This past weekend was my friend Ana’s birthday. Cathy and I actually made her this beautiful vanilla cake with mascarpone buttercream icing and strawberries….but unfortunately we ran into a few disasters in the process and ended up not having enough time to take pictures. Guess we’ll have to make it again! What I did have time to take pictures of was the Mediterranean Orzo Salad I brought. This salad is my go-to potluck dish because 1) it’s a crowd pleaser 2) it’s super easy to make and 3) I love Mediterranean flavors.
Most people would make such a dish with feta, however despite loving all cheeses, feta certainly isn’t my favorite. I decided goat cheese is Mediterranean enough, and it really turned out well. Kalamata olives and goat cheese both have very strong flavors, but are well-complimented by the more subtle basil leaves and sundried tomatoes for a perfect flavor blast in every bite. It was definitely a hit at the party- so much so that those who had a few beverages were digging in with spoons by the end of the day. It was the perfect side dish for a perfect Los Angeles day at the pool. I heart summertime.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
1 Package Orzo Pasta (16 oz)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Jar of Kalamata Olives (10 oz)
1 Package Sun Dried Tomatoes (3 oz)
1/2 Red Onion
15 Large Basil Leaves
1 Package Crumbled Goat Cheese (3.5 Oz)
Chop the ingredients: Dry the kalamata olives with a paper towel and cut them in half. Chop red onion into small pieces. Rinse and chop basil leaves. Set all of these aside.
Cook the orzo pasta according to the directions on the packaging. As soon as the orzo is done, drain and mix in the olive oil to prevent orzo from sticking. Let cool until room temperature. Mix in olives, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, basil, and goat cheese. Serve chilled.
For the last couple weeks in LA, we’ve been blessed with some pretty great weather. The heat wave finally broke, making room for weekends filled with hikes, gloriously bad
sunburns tans and lazy Saturday mornings lounging on the balcony with the roommate.
This Saturday, Marta and I decided it was time we gave our balcony some much-needed TLC. After we finished quickly sweeping, dusting and decluttering, we sat down to enjoy our freshly brewed coffee and freshly pruned herb garden. (It’s been six weeks and counting since we first planted our herb garden, and we’ve only managed to kill off two plants. Success?) It was quite the perfect way to kick off summer. The only thing that was missing was the summer fruit. Give me a juicy peach or a watermelon wedge (or five) and this girl would have been in heaven.
Kick off your summer the right way with this drink recipe. Not only is it easy to make, it’s an extremely refreshing and healthy way to satisfy your thirst on those hot summer days. This recipe is versatile too. Just add some alcohol (preferably vodka) into the mix for a wonderfully fresh summer cocktail. I hope you enjoy this drink as much as we did.
Watermelon Lime Juice
Half of a Mini Watermelon, cubed and chilled
~2 Cups of Club Soda, chilled
A Handful of Basil, rinsed and strained
Place chilled watermelon cubes in a blender and pulse until completely blended. Squeeze one lime at a time into the blender, taking care to remove any lime seeds. Pulse the blender for another five seconds. In two glasses, gently muddle the basil leaves. Pour watermelon-lime juice evenly into the two cups. Pour club soda to the brim and serve immediately.
So many things nowadays are associated with “green.” Green energy, green cars, going green, eating green, green with envy, given the green light, a green thumb … the list goes on. Hailey and I seem to be on a green kick too, more specifically, a green kale kick. A couple weeks ago after the gym, Hailey turned to me and invited me over to try her new kale pesto recipe. Now I love pesto and love love love pesto pastas, but usually avoid eating them due to the excess in carbs and oils. (Gone are the days where happily attended carb loading parties before the big swim meet. *sigh*).
This pesto is better than any other pestos because: 1) it’s homemade (you can’t beat that) 2) kale is packed with nutrients, 3) you control how much oil you use and therefore the fat content, and 4) it’s incredibly simple to make and store!
Sometimes a sauce is so good that you want to eat it and nothing else. Sometimes, that doesn’t cut it. With such a great sauce, we didn’t think it was fair to serve it on anything but homemade pasta. Thus, we present our spinach-potato gnocchi recipe!
Spinach Gnocchi (adapted slightly from De Standaard)
10 Potatoes, skinned
1 Clove of Garlic, minced
6 Oz Bag of Spinach
5-6 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan
Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to just cover the potatoes. Set on a stove to boil for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Meanwhile using a hot medium-sized pan, saute the spinach with olive oil, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Once finished, let cool then squeeze the residual moisture from the spinach and chop into fine pieces. Set aside. Once the potatoes are done, drain them and place them in a large bowl. Now it’s time to mash. Mash your potatoes with the spinach, parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Sounds like a delicious mashed potato recipe to me…. keep reading.
Once the potatoes are cool (this is important!), add eggs and stir vigorously. Add one cup of flour at a time until the potato mixture starts to resemble a wet dough. (*Tip: You should continue adding the flour ½ cup at a time until you can take some dough in your hands and roll it into a strand. Keep the flour handy to dust your hands every time the dough gets sticky). Taking a bit of the dough at a time, roll into into ½ inch in diameter strands and cut into 1 inch segments. Lay the gnocchi on a floured baking sheet and press down with a fork to create a design.
1 Cup Fresh Basil
1 Cup Rainbow Kale
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Shaved Parmesan Cheese
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled
Set a large pot half-full of water on the stove. Once boiling, place the gnocchi in the water (they will sink to the bottom). Once they rise to the water’s surface, they are done. Drain and toss with pesto and extra parmesan.