Easy Greek Pasta Salad

Meal prep doesn’t get easier than this Greek Pasta Salad!  Perfect for use as a ready-made side dish or main meal, this recipe takes only minutes to prepare and can last you all week long!  The real best part is how customizable it is:  If you have alternate vegetables you’d prefer to substitute, use them!  If you want a bit more protein, add meat!  If you enjoy extra cheese, add more feta.  There are endless variations!

If experimenting in the kitchen isn’t your thing, fear not.  I promise this particular ingredient combo will be a crowd-pleaser at your next summer cookout, potluck, or family dinner.  No occasion?  No problem!  I love having this dish on hand for pre-made meals to go.  It’s the perfect work lunch!

It’s packed with tons of colorful veggies for a nutrition bonus, and depending on the serving size the batch can stretch a long way! 

Servings: 5 – 6 medium/large (or around 10 very small sides)

Ingredients:

1 lb Pasta of Choice

2 Pints Cherry or Grape Tomatoes (rainbow varieties add great taste!)

2 Red or Orange Bell Peppers

1 Cucumber

3/4 Cup Primal Kitchen Greek Dressing & Marinade

2.25 oz Sliced Black Olives

4 oz Feta Cheese Crumbles

Sea Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Fresh Parsley to Garnish

Directions: 

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions and then set aside to cool off

Chop up the tomatoes, peppers, and cucumber into bite-sized pieces

Using a very large bowl, coat the cooled pasta in half of the greek dressing (Cooled cooking pots or baking dishes work well too.  Choose whatever you have on hand.)

Add the chopped veggies to the bowl

Add the black olives and feta to the bowl as well

Add the remaining dressing and toss until all is evenly mixed

Add sea salt and black pepper to taste

Garnish with fresh parsley

Enjoy!

[Leftovers can easily be stored sealed/covered in the refrigerator.]

Ingredient recommendations linked!

Breaded Lemon Pepper Chicken & Asparagus

We all need a few easy go-to dinners that require minimal ingredients, minimal time, and have crowd-pleasing flavors.  This breaded lemon pepper chicken with oven roasted lemon asparagus on the side is exactly that!  Easy, delicious, inexpensive, and full of fresh summer flavor!

(Of course if you’d like to prepare only the chicken or only the asparagus, take either part of this recipe and add it into your given meal of choice, but they really do pair wonderfully together!)

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

FOR THE ASPARAGUS

1 Bunch Asparagus (around 50 small/thin stalks)

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt (around 7 grinds or to taste)

Black Pepper (around 15 grinds or to taste)

1/2 Lemon

FOR THE CHICKEN

1 – 1.5 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, Thinly Sliced (I used 1.4 lbs)

1/2 Cup Flour of Choice (I used White Whole Wheat)

1/4 Cup Dangold Lemon Pepper Seasoning

4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1/2 Lemon

Directions:

FOR THE ASPARAGUS

Preheat the oven to 425°

Rinse the asparagus and trim off the ends

Place them in a ziplock bag, pour in the olive oil, and distribute until evenly coated

Add the salt and pepper into the bag and evenly cover

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and evenly spread the asparagus across the pan

Cook for 9 minutes, flip, then cook for another 9 minutes, or until they’ve reached your preferred texture

Once they’ve been removed from the oven, squeeze fresh lemon juice over top before serving

FOR THE CHICKEN

While the asparagus is cooking, place the flour and lemon pepper seasoning onto a plate and mix together

Melt half of the butter in a medium-large pan on medium heat

Coat each piece of chicken with water, then cover them with the flour and spice mixture

Cook the chicken in the pan for around 4 minutes per side if thin (adding time for thicker pieces until cooked all the way through)

The remaining half of the butter can be added into the pan between cooking chicken pieces if it runs dry

Once the chicken is all removed from the stove, squeeze fresh lemon juice over top before serving

Plate the chicken with the asparagus

Enjoy!

Ingredient recommendations linked!

Roasted Brussels Sprout Pasta

If you’re a fan of crispy roasted brussels sprouts, you’ll love this super easy pasta dish!  It can function as either a side or main meal depending on what you’re serving.  You can use any type of pasta that you prefer.  I’ve personally utilized everything from traditional Italian wheat pastas to legume and lentil pastas (which are great for a gluten free and protein-packed alternative).

Speaking of protein, if you’re looking to add in a little extra, the addition of a chopped sausage (either traditional meat or veggie-based) would be a delicious option.

If you’d like to prepare the dish for a group, simply multiply these single serving measurements by the amount of diners.  For optimal taste and texture, it’s best to eat this one right away while the brussels sprouts are still warm and crispy from the oven!

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

FOR THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1 Pound Brussels Sprouts

1-2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (enough to thoroughly coat)

Sea Salt (to taste)

Black Pepper (to taste)

FOR THE PASTA

1 & 1/3 Cups Pasta Of Choice (dry)

1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt (to taste)

Black Pepper (to taste, generous amount recommended)

TO SERVE

Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

FOR THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Preheat the oven to 400°

Cut the bottoms/tips off of the sprouts and peel off the outer layer

Cut each sprout in half (smaller ones can be left whole)

Toss in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper

Spread evenly on a baking sheet

Cook for about 35 minutes (stirring/flipping halfway) or until the outside is brown and crispy

FOR THE PASTA

Based on the cooking time for your pasta of choice, prepare it according to the package instructions timed to finish around when the sprouts will be coming out of the oven

Once cooked and drained, add pasta to serving bowl

Coat lightly with the olive oil

Season with salt and pepper to taste

TO SERVE

Mix the roasted brussels sprouts into the pasta

Add additional salt and pepper if needed after taste testing

Add parmesan cheese to taste when serving

Enjoy!

Baked Broccoli Mac & Cheese

If you’re looking to transform mac and cheese from a simple weeknight meal into a restaurant order copycat, I have the secret: A crispy breadcrumb topping!  It makes all the difference!

This pasta bake is quick and easy with only simple ingredients needed.  It’s also quite customizable.  Should you have a preference to use a different type of cheese or vegetable, it can be made entirely your own.

That being said, I highly recommend this particular combination!  The broccoli is very complimentary in both taste and texture, and there’s just the right amount of subtle kick from the pepper jack that really ties all of the flavors together.

The contrast of the crispy cheese and breadcrumb topping paired with the saucy pasta center makes this meal perfect to serve hot from the oven, but in a smaller household it can easily be stored as leftovers for readymade meals or sides in the days to follow.  This recipe makes 6 servings, and whether you’re feeding a group or meal prepping for yourself, it’s designed to make the cooking as easy as possible. (Cue the cheese slices in lieu of shredding!)

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

3 Cups Elbow Pasta (dry)

4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

1/4 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour (or flour of choice)

1 Tsp Sea Salt

Black Pepper (about 10 total rotations from the grinder)

1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

1 1/4 Cups Oat Milk

1 3/4 Cups Vegetable Broth

8 Slices Mild Cheddar Cheese

5 Cups Broccoli (measured while frozen/raw)

1/4 Tsp Paprika

2 Slices Muenster Cheese

2 Slices Pepper Jack Cheese

1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Directions:

STEP 1

PREP

Preheat the oven to 350°

Grease a 9 x13 inch baking dish

Cook the broccoli (I microwaved from frozen), cut into small pieces, and set aside

STEP 2

COOK THE PASTA

Prepare the elbow pasta according to the package instructions.  Be sure to rinse it with cold water once drained

STEP 3

CREATE THE SAUCE

While the pasta is cooking, in a wok/vessel of similar size, melt the butter

Stir the flour into the melted butter until evenly combined

Stir in the sea salt, half of the black pepper (about 5 rotations from the grinder), and the cayenne

Add in the oat milk and vegetable broth, cooking and stirring on medium heat until well blended

Melt in the 8 slices of cheddar, stirring until smooth

STEP 4

COMBINE THE FILLING ELEMENTS

Add the cooked pasta into the sauce

Add in the cooked broccoli pieces

Add in the other half of the black pepper (5 rotations from the grinder) and the paprika

Transfer into the greased baking dish

STEP 5

CREATE THE TOPPING

Tear the 2 muenster slices and the 2 pepper jack slices into small pieces, and evenly disperse over the top of the pasta

To follow, top with the bread crumbs

STEP 6

BAKE

Bake for around 17 minutes

To brown and crisp the top, broil for an additional 2 and 1/2 minutes.  Rotate the pan, then broil a second time for 1 and 1/2 – 2 minutes (or until lightly browned)

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly

If desired, an additional sprinkle of salt can be added when serving

Enjoy!

[Leftovers can easily be stored in the refrigerator by simply covering up the cooking dish and storing it in there as is.]

Ingredient recommendations linked!

Burrata Artichoke Bison Burgers

A few years back, my husband was given a burger patty press for Christmas.  His parents got one for themselves as well.  Ever since then, the burger wars between them have been escalating!  Who can craft the ultimate burger?!  This Italian-inspired bison burger is my husband’s latest entry into the family burger competition, and it turned out so delicious that I wanted to share it with you all!

He named it “Under the Tuscan Bun”, let me add!  A unique name for a unique burger falls within the rules of the family burger battle.

This recipe makes four burgers, but after tasting the burrata / sun dried tomato / artichoke relish combo, I’m betting you’ll be tempted to eat two at a time!

Ingredients:

FOR THE PATTIES

4 oz Fresh Basil

2-3 Cloves Garlic (depending on preference)

1 lb Ground Bison

3 Tbsp Grated Parmesan

Black Pepper (to taste)

Sea Salt (to taste)

FOR THE ARTICHOKE RELISH

1 14 oz Can Quartered Artichoke Hearts

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus extra on hand to adjust final consistency)

1 Bunch Fresh Parsley

1 Pinch Kosher Salt

½ Lemon

TO SERVE

4 Burger Buns Of Choice (Brioche highly recommended!)

Sun Dried Tomatoes (to taste)

8 oz Burrata

Directions:

STEP 1

PREP THE PATTIES

In a food processor, finely chop the basil and garlic

Combine the basil and garlic mixture with the ground bison along with the parmesan, black pepper, and sea salt

Form into 4 patties

STEP 2

PREP THE ARTICHOKE RELISH

Mince the artichoke hearts and sauté in them in the tbsp of olive oil until lightly browned

Transfer to a bowl to cool

Chop the fresh parsley leaves

Add the parsley to the artichoke hearts

Add the pinch of kosher salt and squeeze the 1/2 lemon into the mix

Add olive oil as needed until mixture reaches spreadable consistency

STEP 3

COOK THE PATTIES

Cook each bison patty for roughly 3-4 mins on each side on medium-high heat

STEP 4

ASSEMBLE

Toast or warm a burger bun

Add a bison patty

Spread the artichoke relish generously onto the top of the patty

Add sun dried tomatoes and burrata to taste

Enjoy!

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my all-time favorite meals!  Like so many great dishes, there are endless unique ways to prepare it.  Every restaurant and individual has their own twist, and I personally appreciate the variety!  Sometimes you’ll find yourself with fried layers of paper thin eggplant, and other times thick breaded eggplant circles in a single layer.  (There is a local Italian restaurant in my neighborhood that serves theirs up as two large hunks of breaded eggplant with a thick layer of ricotta cheese between the two, all covered in marinara and mozzarella.)

This particular Eggplant Parm is a layered and baked variety that not only tastes amazing but can also easily be made without too much mess or hassle.  It’s perfect as either a weeknight meal, from which you could easily have leftovers, or as a guaranteed crowd pleaser for potlucks and gatherings.  This recipe makes about 6 – 8 medium servings. 

Ingredients:

2 Large Eggplants

4 Eggs

3 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs

4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Jars Marinara Sauce Of Choice

2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese – Torn From Slices (about 8 slices, more if you prefer)

1 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°

Place two large baking sheets in the oven

Shred the parmesan cheese

Tear the mozzarella slices into small pieces

Combine the two cheeses in a bowl and set aside

Cut the eggplants into circles roughly ½ an inch thick

Crack the eggs into a bowl and lightly scramble them with a fork

Place the bread crumbs in either a bowl or on a plate (You can start with some instead of all if you wish, adding more as you run low)

In assembly line style, dip each eggplant circle into the eggs, then into the breadcrumbs

Remove the baking sheets from the oven

Evenly drizzle half of the olive oil onto the baking sheets (1 tbsp per sheet) then place the breaded eggplant circles on in a single layer

Bake for 15 minutes

Remove the sheets from the oven, drizzle the second half of the olive oil (the other 2 tbsps) on top of the eggplant, flip them all over, and then put back into the oven for another 10 minutes (or until they’re turning golden)

Once the eggplant has been removed from the oven, turn the oven temperature up to 475°

In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, layer the eggplant circles, marinara sauce, then cheeses.  Repeat these layers until the pan is full, ending on a cheese layer

Put the pan back into the oven and bake until the cheese melts and begins to turn golden brown (around 15 minutes)

Let cool slightly for a couple of minutes as it will be extremely hot

Enjoy!

[Leftovers can easily be stored in the refrigerator by simply covering up the cooking dish and storing it in there as is.]

Ingredient recommendations linked!

Pumpkin Mushroom Pasta

This pumpkin pasta is the perfect way to enjoy your favorite autumn flavors year-round and can easily be whipped up on a busy weeknight.  It can function as a vegetarian main course or as a side dish.  I used a traditional Italian durum wheat pasta, but feel free to use whatever type you like if you are gluten free or have other preferences! 

Ingredients:

16 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

3/4 Cup Half and Half

3/4 Tsp Sea Salt

Black Pepper (about 10 rotations from the grinder)

1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder

1 Pinch Ground Nutmeg

1 15 oz Can Pumpkin Puree

1 Tsp Saigon Cinnamon

1.5 Tsps Light Brown Sugar

7 Tsps Finely Chopped Fresh Sage

13 oz Pasta Of Choice

Additional sea salt and black pepper for topping/serving 

Directions:

In a medium to large-sized pan, add the extra virgin olive oil and mushrooms

Cook the mushrooms on medium heat until thoroughly tender and brown

Set the mushrooms aside

In a wok, or vessel of similar size, turn the heat to a low-medium setting and melt the butter

Add in the half and half and stir until well blended

Stir in the sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and nutmeg

Turn the heat down to low

Stir in the pumpkin puree

Add in the saigon cinnamon and brown sugar

Mix in the cooked mushrooms

Add in the sage

Prepare your pasta

Add the cooked pasta into the wok and mix evenly in the sauce

Add additional sea salt and black pepper liberally (to taste) when serving

Enjoy!

[Leftovers can be stored sealed in the refrigerator. This recipe makes approximately 3 servings.]

Ingredient recommendations linked!

Ratatouille-Italiana

Ratatouille Italiana

An Italian twist on the French classic, this dish is extremely versatile. It can be enjoyed on its own, over pasta, as a side, however you like! Plus it’s vegan, dairy free, and gluten free.

We personally loved it over pasta with sausage.

Ingredients:

1 white onion

4 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 eggplants

3 medium zucchini

1 jar Mezzetta Artisan Ingredients Italian Plum Tomato Marinara

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

cayenne pepper

black pepper

sea salt

Directions:

Dice the onion

Finally chop the garlic or use a garlic press

Peel & chop the eggplant into small cubes

Chop the zucchini into small cubes

Add the onion, garlic, and first 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan and sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent

Add in the eggplant and the third tablespoon of olive oil, then continue cooking until eggplant is soft

Add in the zucchini

Once the zucchini is thoroughly cooked as well, turn down your heat to low and stir in the marinara

Stir in the parsley as well as small dashes of cayenne pepper and black pepper, plus a pinch of sea salt to taste

Enjoy!

Nut-Free Pesto

Nut-Free Pesto_web

It can easily be made vegan as well!

I absolutely love pesto. However, as someone with nut allergies, 9 times out of 10, I’m not able to eat it. Most restaurants and grocery brands make their pesto with pine nuts. This pesto is 100% nut-free, and can easily be made vegan if you leave out the parmesan or use a vegan alternative.

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)

4 cloves garlic

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Wash and prep the basil leaves.

Combine basil leaves and garlic in a food processor, and then add in the oil to make it easier to blend until all of the oil has been added.

Add in sea salt and black pepper to taste and mix again.

Pour the pesto into a bowl and stir in the cheese. (This can be skipped, or subbed with a vegan alternative.)

Add extra sea salt and black pepper if desired, but do a taste test first on your pasta or meal of choice and see what you prefer.

Enjoy!

Tomato Basil Asparagus Pasta

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Being part Italian, I cannot stress my love of pasta enough!

There are so many ways to dress it up, make it healthy, and keep it simple.

Here’s one of my favorite quick dinners.  I went with Ancient Harvest Gluten-Free Supergrain Pasta (though of course you should use your personal favorite pasta!)

This recipe makes 1 large serving.

Ingredients:

5-6 large asparagus stalks

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 servings of your favorite pasta

1 cup tomato basil pasta sauce

black pepper & cayenne pepper to taste

optional topping – a sprinkle of parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Cut off the ends of the asparagus, then place the stalks into a gallon-sized plastic bag

Pour the olive oil into the bag and make sure it covers all of the asparagus

Place the asparagus on a baking sheets and cook in the oven for about 12-14 minutes

Cook and drain the pasta, then mix in the pasta sauce to keep it from sticking

Remove the asparagus from the oven, chop into small pieces, and mix that into the pasta

Add black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste, and then sprinkle on some parmesan if you wish!