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Vegetarian Pasta Salad

Far from the standard American pasta salad, August grew up with something more Mediterranean-inspired.  Her mom would usually add chicken or shrimp, but this mix can also be made like a side dish or a vegetarian option when meat is omitted.  Pine nuts are also a great touch, if the mood strikes you.

Makes a boatload

16 oz. of preferred pasta noodles (pictured here are mini farfalle)

1 green zucchini, diced

1 yellow squash, diced

25 grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

1/2 of an extra large red onion, slivered very thinly

1 small can of pitted and sliced black olives

1/4 cup of grated or shaved parmesan cheese

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 tbs. of balsamic vinegar

5 basil leaves, chiffonade (very tiny ribbons)

1 tbs. of capers, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp. of dried oregano

1/2 tsp. of dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta al dente.  Strain and rinse with cold water to take away any excess starch.  Let cool.

making the vinaigrette

making the vinaigrette

In a bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, capers, salt, and pepper.  Also add the oregano and thyme, crushing with your fingers to activate the oils in the herbs.  Whisk together until completely emulsified.

fresh vegetables

fresh vegetables

Once you have prepared your vegetables, toss them with the pasta, vinaigrette, and parmesan cheese.  Keep and serve cold.

done and yum

done and yum

Shrimp and Grits with Bacon Vinaigrette

You might travel for Memorial Day, but we bet that most of your meals will be in someone’s home.  Even if you do a staycation for the long weekend in your own town, it is likely that you, family, or friends will host a barbecue or food-related gathering.  For the next few days, we are going on a cooking spree to bring you recipes tested by Chef Zach (and taste approved by August), to inspire you to try something new or different this weekend.  We recommend you serve this with roasted root vegetables and jalapeño cornbread.

• For the vinaigrette:

4 oz. of salt cured bacon

1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar

1 shallot

2 scallions (aka green onions)

1 tbs. of dijon mustard

Mince the shallot and chop the scallions.  Dice the bacon in 1/8-inch pieces.  Heat a large skillet over medium on the stove top, and cook the bacon for 8-10 minutes until the fat has been rendered and the meat begins to crisp.

adding the shallot

adding the shallot

Add the shallot to the bacon and continue cooking on medium until tender.

mix in the vinegar

mix in the vinegar

Pour in the balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 minute.

now with the scallions

now with the scallions

Add the chopped scallions and cook for an additional 15 seconds.  It is now ready to be spooned and drizzled over the grits.

• For the grits:

2 cups of Clover Dairy whole milk

1 cup of water

1 cup of Bob’s Red Mill organic grits

1 tbs. of butter

1 tsp. of kosher salt

creamy and done

creamy and done

Combine the water and milk in a small saucepan with the salt and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.  Once boiling, reduce to just slightly below medium and add the grits.  Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides and bottom to make sure nothing sticks.  After 5-6 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the butter.  Let sit for a minute, then serve.

• For the shrimp:

3/4 lb. of cleaned, peeled, deveined, and uncooked shrimp

1/2 cup of Old Bay seasoning

Water for boiling

succulent

succulent

Fill a medium saucepot with water, add the seasoning, and bring to a slight boil over medium heat.  Add the shrimp and let cook for 5 minutes.  Pull out of the water with a spider (the most efficient way to grab them all at once and drain at the same time). Serve immediately; Chef Zach recommends not to do an ice bath, because that takes away some of the flavor and you want your shrimp to be warm.

in beautiful arakawa pottery

in beautiful arakawa pottery