Grape “Salad”

Usually when you read salad, you think of leafy greens and a dressing of some sort, maybe some croutons or other  vegetables too. Something healthy. But in the Midwest, salad is a looser term. It generally means a bunch of stuff thrown in a bowl with something liquidy to bind it all together. Often they use ingredients that my gourmet self wouldn’t dream of eating, like one of my favorite “salads”, Cheesy cheese, it has Velveeta! But when you add lots of butter, corn and Ritz crackers to it, even the snobbiest of foodies can’t resist. One of my sister’s favorites, is a combo of apples, Snickers and Cool-Whip. Don’t judge until you try it!

This grape salad may not look the prettiest but it sure tastes amazing! you can use any type of grape, but I prefer large red skinned grapes. You could probably  make this a little healthier by substituting Greek yogurt for the sour cream, but I’d recommend trying the original first.

1# Grapes, rinsed and taken off the stem

1/4C Cream cheese, softened

1C Sour cream

Toasted pecans, chopped

Brown sugar

In a large bowl stir together cream cheese, sour cream and a pinch of salt until smooth. Fold in the grapes and refrigerate until cold, about 45 minutes.  Generously sprinkle with brown sugar and toasted pecans and serve.

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Bell Pepper Sauce and Pasta

The other day I was at Trader Joe’s and I tried their Penne Pepperonata-it was really good. But since I’m not a big fan of frozen meals, especially frozen pasta, I thought I’d try and make my own. Here’s what I came up with-enjoy!

(The picture doesn’t do it justice, but I really wanted to include a photo since I haven’t in awhile. If you make this send me a picture, so I can replace this one, thanks!)

 

2 Bell peppers, diced

pinch of crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp Rosemary leaves

3 Cloves garlic, minced

2T Tomato paste

1/3C Sour cream (or if you want to get fancy, use creme fraiche)

pasta water

fresh parsley

1/2# Penne

 

Put a large pot of water on high heat, and cook the pasta as soon as the water boils. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large saute pan and add the peppers, crushed red pepper, rosemary and salt and pepper. Saute until the peppers are soft, add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until it starts to turn slightly golden, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Turn the heat off and stir in the sour cream. Stir in about 1/2 C of the pasta water, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. You may need to add more water to make the sauce the right consistency. Add the hot pasta and serve with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves: 2