Monday, June 29, 2009

Easy summer dishes (that are so, so good!)

This recipe is my current favorite. I could make this salad for dinner and then proceed to take it every day for lunch. It's light, refreshing, and very clean. I also love it because it can be made in advance, and it travels well. It's a great dish to take to new parents, an outdoor bbq, or to an outdoor music venue (ahhhh, Ravinia). Really, truly, you all should be making this next week!

Italian Rice Salad
3 cups cooked, slightly warm basmati rice (please use basmati, Jasmine and regular just aren't as good!)
1 cup chopped red, green or orange sweet pepper (we use 1.5 cups of red and orange to add color)
1 6 oz jar quartered marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup raisins (we left these out as they just don't feel right to me!)
2 tbsps drained capers
Organic mixed salad greens (mesculan or torn romaine)
Fresh basil leaves
Garlic Vinagrette (recipe follows)

1. Prepare the garlic vinagrette, set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine rice, sweet pepper, artichokes, red onion, raisins, and capers. Stir vinagrette and drizzle over rice mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill for at least 1 hr or up to 24 hours. Serve rice salad on a bed of salad greens. Garnish with basil.

Garlic Vinagrette
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 c canola or safflower oil (we used veggie), 1/3 c snipped Italian flat-leaf parsley, 1/4 c white wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons fresh dill, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp fresh basil, 1 tsp fresh oregano (or 1/4 tsp dried oregano), and 2 cloves of garlic minced. Use vinagrette immediatly or cover and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

From Midwest Living, April 2009

This is really not a recipe. Just kind of a throw-it-all-together-to-your-liking type of dish. Our friend made it for us two years ago, and it has definitely become a summer staple for us!
Caprese Pasta Salad
1 box spiral pasta (whole wheat works well)
Fresh tomatoes (best from your backyard or farmer's market!)
Mozzerella (fresh)
Olive Oil
Balsalmic Vinegar (buy the best you can afford- it gets more flavorful and more concentrated!)

We cook up the box of pasta, cool it a bit, and add a little olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together. We then chop the tomatoes pretty coarsely, snip the basil, and cube the mozzerella. Add all three of those to the pasta and then slowly add balsalmic. We end up adding quite a bit, but we adore balsalmic in my house! Pretty much this recipe is all to taste (and boy does it taste good!). Truly, just trust your own judgement.

I wouldn't make a ton of this expecting the leftovers to last you all week (like I do with the rice salad). It really doesn't do well for more than one day after it is made- Definitely better fresh or the next day for lunch.

Hope these help you with some of your summer entertaining!!


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