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Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Arugula, Pine Nuts and Herb Dressing

In Just Good Food, Lunch on August 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I love a good pasta salad. It’s the perfect accompaniment to almost any summer dish. I made this pasta salad to go alongside BLT sandwiches. If I had to choose one thing to eat all summer it would be BLT sandwiches! Goodness they are delicious. Toasty bread, home grown tomato, crisp bacon. I can’t get enough of them!

Back to the salad. I got this recipe from Food and Wine. It is super easy and tasty. While I was boiling the pasta, I put all of the herbs and garlic into the mini prep and gave it all a good chop. Then I added yogurt (instead of mayo) and olive oil. The recipe also says to add 1/4 cup pine nuts to the herb mixture. I didn’t have a lot of pine nuts on hand, so I just left those out. I used goat milk yogurt, but I think any plain yogurt would do just fine.  You might ask why one has goat milk yogurt on hand…well, I’m breast feeding the babe, and some people say that cow dairy causes gas in babies.

And, for whatever reason, goat dairy does not.

The babe had lots of gas, and I was desperate to try anything, so I cut out cow dairy and stocked up on goat yogurt, almond milk and tofu cheese (which is horrible). Only to find that the alternative dairy didn’t really make the situation any better. Basically, she just had gas. She still has gas, but now she just toots and smiles. She used to toot and cry.

Once the pasta is finished, drain it and toss it with the arugula. Then add the tomatoes and dressing and toasted pine nuts (I did have a few, so I toasted them up and put them in the salad).

And voila, delicious pasta salad! I used penne instead of fusilli because that's what was in the pantry.

This is a great salad for a picnic in the park or to take on a boat ride. I tossed in some grilled chicken for lunch too. I’m all about cooking once and eating twice these days! I hope you had a great weekend!


Chicken Salad

In Just Good Food, Lunch on June 29, 2010 at 3:52 pm

This chicken salad is totally going to be on the menu at my imaginary restaurant.

I found the recipe for this chicken salad sandwich in the June issue of Bon Appetit. It’s a great issue – lots of good things to try. I couldn’t find the recipe on-line, so here you go:

Open-Face Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Asparagus and Prosciutto

Makes 6 servings

1 lb slender asparagus, trimmed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt (I used goat milk yogurt instead)

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 T Dijon mustard

4 cups bite-size skinless cooked chicken (from 1 purchased roast chicken – or you can roast your own!)

1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

6 thin prosciutto slices (I used pancetta because the grocery was out of prosciutto – the pancetta was great!)

6 pieces of bread lightly toasted (the recipe suggests rye, but I used whole wheat)

2 green onions thinly sliced

1. Cook asparagus in boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Drain and place asparagus in bowl of ice water to cool. Drain again and pat dry. Cut the asparagus into 3/4″ pieces (cut on a diagonal).

2. Whisk together the mayo, yogurt, lemon juice and mustard in a large bowl. Add the chicken, chives and asparagus and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill the chicken salad.

3. Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Arrange prosciutto slices in a single layer. Bake until prosciutto is crisp, about 15 minutes and let cool.

4. Divide chicken salad among toasted bread slices. Sprinkle with green onions and top each with 1 slice of prosciutto.

This is a great lunch or light summer dinner!

Clamming in Westhampton Beach!

In Just Good Food, Lunch on June 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm

My friend, Melissa, grew up vacationing in Westhampton Beach, NY. I asked her if she ever went clamming as a kid. She lit up and said that she still loves to go clamming. So…on Sunday, she generously drove us out to a clamming spot and taught us what to do. It’s a ton of fun!

Basically, you stand in the water and do “the twist” while digging your heels down into the sand. The idea is to get your feet a few inches into the floor of the bay. If you feel something hard, it’s a clam! Once you feel the clam, you go down into the water and pick it up. If it’s closed, it’s a keeper!


We clammed for maybe an hour and got almost 70 clams! We threw some back because we felt they were too big. Large clams are best used for chowder…for a clam bake, you really want smaller clams.

I won the award for finding the smallest clam.

We first soaked all of the clams in ice cold water to remove the sand. Then we put some of them on the grill and heated them up just until they opened. Once opened, we added a mixture of butter, garlic, shallots, breadcrumbs and bacon to each clam shell. Then we broiled them in the oven for a minute until browned on top! Delicious!

The clams were awesome!

Just out of the broiler.

For some of the smaller clams, I made a white wine, butter and lemon sauce with fresh parsley and lemon juice. I steamed the clams in the sauce until they opened up. We served these with a crusty baguette. The sauce was so tasty and perfect with a fresh piece of warm bread.

It took a while for everything to come together, and it made a giant mess, but I loved our first clamming expedition and clam bake!

Tomato Florentine Soup

In Just Good Food, Lunch on May 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I love having soup for lunch. It’s so easy to make a big pot of soup on Sunday and eat off of it all week. It doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter – I’m always a soup girl. My office is so cold that I’ve worn mittens while working. In the summer the AC is cranking, and it feels like a giant freezer. So even if it’s 90° out, warm soup is a welcome meal.

I’ve been feeling a little European lately. I think it’s because I’ve been taking French lessons. Bonjour mes amis! I’ve been eating a lot of Italian meats and cheeses and drinking wine from Provence. I even bought some sandals from Italy! They were purchased at J. Crew on 5th Avenue, but they clearly say “made in Italy” so it counts.  The European side of me decided to make a classic from Florence: Tomato Florentine Soup.

Tres bien!

It’s a simple, light soup that contains tomatoes, spinach, and pasta. Here is my recipe:

LaVon’s Tomato Florentine Soup

One can of diced tomatoes (14 oz)

One can of tomato sauce (it’s the can size smaller than 14 oz.)

A handful or two of fresh baby spinach

Shell pasta (2/3 a cup or so)

1 cup of finely diced onion

1/2 a cup of diced celery

2 garlic cloves diced

Salt & pepper to taste

Saute the onion and celery in olive oil for a while over medium heat (about 7 minutes or until transparent). Then add the garlic and let that cook for about another minute. Then add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Let all of that simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the pasta and let that cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts. Season with salt and pepper.

Ooooohhh la la

Definitely top the soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

I bought this Parmesan at Whole Foods because it was "imported." It didn't say from where, but I'm sure it's some fabulous dairy farm in Europe.

You can also pair this soup with a grilled cheese for a fantastic dinner. Bon Appetit!

It’s a wrap!

In Lunch on May 19, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I love wraps. It’s kind of like a salad and a burrito got married. I made this one today: Caprese Wrap with Chicken.

Caprese Salad literally translates to "salad from Capri" - the colors are conveniently identical to those on the Italian flag.

This wrap is filled with an adaptation of caprese salad. I love caprese salad. I make it all the time in the summer. In a truly authentic caprese, the only ingredients are sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, thick slices of mozarella cheese and olive oil. There is no vinegar at all, we Americans just put that on because we like it.  And just in case you’re wondering….a caprese salad is ALWAYS tomato, mozzarella and basil. If you decide to use roasted red peppers instead of tomato (which is equally delicious) the salad is called an insalata tricolore.

Since I was eating this for lunch and wanted the protein, I added chicken as the recipe suggests (I’m  sure there are some ancient Italian women rolling over in their graves right now). I also used just a bit of high quality balsamic vinegar instead of white wine vinegar.

There is one fun trick in this recipe. You heat the wrap in a skillet and then rub one side of the wrap with garlic. You just half a peeled garlic clove and go to town on one side of the wrap. It adds great flavor (if you’re a garlic fan, of course).

Not only does this make a nice lunch, it would also be a great hors d’oeuvre at a casual summer party. You could slice each wrap into three pieces and serve on a platter. Easy and pretty.

buon appetito!


In Fruit, Lunch on May 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I am slightly obsessed with mangoes right now.

Doesn't this look amazing?

Until yesterday, I had never purchased a mango. I don’t know why. It just never occurred to me to do so. I have really been missing out; fresh mangoes are delicious. I bought two for a salad that I made. I found the recipe for this simple Black-Bean Toss in Fitness Magazine.

First a few words about mangoes. They are pretty large – kind of like a softball on steroids. There is a really big pit in the middle. You actually eat the “cheeks” if that makes any sense. I didn’t get too scientific in my peeling and chopping process, but if you’re interested, here is a step by step guide for preparing a fresh mango. I just winged it. There is no reason to stress about it.

I adjusted a few things in the salad. I opted not to use a red onion because I just wasn’t feeling it, and I didn’t add extra oil to the salad. I did make my own tortilla strips as the recipe instructs.

To make corn tortilla strips....just slice strips out of a regular corn tortilla. Toss strips in oil, cumin and kosher salt.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. These are not burned...that's the cumin.

Now on to the salad…basically you combine all of the ingredients into a bowl.

It should look like this.

I ate this salad for lunch, so I put it over mixed greens and added a little goat cheese. I think this would also be a nice summer side dish for burgers or grilled pork tenderloin.

I was famished at 3PM. Add grilled chicken or shrimp for a more filling salad!

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

In Lunch on April 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I’ve been going to the gym pretty religiously over the last several weeks, and I’ve been doing some pretty intense workouts. When I exercise like a maniac, I am hungry all the time. Literally ALL of the time. I could leave the gym and consume an entire pizza, but that’s obviously not the point. So, when I get home from the gym, I am ready to ravenously consume a hearty (yet healthy) lunch.

This week I made Cooking Light’s Mediterranean Turkey Burgers.

Those little white chunks are feta cheese. Brilliant!

They are tasty, quick and filling. The recipe makes four servings so you have lunch for most of the work week. I prepare all of the patties at once and wrap them individually. I freeze them if it’s going to be a few days before I eat them. Otherwise, they are fine in the refrigerator. Then I cook the burgers individually on a grill pan when I’m ready.

Grill for 6-7 minutes on each side.

I pretty much followed the recipe as instructed. I opted to put my burgers in toasted whole wheat english muffins rather than a pita, and I used hummus as a  spread on the muffin. Usually, I think turkey burgers are kind of weak – they just don’t pack the same flavor as beef. I like this recipe because the pesto, red onion and feta give the burger a lot of character.

Mediterranean turkey burger topped with arugula and hummus on an english muffin.

Enjoy the burger with fresh cut veggies, sweet potato chips or a salad  (or a slice of pizza if you’re still starving). Deelish!

Lovely Summer Salad

In Lunch on April 12, 2010 at 1:57 pm

For those of you who have been reading, I wanted to give you a quick update on the Master’s Party. All the food was a big hit. My non-southern friends who attended had never experienced pimento cheese or cheese wafer-puffs. One of the guests thought that the cheese wafer was a peanut butter cookie! He was clearly surprised (while at the same time delighted) at the first bite. We had a great time and the Masters was a fun tournament to watch. I’m happy for Phil!

I made a great salad for lunch this week. It’s a recipe from Cooking Light called “Lemon-Splashed Shrimp Salad“.

Isn't it pretty!

I followed the recipe pretty closely. I didn’t measure the chopped items, but I think I got it about right. I used small shell pasta instead of corkscrew. I actually like the way the shells scoop up some of the smaller diced celery and pepper. It’s like a little treat in your pasta. Now, if you don’t like poblano peppers, you can use a regular green or red bell pepper. Also, the lemon flavor is there, but it doesn’t overpower the dish at all. I did add some fresh pepper at the end just because I like a lot of seasoning.

This salad would be great at a Mother’s Day lunch! I don’t usually drink at lunch, but if I did, I would definitely pair this salad with a crisp white wine. Maybe a chablis or a really dry rosé. Cooking Light suggests sauvignon blanc, and that would be fine too. And if you got in pinch, a Corona Light or glass of pinot noir would probably do the trick!

Only 250 calories per serving. Eat two!

Lunch Time

In Lunch on April 6, 2010 at 6:02 pm

It's as good as it looks!

I wanted to do a lunch this week that wasn’t a sandwich, soup or salad. It’s too hot for soup and salads usually don’t fill me up. I end up eating a giant cookie at 3PM when I eat a salad for lunch. Sandwiches are great, but I don’t know, I just wanted to do something else. So, I came across a recipe for barley and vegetables. It’s kind of a salad…but there is no lettuce….hence therefore in my mind, not a salad.

The recipe is from Cooking Light. You can find it here. I made it as instructed (except I used store purchased chicken stock). I think it’s really great. The feta cheese is just perfect with the barley, and I love the chewiness (is that a word?) of the grain. When I make this again, I think I’ll use 1/2 the onion. It’s good warm or cold. And, it photographs so well! This is my favorite photo I’ve taken thus far.

A Twist on Chicken Salad

In Lunch on March 29, 2010 at 2:38 pm

In general, I do not like to eat chicken. I have read too many books and seen too many Dateline exposés about the way chickens are farmed. It’s a really disgusting thing. I almost gagged the last time I roasted a whole bird. I find that if you just deal with the breasts, it seems less chicken-y, so I buy a lot of organic, antibiotic and hormone free, humanely raised chicken breasts. I prefer to buy these from a local farmer who has a stand at the Union Square Greenmarket. I think if you can actually meet the farmer (or one of his/her employees), it’s likely that he/she is not part of the industrialized food industry that is making all of us sick and contaminating our food. Sorry about the soap box here. Watch the first 30 minutes of Food, Inc. and you’ll never eat chicken again.

Nevertheless, chicken (that has raised in an old-fashioned farm kind of way) can be a good source of lean protein, and my husband likes it, so I make it. This week for lunch, I’m having Cantaloupe-Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Creamy Tarragon Dressing. This is a recipe from Cooking Light that I adapted. The biggest change is no mayo. I substituted Greek yogurt instead. I think the results are delicious. The little bites of cantaloupe are a great surprise, and it’s not very chicken-y (which I like). Here is the recipe as I made it:

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup 0% Fage yogurt (if you are a mayo person, by all means, sub equal amount of mayo here)

2 T champagne vinegar

1 T minced fresh tarragon

2 cups cooked chicken breast (diced into 1/2″ cubes)

1 1/2 cups cantaloupe (diced)

1/2 cup chopped celery

mixed salad greens

salt and pepper

whole wheat pitas

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken, cantaloupe, and celery. Stir gently. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Take a pita, cut it in half, and stuff each half with salad greens and 1/3 cup of chicken salad mixture. Two stuffed pita halves = one serving. Serve with baby carrots, grapes, sliced tomato, etc.

So easy! The Cooking Light nutrition facts say that one serving is 262 calories. I am not sure what it would be with the yogurt instead of mayo, probably not a big difference, but yogurt is definitely better for you than mayo!

Cantaloupe Chicken Salad stuffed in a pita