Tag Archives: tomatoes

Pasta with Marinated Tomato Arugula Salad

15 Sep

This is my attempt to update one of my classic go-to recipes, Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes.

Lately I’ve been splurging on all the different varieties of tomatoes available in the market so I mix the best, most colorful tomatoes I can find and marinate them with arugula and even sometimes baby fresh spinach to make for a great un cooked, wilted salad pasta that’s a whole meal in one bowl.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

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2-3 cups of tomatoes – cherry, grape, zebra, any kind of tomato you prefer…
3 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
6-8 fresh basil leaves or 1 tbs freeze-fried basil leaves
3-4 handfuls of baby arugula or baby spinach – or a combination of the two – somewhat chopped
2 ounces of goat cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
3 cups of dried pasta – I use quinoa penne pasta, and the amount should be enough for 4 people


  1. In a large bowl, add the tomatoes either halved or quartered, depending on their original size.  I halve the small ones and quarter the larger ones.  Add the smashed garlic cloves, drizzle olive oil and season with salt, pepper and basil leaves.  Mix well to combine.  Add the arugula leaves and toss again.  The olive oil and juices of tomatoes will wilt the arugula a bit… that’s our goal.


2.  While the tomatoes and arugula marinate and wilt, cook the pasta according to the packages direction.  Remember to salt the water well before adding the pasta to the water.

3.  Toss the tomatoes and arugula once in while the pasta cooks… it should take about 10-12 minutes.  I usually turn the stove off after 12 minutes, cover the pot and leave it covered for about 5 minutes more.  The pasta will turn out perfect every time and you save 5 minutes of electricity each time you make pasta…

4.  When pasta is done to your liking, drain the water saving a bit of pasta water.  I usually just don’t drain it completely… and leave some water in the bottom of the pot.  Return the pasta to the pot you cooked it in.

5.  Remove the garlic cloves from the marinated tomatoes/arugula mixture and add it to the pasta.  Toss well to combine.  Add the goat cheese in small pieces to help it melt with the heat of the pasta and pot.  Season with grated parmesan cheese and a small drizzle of olive oil, if you prefer…


To me this is one of the most satisfying lunches… and it’s great to eat on the days when I train.  It has complex carbs and delicious veggies with some protein from the quinoa pasta and cheeses.  Mmmmmmm…  I might make myself this today again.

Spinach Cannelloni

6 Jun

My sister invited us to a full long weekend of merriment to celebrate my BIL 40th birthday… It was jam-packed with surprises and food.

I traveled with the excuse of spending time with my nephew, Ale. So he never ever suspected the conga-line of people that would appear each night to celebrate the weekend. First, we started the celebration last Thursday, the official birth date, with his mom and brother coming in by surprise. I had to buy groceries and make everything that same day because I couldn’t let the birthday boy know we were cooking for 12 that day…

I was planning to make a taquiza/taco bar menu for dear BIL, something he had enjoyed a lot once before. But when he insisted all he wanted was his favorite tiramisu for a birthday cake, the menu quickly shifted to Italian and the poblanos and corn were set aside for another day.

Make a crepe and fill it with Nutella or gruyere cheese and you immediately think Paris or French… But take the same crepe and fill it with ricotta and spinach and what do you get? Cannelloni…

I know… there are a lot of ingredients in the list, but it’s really an easy assembly recipe. This recipe is very easily halved for a smaller crowd.


Makes about 24 cannelloni to serve 12 people

24 crepes
24oz of ricotta cheese
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
4 cups of Italian-Blend shredded Cheese
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 bag of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry as much as possible
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 tbs of chopped fresh Italian parsley
2-3 tbs of chopped fresh basil leaves
3 tbs of olive oil, divided
2 packs of Pomi chopped tomatoes
2 cups of half and half
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
Garlic Salt, Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper to taste
  1. I make my own crepes using this batter recipe right here. I make the batter the night before and allow it to rest in the fridge overnight.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add a few drizzles of olive oil, onions and garlic. Season them liberally with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes to allow the onions to release their moisture, but do not brown them, just until they’re soft. Set aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
  4. To make the filling… In a large bowl combine ricotta cheese, the cooked onions/garlic mixture, 2 cups of the Italian cheese blend, ½ cup parmesan cheese, the chopped fresh parsley and basil and the chopped thawed and squeezed spinach. Season it with salt, pepper, garlic salt and a few drizzles of olive oil. Mix well to combine. Set aside. If you want to make some cheese cannelloni without the spinach, just omit the spinach or set some cheese mixture aside before adding the spinach. The flavors will work really well.
  5. To make the sauce… mix together in another large bowl the chopped tomatoes, half and half and season with salt, pepper, dried oregano and basil, garlic salt and a few drizzles of olive oil. Mix together well to combine and create a pink sauce and set aside.
  6. Now we assemble… I had to use 2 large 9” x 13” glass oven-proof dishes for this amount of crepes. Pour 1/4 of the sauce in the bottom of each baking dish. Take each crepe and smear about 1 large soup spoonful of cheese/spinach mixture and roll into a cannelloni. Place on top of the sauce. Repeat with all the crepes and place them side by side on the baking dishes.
  7. When you’re done assembling the crepes in the baking dish, spoon the sauce that’s left on top of the crepes. Sprinkle the rest of the Italian blend cheeses, the mozzarella and the parmesan cheese on top of the cannelloni to create a cheesy crust on top.
  8. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes to allow the tomato sauce to cook and for the cheese on top to melt and brown. If the cheese is not browned to your liking, you can always turn on the broiler on low and watch it for 10 minutes or so until it’s brown and beautiful.

You can certainly make this for a large crowd like I did, or make it into individual dishes and serve for a smaller group or even just one. I did some filled with just cheese and some with the spinach… the kids ate the ones with spinach even though I had mentioned I had ones with just cheese. They were skeptical at first, but they ate it all in the end.

And if you have any creamed spinach leftover from another side dish or from making a stack of crepes…  you can indeed use it and skip the step of cooking onions and garlic beforehand.

We served these cannelloni with a caprese salad and delicious garlicky bread

Panzanella Salad

9 Aug

This is another recipe that combines this Basic Italian Tomato Salad with several other ingredients so you can enjoy its delicious flavors in another format…



1 recipe of Basic Italian Tomato Salad
1 whole-wheat ciabatta roll
2 cups of baby spinach, washed and dried well
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Freshly cracked Black Pepper


  1. Make Basic Italian Tomato Salad.  Set aside.
  2. Cut ciabatta roll in half.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toast in oven at 350F for about 5 minutes.  Take the bread pieces out and cut into 1-inch pieces.  Set aside.
  3. In a large salad bowl, add the baby spinach, Tomato/Mozzarella salad and bread pieces.  Toss everything to combine and allow the juices from the Basic Italian Tomato Salad dress the salad.


That’s it!!!  Easy, no?

Basic Italian Tomato Pasta

30 Jul

I told you about the versatile and easy Tomato Italian Salad…  and here’s how you turn a salad into a meal.



1 recipe of Basic Tomato Italian Salad
½ package of pasta – I used kamut spaghetti, but I think it would work better with penne


  1. Bring a large pot with salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions until al dente.
  2. While the water boils and the pasta cooks, you prepare the Basic Tomato Italian Salad.  If you have some leftovers of this salad left from a previous night, just take it out of the fridge so it can come a bit to room temperature while the pasta cooks.
  3. When the pasta is done, drain it and combine with the Tomato/Mozarella mixture.

Basic Italian Tomato Salad

19 Jul

I love tomatoes…  I just do.  To me, cutting up a few tomatoes on the side constitutes a complete salad in my book.   I can go through a whole pack of Costco tomatoes in a week… all by myself.

I also love taking a simple, delicious recipe and using it in various ways – exciting flavors enjoyed in various formats.  And that’s what this Basic Italian Tomato Salad is… 

What makes it Italian??  Well, the Italian ingredients – white balsamic vinegar, mini fresh mozzarella pieces and Italian Seasonings.



4 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped into large pieces – if you have heirloom tomatoes, all the better
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp of white balsamic vinegar – regular balsamic will also work here
A pinch of fresh basil – I also use the freeze-dried kind
½ tsp of Italian Seasonings
1 tsp of salt
Freshly cracked Black Pepper
1 clove of garlic, grated – optional
About 16 pieces of mini fresh mozzarella pieces


  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine all the ingredients.  Toss to combine.  Allow for the mixture to marinate and create a juice/sauce in the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Combine with mozzarella pieces in a plate.  Drizzle some extra olive oil on top when plating.


Sometimes I add the cheese pieces in with the rest of the ingredients to marinate too…  it’s up to you.  This is a very delicious and versatile combination that you will use over and over again.

Then you can take this Salad and use it in:  an Italian sandwich with ciabatta bread, an Italian panzanella salad, a delicious Italian tomato/mozzarella pasta…   

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