The weather was so amazing over the past few days; it was perfect for my weekend off of work! Sunshine and warm temperatures called for a light summery dinner out in the sun. I whipped up this cucumber tomato salad and enjoyed a lovely dinner on the balcony with my husband. This is such a quick and simple recipe that you can easily adapt to fit your family’s taste! I had the Noodles & Co. cucumber tomato salad in mind when I came up with this recipe, and while it is similar in concept, it tastes quite different. As I always do, I used what I could find in my kitchen and of course I had to add feta; it makes everything better!
I like to use oil and vinegar to marinade my vegetables because I love the tartness the vegetables have after they’ve been soaking in vinegar. After marinating, I pour out the excess and toss the vegetables in an Italian vinaigrette for a great flavor boost. One of my favorites is Kraft’s Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette. You could use a vinaigrette to marinade your veggies for a milder taste or skip the viniagrette altogether and just use oil and vinegar. You could mix in anything from black or greek olives, to avocado chunks, or even quinoa.
This recipe is full of my favorite things! As I said before, I used my favorite vinaigrette, and then grape tomatoes are my favorite tomato, feta is one of my favorite cheeses, and cucumbers are my favorite vegetable. Speaking of cucumbers, have you ever tried cucumber vodka? I LOVE IT! It’s so refreshing and crisp mixed with soda water or 7-up. I’ve had it with cranberry juice too, and while I liked it, my husband did not share my opinion and we agreed it was best served as a cucumber press with half soda water – half 7-up). The colors in this salad are gorgeous too! It’s hard to beat garden fresh vegetables with a tangy vinaigrette and a salty bite of feta in my book!
- 2 medium cucumbers, roughly peeled and chopped
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/3 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp Italian vinaigrette
- Mix tomato, cucumber, and onion in a bowl or plastic bag with vinegar, oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and let marinade in refrigerator for a couple hours.
- When ready to serve, take the marinading vegetables out of the fridge. You have two options here: you can either pour out the bit of vinegar and oil that is left in the mix first, or just add the vinaigrette and feta and give it a toss.
The filling in these stuffed tomatoes was so good I could have eaten it plain. It was the perfect proportion of ricotta to spinach (says a ricotta fiend – you could up the spinach if you wanted to) and the Italian style breadcrumbs added a nice salty crunch.
Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Tomatoes:
- 3 tomatoes
- 6 Tbsp ricotta cheese
- 3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Italian style breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup thawed frozen spinach
- 1 garlic cloved, finely diced
- pinch of salt, pepper, oregano, and basil
- Additional Italian breadcrumbs for sprinkling
- Cut top of tomatoes off. Cut into tomatoes, angling in to remove the top of the core. Scoop out the insides, it may help to rinse the inside out with cold water to remove the seeds.
- In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, spinach, garlic, and spices together with a fork. Spoon into tomatoes and sprinkle with Italian style breadcrumbs.
- Bake in a foil lined baking dish for 15 mins at 375.
Don’t get me wrong, I love living in Wisconsin – really, I do! – but sometimes, the cold weather is just a little too…cold. To take my mind off of the frigid temperature outside, I cranked up the heat and whipped up a nice summery pasta salad!
Cucumber Tomato Feta Pasta Salad
- 2-3 cups cooked pasta
- 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
- 1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- pinch dried basil
- 1 Tbsp Basil Parmesan Vinaigrette Dressing (or any vinaigrette or none and up the olive oil/vinegar)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 – 2 Tbsp vinegar (any kind, but I used white)
- Combine the vegetables and pasta and mix.
- Add the seasonings, vinaigrette, olive oil, and 1 Tbsp vinegar and mix to distribute evenly.
- Give it a try and add vinegar or additional seasonings to your taste.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and a half.
This stuffed bread was fantastic! I love the combined flavor of fresh basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella! Definitely something I will make again because it was super easy to whip up. I used a loaf of homemade crusty bread, but you could obviously use any type of bread if you don’t like a hard crust. The one thing I would change would be to use freshly shredded cheese as opposed to pre-shredded, it just doesn’t melt quite as nicely. Otherwise, perfect!
- Round loaf of bread (I used a loaf of mozzarella-basil crusty bread)
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, diced
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 2 Tbsp green onions, diced
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Cut the loaf in half and hollow it out just a little bit.
- In a bowl, combine garlic, basil, green onions and mozzarella cheese.
- Spread the tomatoes over the bread in a layer.
- Cover it with the cheese mixture.
- Place the top of the loaf on top and cover with foil.
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
It’s cold; I’m used to it though. I’ve lived in Wisconsin my whole life and come the end of November, we kind of just expect it to snow. Although, last year was a bit off and we almost missed out on a true white Christmas! In my book, cold weather is soup weather and this soup definitely kept me warm last night. Continue reading
I can never really eat a whole lot first thing in the morning, so my breakfast often consists of a single piece of fruit. But on days that I have time to enjoy a cup of coffee and relax, I can actually work up some sort of appetite before I’m out the door, and my breakfast is a bit more elaborate.
Eggs are so easy to make and can be made so many different ways – I really can’t imagine not having a dozen in the fridge. This recipe is super easy and delicious. It is so simple and the fresh basil and garlic give it such wonderful flavor!
Bruschetta Scrambled Eggs
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 1/2 tomato diced
- 3 or 4 basil leaves, torn
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbs Parmesan cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
Saute the garlic in the oil until it just begins to brown, then add the eggs. As they begin to cook, add in the tomato and basil. If you like your tomatoes cooked more thoroughly, you can add them earlier, but I like mine to be a little more fresh/raw tasting. When the eggs are done cooking, sprinkle the parmesan over the top.