BLT Pasta Salad

by Susan on March 22, 2017

Now that it’s officially here I have spring on my brain. We can finally see our grass again as the snow melts away, and yesterday it was sunny and mild. I thought it was the perfect excuse to lighten up pasta night and try out a recipe from Whole Foods that I wanted to adapt to be gluten and dairy-free.

This pasta salad is a riff on the classic BLT, with pasta replacing the bread. Making the dish gluten-free was super easy by simply using brown rice rotini. I had to get a little creative with the dressing recipe, however, which called for both buttermilk and mayonnaise. I have a dairy-free mayo that I love; ever since Hampton Creek sent me samples of their “Just Mayo” a couple of years ago I have been hooked.

Since I’ve never seen a dairy-free buttermilk, however, I made my own using lemon juice and unsweetened almond milk. Any non-dairy milk would work, and you can also use vinegar to replicate the tang of buttermilk. I find it best to let your mixture sit for a bit before mixing it with other ingredients. In this case, I made the dressing prior to the salad itself, giving it time to chill and the flavors marry in the fridge.

Everyone really loved this one. I doubled the original recipe so that we would have leftovers; if you do the same, only dress the salad that you’re serving. Keeping things separate until eating keeps the lettuce from getting limp.

My teenage daughter felt that the bite of the red onion was a bit much (my husband adamantly disagreed). I kind of agree with her, though, and think next time I would substitute chopped green onion instead.

BLT Pasta Salad
adapted from Whole Foods

1/2 lb. brown rice rotini pasta
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/2 tbs. lemon juice
1/2 cup dairy-free mayonnaise (I recommend Hampton Creek)
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
5 minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 lb. sliced nitrite-free bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 chopped red onion, diced OR 3 minced green onions
2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions until just tender; drain, cool under cold running water and drain again.

Meanwhile, whisk milk and lemon juice together in a bowl. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Put this mixture in a mason jar and add mayo, mustard, garlic and salt. Shake well to blend. Taste for seasoning and put in refrigerator while you prep the rest of the salad.

Put pasta in a large bowl. Add bacon, tomatoes, onion and lettuce and toss. Pour in desired amount of dressing and gently toss again to distribute. Serve immediately.

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Steak & Sweet Potato Fry “Pot Pie”

by Susan on March 21, 2017

steak and sweet potato fry "pot pie"

I am pretty proud of this one, because I created it solely based on my husband’s request for steak and fries. Sure, I could have just made the man steak and fries. Between you and me, he doesn’t even really like sweet potato fries. But when have I ever been one to keep things simple?

I thought it would be fun to use fries in lieu of mashed potato in a riff on a pot pie; I chose waffle fries since they’re flatter and wider and would make a better “lid” to the pie. I’m not one for peas in my pot pies, but usually opt for carrots and celery instead. I couldn’t find any good organic celery, so skipped it and just went with carrot, onion and garlic.

This one is really easy to keep dairy-free by simply skipping the cheese on top. I chose to use a mixture of Gruyere and sharp cheddar because that’s what I had on hand. The mixture was really delicious!

Everyone really loved this one, which made me feel pretty darned good considering I made it up as I went along. It’s my pleasure to share this healthy but fun dinner with you. As written this one is gluten and optionally dairy-free. I served it alongside a salad to make a complete meal.

Steak & Sweet Potato Fry “Pot Pie”

1 lb. sweet potato waffle fries
2 tbs. olive oil
2 chopped carrots
1 small onion, chopped
3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
salt & pepper
1 lb. flank, strip or other think steak, cut into chunks or strips
1 cup organic chicken or beef broth
1 tbs. gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbs organic tomato paste
1/2 tsp. tapioca or arrowroot starch
1/2 cup shredded cheddar and/or Gruyere cheese (optional)
minced green onion, for garnish

Prepare waffle fries according to package directions, undercooking by about 1 minute. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic and rosemary and saute until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add steak to mixture and cook for about 3 minutes or until no longer pink.

Meanwhile, whisk broth, soy sauce, tomato paste and starch in a bowl until combined. Add to skillet and cook for about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens.

Preheat broiler.

Top meat and vegetable mixture with an even layer of fries. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Place under the broiler for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Garnish with minced green onion.

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