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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Taste The Love

Pesto Potato Salad

Warm-Red-Potato-Salad (1)

This Pesto Potato Salad requires no mayonnaise so it travels well. As a side dish with chicken, pork, or beef it’s perfect. The fresh basil pesto in this Pesto Potato Salad adds so much flavor. The sweet multi-colored bell peppers add a burst of color. A few really good ingredients make this potato salad a winner.

I’m never shy about taking help from the grocery store. You can now find fresh basil pesto in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, where they display the fresh pasta and marinara sauce. This pre-made fresh basil pesto is a huge time saver. Add basil pesto to warm potatoes and they’ll soak up all those delicious flavors.

Mini Sweet Bell Peppers

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Red Potatoes

Red Potatoes (3)

Red Potatoes (2)

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Red Onion

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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes (depending on potatoes and size, time may vary slightly)
Total Cook Time: 25 to 27 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: cutting board, chef’s knife, 6-quart stockpot, strainer, large mixing bowl. spatula or a long-handled spoon, plastic wrap.

Ingredients:
2 pounds of red bliss potatoes, quartered (waxy potatoes work best)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 cup of multi-colored mini sweet bell peppers, finely diced (red, yellow, and orange)
1 (7-ounce) container, store-bought fresh basil pesto (found in the refrigerated section)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Basil for garnish

Directions:
Wash and scrub the potatoes from any grit. Cut them into large, bite-sized chunks. transfer the potatoes to a large stockpot. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes by 1-inch.

Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat to keep the water at a gentle simmer. Add a good sprinkling of Kosher salt. Cook until the potatoes are tender all the way through when pierced with a fork, 10-12 minutes. Exact cooking time depends on the size of your potato chunks and the type of potatoes.

Drain the potatoes, then return them to the same pot they were cooked in. Do not set the pot back on the heat. Let any water that may be on them evaporate from the hot pot, about 1to 2 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl add the diced red onion, diced sweet bell peppers. Next, add the cooked, still very warm, potatoes, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Start with half the prepared pesto, using a rubber spatula, toss gently to combine. If more pesto is needed, add an extra tablespoon or two, toss to combine. Garnish with fresh basil.

You can serve my Pesto Potato Salad warm or at room temperature.

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Sweet Italian Sausage And Roasted Vegetables Over Creamy Polenta

 

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My recipe for Sweet Italian Sausage And Roasted Vegetables Over Creamy Polenta is one that brings bold flavors and comfort food together. Isn’t that really what you want to achieve in any dish? There are three components to this dish. Let me explain/show you how I pull this all together.

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Mascarpone Cheese

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Red Onion

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 2 sheet pans, 1 large saucepan, indoor grill pan, grill-pan

Ingredients:
2 pounds (10 links) of sweet Italian sausage, grilled and sliced on the bias
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock (or broth), unsalted
2 cups of zucchini, 1-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, seeded and 1-inch dice
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1-inch dice
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and 1-inch dice
1 red onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Creamy Polenta (recipe below)

Directions For the Sausage:
In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock. Using a fork, prick all the sausage links on both sides (3 sets on each side) for faster cooking.  Turn the heat to medium-high, place add the links to the saucepan, and cover. Bring the chicken stock up to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, poaching for about 10 minutes, turning them once halfway through the process. Transfer the sausage links onto a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess liquid.

Preheat an indoor grill pan over medium-high heat. Arrange the links placing a grill-press on top. Grill the sausages for 3 to 5 minutes per side. You may need to do this in two batches. Once the links all have nice grill marks, transfer to a cutting board and slice on the bias. Set aside.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450-degrees F.
Place the vegetables, minced garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper into a large bowl. Toss to combine. Pour the vegetables onto two sheet pans, spread out evenly into one layer ( this way they will roast and not steam!). Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing occasionally until the vegetables are tender and begin to brown.

Adjust oven temperature to 350-degrees F.
Add the slices of grilled Italian sausage, to the pans, with the roasted veggies, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Ingredients For Creamy Parmesan Polenta:
3 cups of chicken stock, unsalted
3 cups half-and-half
1 tablespoon of garlic, freshly grated
1 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
3 tablespoons of room temperature unsalted butter, diced

Directions For Creamy Polenta:
Combine the chicken stock, half-and-half, and garlic in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and very slowly add the cornmeal, whisking continuously to make sure there are no lumps.

Switch to a wooden spoon, add 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons pepper, and simmer over very low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick. (cooking time may vary slightly). Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly while stirring. Off the heat add the Mascarpone, Parmesan cheese, and butter. Taste for seasoning.

Transfer all veggies and sausage to a large bowl, add Italian flat-leaf parsley and toss. Serve over hot creamy Polenta. There you have it my Sweet Italian Sausage And Roasted Vegetables Over Creamy Polenta.

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Toasted Quinoa Salad

 

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I brought my Toasted Quinoa Salad to a graduation celebration and it was a hit! Something as simple as a salad, using a few fresh ingredients had friends asking me for this recipe. I knew I needed to post this recipe ASAP!

Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

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Red Onion

Diced Red Onion (2)

Hot House Cucumber

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grape tomatoes

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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E.V.O.O.

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Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes (add 5 minutes cooking time if you’re toasting the quinoa)
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: 3-quart saucepot with a tight-fitting glass lid, large mixing bowl, mesh sieve, whisk, serving bowl

Ingredients:
1 (12-ounce) package (equivalent to 1 1/2 cups of uncooked quinoa)
3 cups of vegetable stock, unsalted and HOT (substitute water or unsalted chicken broth/stock)
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1/2 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
2 cups of feta cheese, diced
1 1/2 pints of grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups of a hothouse (English) cucumber, diced
1/4 cup of fresh basil, Chiffonade-style
2 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh Italian Parsley (dried 1 tablespoon)
1 leomon zested and juiced
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
*E.V.O.O.

Directions For Toasting And Cooking Quinoa:
Start by rinsing the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve. If you’ve never made quinoa, it’s really easy. First, you always want to do a quick rinse of the quinoa to remove the *saponin. Place quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water for a few seconds.

In a large heavy-bottom pot over medium-low heat add (or leave) some of the water remaining on the quinoa so that it’s moist. Add the quinoa to the heated pan. Make sure not to overcrowd. Using a whisk, quickly stir the quinoa around allowing any excess water to be absorbed by the grains of quinoa.

Once the water is completely absorbed and the quinoa begins to pop, you’ll know it’s drying out. Continue stirring until the grains of quinoa begin to brown. The aroma will begin to smell nutty, around 5 minutes.

In another pot bring the 3 cups of vegetable stock up to a boil and salt. Pour the hot vegetable stock into the pot containing the quinoa. Give the quinoa a good stir, cover (with the glass lid). With the heat still on medium-low, simmer until all the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside off the heat for 5 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork. Allow the quinoa to cool completely.

While the quinoa is cooking (during the 15 to 20 minutes) dice the vegetables and the feta.  Zest and juice a lemon. Transfer all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add in the cooled cooked toasted quinoa, season with salt and pepper. Finish by adding in the chopped basil and parsley and toss. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Before serving my Toasted Quinoa Salad, I like to add a drizzle of really good *E.V.O.O.

*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for extra virgin olive oil.
*Saponin is the outer coating of the quinoa and it can be very bitter. It’s a good idea to rinse the quinoa before cooking.

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