Red Lentil Pasta Salad

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Memorial Day is just a couple of weeks away, which means BBQ season is in full swing.  One of the most popular sides at a BBQ are those delicious pasta salads.  The ideas of what to create for a pasta salad are endless.  I personally love adding fresh herbs to mine.  It makes for added freshness and taste.  To this salad I wanted to have a healthier choice on the pasta, so I found a red lentil gluten free penne pasta.  The combination of this salad is one that will make your guests keep coming back for more.  Make it in the spur of the moment or ahead of time.

Ingredients salad;

12 oz red lentil penne
10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup pearl mozzarella balls
Salt & pepper, to taste
12 slices salami, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
14 oz can hearts of palm, chopped


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make sure to season the water with plenty of salt.  Follow the cooking instructions on the packaging.  Cook until AL DENTE about 10 minutes with this pasta.  Drain and cool off.

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

Ingredients dressing:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Salt & pepper, to taste
8 pieces basil
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


In a food processor add all of the ingredients.  Process until well combined.  Pour over salad.  Toss everything together and serve.

Check out the other great dishes from this week’s Food Network Blog #SensationalSides below

Feed Me Phoebe: Spicy Shrimp Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Sundried Tomatoes
The Lemon Bowl: Roasted Garlic Vegetable Pasta
TasteBook: Quick & Easy BLT Pasta Salad
Dishin & Dishes: Asian Noodle Salad
Weelicious: Summer Succotash Pasta Salad
Homemade Delish: Red Lentil Pasta Salad
The Mom 100: Pasta Salad and Salmon with Ramp Dressing
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spring Pasta Salad With Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli & Spinach
Taste with the Eyes: Lemon Ricotta Pasta Salad with Figs and Mint
FN Dish: Picnic Pasta Salad Season Is Here


Zucchini ribbons with Aglio e Olio


We are big fans of pasta in our house. But summer months sometimes makes it hard to have heavy pasta. One of the easiest veggies I found to substitute pasta is zucchini. To prepare this I use a mandoline which makes those beautiful strips for you. My kids absolutely love this dish. Great to serve for a datenight or family and friend dinner.

2 Zucchinis, sliced thin using a mandoline slicer
1/3 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6-7 Garlic cloves, minced
½ Teaspoon of Crushed red pepper flakes
Pepper, to taste
½ Cup Parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons of anchiovies
Parmesan cheese for topping, optional

Add olive oil to large sauté pan over medium to high heat. Add anchovies and crushed red peppers, cook for about a minute. Then add garlic and pepper. Start to add the zucchini slices and toss everything together with tongs. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes until soft. Next toss in the parsley, place in a large dish or into individual dishes and top with Parmesan cheese.


Pasta Frittata

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Do you have leftover pasta and don’t know what to do with it? This recipe is perfect for that extra pasta you have in the refrigerator.  Making this dish is super easy and doesn’t make too much of a mess. You can pretty much put anything in a pasta frittata; herbs, veggies and more.  This is also great for the next day for lunch.  I hope you enjoy.


5 Large eggs

1/4 cup of heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon of dried basil

1/4 of fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese

4 Cups of cooked and cooled, whole wheat spaghetti

Salt & Pepper, to taste

3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil


In a large bowl, whisk eggs, cream, herbs, cheese, salt & pepper. Next take the pasta and incorporate everything together.

In a medium nonstick skillet, over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of oil. Pour mixture into the pan and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the edges begin to brow. Next run a spatula all around the skillet. Take a dinner plate and flip the frittata over on the plate.  Then add the last tablespoon of oil on to the skillet. Carefully slide the frittata back on to the skillet. Cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes.

Place on a cutting board or plate and garnish with more fresh parsley and cheese. Cut into wedges and enjoy.

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Homemade Butternut Squash Gnocchi

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I grew up in a household where everything was pretty much made from scratch. My father was a professional baker; so I learned so much from him.  My grandmother was another one who taught me a couple of things in the kitchen.  One of the things I will never forget is how to make homemade bread or pasta.  I remember when I was about 5 years old, she taught me how to make gnocchi.  It was so much fun.  I wanted to make a homemade gnocchi with butternut squash (instead of traditional potatoes). The dough to gnocchi is super fluffy, like clouds. This is a perfect 1st course starter. I also made a butter and sage sauce to toss the gnocchi. This goes great with my red wine short ribs I’ve also posted on this site. I hope you enjoy!

This recipe can be found in my new cookbook.  Purchase your copy here: or if you have any questions please feel free to email me.


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Buffalo Chicken Pasta


As the Superbowl approaches us this weekend, there are lots of parties going on.  If you’re hosting one, I’ll bet your thinking of what to make.  Well I hope this dish helps you out.  I took the famous Buffalo Chicken wing recipe and turned it into a meal, that’s super easy and fast to make.


6 Boneless Chicken Breast, cut into strips or cubes

Salt & Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup of Ranch Dressing (or Blue Cheese)

1/2 Cup of Green Onions, Chopped

1/2 cup of Franks Red Buffalo Sauce

1 lb of Penne Whole Wheat Pasta (or regular Penne)

1/4 cup of Blue Cheese Crumbles for garnish (optional)


Bring a Large pot of water to a boil, salt and add Penne.  Cook until Al Dente (This means that it should be firm, but not hard, and should take about 5 minutes depending on the brand).

Clean, Cut chicken into strips or cubes, season with salt and pepper.  Add Olive oil to a skillet on Medium heat.  Add chicken and cook until nice and golden.  Should take about 6 to 8 minutes.  Add Ranch dressing and Buffalo Sauce, cook for about 2 minutes or until begins to bubble.  After that add penne and green onions right into the skillet and mix everything together.  Plate on to a nice dish and add blue cheese crumbles.  If you would like you can place this on a baking dish and bake for about 10 minutes.  Once done place on table and let the enjoyment begin.



Macaroni and Cheese with Special Features


Macaroni and Cheese was always a favorite of mine growing up.  Especially when my dad would make it from scratch. My kids love mac & cheese too, But I want them to get some nutrition out of it instead of  just cheese and pasta. ( I mean there is nothing wrong with just cheese and pasta). I am very thankful that my kids eat pretty much everything.  But they do have days just like any other kid where they either don’t feel good or aren’t in the mood to eat.  Another thing is that I don’t like to waste food, so I took some left over chicken, zucchini and summer squash from last night and mixed it in the mac and cheese. You can always put this in the oven as well topped with some bread crumbs.

Mac & Cheese Recipe


12 oz of Elbow pasta

4 cups of milk ( your prefence)

8 oz (3 cups) of Sharp Cheddar

Salt & Pepper

1/2 cup of All purpose flour

1 Stick of unsalted butter (8 Tablespoons)

1 cup of parm cheese


In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light brown, about 5 minutes. 

Slowly while whisking add milk keep whisking until it is nice and smooth about 8 minutes or so.  Season with salt and pepper then add your cheeses and cooked pasta.

After all that was done I added all my ingredients chicken, broccoli, zucchini, summer squash.  Enjoy!

Tip: Cook your elbow pasta in the same water you used for the broccoli if possible

A Platter of Thoughts · Food!!

Lidia Bastianich Products

I’m super excited about this post.  I will be reviewing some of my ALL time favorite chef, Lidia Bastianich’s, products.  I will be sharing some recipes with everyone with her amazing sauces and pastas on some other future posts.  Lidia’s sauces aren’t your typical jarred sauces.  They are 100% All Natural, No Preservatives, No Artificial Flavors, No Additives or Fillers, and Made Only with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and FULL of flavor.  I have been given 3 to try out.  They are as follows:

Marinara – which is loaded with fresh Imported italian plum tomatoes and fresh vegetables.  It’s as light and refreshing as if it was straight from your own garden, with touches of Basil and Colavita Olive Oil.

Tuscan Arrabbiata – Loaded with fresh imported italian tomatoes and fresh vegetables.  This one brings out the zestyness of pepperoncini and even a hint of honey.  What a great touch.

Artichoke Marinara – Again loaded with the Fresh imported italian tomatoes and fresh vegetables.  This one brings the flavor of Artichokes and some hints of Mint.  That just marries so well in the sauce.

The following are the pastas I received as well:

Rigatoni, Linguine, and Spaghetti.  Lidia’s pasta is manufactured in Italy using only the finest Durum Wheat, milled in an award-winning facility.  It is then dried slowly to obtain the best quality and flavor.  Can’t wait to try these with the sauces and share my reviews.  Check out Lidia’s website at for some great products and recipes.   Along with all of her great cookbooks.

Tutti A Tavola A Mangiare!