Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

How To Make Pasta Salad

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Everyone loves pasta salad!

The great thing about pasta salad is that you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it. Then when you get home in the evening your dinner is all ready!

Depending on what you have put in it, pasta salad will usually stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 2 days. Like any salad, add what YOU like and omit what you don’t!

I’ve already shown you how to cook pasta. For this dish, you really can use any shape pasta that you like. I think these bow ties (farfalle) are fun!

So let’s startcooking!

After you have cooked and drained 1 pound of pasta put it into a large mixing bowl.

Cut the rind off about 6 ounces of sliced hard salami, then cut the salami into thin strips. You might see these referred to as julienne strips, but that just means long thin strips like this.

Add the salami to the bow ties. (Wait until the end to mix everything together. Sometimes too much stirring turns a recipe to mush!)

Drain 1 small can of pitted olives and add them to the bow-tie pasta as well. You could use fresh pitted olives instead of the canned ones.

I love olives, but my husband hates them, so I usually skip putting the olives in this salad. It works just fine without them.

3 green onions, sometimes called scallions, need to be sliced.

Cut off the hairy root end, and trim the top as well. The green part has a milder taste than the white part. Cut the green onion into about ¼ inch thick slices…

…and add that to the pasta.

One pint of cherry tomatoes needs to get cut in half. Otherwise they always go flying across the plate when you try to stab them with your fork!

Now add 4-6 ounces of crumbled feta or goat cheese

GENTLY mix everything together. This salad is looking really good! When you are ready to serve this beautiful salad pour 8 ounces of Italian dressing over the pasta.

I like using a rubber spatula for this. You can also use a big spoon. If I had some fresh basil, that would be a nice addition to this salad.

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Fresh Thyme, Rosemary and Basil

Mixing bowls are great for mixing things but not so great for serving. If you have a nice bowl be sure dig it out of the cupboard and use it. Also fresh parsley always makes a great garnish.

Enjoy!

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Pasta Sauce – Marinara

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes, Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

This is a very basic (and quick!) tomato sauce that takes very little time to cook and can be made ahead of time and frozen. It can be used with any pasta dish or in lasagna.

You will need the following ingredients to make this Marinara Sauce recipe:

Be sure to get both the onion and garlic chopped before you turn on the stove.

You’ll need about 1 cup of finely chopped onions for this recipe. Two small or one medium onion should do the trick.

Peel and mince 4 cloves of garlic. That’s a lot of garlic, but it does get cooked, so it’s not going to be too strong.

Fresh basil is essential for this recipe. Nowadays, most grocery store carry fresh basil year-round. You can wash it the same way you wash lettuce. Pull the leaves off the stem and throw the stems away.

Put the basil and the canned tomatoes, with their juice, in a blender and puree everything until almost smooth. Set the tomato-basil puree aside.

(As I filled the blender I thought, YIKES, this is way too full! With my hand pressed firmly on the lid of the blender I pressed the puree button. I was very lucky that my kitchen did not end up covered in tomato sauce. Next time I would puree this mixture in two batches!)

Heat ½ cup of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.

That does sound like a ton of oil, but believe me it works. It gives the sauce a full, rich flavor.

Add the onions and garlic and cook until very tender, about 12 minutes.

The onions should not get browned. This is what they should look like after 12 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and basil that you pureed in the blender and 1 teaspoon of oregano plus 1 teaspoon of sugar. (Don’t skip the sugar. It helps balance the acid in the tomatoes.)

Bring the sauce to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and continue simmering until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. This will take about 10 minutes.

Give the sauce a taste. You may need to add about ½ -1 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of fresh pepper.

The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. If you are storing it for future use, cool the sauce, then cover and refrigerate it. Gently re-heat sauce over medium heat before using it.

If you are going to be freezing this sauce, use small containers that would be enough for 1-2 serving.

Be sure to spray your plastic containers with cooking spray first so they don’t get stained by the tomato sauce.

(For more basic pasta sauce recipes, be sure to check out my Tomato Sauce Video or my Turkey Sausage Sauce photo-tutorial.)

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Turkey Sausage Sauce

Enjoy!

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How To Make Mashed Potatoes

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetables and Beans, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

I was surprised to hear one of the trainers at my gym say that he prefers instant mashed potatoes from a box rather than the real thing! I thought to myself – he needs a few tips on how to make perfect (real) mashed potatoes!

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At the grocery store, you will notice that there is an incredible variety of potatoes to choose from. There are usually signs above the potatoes that will tell you which ones are great for baking versus which ones are better for mashing. If there are no signs, just ask someone who works in the Produce section for some guidance.

To make 4-6 servings of mashed potatoes you will need approximately:

  • 2 pounds of potatoes
  • ½ to ¾ cup of milk
  • Salt and pepper (to your taste)
  • 2-6 tablespoons of butter

You can make mashed potatoes in just a few easy steps.

Step 1: Wash the potatoes

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Step 2: Peel the potatoes

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Step 3: Cut the potatoes into 1 ½ inch chunks

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Step 4: Put the potatoes in sauce pan and cover with water

(adding 1 teaspoon of salt to the water is optional)

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Step 5: Bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer. Simmer 20 minutes

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Step 6: Drain the potatoes

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Step 7: Add milk, butter, salt and pepper

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Step 8: Start mashing!

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Keep mashing until the potatoes are creamy and lump free.  You can garnish your mashed potatoes with some chopped parsley if you like.

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Aaahhhh! Perfection


The Equipment you’ll need:

  • Sauce pan with a cover
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Knife
  • Potato masher
  • Timer
  • Colander (optional)

Tempted as you might be to try using a blender or a food processor to mash potatoes…DON’T! Believe me, years ago I tried that. You end up with a gluey, uneatable, awful mess. If you are mashing for a crowd, an electric hand mixer will work beautifully!

Here are just a few more ways to cook potatoes from startcooking.com:

Potatoes – Baked Potato with Salsa

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Potatoes – Microwave Baked

Potatoes – Microwave Baked (video)

Potatoes – Oven Baked

Potatoes – Roasted

Potatoes – Sweet Potato Casserole

Potatoes, How to Choose and Use

Enjoy!

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