Classic Pasta Salad

This pasta salad recipe is simple yet delicious.  It gets better with time, which is always a plus. You can make it “full-fat” or low-fat and they’ll both be very tasty.

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Chickpea Salad

This hearty salad is a perfect healthy lunch because it’s got enough protein to keep you feeling full.  I’ve even had this “salad” over mixed greens to make it feel even more filling.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 peppers (1 red, one green), chopped
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup onion (red or vidalia), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp died parsley
  • Red wine vinaigrette (store bought or homemade*)
*RED WINE VINAIGRETTE
    • Red wine vinegar
    • Olive oil
    • Garlic powder to taste
    • Pinch of sugar
    • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the chick peas, chopped peppers, olives, celery and onion in a medium bowl
  • Prepare the red wine vinaigrette in a separate bowl
  • Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix well
*RED WINE VINAIGRETTE
    • Combine the vinegar and oil at a 1:2 ratio in a small bowl (for ex. 1/3 cup vinegar + 2/3 cup olive oil)
    • Add in the garlic powder, pinch of sugar, salt and pepper to taste
    • Whisk well

3 Bean Chili

This chili recipe is full of flavor and amazing with meat or without… I keep tweaking it and making it differently each time, but I think this is the best version.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey (optional)
  • 1 vidalia onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic pressed
  • Olive oil
  • 3 peppers chopped (1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow)
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can of light red kidney beans
  • 1 small can diced black olives
  • 2 large (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp chili powder (at least)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

HOW TO MAKE IT*

  • If you’re using ground meat, brown it in a large soup pot with 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Add the diced onion and pressed garlic to the meat with another tbsp olive oil – saute until the onions are translucent
  • Add the chopped peppers to the pot and stir
  • Add the diced tomatoes, beer and chicken broth and stir well
  • Rinse the beans well and add them to the soup along with the corn and olives
  • Add the paprika and cumin and start with 3 tbsp of chili powder
  • Stir the contents of the pot well and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, then taste the soup and add more chili powder if you desire more spice (you may also want to add some salt, too)
  • Let it simmer while stirring frequently for at least an hour
  • Top with shredded cheddar cheese and enjoy!
*If you want to make this chili in a crock pot, follow the same directions but cook it on high for 1 hour and then low for 4-5 hours.

Sausage and Peppers Balsamico

What you need to know to create this sweet and tangy pasta dish…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. 1/2 of your favorite sausage (I typically buy 90% lean, 3/4 lb. sweet and 3/4 lb. spicy)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 1 large vidalia onion
  • 1 lb pasta (any shape you desire – campanelle and penne work well)
  • 3 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • Cornstarch (or flour)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Sugar

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Fill a pot with salted water and bring the water to a boil
  • Spray a large saute or non-stick frying pan with cooking spray or coat it with 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Remove the sausage from its casing and add it to the hot frying pan – make sure you break it up into small pieces with a spatula (or else you’ll end up with large chunks of sausage)
  • Add the chopped onions to the browned sausage and add an additional tbsp of olive oil
  • Cook the sausage and onions until the onions become translucent, then add in all of the chopped peppers and 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Add in the last tbsp of olive oil and enough balsamic vinegar to cover all of the ingredients in the pan (approximately 3 cups) – this will become your sauce, so you want a lot of it
  • Add 1 tsp of salt (or more to taste) and 1 tbsp of sugar
  • Bring the balsamic sauce with all of the ingredients in it to a boil  – you’re going to cook this for about 10 minutes or until the peppers are tender – be careful not to overcook the peppers, you want to keep them a bit firm (if you want to speed up the process, cover the pan with a lid)
  • While these ingredients are cooking, pour your pasta into the boiling water – it should be done right around the time your peppers are cooked.  Once the pasta is cooked, strain it and put it aside to combine with the sauce later
  • When the peppers are cooked, sprinkle the cornstarch or flour 1 tbsp at a time over your sausage and pepper mixture – be sure to add it slowly because the sauce will thicken quickly (I typically add around 3 tbsp of cornstarch, which is the equivalent to 6 tbsp of flour)
  • Once you’ve reached your desired sauce consistency add it to your cooked pasta and stir together
  • Enjoy!