to give it a little pizzazz and some chia seeds at the end (originially for presentation but, hey! the added Omega 3, fiber, and protein helps).
Check out the recipe below, try it out and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

1 med red onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 sprigs Rosemary
1 c pearl barley
4 c veggie broth (optional, 2 c broth & 2 c white wine)
1 large sweet potato, 1″ cubes
1 lg yellow onion, ½” slices
1 lg avocado, cubed
1 Tbsp Chia seeds
2 tsp paprika
salt to taste
pepper to taste
3 Tbsp EVOO

For the Chimichurri:
1 bunch cilantro
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp EVOO
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried red chili flakes
Salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 serrano pepper (optional for more heat)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425ºF .  Place sweet potato on baking sheet, add 1 Tbsp EVOO, salt, pepper and paprika.  Mix well and bake for 25 minutes.
In a shallow pot, heat 1 Tbsp EVOO.  Add onions and cook until they are browned.  Add in the barley and cook until it’s golden red in color.  Add in the garlic, rosemary, broth, salt and pepper.  Mix well and bring to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil, cover and cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes.  Turn off the heat and pick out the rosemary stems.
While the barley is cooking, in another pan, heat 1 Tbsp EVOO and add the yellow onions.  add some salt to taste and mix well.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes, while mixing the onions around every 5 minutes.
For the chimichurri, put all the ingredients in a small food processor or blender and blen everything until it becomes a smooth dressing.

For assembly:
Line a wide bowl with a cup of the cooked barley.  Add in the sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, avocado, and chimichurri.  Sprinkle some chia seeds on top and enjoy!

Roasted Garden Salad

I don’t like to labor over big meals during the summer time – I’d rather spend my time outdoors!  To me, summertime is all about simple but filling foods and clean eating so I can enjoy the sun as much as possible.
This salad is just that.  It’s refreshingly light, satisfying, healthy, easy, and best of all, I can do it within 20 minutes!

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It truly is a one pan deal – all you have to do is line all the veggies in the pan, roast them in the oven and voila!
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I added in some roasted chickpeas for crunch and protein… let me tell you this completed the salad in the best way possible.
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Ingredients:
1lb fresh arugula
1 Bell Pepper
1 Onion
1 Zucchini
1 Yellow Squash
1 14oz can of Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat oven to 350ºF.  Sliced all veggies and line in a baking sheet.  Drizzle with EVOO, add salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Mix well so all the veggies are equally seasoned.

Meanwhile, in another tray, spread out garbanzo beans in a flat layer.  Drizzle with EVOO, add salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.  Sprinkle paprika on the top but don’t mix it.

Bake veggies for 20 minutes and beans for 20-25 minutes.  In a bowl, add arugula.  when veggies and beans are done, add them to the arugula.  Drizzle EVOO lightly, add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss.  Enjoy this salad as much as I do!

Pasta Salad

A while back, my aunt and her family came over for dinner and she brought this pasta salad. I never was a big pasta salad person because they usually have too much mayo, not enough flavor, and are just too uninspiring for me.

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So I tried her pasta salad because I didn’t want to be rude. I should’ve known. My aunt is a pretty amazing cook and I don’t know why I ever doubted her abilities with even a pasta salad. Ever since I’ve started making this salad, I’ve had to remind myself I can’t eat it for every meal …. or can I? It’s just so delicious, healthy, and fresh!

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There’s crunch from the bell peppers, sweet from the juicy, plump raisins which take in all the juices of the dressing, and a hint of spice from the cayenne.

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I’ve altered it slightly, but like my aunt says, there is no wrong way to make this – it’s that easy and delicious!
One of the changes I made is adding pan roasted corn seasoned with paprika. This makes for a delicious side for any meal, and a great addition to this pasta salad.

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I changed up the dressing ratio slightly too. I added a little more yogurt to the mix as it makes the raisins more plump.

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This recipe is great for big gatherings, potlucks and summer BBQ parties. I tend to make it the day before because as it sits in the fridge cooling, the dressing saturates into the pasta emphasizing all the spices in every bite you take.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do. Try it out and let me know!

Ingredients:
1 lb package of rotini pasta
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 14oz can of black olives, drained, rinsed and sliced
1 14oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 14oz can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup raisins
1 ½c corn
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp EVOO

For the dressing:
2 ½c yogurt
1 c light mayo
1 package Italian seasoning

Directions:
Cook pasta per package instructions.
While you’re boiling your pasta, dice up the bell peppers, cucumbers, slice up the olives, and drain/rinse the beans.
On the side, heat up the oil and add in the corn. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, then add in the salt, pepper and paprika. Mix well, turn off the stove and let cool to room temp.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the pasta, all the veggies, the beans, the cooked corn, and raisins.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, mayo, cayenne pepper and Italian seasoning. Whip it until the dressing is a creamy consistency; add it in with the pasta and veggies and mix well. Taste and adjust salt and pepper per your flavor profile.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve cold.

Grilled Avocado and Peach Salad

Summer is here which means so many things in my household.  Getting the grill out for bbq’s, eating all the fun fresh summery foods, and trying to eat healthy to get in shape for a beach body (this is always a struggle!).  Typically in the past, the hubby and I have done standard bbq’s – burgers, corn, potato salads, chips and dip, etc. etc. etc.  This year, we have been inspired to grill almost everything we eat.
One of my husband’s favorites is Peaches.  So I of course go out to Costco and buy a whole case (or 2) then realize, how are we going to eat so many?!  Well, I promised him we would grill some since he fell in love with the idea of it last year.  I also love avocado and have recently seen them grilled in my dishes in restaurants.  Hey, why not add it in?  If anything, it’s a good source of protein and adds a little meatiness to the plate.
Summer also means that I can harvest some of the vegetables, herbs and fruit in my garden.  I am so excited about my garden that I literally watch it like a hawk every single day and get so happy over the tiniest fruit growing.  Well, we have an abundance of arugula growing as well as Basil.  Oh how I love the peppery smell and taste of both of these leaves!  So delicious especially when they are fresh!  I put Basil leaves in my salad?  Yep.  Don’t get ahead of yourself.  I used the leaves but …. I made a basil vinaigrette to go on my salad.
When I told my husband about all the different components of this salad – he was a little skeptical.  How can so many different flavors work together?  Won’t I overshadow the grilled peaches for which this salad was created in the first place?  I decided to find out.  Am I so glad that I did!   The sweetness of the peaches with the peppery arugula and basil was the most divine combination.

Quarter the peaches and avocados and brush with some EVOO.

Heat up the grill (or griddle) and place all the fruit down on one side.  After a couple of minutes, flip to the other side.  Oh I love those grill marks.  And the peaches smell so delicious, I can’t wait to try them!

To assemble the salad, lay down the arugula first, then add some raw cashews.  For the goat cheese, use a fork to crumble it into the salad and finally, add the grilled fruit.  Then, a drizzle of the basil vinaigrette and you’re ready to enjoy a fun, healthy, summery salad!

Ingredients:
For the Salad:
2 c fresh Arugula
1/3c raw cashews
2oz goat cheese
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and quartered
2 ripe peaches, pitted and quartered
EVOO to brush on the fruit

For the Basil Vinaigrette:
3/4 c fresh basil
1/4c red wine vinegar
1/2c EVOO
2 garlic cloves
salt
freshly ground pepper

For the salad:
Brush fruit with olive oil and set aside.  Heat the grill on high heat.  When it is heated through,  place the fruit side down on one side and keep for 2 minutes.  Flip to the other exposed side of the fruit and grill for an additional 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Assemble the salad with the arugula at the bottom, followed by the cashews, the fruit and the goat cheese crumbled in.  Drizzle with Basil Vinaigrette.

In a blender, add all the ingredients for the Vinaigrette and blend to a smooth texture.  Store in an airtight bottle in the fridge.

Enjoy!