I’m always looking for new salad combinations, especially since I’ve somehow become the go-to salad person for our family get-togethers. Two things I’ve learned about making a good salad are 1) you need a balance of flavors and textures, and 2) you can always look to Italian cuisine for inspiration. This Italian salad with pears, shaved Parmesan and honey-balsamic vinaigrette is a perfect blend of sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavors, with a variety of textures from tender salad greens to juicy pears to crunchy toasted pine nuts.
We’re having a January cold spell, and right now the temperature outside is a whopping 6 degrees. Which means my family wants nothing but soup for dinner. One of our all-time favorites is this winter minestrone with sausage, kale, and basil pistou. It’s packed with bold flavor and healthy veggies.
This red, green and white soup is a Christmas Eve tradition in our family, so sometimes I call it “Christmas minestrone.” We usually don’t have a heavy dinner Christmas Eve, because we’ve already stuffed ourselves at an annual family party during the day. After celebrating with a million and one relatives, we go home, make some minestrone, and play board games until it’s time to hang our stockings.
One thing I love about fall is the return of soup season! One of the first soups I make every year when the weather turns cooler is this creamy tomato basil soup with orzo, which is based on a ready-made soup from Costco. It’s probably my favorite “Costco hack” recipe. I’ve made this soup dozens of times – for my family, for company or for potlucks – and people always ask me for the recipe.
Anyone who knows me knows I love Italy and Italian food. My husband’s family is Italian on his mother’s side. Recently his Italian immigrant great grandparents were honored with a historic plaque at the site of their former farm, now a city park. It was a great time for the family to get together, celebrate Italian heritage, and eat Italian food. Everyone brought snacks and appetizers, and I decided to make this sun dried tomato walnut pesto. This pesto is irresistible! The bold, bright flavors of sun dried tomatoes and fresh herbs perfectly complement the rich, mellow flavors of walnuts and olive oil.
There’s something about Italian food that brings people together. Lots of our family celebrations seem to involve pizza, pasta, and generous servings of salad like this chopped antipasti salad. It’s a copycat version of a salad served at Buca di Beppo, one of our favorite restaurants for birthdays, graduations and other special occasions. It’s full of yummy veggies, plus pepperoni, two kinds of olives, and three cheeses. It’s far from being a plain, ordinary salad.