Showing posts with label pasta salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pasta salad. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fresca's Tortellini Salad, from Treble at the Jam Fest

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: This pasta salad is one of the first dishes I deconstructed and made on my own, based on a salad from a long-gone deli called Pasta & Company. It had several locations in Seattle, including one on the 4th Avenue side of the building often called “the box the Space Needle came in,” where my law firm had offices. (It’s actual name was the Seattle First National Bank Building, and it was too short for the Needle, but I suspect Sea-First financed the construction, and the name stuck.)

I felt like such a city girl eating there, especially if my suit allowed me to sit on a stool in the window and watch the people!

I’ve given that space to Laurel, who runs the deli and catering company Ripe in my Seattle Spice Shop books, but I kept the recipe for Erin and Fresca in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries. Fresca makes piles of it to sell at the Merc, and in TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, they take it on a picnic for the outdoor concert at the annual Jewel Bay Jazz Festival.

Imagine my surprise when I bought a different brand of tortellini recently and found a very similar salad on the package!

And even though it’s a summer favorite at our house, I also like to make a batch during Christmas week when it’s great to have something easy and different to pull out of the fridge—and because the colors make me happy.

I hope this salad makes you happy, too.

Tortellini Salad

2- 8 ounce boxes tortellini (tri-color is prettiest)
1 to 1-1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, lightly drained and chopped
2 cups chopped tomatoes (we like grape or cherry tomatoes, because they hold their shape and stay firm)
½ cup green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 cup Parmesan, shredded
1 cup hard or Genoa salami, stacked and cut in strips (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or basil
1/4 cup olive oil OR oil from the artichoke marinade
salt and fresh ground pepper

Optional: 1/2 bell pepper, chopped (I like to mix red and green, but any color will be lovely.)

Cook pasta as directed; rinse with cold water, and drain, stirring to release steam and stop pasta cooking.

In a large bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, tomatoes, green onions, capers, Parmesan, salami, fresh herbs, and the bell pepper if you're using it. Add the pasta and mix. Stir in the oil and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 8. Keeps well.

From the cover of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, June 8, 2017):  

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Keys to Pasta Salad That I Never Knew

There are a few dishes that bomb every time I try to make them. One of them is pasta salad. Try as I might, I always end up with something heavy that isn't quite right. So with forgiving pasta-loving friends coming for dinner, I thought I would try again, and I perused the net for helpful hints.

The first lucky hit was an article by Sheela Prakash at Epicurious called The Italian Secret to a Great Pasta Salad. When she was in Italy, she learned that instead of chopping garlic and putting it in the salad, the wise Italians use essence of garlic by slicing a garlic clove in half and rubbing it on the bowl! Brilliant! I've read that technique before but it never occurred to me for pasta salad.

Then I stumbled upon Rochelle Bilow's article for Bon Appetite, How to Totally Ruin (Or Upgrade) Your Pasta Salad. She gives seven great tips. A couple of them stood out to me because they were things I always do.

Don't rinse your pasta under water! Instead, drizzle it with olive oil and toss. What a great tip! Less work and you're already dressing the pasta while keeping it from sticking together.

The other thing that I did in my disastrous pasta salad past was add corn or peas. Ixnay! Rochelle is so right. They're too small and they end up left over in the bottom of the bowl.

So, armed with this information, I set out to make my own pasta salad. Feel free to use whatever items speak to you. This is a matter of mixing a few things that are fabulous together, like olives, red peppers, bits of cheese, zucchini, or nuts. Be creative! I'm thinking baby spinach and kale leaves next time!

I used 4 slices of Applegate Farms' Good Morning Bacon with more meat and 60% less fat. Your favorite bacon will work fine. I happened to have Italian Herbs from Penzeys, which is a blend of oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. I sprinkled it over the top liberally, added a dash of salt and a good bit of pepper and tossed it all together. Don't skip the herbs. They infuse the dish with flavor. This is very much a taste-and-see kind of dish. Go with what tastes good to you.

The best news? This is the first time in my life that I didn't drown the poor pasta in mayonnaise. It was delicious and light.

Simple Pasta Salad

1/2 pound fusilli pasta
4 slices bacon
1 garlic clove
good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 avocado
8 ounces cherry tomatoes
generous sprinkle Italian spice mix
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Cook the bacon. Slice the garlic clove in half and rub the two sides all over the inside of a large bowl.

When the pasta has cooked, do not rinse with water. Drain and flip into the garlic-infused bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss the pasta to coat. Crumble the bacon into the bowl. Cut the avocado into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and add to the bowl. Toss to blend. Generously sprinkle the herbs across the top of the pasta, add a little salt, and pepper to taste. Try the pasta and add more olive oil or herbs or salt if needed. Toss and serve.

Toss with olive oil while warm so it won't stick together.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Avocado Bacon Pasta Salad

Company arrived this weekend. My poor friends were subjected to a fall menu because I was testing recipes for a book. Their main course was going to be Meatloaf Mummies, but what to serve with it?

Sure, you're thinking I should throw something on the grill. That would have been my inclination, except it was our third straight day of pouring rain. For some reason, I kept thinking of guacamole and how nice the creamy avocado would be with pasta. So I went with bow-tie pasta and added avocado, tomatoes, and red pepper. And I discovered a package of leftover bacon. Perfect!

This is super simple but it turned out great. You can cook the pasta and bacon ahead of time, which simplified everything. In fact, you can make the whole thing ahead of time, except for the avocado and cherry tomatoes. The avocado is likely to turn brown if it's not added at the last minute, and we all know tomatoes lose their flavor in the fridge.

Avocado Bacon Pasta Salad

6 slices bacon
8 ounces bow-tie pasta (or rotini or shells)
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or to taste)
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5-6 cherry tomatoes
1 ripe avocado

Cook the bacon until crisp and cook the pasta according to directions on the package.

When the pasta is cool, crumble the bacon into it. Add the onion, red pepper, garlic powder, and mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate at this point if you are not going to eat it right away.

 Before serving, add the chopped avocado and halved cherry tomatoes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quick Pasta Salad

RileyAdamsFoodBlogPostpic_thumb_thumb[3] While I was visiting family in Alabama, we enjoyed a tasty pasta salad that my husband’s family served cold alongside of sandwiches for an oven-free meal. And if I thought it was hot in North Carolina, Alabama was like an oven, itself!

The only hot part of this meal is the cooking of the pasta on the stove. After that, you’ve got a delicious side dish…or even a main dish. It filled me up pretty well (pasta always seems to.)

The pimentos make it Southern. :)


Quick Pasta Salad

1 16 oz package Vermicelli
1 T all-purpose seasoning
1 T seasoning salt
3 T lemon juice
4 T oil
4 oz. chopped pimento, drained
1 pepper, chopped fine (green or red)
3/4 cup green onion
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

Mix all the ingredients and chill overnight.

IMG_20110721_080504Stay cool! :)

Delicious and Suspicious (Riley Adams)
Finger Lickin’ Dead—June 7 (book 2 of the Memphis BBQ series!) It’s here!
Download it on Kindle:
Mass market paperback:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tortellini Pasta Salad

RileyAdamsFoodBlogPostpic_thumb_thumb[3]It’s the potluck supper time of year for those of us at the Craig/Adams household. :)

Both Scouts and my church love to have potlucks around the holidays. The food is always amazing there, and I sometimes go home with new recipes, if I’m lucky.

The challenge, for me anyway, is what to bring. I’m not a huge fan of wrestling a crockpot or a chafing dish into my car, so my plan is usually to go with something more portable that wouldn’t have to be kept warm.

Pasta salad is perfect.

It’s also a little bit healthier than some of the recipes I’ve featured lately. :) You’re still getting your carbs in, of course, (I’m a firm believer in carbs!), but you can put in a lower-fat dressing or cheese and that would help even further.

Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad

12917410427121 can quartered artichoke hearts
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup green onions
1/4 cup sliced black olives
3/4 cup red onion
19 oz. uncooked cheese-stuffed tortellini (I used frozen)
2 oz. chopped salami
1 cup Caesar salad croutons
8 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup Caesar salad dressing
1/2 t pepper
Romaine lettuce to serve on

Cook frozen tortellini according to package directions and let cool.
Combine all the ingredients and chill. Serve on Romaine lettuce.


Yes, it’s another quick and easy recipe! And this one is actually pretty. :)

Delicious and Suspicious (July 6, 2010) Riley Adams
Pretty is as Pretty Dies –Elizabeth Spann Craig

And Don’t Forget About….

Krista's Christmas
Cookie Contest
Krista Davis is celebrating the upcoming release
of her new holiday mystery, The Diva Cooks a Goose.

She's holding a delicious contest!

Send Krista your favorite cookie recipe
at Krista at KristaDavis dot com and you might win!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pasta salad

Happy Anniversary Week to my blog-sisters and to all of you who have made this blog so much fun! Thank you for making us feel so welcome. I can't believe its already been a year. Time does indeed fly when you're having a wonderful time!

As promised, we're giving away prizes every single day this week and we're giving away an ice cream maker as our grand prize! Doesn't it look cool? (pun intended) I'm so excited. Wish I could win!

Today I'm giving away a $10 bookstore gift certificate to one lucky commenter. I'll announce that winner's name late tonight, and as soon as you contact me, I'll get your prize out to you!

But now... the food!

My contribution to our meal is pasta salad. I often make a double recipe for parties because this side dish disappears very quickly in our house. It's easy and versatile (we like those attributes on this blog) and can be made in a jiffy.


2 packages spiral pasta. I like to use the tri-colored spirals because they make the pasta look so much cheerier and festive

1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 purple onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped

Prepared Italian salad dressing. I like Wishbone.
Salt, pepper, to taste

(Optional: 1 cucumber, chopped; half pound of mushrooms, chopped, shredded mozzarella)

Prepare pasta according to package directions. After draining, rinse and allow to cool just a little. Add enough of the salad dressing to *very* lightly coat the pasta so it doesn't stick while you wait for it to completely cool.

In the meantime, chop your vegetables. I always include the onion, peppers, and celery, but the other items are your choice. Mushrooms brown after a day in the fridge, so we don't always include those. My kids prefer this without the cheese. I kind of like the added texture, but I don't particularly care for cucumbers in this dish, so I skip them even though everyone else likes them (hey, the cook has to have some perks, right?) That's where this recipe is so versatile. You can make it the way *you* like it best.

Add the chopped vegetables to the cooled pasta, to taste. You may not want to use the entire pepper, or you may want to add more onion. Completely up to you. In the photo below, I made this salad for company - and one of my friend really, really hates peppers. Green, red, any kind. So I skipped them this time.

When all the items are combined to your satisfaction, add a liberal amount of Italian salad dressing until all pasta is well coated, but not swimming in the stuff. Salt and pepper to taste, then... here's the most important part... allow the pasta salad to sit in the fridge for at least an hour. This gives it a nice chill and allows the vegetables to flavor the pasta.

Yum!! Grab a bowlful right away. This will disappear quickly!

Don't forget to check back tonight to see if you've won the bookstore gift certificate!

Thanks for being a part of our lives this past year!


Author of
GRACE UNDER PRESSURE, first in the Manor House Mystery series.

Monday, August 10, 2009


We have a Contest Winner! But I don't get to announce the name! Another of our fine bloggers has the honor! So continue to tune in to find out who is the winner of the Williams Sonoma gift certificate contest!!! Ah, the suspense...


Lots of my friends, knowing that I’m writing The Cheese Shop Mysteries, are sending me cheese recommendations, recipes, and cheese store recommendations. My stepmother sent me a yummy little book dedicated to Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Now, I love to change up recipes, sort of like what they do on the Food Network Challenge. And this recipe book had a summer pasta salad that sounded great. I happen to be gluten-free, as is one of the young twins in my new series, so I wanted to change up this particular recipe to suit my tastes and needs, and wow! If I do say so myself, I did a GOOD job!

[For those of you who don’t know, gluten-free means eating products that have no wheat or gluten products in them. I can eat rice, potato, corn and other things that are made into “flour,” just not wheat flour. Using Bionaturae Pasta -- the absolutely best product on the market, in my humble opinion -- makes all the difference. The texture and taste is as close to regular pasta that I have found and it cooks al dente.]

The basis for the Summer Heirloom Tomato Basil Salad is vegetables. In my switch-up, I used Parmesan (the American version of Parmigiano-Reggiano) and swapped out spinach and shallots for arugula and garlic. Before I dumped in the pasta, my husband tasted the vegetables that were going into the salad and said that it, by itself, made a fabulous appetizer. So, voilá, we have a couple of choices today. Summer Heirloom Tomato Basil Salad or Summer Heirloom Tomato Basil Fusilli Salad. A great way to get kids to eat their vegetables!



1 heirloom tomato (skinned and de-seeded – see below), diced
2 oz. Parmesan cheese grated (1/4 cup)
2 oz. fresh spinach, diced (1/4 cup)
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. chopped shallots
8 leaves basil, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
8 oz. (approximately 1 cup uncooked) gluten-free fusilli (Bionaturae Organic Gluten-free)


Boil 8 cups water
Blanch tomato in the water for about 45 seconds. Remove and peel. Dice and take out the seeds. Set the tomatoes in a salad bowl.
Add grated cheese, spinach, oil, shallots, basil, salt, vinegar.
Toss together.

Add 1 MORE tsp. Kosher salt to the boiling water. Add your favorite gluten-free pasta. Cook according to directions, usually 9-10 minutes. Drain in colander.

Toss pasta in with vegetables. If desired, shower with more Parmesan.

Serve immediately.

Note * This tastes fabulous with regular pasta, too!!! But you probably won’t notice the difference! Bionaturae products are that good.

Note * Parmigiano-Reggiano is the world’s finest parmesan, made from unique ingredients found only in northern Italy. It is rich with nutty flavor and has a slightly grainy texture. What makes Parmigiano-Reggiano so fabulous is the long aging process, on average 24 months, the longest of any hard cheese. You can certainly use “the real thing” for this recipe as well (shaved with a potato peeler instead of grated). I just didn’t have it on hand when I wanted to make the recipe!

Enjoy. And by the way, if you have suggestions for Cheese Shops I should visit, please let me know. Also, visit my website at: and check out the Cheese of the Month.
Last but not least: Don't forget to enter this week's Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to We announce the winners right here week.
Best to all!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Welcome Guest Blogger - Jessica Conant-Park!

Guest Blogger Jessica Conant-Park, author of the Gourmet Girl Mystery series

What an honor to be asked to come hang out with the lovely women of Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen! Since I co-write the Gourmet Girl mystery series (with my mother, author Susan Conant), I feel a major kinship with this group. And, well, being here is a good excuse to write about food. My series is set in the Boston restaurant scene and follows Chloe Carter, a twenty-something half-hearted social work student who would much rather be frequenting local restaurants or browsing gourmet food shops than studying somatoform disorders and marching at the State House. Chloe’s love life and academic life are a constant challenge, but she does hook up with a hot young chef, Josh, and gets an inside look at the tumultuous and chaotic world of professional restaurants. The books are a blend of cozy mystery, chick lit, humor (well, at least, I think so… I suppose it depends on how weird your sense of humor is), romance, and food, and there are tons of recipes at the end of the book so that you can cook up some of the delicacies that you’ve read about. The fifth in the series, COOK THE BOOKS, will be out next February/March.

I also do a Food Fiction newsletter with Michele Scott (of the Wine Lover’s mystery series) and we dole out food news, recipes, guest author spots, and lots of great contests. Stop by our site and sign up for the newsletter and our August giveaway!

Now, on to food! Summer is a glorious season for cooking and I find it so much easier to whip up something absolutely delicious and full of flavor in a fraction of the time it takes in winter. Relying on fresh produce and herbs means you need very little else to doctor up a dish. I’ve been glaring rather sharply at my tomato plants recently, begging them to hurry up and produce perfect tomatoes, because if I eat one more vile, pink tomato this year, I’m going to scream. Even those supposedly “vine ripe” tomatoes that cost a fortune at the grocery store have been flavorless… I’ve had it and refuse to buy another. My way around this? Grape tomatoes. These little guys are working out just fine and are proving to be a pretty good substitute (for now) for the coveted Beefsteak tomatoes I’m craving.

My other garden favorite is arugula. Yes, I’ll admit right off the bat that there is one giant drawback to growing your own: washing it. You must wash the leaves over and over again in a salad spinner. Then wash them a few more times. I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly care for little spiders and grains of dirt in my food… So, suffer through the washing and you’ll be rewarded with a spicy, crispy, bitter-in-a-good-way treat. The store bought variety is also perfectly good, but I still recommend a thorough washing, too. My father spent years lamenting what he considered to be the severe neglect and under appreciation of the potato. Hah! Everyone knows about the boring old potato. If you ask me, arugula is much more neglected. I think we should be tossing it into practically everything. Stir a bunch into hot pasta and tomato sauce and you will have a much improved winter meal; mix with your favorite dressing as a salad; or add a few leaves to an otherwise mundane sandwich.

I’ve been making a lot of pasta salad this year, and one of my favorites makes use of both arugula and grape tomatoes. Simply cook cheese-filled tortellini and drain it well. (Never rinse pasta under water, as you need the starch from the pasta to make salads work well.)Toss it with a good glug of olive oil, and add in a generous handful of fresh arugula (the heat will wilt it nicely), grape tomatoes sliced in half, more fresh basil, and salt and pepper. If you like some heat, a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes or freshly minced cayenne would be fantastic. Toss in some parmesan cheese. I highly recommend that you pay a little extra for a fresh wedge of parm that you run over a grater. Well worth the cost. That’s it! Let your salad rest so it comes down to room temperature and the flavors a chance to come out.

So until those fat and fabulous tomatoes start showing up on my plants and in the farmer’s markets, I’ll be doing what I can with the littlest tomato out there, and washing and re-washing my arugula.
Jessica Conant-Park

Wonderful idea. Delicious and easy! Thanks for joining us at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, Jessica!

***Don't forget to enter to win our weekly Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to We announce the winners right here every week.