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.
There aren’t many foods I dislike, but I don’t really like quinoa. There, I said it. I know quinoa is trendy and good for you, but I just have never liked the taste of it. Until now. Recently, I was at a food blogger event, and one of the lunch selections was this amazing Southwest salad with black beans, quinoa, queso fresco, and fresh vegetables. With this recipe, I’ve found a way to eat quinoa that I really love.
This salad is substantial, super tasty, and vegetarian. I serve it with a cilantro lime vinaigrette, and even kids will eat it. I love how healthy it is, and how easy it is to make.
There’s something so satisfying about a plate of pasta with a hearty, flavorful marinara sauce. It’s a meal that can be put together in a hurry, when you’re low on groceries or have no idea what to make, and it’s inexpensive but still delicious.
When my husband and I were dating, he pretty much lived on pasta. At the time, we were both waiting tables at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and they gave us a free plate of pasta every shift. I’m pretty sure he would have eaten spaghetti and pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. His Italian mama made him spaghetti at home, too, always with her homemade sauce.
Over the years, I’ve developed my own marinara sauce recipe, and I usually make it using the pressure cooker or Crock-Pot. My recipe uses carrots and celery in addition to tomatoes, onions and garlic, with a touch of extra virgin of olive oil. I love having this sauce on hand, to top pasta, grilled chicken or zucchini noodles, or to use as a dip for breadsticks. You can also use it for baked pasta dishes like Allie’s Baked Caprese Tortellini.
If you’ve spent much time on our blog, you know we love rice and Mexican food. 5-Ingredient Spanish Rice is our most popular recipe, and Mexican or Southwest recipes always seem to be our favorites. This week I’m making another rice recipe that I absolutely love – Avocado Green Rice. If you’ve never had Green Rice (or Arroz Verde) before, you’re missing out, and the avocado just takes it to the next level.
This recipe gets its fresh flavor and touch of spice from cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, lime and garlic. I’ll be honest – this rice is actually great before you even add the avocado, but adding the avocado just gives it an extra kick. It adds a creamy texture that is so satisfying, and the avocado flavor complements the basic green rice perfectly.
Add this rice to tacos, use it in burritos or salads, or (if you’re me) eat it on its own. It’s so good, I could eat a big bowlful all by itself.
For whatever reason, I often get asked to bring a salad to a party or social gathering. Maybe it’s because salads are so easy to share. This berry salad with spinach, feta and spiced pecans is a crowd-pleasing favorite, and it usually disappears fast from a buffet at a party. Of course, you can also make a smaller version just for yourself or your family. The combination of sweet, crunchy, salty, tangy, creamy and earthy flavors in this salad make it a winner.
To make this salad, start with a bed of your favorite greens. I like to use spinach, butter lettuce and arugula. Layer on sliced strawberries and blueberries, crumbled feta cheese, and spiced pecans. For dressing, I use balsamic glaze, olive oil, salt and pepper.
I don’t know how many times I’ve walked by one of those food carts that sell cinnamon almonds and just had to stop and enjoy the amazing aroma – I love to smell roasted cinnamon almonds almost more than I love eating them. This recipe for sugar & spice pecans will fill your kitchen with the scent of toasted nuts, brown sugar, vanilla and spices, but with a savory touch of salt and a little kick of pepper.
Sweet, salty and spicy is an addictive combination. When I make these pecans, I usually find my family hovering around them as they cool on a sheet of waxed paper, waiting until they’re ready to eat. I make these pecans as a topping for salads, especially my Berry Spinach Salad with Feta, but they’re also excellent by themselves as a snack.
I love salsa: salsa roja, corn salsa, pico de gallo, mango salsa, I’d be happy to eat salsa every single day. But I think salsa verde might just be my favorite. I bought salsa verde for years without thinking about making it myself, for some reason I always thought it was going to be difficult or require complicated ingredients. Last year my family planted a large garden for the first time and we made salsa verde from our own homegrown tomatillos. It was hands down the best salsa verde I’ve ever had, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was. After that summer I’ve never gone back to store-bought salsa verde.
While traditional red salsa is tomato based, salsa verde is tomatillo based. If you’ve never cooked with or purchased tomatillos, they’re those small green tomatoes with husks on them. They’re not actually tomatoes, just a member of the tomato family and they have a bright, fruity flavor that I think comes out especially well when they’re roasted.
We celebrated Easter and a family birthday this past weekend, and it made my heart happy to reconnect with loved ones. I hope you had a wonderful holiday as well. I ate more than my fair share of candy and yummy baked goods, and now that the holiday is over, I really want to get back to a healthier eating pattern and invite more veggies into my life. Maybe that’s the reason I felt inspired to make this low-calorie balsamic glaze using only two simple ingredients. It adds a sweet-tart deliciousness to salads, grilled or roasted vegetables, grilled chicken or salmon.
It’s easy enough to pick up a bottle of balsamic glaze at the grocery store, next to the balsamic vinegar, but if you make your own, you’ll find it has a more intense flavor. It’s also free of corn syrup and starchy thickeners, ingredients you will find in ready-made balsamic glaze.
Tomatoes, pesto and mozzarella cheese are a magic trio of ingredients you can use to flavor pasta dishes, stuff paninis, or top grilled chicken or steak. They’re also a perfect topping combo for this quick tomato tart made with two of my other favorite ingredients – frozen puff pastry dough and balsamic glaze. This tart can be pulled together in under an hour, not counting the time it takes for the dough to thaw. You can serve this tart as an easy weeknight dinner, or for lunch or brunch.
Meet my new obsession: Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Avocado-Lime Sauce. Born out of my favorite Best Ever Mexican Black Beans, this meal is easy, quick, and seriously delicious.
I love black beans in almost any form, but to me the real star of this recipe is the Avocado-Lime Sauce. Think of it as a cross between cilantro-lime dressing and guacamole. It’s absolutely perfect for dipping these tacos, or as a topping for burritos or salads.
I always seem to have the ingredients for this recipe in my kitchen, so this one is perfect for weeknights when I’m short on time. I love that the tacos are rich and crunchy, and the sauce is packed with fresh flavors.
If you want to try a sour cream-based sauce, or maybe serve two different sauces, these black bean tacos also taste great with Chipotle Lime Crema.
This recipe makes 12 tacos – enough for 6 servings, plus a little extra sauce. If 12 tacos is too many, this recipe is really easy to cut in half. But is there really such a thing as too many tacos?