Bow-tie pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts
Aunt Suzy says . . . 

Randy made this really delicious pasta last fall, and I’ve been bugging him about it since we decided to do Pasta Wednesdays here at S&SK.  He finally brought over the cookbook where he found the recipe, Italian Light and Easy, a favorite standby of his originally published in 1993.  He pointed out the recipe he thought he used, but couldn’t exactly remember.  It used all the ingredients you see in this post except it was for a cold pasta salad!  I distinctly remembered that he served it as a hot dish, so I thought he must have improvised, which is what I did.  Not only is this dish Italian ” light and easy” it was lightning fast to put together, which fits perfectly with the Pasta Wednesday concept. This can be made in 30-minutes tops.  Serve with a green salad and a nice, crisp bottle of Pinot Grigio and you’re set for a great weeknight meal.

1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts

1/2 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2-inch dice

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

10 ounces Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta – regular, whole wheat or GF

2 tablespoons olive oil

8-10 fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

Cook the artichoke hearts according to package directions.  Drain.  When cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

Place the diced tomatoes into a small bowl and add the balsamic.  Set aside.

Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.  Save 1/2 cup pasta water and then drain and rinse the pasta.

While pasta is cooking, place the olive oil in a large saute pan (large enough to hold the pasta and other ingredients) and heat to medium.  After draining the pasta, place it in the preheated pan.  Stir to coat.  Add the reserved tomatoes and artichoke hearts and a little of the pasta water.  Stir to combine, adding more water if it is too dry.  Stir in the basil and parsley, salt and pepper.  Once all is thoroughly combined, you can either add the Parmigiano and continue stirring till melted or pass the cheese for people to add to their individual serving.

COOK’S NOTES:  I think this dish is perfect for whole wheat pasta which added a distinct flavor.  I imagine if you don’t have Balsamic vinegar on hand, that red wine would work as well.

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Aunt Suzy says . . .

We got together with our friends the Eklunds for cards last Saturday night.  Sue made this fabulous dish that’s a favorite of ours (thank you, Sue!!).  It’s beautiful to behold as well as delicious.  We brought a mixed greens salad and sauteed corn, which made for a lovely meal.  I’ve asked Sue to be guest chef for this post since neither Margaux nor I have made this recipe.

Sue says . . .

On a trip to North Carolina a few years ago, we had the choice to spend the afternoon at the airport waiting for our flight to Minneapolis – or spend our time at a distinctly unique food market and cafe.  We opted for the unique experience at Sara Foster’s Market in Durham, which is filled with awesome salads, casseroles, deli sandwiches, breads, desserts and more.  We struck up a conversation with the staff, and Sara invited us to join her as she tasted and selected wine from various vendors.  Needless to say, I bought several signed cookbooks, jams, oils, etc.!  This delicious warm chicken salad is from the The Foster’s Market Cookbook (2002) and is one of my favorites for a late summer dinner, using fresh garden tomatoes and basil.  It’s easy to make and you can see how beautiful it is in a large, low serving bowl.

The Chicken Salad

Canola or safflower oil for oiling the grill top

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 red onion, sliced in half-inch rounds

5 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (I used oil-packed)

1 cup drained, quartered artichoke hearts (I used marinated)

3 ripe garden tomatoes (regular or heirloom), cored, seeded and cut in large chunks

2 tablespoons drained capers

6 large fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

1 cup Provencal Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Salt and pepper

Basil leaves for garnish

Prepare a hot fire in a gas or charcoal grill.  Brush the grill top lightly with the canola or safflower oil.  Toss the chicken and the onion with the olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl.  Let marinate for at least an hour or up to 4 hours.  Grill the chicken and the onion directly over the fire.  For the chicken, about 7-8 minutes per side until done (firm to the touch/juices run clear).  For the onion about 4 minutes per side, until cooked but crisp tender. Set the chicken aside to cool for 20-30 minutes. Cut the onion rounds in half and place in a large, shallow bowl. (Pasta serving bowls are perfect for this dish.)

After the chicken has rested, slice the breasts on the diagonal into half-inch slices, about 8-10 per breast half.  Add the sliced chicken to the bowl with the onions along with the sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, capers, sliced basil, and some of the vinaigrette (about half or to your taste) and salt/pepper.  Toss gently to mix and garnish with additional basil leaves.  Pour the remaining vinaigrette into a small pitcher and pass at the table.

The Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 garden tomato, cored, seeded and diced

2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon drained capers

3 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup canola or safflower oil

salt and pepper

Place the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Slowly add the oils and whisk until incorporated and slightly emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper.   This can be made up to 6 days in advance of use.  If you make ahead, refrigerate in an airtight container.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This tasty and healthy salad was introduced to us by “Aunt Cindy and Uncle John” (my brother and his wife).  They had recently made this for Cindy’s niece’s bridal shower and loved it so much they made it for Mom/Granny’s 86th birthday party.  I discovered the original recipe on Health.com.  Two adaptations were made from the original – roasting the asparagus instead of adding it to the edamame cooking water and using marinated artichoke hearts vs. plain. We all agreed that this is a “keeper”!  It’s fast, easy to make, delicious and impressive.  When we saw that they were using a jar of pre-shaved Parmesan cheese purchased at Costco, we thought this recipe would fit right in with the Sandra Lee semi-homemade approach :-).  So if you use the pre-shaved cheese, it’s even faster to make!

These quantities make 4-6 servings and the recipe can easily be made in larger quantities by doubling or tripling.

Ingredients

1 garlic clove, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (14-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
1 pound medium asparagus, tough ends removed, and cut diagonally into thirds
1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 cup)

Instructions

1. Rub the inside of a large salad bowl with cut sides of the garlic clove; discard garlic.

2. Add oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper to the bowl and whisk until slightly emulsified. Add the artichokes, tossing gently and set aside at room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, place the edamame in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until asparagus and edamame are crisp-tender (about 3 minutes). Rinse under cold water, drain well, and blot dry with a towel or paper towels.  FOR ROASTED ASPARAGUS:  Cook the edamame for about 5 minutes, drain and pat dry.  Oven roast or grill the asparagus whole, lightly coated with a little olive oil.  Once done, cut into 2-inch pieces.  Proceed to step 4.

4. Add asparagus and edamame to the artichoke mixture and toss to blend.  Arrange shaved Parmesan over all and serve.

Aunt Suzy says

It’s potato salad season!  I love exploring different kinds of potato salads and saw this one in a recent Coop flyer.  I usually base the type of potato salad I cook on the season and what’s available.  The nice thing about this one is that it could be made year round given the ingredients.  And what’s not to like about opening a few cans for many of the ingredients?!! Of course all amounts can be varied to personal taste!

Margaux says

I didn’t help make this one at all, but it was delicious to eat!  And it looked pretty easy to make.  I also think this would be good served warm as a side dish in the fall or winter.

The Vegetables

2 pounds small potatoes, red or gold or a combination

3-4 cloves fresh garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound artichoke hearts (not marinated), quartered (one 14-oz can drained)

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced

1/2 cup kalamata or oil cured olives, cut in half

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

The Dressing

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Wash and scrub the potatoes and then quarter or chunk them so all pieces are roughly the same size.  Place in a large mixing bowl.  Process the garlic through a press or mince, then add to the potatoes along with the olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven till crisp on the outside and tender – approximately 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to partially cool.

While the potatoes are roasting, whisk together the dressing ingredients until thoroughly combined and starting to emulsify.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the artichokes, red peppers, olives, oregano and parsley.  Add the dressing and mix well.

Add the potatoes while still warm.  Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.  Serve at room temperature.