Bow Tie Pasta Salad

This pasta salad has a twist of flavor provided by contrasting tastes of capers, golden raisins, and red onions. With the addition of yellow peppers, Kalamata olives, and fresh basil, it is also a nutritious and colorful addition to the table. When I make it, I remember a Bow Tie (farfalle) salad I once had at a tea room near Shadows on the Teche  in New Iberia Louisiana. Set among towering live oak trees draped with Spanish moss on the banks of Bayou Teche, The Shadows, built in 1834 for sugar planter David Weeks, paints a vivid picture of life for the four generations that made this property their home,the first National Trust for Historic Preservation site in the Gulf South. I bought a cookbook in their gift shop which has been the source of many other good dishes for our family.

I have experimented with this pasta and remembered ingredients, but have never duplicated the one I ate there.

Serve with grilled chicken or meat of your choice. Top with bacon and feta cheese for a true kitchen keeper! 

Bow Tie Pasta

1 lb. farfalle, or Bow Tie Pasta

1 thin sliced red onion

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup Kalamata olives

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup capers

1/4 cup white wine vinegar (or more to taste)

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

crumbled crisp bacon for topping (optional)

Cook and drain pasta. Place in large bowl and toss with olive oil. Cool and toss again before stirring in all other ingredients. Top with crumbled feta cheese and bacon if desired.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Master Chef’s are fond of saying, “We eat with our eyes first”, but did you know there’s research to back it up?  Studies have found when we find food more appealing, not only do we enjoy it more we also absorb more nutrients from it.  This marinated salad is a true feast for the eyes and tastes even better than it looks!  I recently took it to a group dinner and served it in a trifle bowl that displayed all the tempting fresh veggies. The recipe makes a large amount – 10 to 12 servings, but it does keep well for several days in the refrigerator.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

cups broccoli florets

cucumbers, sliced thin

1 onion,  thinly sliced

1 green pepper, thinly sliced

1 red sweet pepper, thinly sliced

carrots, peeled, thinly sliced

3/4 cup sliced Kalamata olivess

3cup parmesan cheese, grated

teaspoon dried oregano

teaspoon dried basil

(8 ounce) bottle Italian dressing

12 ounces cherry tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and toss before serving.

French Lentil Salad with Feta, Cranberries, and Pecans

I have added this to my favorite lentil dishes. I recently bought French green lentils that had a recipe on the back of the package. I altered the list of ingredients to exchange pecans for the requested walnuts. We have access to wonderful local pecans, fresh at this time of year, so I enjoy using them in many dishes. We enjoy this with crackers or crusty bread for a light lunch.

French Lentil Salad with Cranberries, Feta, and Pecans

1 cup green lentils, picked through and rinsed well

2 cups water

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup pecans, chopped or left in halves

For Dressing:

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons Dijo mustard

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Put lentils and water in a heavy saucepan, bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer until lentils are just tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally. Do not overcook. Drain and return to pot to cool. While lentils are cooling, whisk dressing ingredients together. Slowly drizzle over lentils, add salt and pepper, and toss with diced onion. Top with cranberries, feta, and pecans.  Serve as is in a small bowl, or on a plate of torn greens.






Heirloom Treasures

This is not about cooking, and certainly not a recipe except for the fact that I often find adding one special beautiful and tasty thing to an ordinary meal can turn the evening into a celebration.  Heirloom tomatoes can do that. I like to grow them, so I find that joy part of their goodness. Besides, they are way too expensive in the stores when you can find them. Each type of heirloom tomato has a distinctive color and flavor.

I like just about anything with a story, and every variety of heirloom vegetables comes with history, with story.  My daughter in law, Kristen, also loves to grow these beauties, and she arranged these with some of our garden basil and a few olives on a platter for a family meal last week. On this plate are Cherokee Purple, Eva Purple Ball, Louisiana Pink, Kosovo, and Paul Robeson tomatoes.  I believe the bright yellow slices are from a Russian Heirloom tomato, but I misplaced the tag when planting and I honestly do not remember.  Another favorite way to use these tomatoes is in Caprese salad, made by simply adding slices of whole milk mozzarella and a few splashes of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Quoted from another of my blogs,, which is a collection of family stories.

I find heirloom plants intriguing, and am thankful for the pleasure gardening brings to all of us.  I believe the love of gardening is another heirloom, one passed down to me and mine from my parents and grandparents, who first showed me how to garden, but also introduced me to delicious fresh food on our table.  Long before the current farm to table trends, I knew that eating local (as in very local, our own garden) tasted better and helped to keep us healthy.  

Celebrating Heirlooms!

Asparagus, Parmesan and Red Onion Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

With the approach of summertime, gatherings on the porch, and grilling, I like serving a variety of vegetable salads. This one is perfect with grilled meats and chicken. It keeps several days covered and refrigerated.  This is my version of a recipe Anne Burrell features on the Food Network.  It is good with fresh Lemon Vinaigrette as well.

Asparagus, Parmesan, and Red Onion Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

1 bunch pencil-size asparagus

1 small red onion,  diced

1 cup shaved parmesan flakes

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Rinse and trim asparagus stalk ends by bending and snapping off where the stalk naturally wants to break. Cut asparagus stalks, including the tips into very thin slices, crosswise and place in a bowl. Add red onion and shaved Parmesan and toss to combine. Dress with vinegar, olive oil, and salt and toss again to coat vegetables with dressing.The vinegar will tenderize the asparagus. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow vegetables to marinate.



Kale, Beet, and Apple Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

kalebeetapplesaladAfter seeing a beautiful salad recipe posted by my friend Debra this week, I adapted ingredients we had to make one that looks much like hers and used the same delicious vinaigrette with a bit of extra curry. The result is colorful and tasty –  a work of art  with layers of flavor!  Since we have an abundant crop of kale in our garden, we will have this often in our winter menus. This salad rates very high on the nutrition scale as well. I used pickled beets but you can add roasted or steamed fresh beets instead.

Kale, Beet, and Apple Salad

4 cups ruffled kale, shredded.

2 cups coarsely chopped peeled apples

2 cups pickled beet pieces

Curry Vinaigrette, recipe below.

Wash and pat the kale leaves dry before stripping from center stems.  Roll leaves and slice crosswise to shred.  Add chopped kale to a large bowl.  Add apples.  Drain beets and add, tossing with Curry Vinaigrette at least 4 hours before serving. Store covered in refrigerator.  Toss gently when ready to serve.

Curry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon (or more to taste) hot curry powder.  Use mild if your family prefers.

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger

Whisk all ingredients together before pouring over salad.

Lime Marinade and Herb Salad for Steak


This lime marinade has become my new favorite. Couple with the fresh herb salad topping and hit a homerun  with those at your table!.  The fresh brightness of herbs and tangy lime juice adds layers of flavor to grilled meats, fish or chicken. I use Mexican Mint Marigold in my herb mix because tarragon does not grow well here, but if you have tarragon, use that. We will have this again tonight with sides of baked potato and crispy lettuces, also from our garden. This is my version of Danny Boome’s, used when grilling flank steak on his Food Network show Rescue Chef.


Lime Marinade

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 orange, juiced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Add the steak and refrigerate for 30 -45 minutes, turning occasionally.  Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature before grilling or pan-searing steak.

Herb Salad

1 small bunch Italian parsley
1  small bunch sweet basil
1 small bunch cilantro
1 small bunch Mexican Mint Marigold  (or use fresh Tarragon if you have it.)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 limes, juiced
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the herbs and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Remove the leaves from stems and chop slightly. Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Add  to chopped herbs a few spoonsful at a time until mixture is lightly coated with dressing.  You may not need all the dressing, but serve any remaining to pass with a small spoon at the table.


Thai Chicken Salad with Lime and Ginger Vinaigrette


In the heat and humidity of August days, salad suppers are a simple, nutritious and delicious welcome.  The added benefit is no cooking to heat up the kitchen if you use a rotisserie chicken to top this family favorite.  Every time I make this salad I wonder why I don’t do it more often. Most of the ingredients are ones we keep as pantry and frig staples.

There are dozens of similar recipes in cookbooks and online. Some are called Vietnamese, some are called Thai. Most list fish sauce as an ingredient and since we lived in Southeast Asia, I know this is a traditional seasoning.  But we prefer to omit it in most dishes.  The greens can be a combination of almost anything you wish. If you are cooking for several people, increase the amounts and it is beautiful served on a large platter with ingredients layered separately to toss before serving. When I make it for two, I create the salads right on the serving plates.

Thai Chicken Salad with Lime and Ginger Vinaigrette

2  cups shredded or chopped chicken (I use rotisserie chicken!)

4 cups coarsely chopped Romaine lettuce or Napa Cabbage

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 small red onion

1 small cucumber, sliced thin

3 carrots, grated

!/2 cup roasted peanuts (more if you like)


For Lime and Ginger Vinaigrette

Juice of 2 large limes

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 Tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger (I use Penzey’s)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

honey to taste

whisk together and drizzle over salad before serving

Layer greens, chopped vegetables, and chicken.  Sprinkle peanuts and dressing on top before serving.





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Hot Cranberry Apple Salad


Our church Thanksgiving dinner is tonight. Turkeys and pans of dressing are volunteered for and prepared ahead of time, but those attending (it is one of our congregations favorite functions all year) bring salads, vegetables, and desserts.  I am bringing 2 salads.  One is Caprese in a bowl using the last of the season’s basil leaves along with c herry tomatoes and tiny mozarella balls. The other salad is a hot salad, one of our favorite dishes this time of year.  I first found a similar recipe in a church cookbook given to us by friends from that church many years ago.  It can be found with many variations online, but this is my old, tried and true way to make it.

Hot Cranberry Apple Salad

21/2 c.whole washed cranberries
3 c. chopped apples, no need to peel
1 c. sugar
1 c. quick oats
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 stick butter
In an 8X10 inch baking pan,.mix together apples, cranberries, and sugar mixture of oats, brown sugar, and nuts over top. Cut pats of butter to dot over all. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees. Serve warm.


Chicken, Mandarin, and Pecan Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing


We make a rotisserie chicken stretch into several meals at our house, and I am always trying new ways to use the “rest of the story” when I remove all the chicken bits from the bone. If time permits,  I also cook the bones and strain the broth to use in other ways. But I always pull the meat away, shredding or chopping as I go. Most of the time I have 3 two cup portions to use or freeze. This salad was a perfect lunch, using 2 cups of leftover shredded rotisserie chicken.  This makes 2 generous servings for a lunch entrée.

Chicken, Mandarin, and Pecan Salad

2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1  hard-boiled egg, peeled and sliced

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup chopped pecans

8-10 canned  mandarin orange slices


Creamy Lemon Dressing:

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Combine all salad ingredients except oranges and toss. Drizzle with Creamy Lemon Dressing, then scatter mandarin slices on top.