Colorful Shrimp Pasta Salad

shrimp salad

This shrimp pasta salad has all the components of spring, it has bright colors and it’s light and fresh. This salad can be a stand alone lunch, a light dinner or the perfect side dish to have for spring and summer cookouts.

Colorful spring vegetables are incorporated into this salad and finished off with a creamy lemon dressing that clings to every bite.

farfalle pasta

This pasta salad looks pretty made with rainbow colored pasta, there are so many shapes and sizes available today and the different colors add to the vibrancy of the dish. You definitely want to choose ones that are healthy, the ones that are actually colored with natural foods, things like carrot, beet root, tumeric and spinach  which will also enhance the flavor as well.

I would encourage you to seek them out, I found this cute farfalle shape but again there are so many more!

 

grilled shrimp

You can poach the shrimp, roast the shrimp or grill it, either way will work, just have it done ahead of time.

spring pasta salad

Now that winter is behind us it’s time to tuck those comfort foods away and to brighten things up and this pasta salad is just the thing!

Colorful Shrimp Pasta Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • ½. lb. cooked shrimp, roasted, grilled or poached, cooled down
  • ½ lb. colored pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed cold. Pat dry so no wetness sticks to the pasta
  • 1 lb of fresh asparagus, cut in half and blanched for 2 minutes in boiling water then plunged into ice water, then patted dry of water.
  • ½ cup of peas, if fresh pre-cook, if frozen, defrost
  • ½ of a red pepper and ½ yellow pepper, diced
  • ¼ red onion, small dice
  • 3 radishes, sliced thin
  • ½ of english cucumber, sliced thin
  • hand full or arugula or chopped romaine lettuce
  • tablespoon each of chopped parsley and chopped basil
  • LEMON CREAM DRESSING
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 3 parts olive oil
  • 1 small dollop of Dijon
  • 2 or 3 small chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons of full fat mayo
Instructions
  1. Add all the dressing components into a jar and whisk it up together. ( You'll have extra) set aside.
  2. Take all your components, the cooked pasta, shrimp, asparagus, peas, chopped peppers, onions, radishes, parsley, basil, arugula or romaine and place them into a nice big bowl.
  3. Toss gently together, evenly dispersed, then spoon in your lemon dressing, taste as you go adding salt and pepper, more herbs if you like.
  4. Be careful not to overload the dressing so as not to make it soggy.
  5. Place pasta salad into a nice platter and serve!

 

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Citrus Infused Ricotta Pie for Easter and Beyond

ricotta pie

Bright citrus flavors of lemon and orange infuse this sweet and creamy ricotta pie. Ricotta pie is a traditional Easter dessert which has so many variations according to individual family recipes. But if I’m to be honest it really isn’t just for Easter, this pie is welcomed any time of the year when you’re wanting a special dessert to serve.

citrus pie

I have another variation of ricotta pie that I make in my own family as well, it’s filled with mini chocolate chips, citron, zest and a hint of cinnamon with flavors like the inside of a cannoli.

pie

But this dreamy version lets the sweetened ricotta shine with hints of vanilla, lemon and orange. This pie is also topped with a lattice crust which reminds me of an Easter basket, and besides the more crust the better in my book!

coffee and pie

With Easter right around the corner this pie would be a perfect addition to your dessert table, Happy Easter!

Citrus Infused Ricotta Pie for Easter and Beyond
 
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Ingredients
  • Use a 9 inch deep dish pie pan
  • Pastry for a double crusted pie, either homemade or a good quality store bought one.
  • 2¾ cups of whole milk ricotta*** IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you drain your ricotta really good, excess moisture will affect the cooking time and texture. You can drain it overnight in the fridge if it's the deli kind sitting in some water. Or you can look for a full fat supermarket version.
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • zest of 1 large lemon or 2 small
  • reserve a pinch of each to sprinkle on top
  • small pastel colored chocolate eggs for garnish presentation
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat the drained ricotta with the sugar until very smooth.
  3. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Beat in the vanilla and lemon extract
  5. Fold in the lemon and orange zest to well combined.
  6. Place 1 half of your double pie crust into your pie plate, unbaked
  7. Pour all the filling into the pie shell.
  8. Place the whole plate onto a rimmed cookie sheet for easy in and out of the oven.
  9. Take the other piece of dough, roll it out and make 6 or 8 strips of dough and place them over the filling in a criss cross design.
  10. I usually brush some cream over the top of the crust to make a golden crust, you can do an egg wash as well, then sprinkle the pinch of zest you set aside all over the top.
  11. Bake the pie for around 45 minutes or until ricotta is set and a toothpick comes out clean and crust golden.
  12. Let it cool down then refrigerate before eating
  13. Garnish with a handful of pastel colored, small size chocolate eggs on top for presentation.

 

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Stuffed Cabbage, Italian Style

cooked cabbage

It’s March, and you’re going to see lots of cabbage in the supermarkets. I encourage you to pick up a large head and try my twist on stuffed cabbage Italian style. This is not to say that the traditional version isn’t any good, this is just my Italian take on it.

The concept is simple, the cabbage is wilted and wrapped around all the makings of your favorite Italian meatball and the sauce is a delicious marinara.

fresh cabbage

The cabbage I used here was your typical green cabbage, I chose a big head with lots of leaves. Savoy cabbage is another perfect variety to use if you can find one that is on the larger size.

The hardest thing about making stuffed cabbage is blanching the leaves off and to do this you’ll need a big pot of boiling water going. Core the end of the cabbage and submerge the whole thing into the boiling pot and place a cover on top.

After a few minutes remove the cover and peel off as many leaves as you can and drain on paper towels. Repeat the whole process until you have the number of leaves you want. The bigger the cabbage, the more leaves you’ll have.

After the leaves cool down place one at a time on a cutting board, pat dry and just cut out that center core so it’s easier to fold them. Then form the shape of a meatball using about 1/2  cup of meat mixture tucking the cabbage all around the sides of the meatball creating a round shape instead of the traditional log shape.

ground beef mixture

Here’s where you can really get creative! You can use your own family favorite meatball recipe or do a little improvising like I did with the ingredients above. I used 2 pounds of ground beef for this recipe, it was an 80/20 mix but ground sirloin works great as well as ground pork and turkey. Because of my large head of cabbage I was able to yield 14 rolls in total.

This post is meant to inspire you with the ingredients I used, or if you like, change things up with some of your favorites. For instance, using small chunks of mozzarella instead of the provolone cheese, or eliminate the cooked rice for breadcrumbs or even riced cauliflower. I always like to add a generous amount of grated pecorino, a couple of tablespoons of marinara, a good handful of fresh parsley and enough garlic so you can really taste it, you get the picture, flavor it up good!

cabbage rolls

Tuck your wilted cabbage all around your meatball and then place them seam side down in a pool of marinara.

sauced cabbage rolls

Spoon additional marinara ( homemade or a good quality store bought) on top of each roll, sprinkle pecorino on top and a nice drizzle of olive oil all over.

Cover your baking dish completely with foil and place into a pre-heated 360 degree oven for around 40 minutes. Uncover and test to see if a tip of a knife goes though easily.

Italian style cabbage

When finished cooking let it rest for a few minutes then garnish with parsley or basil and enjoy!

cabbage rolls

I hope you’ve been inspired to make my Italian style version of stuffed cabbage!

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