About a week ago I had that urge again to cook something out of the mundane, so I looked to some trusty resources (in this case The Pioneer Woman and Better Homes and Gardens magazine, June '09 edition) and found some recipes that make my taste buds dance.
First on the menu is this delicious looking, sounding, and tasting, Baked Lemon Pasta, via The Pioneer Woman. Not only is she hilarious but she has some pretty awesome recipes. For those of you who haven't already discovered her, take a look. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Here is my picture of the pasta: (Don't judge my photography. I'm still using my trusty exilim while I save up to splurge on a nice SLR...)
Oh, I also added shrimp to the pasta before I baked it. And I used whole wheat spaghetti which some how got kinda smushy. I plan to try it again with "regular" pasta to see if that makes a difference. Maybe I just over cooked the stuff. :S But seriously, try this recipe!
As I was about to leave to the grocery store I thought, what am I going to serve with this? Salad and garlic bread is easy, I'll do that. Then I thought, heck, I'm in the groove so I might as well do a "fancy" salad while I'm at it. I retrieved my BHG magazine that arrived earlier that day, flipped to the recipes section, found the first salad recipe (I was in a hurry to get to the store), and jotted down the ingredients I'd need. Later I realized how perfect the salad "choice" had been because it includes a lemon garlic dressing and the pasta was a lemon garlic pasta! Perfect!
This picture doesn't make it look spectacular, but Oh, don't you be deceived!
Here is the recipe for the Basil-Tomato Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/2 c. olive oil
1 tsp shredded lemon peel
1/3 c. lemon juice (or the juice from 1-2 lemons, I used two. I also added some of the lemon pulp)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
In a small screwtop jar (I used an empty olive oil bottle I'd set aside a few weeks ago), combine all ingredients, tighten lid, and shake well.
1 small head of green leaf lettuce, aprx. 6 cups (I actually used red leaf lettuce and I just eyeballed the amount I used)
3 c fresh basil (again, just eyeballed the amount)
2 c grape tomatoes, halved (yep, eyeballed! I don't like to mess with measurements if I don't have to... maybe thats why I have yet to successfully bake a cake. More on that later. Maybe.)
1/2 c toasted pine nuts (pine nuts were like, $8 a pound, crazy, so I opted for the more pocket friendly, $3/lb, toasted soy nuts instead.)
2 oz. parmesean cheese (I had a block of fresh parmesean from my roommate which was a treat)
In a large bowl combine ingredients. Drizzle with dressing before serving (I think I can handle that).
All I have to say about this salad is: MORE PLEASE! I mean, hello? fresh basil and fresh parmesean, with an awesome dressing? Can you say Yum? I sure did. In between just about every forkful of the stuff.
I've made this salad a few times, since I had everything I need for it, and I've tried a few variations. Tonight for example I added paprikaed/basiled grilled chicken and some dried cherries, another time I ate it with some left over tilapia, but no matter what you do to it, its going to be good.
I also made garlic bread. I'm sure just about everyone knows how to make it in some way or another, but in case you don't I just softened some butter, mixed it with garlic powder and dried parsley, slathered it on sliced pieces of french bread, laid it out on a cookie sheet and baked it for about 5-7 minutes with the pasta so it could get toasty. In hindsight I would have squeezed a bit of lemon juice over the bread to coincide with my dinner's theme. Ooo! I should've also made mint lemonade for the drink... I'll have to remember that for next time.