Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Prepared Mediterranean Pasta Salad served in a clear bowl on a wooden tray.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

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Go ahead and skip the mayo with this Mediterranean Pasta Salad that is bright and briny with a wonderful array of ingredients. The zesty dressing made with Dijon and fresh herbs is a burst of flavour that takes this salad to the next level. Olives and pancetta add a nice texture and brininess to the pasta, while the spinach, cherry tomatoes and red onion keep it light and fresh. Mediterranean Pasta Salad is great for picnics, potlucks, backyard BBQ parties and your July long weekend. This salad holds up wonderfully the day it is made so there’s no fear of a soggy salad. The pasta and pancetta can be cooked up to two days ahead so tossing this salad together at the last minute is a cinch. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Mediterranean Pasta Salad arranged on a wodden tray.

This recipe was one of the first posted to my blog back in 2016 and I forgot how delicious it is. I felt it deserved a little revival just in time to enjoy for summer.

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Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces gemelli or fusilli pasta
  • 4 ounces pancetta
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil see note
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano see note
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley see note
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced and roughly chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water until pasta is cool. Drain well and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a small skillet cook pancetta over medium heat until crispy and fat has been rendered, about 5-7 minutes. Drain well on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, oregano, Dijon mustard, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Toss together pasta, pancetta, spinach, cherry tomatoes, black olives, red onion, parmesan cheese and dressing until combined. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Notes

-fresh herbs are lovely in this recipe, however, if you need to use dry herbs use 1/3 of the amount stated for fresh.
-this salad is best served the day it is made but leftovers will keep for 2 days covered in the refrigerator.

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Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie

Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie

A slice of Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie on a serving plate garnished with fresh thyme leaves.

Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie

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Here is yet another recipe from my favourite magazine Bon Appétit. This gorgeous recipe for Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie is from the August 2020 issue and just in time for your bounty of tomatoes. The magazine barely hit my coffee table before I knew I had to make it.

A sheet pan of roasted tomatoes in preparation for Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie.

Truthfully, I found the recipe slightly fussy with its multitude of steps, but my goodness it is delicious. So worth the steps to roast the tomatoes and make toasty garlic butter. It’s plenty cheesy and laced with flavour-packed roasted tomatoes and topped off with roasted garlic butter. The crust is made from crushed Stoned Wheat Thin crackers and makes for a nice crunchy texture to an otherwise soft pie. It is like making a graham cracker crust for a sweet pie, except this one is made from crackers and garlic butter, it’s simply genius. If you are like me, you’re already thinking of all the ways to incorporate this crust into other savoury pies.

I’m including the recipe as written in the magazine, however, there were a few things that I opted to adapt.  The first being the type of cheese used.  I could not find Taleggio cheese, therefore, I substituted with Fontina cheese with a wonderful result.  Secondly, I found that I needed to add several more tablespoons of garlic butter to get the cracker crumbs to stick together properly.  This was not a big issue as there is plenty of garlic butter to go around and probably not all that necessary brushed on the top of the pie.  I also found that there was a bit too much crumb mixture for a 9″ pan.  Next time I will cut down on the original amount of crumbs by 2 ounces which will make the original amount of butter appropriate. It’s also important to press the crumbs firmly into the pan.  The tomatoes could be cut a little thicker as they are very soft and fussy to move from the baking tray to the pie, however, they don’t have to be perfect as long as they are arranged in a layer.

Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie served whole on a scalloped silver platter, garnished with fresh thyme.

You’ll find that this pie takes a little extra effort and time to both cook and cool to serving temperature, however, many steps can be done in advance. I roasted the tomatoes the day before, and you could make the crust and garlic butter in advance as well. I found that I enjoyed the pie served warm and the slices rewarm nicely in the microwave using about 75% power for 40 seconds or so. This delicious pie is worth the extra effort and is great for brunch, lunch or dinner served with a crisp green salad. Enjoy!

Want more??

Roasted Tomato Galette

Rustic Tomato Spinach Bake

Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie served whole on a scalloped silver platter, garnished with fresh thyme.
Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie
Print Recipe
    Servings
    1 9" diameter pie
    Servings
    1 9" diameter pie
    Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie served whole on a scalloped silver platter, garnished with fresh thyme.
    Tomato and Roasted Garlic Pie
    Print Recipe
      Servings
      1 9" diameter pie
      Servings
      1 9" diameter pie
      Ingredients
      Servings: 9" diameter pie
      Instructions
      1. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 475°F. Arrange tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, covering entire surface (it's okay if they overlap). Drizzle with oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes begin to look dry on top, 25-30 minutes. Let cool.
      2. Meanwhile, cook garlic and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling often, until butter foams and milk solids turn golden, 5-7 minutes. Strain garlic butter through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof measuring cup; transfer garlic and toasty bits to a cutting board. Finely chop and set aside.
      3. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Pulse crackers and 1/4 tsp salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form (you should have about 2 cups). Add eggs and 6 tbsp garlic butter and pulse until mixture is the consistency of wet sand; set remaining garlic butter aside. Transfer to a springform pan. Using a flat-bottomed measuring cup, press crumbs firmly onto bottom and 1 1/2" up sides of pan. Bake crust until edge is just starting to take on colour, 8-10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let crust cool.
      4. Mix Taleggio, Parmesan, mayonnaise, chopped thyme, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, remaining 1/4 tsp pepper, and reserved chopped garlic and bits in a medium bowl. Gently dollop half of cheese mixture over bottom of crust, then spread into an even layer with an offset spatula (don't press too hard or you will break the crust). Layer half of tomato slices over and press down to even out layers. Repeat with remaining cheese mixture and tomatoes. Brush remaining garlic butter over tomatoes. Top with shallot and thyme leaves.
      5. Set pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake pie until filling is bubbling vigorously and crust is browned, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to rack and let cool 1 hour before serving.Do ahead: Pie can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely and chill.Special Equipment: A 9" diameter springform pan.
      Recipe Notes

      -You can substitute the Taleggio cheese for Fontina cheese.

      -I found it took more than 6 tbsp of garlic butter to moisten the crumbs enough to stick together, however, there was still plenty of garlic butter left to brush on the top. So use what you need to get the crumbs right.

       

      -

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      Meaty Black Bean Chili

      Meaty Black Bean Chili

      Meaty Black Bean Chili served in a shallow bowl with flatbread, garnished with cheddar cheese, green onions and cilantro.

      Meaty Black Bean Chili

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      Meaty Black Bean Chili is my new favourite chili! For good reason too, it’s hearty and spicy with a punch of freshness from fresh cilantro added at the end. It also uses black beans, which is my favourite bean and they’re a great change from kidney beans. I also like the use of beef and pork for a meaty and hearty chili that is very satisfying. This chili is excellent for potlucks and back yard BBQ parties.

      Meaty Black Bean Chili in a cream coloured dutch oven resting on a navy kitchen towel and wooden trivet.

      Spicy heat is a personal choice for everyone and everyone gets an opinion on how hot their food should be. I don’t care for anything too spicy, and by that I mean, if I can’t taste the other ingredients because my lips are burning so bad, well, that ’s too hot for me. I find the spiciness in this Meaty Black Bean Chilli just right for my liking. It has a subtle spiciness that’s just enough to make me want to eat another bite with fresh cilantro and cheese to mellow the heat. But of course, this is just my opinion, so feel free to add more cayenne or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce if that suits your taste.

      Another great thing about chili is it’s even better if served the next day as the flavours and spiciness have more time meld. It freezes very well and can be kept in a sealed container in the freezer for 1-2 months. Enjoy!

      Meaty Black Bean Chili
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        9 cups 30 minutes
        Cook Time
        60 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        9 cups 30 minutes
        Cook Time
        60 minutes
        Meaty Black Bean Chili
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          9 cups 30 minutes
          Cook Time
          60 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          9 cups 30 minutes
          Cook Time
          60 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: cups
          Instructions
          1. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add ground beef and pork and cook until no longer pink and starting to brown, breaking up any large pieces. Stir in minced garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
          2. Scrape out seeds from the chipotle peppers and finely mince, use about two chili peppers with sauce to equal 2 tbsp or more depending how hot you want it. Add peppers to the pot along with beef broth, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, green pepper, onion, spices, salt, and sugar. Stir well to combine.
          3. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and adjust consistency to your liking by adding more beef broth or simmering uncovered for a few minutes to evaporate some liquid. The chili will thicken slightly as it sits and cools.
          4. Stir in black beans and cook for 1-2 minutes to warm. Stir in cilantro just before serving and ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with cheddar cheese, green onion and additional cilantro.
          Recipe Notes

          -I found 1 cup of beef broth just about right for consistency.  Adjust to your liking.

          -This chili is even better when served the next day as the flavours have longer to meld.

          -Makes about 9 cups of chili and freezes very well.

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          Tomato Bisque

          Tomato Bisque

          Tomato Bisque with crutons served in a shallow blue bowl resting on a wooden board draped with a striped napkin.

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          Today’s post is a blog update on my Tomato Bisque. Because the weather is frightful right now in central Alberta, it seemed like the perfect time to do a little tidy up on this gorgeous soup. This Tomato Bisque is creamy and luscious, even with only a small amount of cream. It’s thickened with rice, making it a great gluten-free option.

          The creaminess and tang are the perfect marriage with crunchy cheese toast or buttery croutons. I won’t hesitate to say that when you make this soup, you will have tremendous satisfaction from your efforts because it’s so much better than store-bought soup. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing you’re feeding your family wholesome goodness.

          Traditional French bisque is made using ground crustacean shells and thickened with rice. The term is used loosely today and can refer to anything pureed such as tomatoes or squash. Most varieties are finished with cream as is this one. Enjoy!

          Tomato Bisque with crutons served in a shallow blue bowl resting on a wooden board draped with a striped napkin.

          Author: Compelled to Cook, adapted from Chef John of Food Wishes

          Tomato Bisque with crutons served in a shallow blue bowl resting on a wooden board draped with a striped napkin.
          Tomato Bisque
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            4-6 people 20 minutes
            Cook Time
            30-50 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            4-6 people 20 minutes
            Cook Time
            30-50 minutes
            Tomato Bisque with crutons served in a shallow blue bowl resting on a wooden board draped with a striped napkin.
            Tomato Bisque
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              4-6 people 20 minutes
              Cook Time
              30-50 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              4-6 people 20 minutes
              Cook Time
              30-50 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: people
              Instructions
              1. Melt butter in a large heavy pot, add onions, celery and garlic and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes until the vegetables become translucent.
              2. Add the tomatoes, stock, paprika, sugar and rice and cook until the rice is very soft, at least 30 minutes.
              3. Blend with a handheld immersion blender until smooth. Stir in heavy cream and season with salt and pepper.
              Recipe Notes

              I used homemade chicken stock and used 1 1/2 tsp of salt. The amount of salt will depend on the stock/broth used, so season to taste.

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              I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
              Cheesy Pesto BLT

              Cheesy Pesto BLT

              Cheesy Pesto BLT sandwich cut and stacked on a small wooden tray.

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              Cheesy Pesto BLT is grilled cheese and BLT sandwiches married together with vibrant pesto.  It’s the indulgent, adult sandwich for the kid in all of us.

              I was recently asked by a friend and co-worker what he and his work crew could cook up with limited kitchen gear. Available was a frying pan, electric grill press and a toaster oven.  One of my first thoughts was a  grilled cheese sandwich.  But on second thought, who wants just a grilled cheese, other than a 5-year-old of course?  

              I sent him a recipe for a pesto grilled cheese because I knew the combo would be amazing and it got me thinking that it could be the start of something great. I knew I wanted to add some kind of meat, and plenty of chewy bacon was the answer for a heartier sandwich. And how can you not have bacon without fresh tomato slices and cool, crisp lettuce? They bring balance to the melty cheese and salty bacon which are wonderfully paired with the pesto.  So remember, grilled cheese doesn’t have to be “JUST” a grilled cheese. 

              Ingredients for Cheesy Pesto BLT arranged on a small wooden tray draped with a white kitchen towel.

              Truthfully, the kid in me loves that simple and traditional grilled cheese made with processed cheese slices, but I also love pesto and BLT’s, so it only made sense to put them all together into one delicious sandwich.  So don’t just think grilled cheese when graving crispy fried bread and oozy cheese.  Think Cheesy Pesto BLT!!

              Cheesy Pesto BLT
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                2 people 15 minutes
                Cook Time
                10 minutes
                Servings Prep Time
                2 people 15 minutes
                Cook Time
                10 minutes
                Cheesy Pesto BLT
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  2 people 15 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  10 minutes
                  Servings Prep Time
                  2 people 15 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  10 minutes
                  Ingredients
                  Servings: people
                  Instructions
                  1. Heat a non-stick stick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot.
                  2. Butter the outside of each bread slice.
                  3. Place the bread buttered side down in skillet and layer provolone evenly over two slices. Adjust heat to medium-low.
                  4. Spread 1 tbsp of pesto evenly over the cheese and top with 3 slices of bacon each.
                  5. Cook on medium-low to medium until bottoms are golden and cheese is melty. (I find medium-low best to melt cheese while not overcooking the bread)
                  6. Remove grilled bread from pan and top the cheese side slices with tomato slices. Season tomatoes with freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste. Top with lettuce and remaining grilled bread.
                  7. Cut as desired and serve immediately.
                  Recipe Notes

                  - You can use fresh or purchased pesto in this recipe.  I do recommend using fresh if possible like my Classic Pesto

                  -Prep time is based on using pre-made pesto and pre-cooked bacon.

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                  I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com