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!


  1. This looks like the perfect way to get my kids to eat some veggies! If it's pretty, they'll eat it.

    I don't know of any cheese shops in my area. :( Maybe there are some I just don't know about. I get our cheeses from upper-end grocery stores here.


  2. OOooohh! Cheese!

    One of the great foods of the world, no matter what kind. Can I have wine with that please!

    Enter me, please!


  3. Sounds wonderful, Avery. And I agree about Bionaturae pasta. Their organic durum semolina pasta (alas, not gluten-free) is my favorite.

  4. Avery, thank you for explaining the gluten-free thing. I'm seeing more and more gluten-free products on my shelves here in Queens, NY, including mixes for things like chocolate chip cookies. (I looked on the ingredient list and it said rice flour is used.) I also have to tell you that your Web site is looking really awesome. I love the fun info!


  5. It's so nice to see a gluten-free entree that isn't just a regular meal wiu sad substitutes. Not that I could ever live without gluten!


  6. Woo! Cooking gluten-free is a challenge! Eating out must be more of a challenge. I lurve cheese but, my husband can't have it very often so, it doesn't make it into my cooking. He is on a low-salt/low-fat diet and he has to avoid cheese (can't remember the reason at the moment). Cooking for any special diet is like playing Iron Chef or, like you said, the Food Network Challenge. Occasionally it's a bit annoying but, I've come up with some wacky but tasty stuff along the way.

  7. I'm serving this tonight with an olive baguette. I hate to cook but this looks easy enough and it made my mouth water...can't get that from Chinese carryout!

  8. I fixed this dish tonight, only using whole-wheat pasta, and it is delicious! My daughter loves leftover, cold pasta, with Italian dressing for lunch the next day - the perfect recipe for turning into a salad. Thanks.

  9. so glad everyone had success with this recipe! Yeah!