Barefoot Contessa’s Greek Panzanella

I love the Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is That? cookbook by Ina Garten. It is loaded with great recipes. This is one of the best salad dishes I’ve ever tasted. It’s fresh, perfectly dressed and beautiful to look at! Of course, it’s hard to go wrong with bites of tangy feta cheese and toasted cubes of bread too. Not to mention it’s easy to make! If you have any vegetables left from your summer garden, this might inspire you to use them- fabulously! If you don’t, well you probably want to add the following ingredients to your shopping list. (Trust me- worth it.)

From Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is That?

As organic as possible (from Sadie):

1/4 cup + 1/2 cup Olive oil (divided)

1 large loaf (6 cups 1 inch diced) rustic Bread

1 Cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 Red bell pepper, seeded and large-diced

1 Yellow bell pepper, seeded and large-diced

1 pint cherry or grape Tomatoes

1/2 small red Onion, thinly sliced in half-rounds (or 1/4 rounds)

1/4 cup good red wine Vinegar

2 tsp minced Garlic

1 tsp dried Oregano

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp salt (plus more for bread cubes)

1/2 tsp pepper (plus more for bread cubes)

8 oz. Feta cheese

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-low until hot. Add the bread cubes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toast, tossing frequently until browned (5-10 minutes). Set aside.

Placed the diced cucumbers, yellow and red bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onion in a large bowl. Toss.

For the vinaigrette, place vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard, salt, and pepper in measuring cup (or bowl) and whisk. Slowly add 1/2 cup olive oil and emulsify.

Add feta, olives, and bread to tossed vegetables. Pour over vinaigrette and gently toss. Allow to set for 30 minutes to let flavors incorporate. Season to taste and serve.



Dorito Taco Salad

This is like in a food group all of its own… or it should be. We should be required to have one serving every day. It definitely is a mandatory staple at all potlucks. It’s colorful and textural and down right appetizing. If you’ve tasted Dorito Taco Salad before then you know what I’m talking about. If by chance you haven’t, well then today is your lucky day! And may I suggest that you change all other dinner plans?


1 lb Hamburger

1 pkg Taco seasoning

l bag Nacho Cheese Doritos (10 oz.)

16 oz.  Catalina salad dressing

8 oz. (2 cups) Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 head Ice Burg Lettuce


(Side note: I know that saying “as organic as possible” seems odd in this case… but every bit is worth doing! Even the hamburger, lettuce and cheese!)

Brown hamburger and add taco seasoning according to package directions. Set aside to cool. Break lettuce into bite size pieces. Crush chips to bite size. After meat cools add to lettuce and cheese mixed together. When ready to serve add chips and dressing. It’s best to mix every thing just before serving if possible (otherwise the Doritos begin to lose their crunchy texture).

Other optional toppings include sliced scallions, salsa, olives, diced green pepper, etc., but you will never be disappointed with the basic. Furthermore, you might want to have another bottle of Catalina dressing and bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos on hand and add to taste, because sometimes as a party goes on I like to add more Doritos and Catalina, and toss.


Marsh-bani Fruit Dip & Fruit Salad

It doesn’t get easier or tastier than this. Honestly it’s just delicious. The fruit dip is sweet and a little tangy, ridiculous when you think about how easy it is. Did I mention it is fat-free? Your taste buds will never know. The yogurt goodness coats the fruit nicely as a dip, but why stop there? The next thought was, oh my goodness, this needs to be in a fruit salad. And can I just tell you, it was stellar. As in: this is what fruit salad needs to taste like for the rest of my life. If you are having a party this weekend, it’s great to serve dip style or in individual cups. So because I really can’t decide which way I like more, I’m sharing both. Lastly, let me just add that if you have any left over, you should throw it into a morning smoothie, because it is awesome… and so are you.

1 cup Marshmallow Creme

1/2 cup Chobani Fat Free Vanilla Greek Yogurt

1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained

2 pints strawberries, rinsed and drained

2 large bananas (or 3 medium), I leave mine in the peel and third or quarter

2 apples, cut into wedges (with a couple center slices reserved for garnish)

Dipping fruit of your choice

Garnish with apple slices and fresh mint (optional)

That’s it! Two parts marshmallow creme to 1 part Chobani Vanilla Greek yogurt. Brilliant! I used a hand held mixer (with a whisk attachment) to blend the marshmallow and yogurt in a medium sized bowl. If you are blending by hand, just mix until they are incorporated. Place the mixture into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or until party time), and the marshmallow and yogurt blend will continue to infuse.


Now if you want to turn it into fruit salad…

Hull and half (or quarter depending on size) your strawberries, peel your bananas and cut them along with the apples into bite size pieces. Place the fruit into a bowl, drizzle with the Marsh-bani Fruit Dip and gently toss. I take the extra step of tossing the fruit salad in a separate bowl from the one I am serving in, especially for a party… but that’s up to you. The dip can be made a day in advance, but I would not dress and toss the salad until ready to serve. Present in a bowl with a serving spoon or in individual serving dishes for guests to help themselves. Indulge yourself in this sweet treat!




The Chef’s Creamy Pasta Salad

Sometimes you want a side dish that can stand up with any burger, barbecue chicken or pulled pork you throw at it. You want the kind of pasta salad that makes you happy going back for seconds, knowing that you don’t have to get everything; just some of that really good pasta salad. Here it is…

4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

1 1/2 cup Mayonnaise

1/2 cup Miracle Whip

1/4 cup Champagne vinegar

2/3 cup White sugar

2 1/2 Tbsp Yellow mustard

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Black pepper

1 large Onion

2 stalks Celery, diced

1 Green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 Carrot, grated

Cook macaroni as directed, rinse with cold water and drain. In a large bowl mix mayonnaise, Miracle Whip (for that tangy zip), vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, and mayo mixture to the macaroni. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or longer to let flavors combine, overnight is preferred! Enjoy! (Compliments of Sadie via The Chef)

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is crazy delicious. It is “the chef’s” recipe and it is full of flavor. You could bring this to a gathering and blow all of the other side dishes out of the water, impress your family at home or indulge yourself for a light lunch. No matter what the ocassion, this should now be your go-to pasta salad.

For dressing

1/2 cup champagne vinegar
3 garlic cloves roughly minced
Juice of half one lemon
1 1/2  Tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
Pinch of kosher salt
Pepper to taste

1 cup olive oil

Combine the first seven ingredients, all except oil. Then slowly add oil while briskly whisking to emulsify. Then chill for 1/2 hour

For salad

1 cup cucumber diced
1/2 cup Kalamative olives (whole to measure then sliced)
About 10-12 spicy pickled green beans finely diced
3/4 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes
2 cups diced mixed mini sweet peppers (about 8 oz.)
8 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 pound penne pasta cooked

Toss all ingredients and add dressing…chill for an hour and retoss before serving.

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Look at all of the things in this beautiful salad!

Now I have to mention that I first went to the grocery store and couldn’t find a couple of the items… And I said to the chef, “Rachel, I’m going to have to put you on the shelf with my other fancy chef’s cookbooks because I can’t find all of your fancy ingredients.” And because she is awesome she brought me this…


And because she explained it to me, I can tell you that the spicy beans are found next to the hot sauces, not in the jarred pickle/olive section. And the champagne vinegar was originally bought at Whole Foods, but also found at TJ Maxx. If you still can’t find it you could use a red wine vinegar in its place.