Penne in Herbed Yogurt Sauce

Penne in Herbed Yogurt Sauce
With us having prime growing weather lately, my patio herbs are going nuts and needed a good trim, so dinner featuring fresh herbs was a no-brainer. Tangy Greek yogurt and whole wheat pasta seemed like good vehicles for an herby dish and what’s not made better by buttery garlic and onions?

This meal comes together quickly so is perfect for a week night. Add a glass of chilled rosé and any stress from your work day will melt away while you recharge with a fresh and light supper, ideally al fresco. Enjoy!
Basil and Mint

Lemon Thyme

Fresh Herbs

Penne in Herbed Yogurt Sauce

Inspired by this recipe

10 oz. penne pasta, preferably whole wheat (I love Trader Joe’s organic)

2 tablespoons butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, divided

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, cut in small dice

¼ teaspoon salt (plus more salt for the pasta water)

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

¾ cup Greek yogurt at room temperature (I used 2%)

½ cup chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, basil and lemon thyme (parsley and regular thyme would work too)

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large pot of generously salted water to boiling. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter or margarine and the olive oil in a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add onion and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3-4 additional minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining tablespoon of butter or margarine and stir into onion-garlic mixture until it melts.

Toss drained pasta with yogurt. Add onion-garlic mixture and pepper to taste. Mix well. Stir in fresh herbs. Transfer to a serving platter. Makes about 4 servings.



Spring Roll Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce Wrap
A twist on a spring roll, this recipe was inspired by a
Spring Roll Salad in Kowalski’s Market most recent magazine. Fresh herbs, summer veggies, cold rice noodles and spicy peanut sauce all rolled up in a crisp lettuce leaf—the perfect appetizer or first course with cocktails on the patio as the weather proclaims it’s just about June! Gluten-free and vegan too, and totally delicious. Enjoy!
Lettuce leaves

Spring Roll Lettuce Wraps

8 oz. rice noodles or vermicelli, broken half or quarters
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup chopped cucumber
¾ cup sliced green onions
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped mint
¼ cup chopped basil

½ cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons, smooth, natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic paste
A dash of salt

¾ cup salted peanuts, salted
8-10 romaine lettuce leaves

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water and drain again.

In large bowl, combine carrot, cucumber, green onions, cilantro, mint and basil. Add well-drained noodles and use a tongs to mix the noodles into the veggie-herb mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, lime juice, peanut butter, Thai sweet chili sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, chili-garlic paste, and salt. Pour half the sauce over the noodle mixture and gently use the tongs to incorporate it. Add about half the peanuts and toss again.

To assemble, place a romaine leaf on a plate and, using the tongs, set some of the noodle mixture in the middle. Drizzle with a little more sauce and top with chopped peanuts. Fold leaf over the filling. If the leaf is extra-large, you may want to cut the wrap in half to make it easier to pick up and eat. Makes 8-10 wraps.

Spring Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad
Here in Minnesota, we’re emerging from the coldest winter in about 30 years. Temperatures are slowly warming, a lot of that hip-deep snow has melted and ducks and geese are returning to our still-frozen, but gradually thawing, pond. So understandably, we’re experiencing an epidemic of spring fever and I have not been spared!

Pastels and Easter décor are taking over the house, freshly-pedicured feet long for open toes, the liner has been removed from my trench-coat, I’m itching to hike or trail run, and I’ve got the urge to create light, bright meals full of color and crunch.

This resulting recipe is full of vibrant hued veggies, made light by slicing paper thin, combined with a burst of strawberry and fresh mint and served over substantial, yet delicate quinoa. A honey-kissed balsamic vinaigrette and shaved parmesan top off this eye-pleasing dish that makes a satisfying full meal. Enjoy! And happy spring!

Spring Quinoa Salad

1 cup uncooked traditional or red quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable stock
½ teaspoon salt (if using water)

1 small zucchini, sliced paper thin
1 small yellow squash, sliced paper thin
2 medium carrots, sliced paper thin
3-4 radishes, sliced paper thin
4 Brussels sprouts, shredded
4 medium ripe strawberries, sliced thin
A handful of pea shoots, chopped
¼ cup chopped herbs (I used mint, Italian parsley, and tarragon—heavy on the mint)
Salt, to taste

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Good quality parmesan cheese, shaved thin (optional)

Rinse and drain quinoa. Place drained quinoa in a medium saucepan. Add water or stock, and salt (if using water). Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Using a mandolin if you have one (or your best sharp knife, if you don’t), slice zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, and radishes into paper thin slices. Place in a medium bowl. Add the shredded Brussels sprouts, strawberries, pea shoots, and chopped herbs. Toss. Sprinkle with salt and toss again.
Sliced veggies

To make vinaigrette, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon, honey, salt, and pepper in a small jar and shake until combined.

To serve, spoon quinoa onto serving plates, top with vegetable mixture. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with shaved parmesan. Makes about 4 servings.

Tabouli with White Beans


Tabouli (or Tabbouleh) is a dish that is easily adaptable to what you have on hand. You can switch out the bulgur for quinoa or barley, even rice or orzo; change the parsley to dill; vary the vegetables, and add a protein if you’d like. Some recipes I’ve seen even add feta cheese. However, I’m not a fan of feta, so that won’t be me.

Traditional Lebanese tabouli uses a much smaller amount of bulgur, almost as a garnish, and the herbs, usually parsley and mint, are the stars. It’s more of a salad than a side dish when prepared in that authentic manner, but I went in the opposite direction, wanting the heartiness that more grains would provide.

Tabouli veg

I’ve recently seen quinoa tabouli at several restaurants, and while it was good, I really like bulgur. So why not a combination? I like cucumbers in tabouli, but didn’t have any, so why not radishes? This was to be the meal, so how about some white beans to really make it a main course? I did all of the above and it was delicious and filling! And so very fresh with veggies and herbs from your garden or the farmers’ market. Enjoy!

Tabouli (or Tabbouleh) with White Beans

2 cups cooked bulgur
1 ½ cup cooked red quinoa (or regular quinoa)
2-3 scallions, sliced
2 radishes, diced (I had red and purple—so pretty!)
1 ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
1 cup cooked white beans (or one cup canned, drained and rinsed)
1 handful fresh dill, chopped
1 handful fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix bulgur, quinoa, scallions, tomato, white beans, dill and mint in large bowl. In a small bowl, mix olive oil and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Pour dressing over bulgur mixture and toss. Adjust seasoning, adding more herbs and salt & pepper if desired. Serve immediately or cover and chill. Serves 6-8, possibly fewer, if serving as a meal by itself.