Pasta Salad

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My son stands against anything with pasta and rice. He does eat both, but with such a long face that it almost makes me guilty. Almost… But I don’t give up on these two foods and keep bringing them to the table irrespective of the nasty looks, sighs and nays.

The kid does like salads, so I have started adding a bit of pasta to his salad. He seems to be okay with that. So now, once in a while, I pack a cold pasta salad for his lunch. I prepare it the night before and refrigerate so that the flavors can mingle.

A good thing about salad is that you don’t need to have an exact recipe. Whatever is available in the fridge paired with a bit of  dressing makes an excellent one. My go-to salad dressing is a mix of mayonnaise and honey mustard, but I am slowly including more of the classic olive oil and lemon juice now a days.

For a salad, I like the combination of vegetables with beans and fruits. The bit of sweetness that the fruit imparts gives a lovely flavor and the beans fill you up. Cheese is more for my son’s taste buds. For this particular dish, I had some ready made taco seasoning to be used up. So that went into the dressing with olive oil and lemon juice. This video from Tasty is what I followed for the dressing. I had to skip the jalapenos and garlic since it was for my son’s lunch box. Taco seasoning is a mix of spices and can be made at home as well. Here is a recipe if you want to make it at home.

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Serves 2

Recipe adapted from: Tasty – Pasta Salad 4 ways

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked red kidney beans
  • 2 slices of cheese torn into small pieces or 1/3 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced mangoes
  • 3 tablespoons sliced olives
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • salt as needed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ready made taco seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, optional
  • 1 tablespoon jalapenos, optional

Method:

  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cook roughly about one cup pasta in boiling water with salt to get two cups of cooked pasta. Drain and let it cool completely.
  3. Combine the salad ingredients to the pasta. Slowly add the dressing, mixing it in. You don’t have to use all the dressing, you can stop when you feel that the taste is fine.
  4. Do a taste test before adding salt, since pasta was cooked in salted water and taco seasoning also has salt.

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Quick Breads – DB Feb 2012 Challenge

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Here is my take for this month – savory Pizza Muffins which hubby loved a lot and a sweet Papaya bread which had me sniffing around the oven, waiting for the bread to finish baking.

Of course, all this happened on 27th evening and the bread got finished baking at around 10.30 PM. But at least, I had the satisfaction of finishing the challenge on time, though posting it in the blog is a different matter.

The pizza muffins were soft, fluffy and just perfect. I wish I had  made some pizza sauce to dunk these, but hubby was happy with ketch up itself. Though they are called Pizza Muffins, they don’t taste like pizza (not without the sauce anyway), but they were good and they got over in a matter of minutes.

Ingredients:

  • Onion                                 :        1 medium, chopped fine
  • Tomatoes                         :        1-2, chopped
  • Capsicum                         :        1 small, chopped
  • AP Flour                           :        2 cups
  • Cheese                               :        1 cup
  • Salt                                      :        1/2 tsp
  • Baking Powder               :        1 tbsp
  • Dried Italian Herbs      :        1 tsp
  • Olive Oil                            :        1 -2 tbsp
  • Egg                                      :        1, beaten
  • Water                                 :        1 cup

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C. Grease a 12 cup muffin tray.
  2. Finely chop the onions, tomatoes and capsicum. I added 1 tbsp of fresh fenugreek leaves too.
  3. Fry onion and capsicum till they are a bit soft. Take of the heat, add tomatoes, salt and herbs.
  4. Mix flour, baking powder and whisk. Add the cheese, veggies, egg and one cup of water. Mix everything until just combined.
  5. Spoon into the muffin pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Serve with pizza sauce or ketch up.

The papaya bread tasted very much like a banana bread, I couldn’t taste or smell papaya in it. I loved it a lot and so did my son. It was more like a sweet cake than a bread. Thanks Janet for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Sugar                               :       1 cup
  • Butter                              :       1/4 cup (I had only about 50 gms)
  • Eggs                                  :       2
  • Mashed Papaya           :       1 1/2 cups ( 3/4 th of a small papaya)
  • Walnuts                           :      1/4 cup
  • Raisins                             :      1/2 cup
  • AP Flour                         :      1 1/2 cups
  • Baking Powder             :      1/4 tsp
  • Baking Soda                   :      1 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon Powder      :      1/2 tsp
  • Ground Ginger             :      1/2 tsp
  • All Spice Powder         :      1/2 tsp
  • Salt                                    :      1/4 tsp

Method: 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F/160C. Grease a loaf pan.
  2. Cream sugar and butter together, I used a wooden spoon for this. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Add the mashed papaya and mix.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a separate bowl and whisk together. Add the raisins and walnuts to this and mix.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and mix until everything is combined and there aren’t any dry lumps.
  5.  Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for an hour and ten minutes or until a skewer comes clean. I would suggest keeping an eye on the bread after it reaches the 50 minute mark.
  6. Slice and serve. Warm or cold, they taste fantastic.

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