Last night, we were supposed to have dinner with my mother-in-law. So I had already formulated thoughts about what I would have for dinner that night. Usually we would go to IHOP, so I started thinking about the yummy, light, low in calorie, spinach, mushroom and tomato omelet. And maybe a side dish of browned/crunchy hash brown… If we went to a Mexican restaurant, I would order something other than the vegetables fajita. That’s what I ate at every Mexican restaurant for the past four months during my Buffalo Club Challenge. No chips, no lardy refried beans, no cheesy/greasy taco salad, no nachos. Unless if I had wanted to pay 5 bucks to the pot. But, I’m Chinese and I am stingy. No No No…
Okay.. back to last night’s dinner. All my dreamy, calculated thoughts of food were dashed with the news that we were not going to dinner that night. Life throws you a curve ball sometimes… My mother-in-law was sick! Don’t worry, she’s better today…
I was somewhat disappointed, but then, I realized that I had to think of something for dinner that night! So I started thinking what did we have in the refrigerator… we could always have the smoked chicken or the various bbq we had in the freezer. But we just had the smoked chicken Tuesday night. My hubby would eat bbq any time, any day, so there was no problem there. But I wanted something else. Then I remembered I had mozzarella cheese in the refrigerator and a light bulb went off. The pasta with mozzarella cheese cubes! We had not had this dish for … ehm… almost a year! We usually eat this pasta dish during summer, when you would not heat up your kitchen and whole house during a hot summer day…
So when I got home from work, I started rummaging in our refrigerator and pantry. We had cotto salami that I usually freeze, we had pasta in the pantry, we had our last bottle of marinated artichoke, we got the parsley… we didn’t have the red/yellow bell pepper, but we had a green bell pepper, that would do… So, I started to work on our dinner. Antipasto pasta salad and bread salad to go with it. (Kinda redundant, but those are the names for them). I think the Antipasto pasta salad came from Rachel Ray’s recipe. I couldn’t find it again online for reference though. The bread salad was from Sandra Lee’s recipe.
So, here we were:
I didn’t have a jar of roasted red bell pepper, but we could do without it. Essentially, you could throw in whatever you like in this pasta salad. I didn’t have sandwich tomato, but I had cherry tomato, so that would do. Oh, pardon me, I didn’t have the can of black olive and cherry tomatoes in this picture… I forgot about them… I did not have any excuse… I am just forgetful… My hubby always said, “We would not know if you got Alzheimers one day, because you are already acting like you have it!”
Before I started anything, first I boiled some water for the pasta. At this point, I did not put the salt and oil until it boiled first. I think I read it somewhere that it takes longer to boil the water if you have the salt in it. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I stuck to that method. And sometimes I ended up forgetting to put the salt in the water! I like the garden style pasta because of its tri-color. It had a pretty color once it was cooked, plus it sounds healthier too. 🙂
Then, I set up to start chopping and cutting the cheese, salami and the various vegetables. Do you know that I like chopping? I am the official chopper in this household. Well, no one else would do it… The cats did not have the thumb digit like we do… plus, I didn’t want to end up with blue fur on my veggies. Okay, so after I finished chopping each veggies/ingredients, I put them in the bowl where they were supposed to go.
By the time I finished chopping and got all my ingredients ready, the pasta was done. I drained the pasta and I rinsed it with cold water so that it would stop cooking. I didn’t want to end up with overcooked pasta. No picture here, I needed both my two hands to handle the hot pot full of hot water. So, after all that, then I put the pasta into a big mixing bowl. Then I also added the cheese, salami, olives, artichokes, chopped parsley, and seasoned it with a little bit of salt (the cheese and salami were already salty) and fresh coarse cracked pepper. I love fresh cracked pepper… Then, I also poured some olive oil into a small jar, and added the red wine vinegar in it and shook it. Then, I drizzle this dressing into the pasta bowl, and mixed it well.
Oh, while I started working on mixing the pasta, I heated up the skillet and threw in 2 pieces frozen garlic bread in it. Thank goodness I was born in the 20th century! Imagine if I had to make my own garlic bread! I would not have time to work all day and make bread too! Or.. I guess I could have made the bread at the office during lunch break or something. Bring the bowl, flour, yeast, all of the ingredients and make the dough here… then let it rise here by the printer and take it home at the end of the day and bake it! What an idea!
While the bread got heated up, I started working on the bread salad. I poured some croutons on a salad plate.
The beauty of this salad was that both the pasta and bread salad used the same dressing, olive oil and red wine vinegar. So I drizzled the remaining dressing on the vegetables for the salad, and mixed it well. Note that I threw in the chopped avocado just because I had it in the refrigerator. The recipe did not call for it. Just put it what you like, it would work together.. hopefully.. 🙂
Then, I scooped some of the veggies and put them on top of the croutons, and drizzled some more dressing on the salad.
Then I called my hubby and dinner was served. An easy and light dinner, you can enjoy it anytime, for lunch or dinner. Enjoy!
A closer look of the bread salad….
And a closer look of the antipasto pasta salad…
Antipasto pasta salad
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lbs rotini, cooked, drained
12 oz marinated artichokes, drained, chopped
12 oz roasted red bell peppers, drained, cut into ¼ inch thick strips
½ lbs mozarella – cut into inch pieces
¼ lbs olives
1 ½ cup loosely packed chopped parsley
Cotto salami – or other type of processed meat you like
Whisk red wine vinegar with extra virgin olive oil
Add all ingredients, toss to mix
Season with salt and pepper
Serve at room temperature and garlic bread
Adapted from Sandra Lee
1 big sandwich tomatoes, chopped
½ yellow bell pepper, but into 1 inch
½ cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced
¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
½ small jar olives
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 cups crouton
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, and olives.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and oil; season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Pour dressing over vegetables and toss thoroughly but gently.
Spread croutons in a single layer in a large serving bowl.
Spoon vegetables evenly over the croutons and pour any remaining liquid in the bowl over all.