Well, we made it through January, one step closer to Spring and one step closer to planning those gardens with fresh vegetables.  I am excited to announce that we will be purchasing some of our fresh fruits and veggies from our local markets.  There is nothing better that cooking with and offering fresh fruits and veggies, and the residents love that they are grown locally.  I remember going through the process of planting, growing, harvesting, and attending the market with my parents.  It honors me to be able to now go and choose the produce for our facility.  BRING ON SUMMER!

Below I share a recipe that I love to use to incorporate some of those fresh goodies.

PASTA SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound dried pasta like fusilli, penne, rotini or farfalle (bow tie)
  • 1 cup sliced bell pepper (1 medium)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced zucchini (1/2 medium)
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions (5 to 6)
  • 1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini or banana peppers, optional
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) halved mixed olives
  • 1 cup (2 ounces) grated parmesan cheese or hard cheese
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) fresh mozzarella balls, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley or basil, optional

HOMEMADE DRESSING

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons juice from pepperoncini jar, optional
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until tender, 6 to 10 minutes (check the package for recommended cook time).  Drain and rinse well under cold water.
  1. While the pasta cooks, in the bottom of a large bowl, make the dressing.  Whisk the red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, pepperoncini juice (if using), and the olive oil until blended.  Add the drained and rinsed pasta to the dressing and mix well.
  1. Stir in the bell pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, scallions, pepperoncini (if using), olives, parmesan, mozzarella, and the herbs (if using).  Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.  Serve or for the best results, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 5 days.

Jill Huling
Dietary Supervisor