Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Step it up a Notch

As Emeril Lagasse would say as he spices up a recipe, and then “Bam!!!”.  I have to admit that I don’t like his recipes much; just seem to have too many ingredients and steps to the final result. Very rarely do any of my personal recipes have many ingredients and/or steps, and that’s mainly due to my own lack of patience. 

Actually, I’m much better at being patient than in earlier days, and that has attributed to helping to bring my stress level down.  Take a deep breath and count to ten, or more if needed; smile and nod; imagine yourself in a happier, quieter place…yeah, these techniques all work a lot better now.  Not perfect, just better.
In cooking, I have, more and more, turned away from using premade, packaged meals; and found easier, tastier ways to make them from scratch.  Better for health to get away from all those preservatives and additives, and lots better for the ego, “Hey, look what I made!”.  Yeah, better seems to be the catch word for this posting.
Some recipes, that started out as just a side dish, found their way to becoming a meal of their own.  Just an additional ingredient here or there, or different technique; nothing long drawn, seems to make the difference.
A favorite pasta of mine is Tortellini; little pasta rings filled with cheese, spinach, chicken, just about anything nowadays.  The larger version is referred to as Tortelloni.  This pasta can be served with virtually any type of sauce, in soups, salads, as a side dish, or a main meal; you can’t go wrong with it.  If you haven’t tried it yet, give yourself a little taste adventure.

Simple Tortellini Salad
1 (13 oz) package dry tortellini (cheese, or cheese and spinach)
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried Italian herb mix
4 Tbsp Vidalia sweet onion relish
Cook tortellini according to package directions.
Place cooked tortellini into large bowl; add remaining ingredients and mix together gently so as to not break up the pasta.
Makes 4-6 servings; can be served warm or cold.

Or, for the more adventurous:

Tortellini Salad
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ lb asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbsp  (packed in oil) sundried tomatoes, diced
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp fresh marjoram (if not available, use dried)
Dash each of sea salt and ground black pepper
1 lb cheese tortellini, cooked
In a large skillet, heat oil on high; sauté asparagus spears, mushrooms and tomatoes for 7 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, add in vinegar and garlic; let simmer for 5 minutes.
Add in marjoram, salt, pepper and tortellini; toss to coat and remove to serving dish.
Makes 4-6 servings; can be served warm or cold.

Mary Cokenour
January 25, 2011

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