Tortellini Spinach Salad

Tortellini Spinach Salad

I’m going to come right out and say it: salad and I have had our issues. I mean, I love salad. We have a relationship. But… it’s complicated.

You ask some people what they’re having for lunch (or even for dinner–heresy!), and they’ll say, “A salad.” Like… that’s it. Salad. I’m not one of those people. For me, a salad isn’t a meal. Salad and a sandwich? Sure. Salad and garlic bread? Yup. But just a salad? Incredibly unsatisfying, no matter how many sunflower seeds and garbanzo beans I plop on top. I think there’s just something in my DNA requiring that a meal involve some carbs.

Which leads to the issue of ingredients. I like diversity in a salad. Salad bars are my gold standard for this–I can add a couple kinds of greens, lots of raw veggies, maybe some berries, various beans and seeds and cheeses, and top it off with some croutons. But I can’t recreate that experience at home; I’d constantly have a half-eaten can of moldy kidney beans in my fridge, or an almost-empty bag of slimy spinach. And when I did make a salad, I’d be prepping ingredients for half an hour.

And then there’s the issue of the dressing. Can we all just agree that store-bought salad dressings are, in general, pretty awful? I get a salad at a restaurant and love it, but when I recreate the same salad at home with a store-bought dressing, it’s just yucky. About 95% of salad dressings I’ve ever bought taste like nothing but salt and preservatives. (Rob and I have found our guilty-pleasure dressing with this Nebraska-based salad dressing. You can’t get it in Tennessee–except via Amazon–so we ask my parents to bring home a couple of bottles every time they go to Nebraska to visit family.)

So those are the problems. But here’s the part where I launch into apostrophe.

Ah, Tortellini Spinach Salad, you have redeemed the salad experience for me. I can have you for dinner and feel neither gluttonously overfull nor piteously underfed. Your perfect mix of spinach (healthy!), tomatoes (healthy!), onions (healthy!), and processed carbs (delicious!) delights my tastebuds. I salute your limited ingredient list, your simple preparation, your sharply flavorful homemade dressing! Tortellini Spinach Salad, from these glorious beginnings I foresee a long and delectable love affair.

Time Commitment: About twenty minutes. There are literally three steps to this recipe. This salad is weeknight dinner gold.

Mess: Minimal–cutting board, sauce pan, and a pretty salad bowl for serving

For Kids: This dressing isn’t incredibly kid-friendly, so I always reserve some tortellini, cherry tomatoes, cheese, and spinach for #1 to eat, dressing-free.

Tortellini Spinach Salad

Serves 2-3 as a main dish or 4-6 as a side salad

Adapted from Three Boys Unprocessed

Ingredients, Salad

  • 2 cups frozen tortellini
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • Up to 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

Ingredients, Dressing

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 tbsp shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp mayo
  • salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions

  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain, return to pot, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and place in refrigerator or freezer to chill while you make the salad dressing.
  2. Place all salad dressing ingredients into a prep bowl and whisk vigorously. Adjust levels of salt, pepper, and other spices to taste.
  3. Toss dressing with chilled tortellini and other salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Spinach Fritters

spinach fritters

Rating: 4/5 stars. Enjoy these crispy spinach fritters with pasta or rice and a bit of tomato sauce.

Twenty-three miles; eighty minutes; seven accidents. That was my drive home today. I have no idea what sort of insanity struck the good people of Chattanooga between the hours of 3:30 and 5:00 PM, but I would have been happy to stay out of it, thank you very much. It was like I drove through a blip in the space-time continuum that took me back to Los Angeles, circa 2008, where my daily commute took me past Dodger Stadium, Staples Center, and the LA Coliseum. If there was any sporting event going on in the city, I might as well just stay at work until 8, because otherwise I’d just be camped out on the 110 through downtown.

After today’s harrowing drive, I arrived home to a dog that needed to go out, a baby just waking up from a nap–hungry, of course!–and a daughter with one thing on her mind: finger-painting. It was A LOT. I honestly thought we were going to have to resort to cold cereal for dinner, but then I looked at the directions for these fritters and decided that they looked both feasible and–obviously–healthier than the cereal option. So I took the dog out, fed #2, and set #1 up with her finger-paints. 30 minutes later, I had spinach fritters with some pasta and tomato sauce ready to go exactly as Rob walked in the door. I WIN, FREEWAY CHAOS.

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Of course, in the meantime, #1 painted half the table and then coated her forearms with orange paint, giving her a kind of creepy tanorexic look. No recipe is easy enough to forestall finger-paint-related fiasco, I suppose.

Time Commitment: You can easily toss together these fritters in 30 minutes. You should, however, keep an eye on what your children are doing during that time.

Mess: The fritters themselves are very low mess: one bowl, one pan, one cutting board. But of course, you have to serve the fritters with something, unless you’re one of those people who gets full on nothing but spinach and onions (in which case, no offense, but I hate you).

Mom Fails: This recipe is pretty idiot-proof. Good thing, too, because LONG DAY.

Spinach Frittersspinach fritters

Source: Rachael Ray’s Spinach Fritters

Makes about 16 two-inch fritters

Ingredients

  • 16 oz bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 an onion, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 c shredded or crumbled cheese (I used cheddar, which was good, but next time I might try this with some parmesan or feta)
  • Oil for frying

Directions

  1. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Mix in all other ingredients (except oil).
  2. Pour a couple glugs of olive oil into a frying pan over medium heat. Fry fritters by heaping tablespoonfuls until browned. Flip and do the same on the other side.
  3. If your fritters look a bit greasy, you can set them on a plate lined with paper towel for a few minutes before serving.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

spinach stuffed shells

Rating: 4/5 stars. These pretty spinach stuffed shells make a festive entrée for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Yesterday began with Chattanooga’s one obligatory minor snowfall of the year and ended with a call to the Poison Control Center. We like to keep things interesting.

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I know it’s hard to believe, but somehow that little innocent managed — after bedtime, in the dark, using her bed as a trampoline — to reach into her top dresser drawer, find a jar of Vicks VapoRub, open it, and spread it all over her face and bed. Rob and I, watching TV downstairs, were completely clueless until we heard some wailing upstairs around 10 o’clock. We found our daughter and everything in her bedroom greased like a hog and smelling like a pharmacy. #1 had hidden the incriminating Vicks by this point, but it was clear what had happened. And then she said it: “Ninny eat some.”

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