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Everytime I navigate to a food blog I always wonder where their top picture came from.  You know, the one at the top of the blog that features some sort of food.  The Wednesday Chef has some herbs, POC has some lemon rind and mine has some cherry tomatoes looking like juicy red jewels (look up).  Were these pictures taken especially for the top banner or were they part of a photo taken while cooking.  I bet you are just dying to know?!!

Well, ok, you might not be that interested, but I will tell you anyways.  The cherry tomatoes are from a picture I took while making this here recipe.  Now you know!  Mystery solved.  See you next time.

Oh, you want to know the recipe?  (I am so lame.)  Well, it is a snap.  It is quick to whip up and is a really nice meal or side.  Who doesn’t like caprese anyways?  Those short towers of fresh mozzarella, a slice of ripe tomato topped with a leaf of basil and showered in olive oil.  All this recipe does is warm everything up and add some pasta.  You’re gonna love it.

Warm Caprese Pasta Salad

This is one of those recipes that I saw somewhere or watched on tv and made it so many times without a recipe that I totally forget where it comes from.  So…it’s mine now?

1 small clamshell of cherry tomatoes cut in half  (you can substitute in grape tomatoes or diced large tomatoes)

3 tbsp olive or veg oil

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

1 large buffalo mozzarella ball or several minis

1 handful of fresh basil

2-3 cups dry pasta (your fave)

Start with heating the oil in a pan.  Add the garlic and cook for about 1 min, until the garlic is fragrant.  Add in the tomatoes.  If you are using cherry or grape tomatoes, cut them in half and place them cut side down in the pan (like in the photo above).  Simmer the tomatoes on medium heat and do not stir.

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil for the pasta.  In a large serving bowl, tear up the mozzarella and the basil into bite sized pieces.  I usually go heavy on the basil since I want that heavenly taste with every bite!

Check in on the tomatoes.  When they are soft, you can press them down with a fork.  This kind of mushes them up and turns them into a sauce.  You can now stir and get everything moving. If you want your sauce on the liquidy side, then cover with a lid and simmer on low.  If you less liquidy sauce then let the tomatoes simmer without a lid.

Once the pasta is ready, drain and toss it into the large serving bowl already containing the mozza and basil.  Pour over the sauce and stir.  The mozza will melt and become stringy and the basil will be oh-so-frangrant.  Serve as the entire meal, vegetarian style, or add to a meal as a side.

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Alright, alright, I know I am in the Netherlands and about to show you a recipe for an Italian salad, but this salad is so good tha you won’t be thinking Dutch for long.  Remember how I said that there is a bakery on every corner here?  This salad with homemade crouton was just beggin’ to be made.

I also may have let you in on the fact that Arne and I are larger humans now, thanks to the foodfest we had in Calgary/SK before leaving.  I truly do deserve the name foodlova.  We ate so much great food, that we weren’t even hungry for the last week of it.  Anyways, we made a pact to eat a salad every night for a week instead of the regular fare.  It worked out well and now we are both looking and feeling pretty much back on the lighter side of things.  A few 2 hour rides in the country didn’t hurt either.

Now I am liking the whole idea of a lighter dinner a few times a week.  I find since I stopped skating I am just less hungry.  I never thought that would be, but alas it has happened to me.   This was not one of the salads we ate on the diet week, though.  Actually, I’m not really sure why this is called a salad.  The only leaf it has to offer is a few basil leaves.  The main bulk to this masterpiece is the bread.  Big chunks of crunchy, yet tender, cubes of homemade ciabatta croutons. 

Day old bread is the way to go for this one.  I have used fresh and it is fine, but having left over bread is a great excuse to whip up this quick side or starter salad.  I usually serve it with some sort of meat.  You could do a steak, sausage or an italianized chicken breast.  Either way, make sure you serve it with wine because that is what an Italian would do, right?

Panzanella Salad – adapted from The Main’s Anthony Sedlak

½ loaf of ciabatta bread cut into large cubes

I large buffalo mozzarella ball torn up into bite size pieces

1 clamshell of cherry tomatoes or any toms you like (these ones looks so beautiful I had to get them! I used 3)

1 small bunch of fresh basil

**for this recipe you can really play around with how much of each ingredient you put in.  If you are using more just add another tbsp of both oil and vinegar and you can make heaps and heaps more if you’d like!

 Dressing:

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I had red wine vinegar and it tasted really good too)

½ small red onion finely diced

 salt and pepper

Toss the ciabatta cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread evenly over a baking sheet.  Bake in a 400 degree farenheit oven until golden brown.

Mix up the dressing and set aside so that the onions soak up a little dressing.  It will make the onion a little more mild and give nice flavour to the dressing.  Add salt and pepper and stir/shake.

In a large bowl, tear up the mozza balls into bite size pieces.  Tear up the basil leaves and add to large bowl.  You can cut the mozza and basil for less of a rustic look if you’d like.  Slice the tomatoes in half and add to the bowl.  When the croutons are ready, throw them in with everything else.  Pour dressing over and toss.

Important: let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving, so that the dressing gets soaked up into the bread a little.  This not only tastes awesome, but then the croutons won’t scrape the inside of your mouth as much.  Don’t worry, they still stay crunchy, but get a kind of tenderness that is just amazing!

Foodlova

I'm an ex-Olympian and I have a serious passion for food. I guess you could call me a food lova! What about you?

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