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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Greek Pasta Salad With A Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Photo Mar 09, 7 43 07 PM

Photo Mar 09, 7 43 11 PM

Ina Garten was my inspiration for this salad. She did an episode on making pasta three different ways. This Greek pasta salad caught my eye. I wanted to make it with a couple of changes. What’s really cool about this recipe is, in the time it takes to get the water for the pasta to boil and the pasta to cook, you can have all the veggies chopped and the dressing made for the salad.

Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:
2 hothouse or English cucumbers diced into 1 inch pieces
1/2 a red onion sliced very thin then cut in half
2 pints of grape tomatoes halved
10 ounces of 1 inch cubed Greek Feta
1 package of cooked Fusilli pasta
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian parsley
1-1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper

Sun dried tomato dressing:
2 tablespoon of drained capers
2 garlic cloves
8 drained sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 tablespoon of Agave nectar
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup of E.V.O.O.
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
fresh sprig of mint for garnish

Directions For Dressing:
Add the sun drained sun dried tomatoes, capers, and garlic into a food processor. Pulse until they are finely minced. Next, add in the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Kosher salt, black pepper, and Agave nectar. Pulse the ingredients to combine. Through the feed tube of the food processor, while it’s turned on, drizzle in the E.V.O.O until dressing comes together.

Directions:
In a large bowl, place all the diced vegetables. To the vegetables, add in the well drained, cooked pasta. Pour on the half of sun dried tomato vinaigrette and stir though. This gives the hot pasta a chance to absorb those flavors. Finely, add in the cubed Feta , freshly chopped herbs, and remaining dressing. Gently toss the diced Feta (so to keeps its integrity) and herbs though until all the ingredients are well combined.

Serve the salad at room temperature or chill in the frig and serve cold. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

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Greek Salad With Spanakopita

The Greek salad, also known as the Village salad, is made with no leafy greens or lettuce. Trust me when I say,  “You won’t miss the lettuce!” There are so many flavors, textures, and colors working together to make this salad a winner. It’s healthy, light,  and super satisfying.

While visiting Steve’s mom,  I’d asked her, “if you could go anywhere in the world for dinner, where would you like to go.” Her answer, “Greece!”

For the entree, I made Spanakopita. I bought a beautiful Ciabatta baguette.  I like to pile spoonfuls of the salad on top of slices of the baguette.  I could eat this “village salad” every day and never think twice!

For the dressing, a simple Greek vinaigrette. I made the vinaigrette and served it on the side. The reason for this is, the salad stays crisp and it allows all the ingredients to keep their integrity. If you have extra dressing, store the leftover a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

After the salads were plated, I used a tablespoon to drizzle the vinaigrette over them. The vinaigrette is super flavorful and ties the whole salad together.

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Yields: 12 Spanakopita (Dinner Size)
Equipment:  2 rimmed baking sheet pan
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Prep Time: 30 minutes (for filling)
Prep Time: 30 minutes (for assembling the Spanakopita)
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients For SPANAKOPITA
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
2- 10-ounce boxes of frozen spinach (thawed and all excess water removed)
1 diced onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of grated fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 large eggs beaten
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces of goat cheese crumbled
7 ounces of feta cheese cubed
2 packages of Phyllo dough sheets (need 24 sheets)
1-1/2 sticks of unsalted melted butter
Seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Directions For SPANAKOPITA:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Thaw the frozen spinach getting as much of the water out as possible. Do this the night before. The picture above shows the spinach sitting in a strainer over a bowl, where the liquid slowly drips into the bowl. I leave the spinach out on the counter overnight because it’s frozen solid. The next day, remove the bowl discarding the liquid. Using my hands, wring out any remaining water from the spinach. If you were going to do this in the same day, I would defrost the spinach in the microwave, then let it cool enough where you could handle it, and squeeze the water out by hand. You could even place all the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring it out that way. The most important thing is to get as much of the water out of the spinach as possible. Place the dried thawed spinach in a large mixing bowl.

In a large dry sauté pan on medium-high heat, add sweet Italian sausage. Start breaking the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is browned, about 10-15 minutes, add the diced onion, minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, freshly grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Continue cooking until the onions have softened, another 5-7 minute. Using a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the grease in the pan, transfer the sausage mixture into the bowl with the spinach. Let the sausage mixture cool completely before adding in the cheese and beaten eggs.

In another bowl, I beat the eggs, Kosher salt, and black pepper together. Add the beaten eggs to the sausage and spinach mixture. Next the cheese. I’m using a good Feta and Goat cheese for this recipe. Add the Goat cheese, grated Parmesan, and Feta cheese to the sausage and spinach mixture. Gently stir together, not to break up the cheese too much. So now the filling is done, on to the Phyllo dough.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lay the sheets out on a flat surface covered with a damp towel. Have the melted butter and breadcrumbs on stand-by.

Unfold 1 sheet of the phyllo dough. Brush the one sheet of phyllo dough with melted butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs until 4 sheets are completed

Cut the sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise. Place 1/3 of the filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo up diagonally as if folding a flag. Then fold the triangle of phyllo over straight and then diagonally again. Continue folding first diagonally then straight until you reach the end of the sheet. The filling should be totally enclosed as seen in the pictures above. Continue assembling until all the filling has been used.

Place them on a sheet pan, seam side down. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until phyllo is golden and crisp. Serve hot.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
Equipment: Large salad bowl, sharp chef’s knife, and cutting board

Ingredients For GREEK SALAD:
4 pints of grape tomatoes, 3 red, 1 yellow halved
1/2 large red onion sliced thinly in half moons
1/4 cup of whole pitted Kalamata olives then diced
2 hothouse seeded cucumbers ( English cucumbers) cut into half moons then cut half-moons in half
12 ounces of good feta cut into cubes

Ingredients For Greek Vinaigrette:
1- 8-ounce jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
1 clove of grated garlic
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil ( E.V.O.O.)

Directions For Greek Salad:
In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients from the list above. Add the cubed Feta cheese last. Toss gently.

Directions For Greek Vinaigrette:
Add all the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake well before serving.

A good tip for the vinaigrette is (do not store dressing in the refrigerator), to keep the leftover dressing stored in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The vinaigrette will remain good for 2-3 days. Just remember to shake it well before adding it to the salad.

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Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

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This savory Greek-style pie is traditional, #spinachandfeta. Getting Steve to eat something that only has spinach and cheese in it is impossible, so I thought I’d add some sweet Italian sausage to the mix.

This recipe can totally be a vegetarian dish by just leaving out the meat. You could even substitute some mushrooms to give that meaty flavor if you wanted. Now dealing with phyllo dough may have you saying, that’s too much work. Yes, it can seem a bit overwhelming, but it’s not hard at all. I’m going to show you how and that it really can be fun.

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I use the frozen leafy spinach, not the chopped version. I’m using Italian sausage in this recipe, so the amount of spinach is less than if you were only making it with spinach. Let me explain, I’m using 3 boxes of the frozen spinach for this recipe. If you were doing this totally vegetarian, then use 8 small boxes, 8-10 ounces per box.

Next, thaw the spinach and get as much of the water out as possible. This I do the night before. The picture above shows the spinach sitting in a strainer over a bowl, where the liquid slowly drips into the bowl. I leave the spinach out on the counter overnight because it’s frozen solid. The next day, remove the bowl discarding the liquid. Using my hands, wring out any remaining water from the spinach. If you were going to do this in the same day, I would defrost the spinach in the microwave, then let it cool enough where you could handle it, and squeeze the water out by hand. You could even place all the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring it out that way. Most importantly, get as much of the water out of the spinach as possible. Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl.

In a large dry sauté pan on medium-high heat, add sweet Italian sausage. Start breaking the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is browned, about 10-15 minutes, add the diced onion, minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, freshly grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Continue cooking until the onions have softened, another 5-7 minute. Using a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the grease in the pan, transfer the sausage mixture into the bowl with the spinach. Let the sausage mixture cool completely before adding in the cheese and beaten eggs.

In another bowl, I beat the eggs, Kosher salt, and black pepper together. Add the beaten eggs to the sausage and spinach mixture. Next the cheese. I’m using a good Feta and Goat cheese for this recipe. I crumble in the Goat cheese but the Feta I cut into cubes. I throw all this into the bowl and gently stir together, not to break up the cheese too much. So now the filling is done, on to the Phyllo dough.

The most important thing when working with Phyllo is to let it thaw in the frig overnight before using. This is the type of dough where you want to work quickly so the dough doesn’t crack and break. It’s very fragile. As you can see in the first picture I lay the sheets out with the wrapper underneath and then I cover the phyllo sheets with a damp towel to keep the sheets nice and moist.

In a baking dish, spray the bottom with non-stick cooking spray before laying down the first sheet. My dish is a 9 x 13 and the sheets are 9 x 14 which works how pretty great. After laying the first sheet down in the bottom of the baking dish I brush the sheet with unsalted melted butter. Next, I sprinkle some seasoned Italian bread crumbs all over the sheet. Then I lay down the next sheet over that one, and repeat this method. Uncovering the towel each time I grab a new Phyllo dough sheet, then covering them back up.

For this recipe, It takes one complete box of Phyllo dough to complete the top and bottom of this pie. You get two rolls in a box, so I use one roll for the bottom and one for the top. This ensures that my pie crust will have a lot of texture and flakiness from the breadcrumbs and,  from the number of layers of Phyllo sheets that I’m using for this recipe. Now once I’ve finished the first roll of Phyllo sheets, I add the filling, then I repeat the process with the other roll of Phyllo sheets for the top of the pie.

Once the last sheet of phyllo has been laid, brush that top sheet with butter and sprinkle some bread crumbs on that as well. Using a paring knife score the dough down the middle lengthwise, then twice in the opposite direction. Finally, I make triangles out of each square, as shown in the last picture.

 

Let the pie rest, for about 15-20 minutes. This gives the filling a chance to set. This pie is so delicious and full of flavor. Great dish for entertaining.


Equipment: 9 x 13 size baking dish, paring knife
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Prep Time:  30 minutes for the layering the dough
Prep Time:  30 minutes for the filling
Cooking Time: 45-50 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields: 10-12 Servings

Ingredients:
2 pounds of sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
3- 10-ounce boxes of frozen spinach (thawed and all excess water removed)
1 diced onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of grated fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 large eggs beaten
4 ounces of Goat cheese crumbled
7 ounces of Feta cheese cubed
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 package of Phyllo dough sheets
1-1/2 sticks of unsalted melted butter
1/4 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Directions: Preheat oven 350-degrees F.
Have a 9 x 13 baking dish ready and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Thaw the frozen spinach getting as much of the water out as possible. Do this the night before. The picture above shows the spinach sitting in a strainer over a bowl, where the liquid slowly drips into the bowl. I leave the spinach out on the counter overnight because it’s frozen solid. The next day, remove the bowl discarding the liquid. Using my hands, wring out any remaining water from the spinach. If you were going to do this in the same day, I would defrost the spinach in the microwave, then let it cool enough where you could handle it, and squeeze the water out by hand. You could even place all the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring it out that way. Most importantly, get as much of the water out of the spinach as possible. Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl.

In a large dry sauté pan on medium-high heat, add sweet Italian sausage. Start breaking the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is browned, about 10-15 minutes, add the diced onion, minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, freshly grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Continue cooking until the onions have softened, another 5-7 minute. Using a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the grease in the pan, transfer the sausage mixture into the bowl with the spinach. Let the sausage mixture cool completely before adding in the cheese and beaten eggs.

In another bowl, I beat the eggs, Kosher salt, and black pepper together. Add the beaten eggs to the sausage and spinach mixture. Add the Goat cheese, grated Parmesan, and Feta cheese to the sausage and spinach mixture. Gently stir together not to break up the cheese too much. So now the filling is done, on to the Phyllo dough.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lay the sheets out on a flat surface covered with a damp towel. Have the melted butter and breadcrumbs on stand-by.

Start brushing one sheet of phyllo dough with melted butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Continue this process until the first roll of phyllo dough is complete, about 10 sheets.

Next, place the sausage, spinach, and cheese mixture on top. Scatter the mixture evenly over the top of the dough. Using the next roll of phyllo, repeat the same process with the melted butter and breadcrumbs with the other roll of Phyllo sheets for the top.

Finish the top layer with a final brushing of butter and breadcrumbs. Using a paring knife score the dough down the middle lengthwise, then twice in the opposite direction. Finally, I make triangles out of each square, as shown in the last picture.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the dough, is flaky and golden brown. Let rest 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.

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