Cooking without a Recipe {pasta with tomatoes and corn}

Found this waiting in my drafts folder, because I never typed up a little blurb to go with it.  I made this without a recipe.  It was a dream.  Make it fast before summer escapes.  And cook more without using recipes.  I always wish I did.

pasta with corn and tomatoes.

To make pasta for 6 (or a hungry 4), you will need:

  • a pound your favorite spaghetti-esque pasta strands (ours is a local brand of either fettuccine, which we used here, or tagliatelle)
  • kernels from 3 ears of corn (raw is fine, cooked is too)
  • a whole bunch (pint?) of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (I used about half a point of two types)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Parmesan cheese

Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil.  While you’re waiting for that to happen, make the sauce.  Heat olive oil in large skillet.  I used almost enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  When oil is hot, add garlic and saute for 2 minutes, until fragrant, but not brown.  Add tomatoes, and give things a stir.  Let tomatoes cook until their skins start falling apart and the smell is so good you can’t believe your luck.  When they’re looking good and bright, add corn kernels and stir things around for another minute or two, and remove from heat.  Hopefully by this point, your water is boiling.  Since I used fresh pasta, it takes 2 minutes to cook.  Rather than drain it when it’s done, I used tongs to transfer the pasta to the skillet with the sauce.  The reason for this is that I didn’t want to give up the pasta water.  As I used the tongs to turn the strands of pasta with the corn and tomatoes, the mixture, despite all that olive oil, became a bit dry.  And I had that whole big pot of pasta water left!  Did you know there’s a whole bunch of flavor in there?  I dipped a glass measuring cup in the pot and came up with about a half cup of pasta water.  I dumped it in with the sauce, and kept tossing.  I ended up adding about another 1/4 C of water until the sauce was the right consistency for me.  I dumped an individual portion in a bowl, and because you know me by now, you already know that I grated a giant heap of Parmesan on top.

On Long Distance Friendships [pesto risotto]

Dear readers, it’s summer break ’round these parts, and that means I’m not tied to my computer like I often am in the colder months.  I’ve been digging deep in the archives to find  some recipes worth sharing again.  These all aired in the blog’s earlier days, but I’m pretty sure the only people who were there to see them go live were CV(D), Wooden Nickels, and Cari Faye.  They are my tried and true staples, and they’ll run for a few weeks while I enjoy the good life.  I’ll check back in with you later this summer dear readers.



My husband and I were shocked, a year or so out of college, when we realized that none of our closest friends live anywhere near us.  We only half joke that if we become billionaires, we’re going to pay to move everyone onto our street.  It’s tough living far away from your best friends.  Instead of having them wander over when they smell meat hitting the grill in your backyard, you have to invite them, and clear schedules, and hope that traffic isn’t bad on the way over.  Worse yet, you have to buy a plane ticket to see them.  That’s what it takes to visit  Queen Cupcake these days.

But at least I can eat pesto risotto and pretend like we’re together at Risotteria.  We chanced upon it during the great birthday celebration of 09, and it’s since become a staple in QC’s life.  I’ve tried to recreate the dish before, to no great success.  What should be a creamy dish, oozing cheese out of every bite, instead becomes a soupy mess.  As a die-hard risotto fan, I refused to let this dish elude me.

One recent, rainy night, I nailed it.  I finally made a pesto risotto worthy of sharing.  With family.  And friends.  No matter how far away they are.  One bite of this and I was with Queen Cupcake and SCL at our cozy table in the West Village.  A girl can dream.

To make pesto risotto to feed 4, you will need:

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C Arborio rice
  • 1/2 C dry, white wine
  • 3 C chicken stock
  • 1 C peas, fresh (shelled), or frozen
  • 1 small container pesto (please do make your own if you have that kind of time)
  • 1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan.  Add shallots, cooking till translucent, about 4 minutes.  Stir in rice, and toast, 1 minute.  Add wine, and cook till it reduces by half, about 2 minutes.  Add 1/2 C chicken broth, stirring occasionally, until almost all absorbed.  Continue adding broth by the 1/2 cupful until rice is cooked.  I just reach my wooden spoon in the great big pot and taste a grain or two when things are looking steamy.

When the rice is done, leave the heat on, stirring constantly until broth is almost all absorbed.  Though you’d want to leave some creaminess in a traditional risotto, you’re about to add pesto, which is largely made of olive oil.  Keeping your risotto too creamy here is going to leave you with risotto soup.  So stir, stir, stir, and when you don’t see any liquid on the bottom of the pot, remove it from heat, and throw in the peas and the pesto, and stir till combined.  Add cheeses and stir again.  Dish out into cute little bowls and enjoy.

*To make this dish vegetarian, just use veggie stock instead of chicken stock.

**Original post here.

Settling In [bacon, spinach and cheddar frittata]

It takes a couple days for me to settle into summer routines and rhythms.

blueberry lemonade.

Blueberry lemonade helps.  It helps a lot.

Anyway, summer.

I have this stretch of time with not much planned and of course, what I want to do is fill every single moment with, like, OMG, something to do!  But this year I’m fighting back.  I will not, like, OMG do all the things.  I will do some of the things if I feel like doing some of the things.

But mostly, I’ll just look for some white space, and enjoy the ride.  (See the summer list for more specifics.)

bacon, spinach, and cheddar frittata.

This fully includes cooking.  Maybe we’ve finally arrived at the summer where I learn to cook by feel, and not by following someone else’s rules.  I feel a lot of frittatas coming on.  This one was inspired by Tiny Kitchen.

To make bacon, spinach and cheddar frittata, you will need:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 C of cream (or 3/4 C, or 2/3, or 2% milk, or half and half; just throw in some dairy)
  • 1/2 C of sharp cheese, grated
  • a couple pieces bacon, fried to a crisp, and crumbled (I used 4 thick cut pieces)
  • a TON of spinach, roughly chopped and cooked in the bacon grease (mmmmm) and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes

Whisk eggs and cream till combined.  Add cheese and whisk.  Add bacon, and spinach, when it is slighltly cooled.  Pour into greased 10-inch pie plate.  Bake in 375 degree oven 30 minutes, or until eggs are set.  Eat it for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.

The Other Day [gnocchi with potatoes, green beans, and mushrooms]

The other day, a friend of mine mentioned how she was completely and totally exhausted because of her busy schedule.  And then I thought about my own. It is, without a doubt, one of the two busiest times of the year for me right now.  And I am not exhausted.  Weird.

gnocchi with potatoes.

The other day, a friend of mine emailed and mentioned how much she enjoys perusing this blog when she’s looking for dinner options.  She’s paying more attention to what is in the food she’s eating, because she wants to be the one who decides what goes into her meals.  Love this.  When I got her email it made my day.

gnocchi with potatoes.

And then, over-analyzer that I am, I got to thinking about these two friends, and their situations, and my own kitchen.

gnocchi with potatoes.

The other day, I took a bag of Trader Joe’s country potatoes with haricot verts and mushrooms, and a package of gnocchi from the farmer’s market.  I boiled the gnocchi (fresh pasta cooks in like, two minutes), and heated the potatoes in a skillet (six minutes).  When the potatoes were heated through, I added several glugs of olive oil, and the gnocchi.  I took a picture, and then I realized, that duh, it needed cheese.  So I took another picture. (You know I added more cheese after that, too.)

gnocchi with potatoes.

And I thought a lot about how most of what I eat is not that bad for me at all.  Most of what I eat uses ingredients I bought from places I know, and gets prepared with my own two hands (and my oven).  I can spend way too much time frowning at the number that shows up on the scale as soon as I step on it, or I can chill on that, and celebrate that I eat stuff that’s pretty darn good most of the time, and that keeps me fueled through my busiest days.

Had I not gotten that email from my friend, I wouldn’t have posted this meal, as it didn’t seem anything special.  But then I realized that y’all need to know that I don’t always spend time before dinner with a knife in hand, chopping onions, garlic, and who knows what else.  Dinner can be simple and healthy at the same time.  You just have to know how to put the pieces together.*

*Also, yes, the pieces, in this case, are potatoes and more potatoes.

15 Things [couscous with peas and mint]

couscous with peas and mint.

15 Things (and a recipe) on the 15th

  1. OMG it’s warm outside and I soak up at least 15 minutes of sunlight and Vitamin D every day, and that makes all the difference in my well-being.  Is it the same for you?
  2. Ali posted an Instagram from one of our team meetings a while back and hashtagged it, #morningslikethese.  It’s now one of my favorite hashtags to check in on.
  3. I am two months into a self-imposed 3 month shopping ban in which the only things I have purchased are 1) Starbucks nearly every day because, well, never mind, I don’t want to talk about it, 2) bras because I haven’t bought new ones in 2 years and when you can’t buy anything you want, you buy necessities you’ve been putting off to fill the void, and 3) two cookbooks I’ve wanted forever that were on sale for (much) less than their Amazon prices, because sometimes a deal really is that good.
  4. We are somewhere between taking Casa Glass of Milk to the next level (which really means pouring money into it) because we’ll be here a while longer, and doing nothing because someday soon we’ll be out of it.  Stay tuned.
  5. The (Not So) New Girl showed me a recipe book a friend of hers put together as a wedding gift, and it was homemade and full of love, and now I’m kicking myself for not doing that for every wedding I’ve ever been to.
  6. I am totally hooked on Dancing with the Stars this season because my obsession with Meryl Davis did not stop after the Winter Olympics.  Also, Wooden Nickels and I are going to see Derek and Juliane Hough’s show this summer.
  7. On Mother’s Day I re-remembered (that’s totally a thing) that my house will never be as clean as I want it to be, and I need to invite people over anyway.
  8. I got the most beautiful flower arrangement on Tuesday and it lasted an entire week.  Miracles happen.
  9. “Good vibes only” seems to be a theme everywhere from blog posts to prints, and it seems like a good way to live life.
  10. Setting your iPhone not to vibrate, but to complete silence, makes all the difference in the world.
  11. Wooden Nickels is at the beach right now, I’m not, and I’m jealous.
  12. When I ventured into the real world a million years ago I found myself with a million notepads.  After years of using them for grocery lists, to-do lists, and directions to places to which I cannot drive, I have finally made a visible dent in that pile.  Now I have about half a million.  Most of them aren’t even cute.
  13. Summer is coming, which I know because I spend an increasing part of each day of my life dreaming of froyo.
  14. It’s been a long time since I’ve been truly hooked on a TV show.  Like, I can’t wait for the new episode, I won’t multi-task and be on my phone or computer during it, kind of thing.  I miss that.  What’s good?  And no, I don’t want to watch Game of Thrones.
  15. It’s almost Friday.  🙂

To make couscous with peas and mint for 4, you will need:

  • 2 C couscous
  • 2 1/4 C broth or water (broth is more flavorful)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 8 oz. peas (freshly shelled, though frozen will work if you don’t have the patience)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped mint
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Bring broth to a boil, and add 1 T olive oil.  Add peas, and simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and add couscous.  Cover with tightly-fitting lid, and set aside 5-10 minutes.  Fluff couscous with fork.  Transfer to serving dish and stir in mint and salt and pepper.

Pasta without a Recipe [spaghetti all’amatriciana]

The other day I was chatting with a friend as she cooked dinner, and she mentioned she was following a recipe for pasta e fagiole that was barely a recipe at all.  The recipe (written by another of her friends) told her to throw in a few sprigs of rosemary, and a glug or two of white wine.  She was a little perplexed, but she kept at it, noting she felt like Julia Child, cooking without precise measurements.

We threw in a few impersonations for good measure.

I was taken aback a little by her level of discomfort, though, because she cooks often.  But a lot of people don’t love cooking when they don’t have specific instructions.

Funny though, because when said friend asked me what was on our dinner menu that night, I mentioned we were also having pasta, hold the recipe (Italy, I miss you).

pasta all'amatriciana

Dear readers, next time you make pasta, try to make it without a recipe.  What do you usually do to sauce your pasta?  Fry up some garlic and add cream?  Let some olive oil sizzle and add tomatoes?  Crack a giant egg on top of your noodles while they’re piping hot?  As long as you’re adding a solid cup of cheese, your dinner is not going to taste bad.

I’m going to tell you how I made Fettuccine all’Amatriciana for dinner, because we’re almost to the point in a post where that happens.  But I didn’t measure anything, so you shouldn’t feel like you need to either.  And if you want to change things up by adding sprigs of something and glugs of something else, I think you should.  Messing around in the kitchen is great fun.

To make Fettucine all’Amatriciana for 4, you will need:

  • Fettucine (I had somewhere between 12 and 16 oz.)
  • a couple slice bacon, chopped (bonus points if you have thick cut pancetta, diced)
  • red pepper flakes
  • black pepper
  • 1 onion, small diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1, 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • tons of Parmesan cheese (or Romano if you want to be more authentic)

Cook bacon in large skillet till brown and crispy.  When bacon is cooked, add red pepper flakes (a little pinch goes a longer way than you’d think) and black pepper, and stir quickly.  Add onion and cook for a couple of minutes.  Stir in garlic till you can smell that you added it.  Pour in diced tomatoes and their juices.  Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and let it bubble on the stove while you bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a couple tablespoons of salt to the boiling water, and add pasta.  Cook according to package directions.  Rather than draining, use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer pasta to skillet.  This will ensure you still have that great, starchy pasta water leftover.  Add about 1/2 C water to the sauce to thin it out a little.  Toss pasta and sauce, and if it still hasn’t thinned enough, add pasta water by the quarter-cupful until you get the consistency you’re looking for.  Drown your dinner with cheese, and serve immediately.

I Have Awful News [chicken noodle soup]

Dear readers, we’ve been together for a long time, and I hate that today is the day I have to break your hearts.

But I figured out another kitchen secret a while ago and I’ve felt like it’s all been a lie between us since I haven’t yet shared it.

chicken noodle soup

Eating less crap makes you feel really good.

Like, really.


I hate that it’s true.

In a bizarre twist of events I made it through 31 days of January having worked less than half of them.  And when I don’t work, I am a different person.  My hair is blow-dried, my nails are painted, my house is clean, my runs happen in daylight hours, and thus, are longer, my meals are planned, and my refrigerator runneth over with nothing but the healthiest of ingredients.  Oh, and, I’m also pleasant and fun to be around.

I guess what I’m saying is that yes, it takes time to cook and eat healthy.  A ton of time compared to throwing something from the Trader Joe’s freezer section.

And the worst part is it’s totally worth it.

Wooden Nickels shared this soup with me on a recent trip to the beach, and I recreated it in our kitchen the other night.  It took no time from start to finish, and it is darn healthy.  This is one of those no real recipe things, so knock yourselves out, and adjust as necessary.  My current goal is to eat at least one fruit and vegetable with each meal, so I was heavy on the veggies.  My husband shredded and added some leftover roast chicken to make the meal more substantial.

To make a big pot of chicken noodle soup:

Put a glug of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot, or Dutch oven.  Saute a chopped onion for a while, until it starts to brown.  Add salt and pepper.  Peel and chop a couple of carrots, and let those hang out with the onion for a little while.  Add 6 C chicken or vegetable stock (make it yourself to experience the difference between a regular weeknight dinner and an amazing homemade meal), or some combination of whatever stock you have leftover in the refrigerator and water.  Bring to a boil, and add 1 1/2 C small pasta, such as Farfalline or Stellette.  Cook 4 minutes.  Add a slew of freezer vegetables.  I added about 1 C green beans, 1 C corn, and 1 C peas.  Stir in shredded, cooked chicken at this point if you’re so inclined.  Keep boiling another 4 minutes.  Remove soup from heat and stir in 1/2 C pesto (again, homemade is a big flavor boost here).  Ladle soup out into bowls, and top with heaping amounts of Parmesan cheese.

Why Christmas was Awesome

I know that for a lot of you, Christmas ends on the 26th, and you’d like nothing better than my not mentioning it again until December, 2014.

Christmas Tree

Indulge me for a second.

This Christmas was awesome and I fear that if I don’t take the time right now, fresh out of it, to record what made it so, it will be lost for the ages.

home for Christmas

It wasn’t the kind of awesome where everything was perfectly decorated or someone unwrapped a puppy.  It was the kind of awesome that you get from a nice, low-key day, where the gifts are thoughtful, and the dinner isn’t just good, it’s easy.

peppermint stacks

Two Christmases ago, my husband and I were in Chile, and last year, we went to Rome.  I loved our trips, but after two years away, I vowed that this was a year for Christmas in America.

chocolate peppermint log

We did our usual routine of Christmas Eve with my in-laws, and an early morning shoot up 95 to my hometown.

icebox buche de noel

We arrived, open presents, hung out for a little, and then, per tradition, Sous Chef Lauren arrived to start cooking dinner with me.

Christmas Dinner

But there really wasn’t much to do in that department.

penne with five cheeses

With the exception of our annual Christmas latkes (oh hey, early days of this blog), everything was either prepped in advance, or simple to throw together.

Star of David cupcakes

Well, it helped that I wasn’t responsible for the main dish.

So here is what we had.  And though we ate these foods on Christmas dinner, nothing here is Christmas specific.  This would all work brilliantly for a dinner party, or other situation where you find yourself in need of recipes for an indulgent meal.


Thus, I bring you a simple Christmas dinner, 2013 style:


Smitten Kitchen’s Latkes – These are the best, and Sous Chef Lauren’s and my traditional Christmas fare.
Advance Prep: Not really possible with these guys.  But this is the only part of the menu that requires hands on time right before serving.

Smitten Kitchen’s Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms – I emailed Sous Chef Lauren with the parts of the menu I had cobbled together so far, and asked her to fill in the holes.  She knew that mushrooms were an integral part of this meal.  We never got as far as slicing bread to soak up the juices.  We dug right into these as-is.
Advance Prep: Get everything ready in the morning and just pop in the oven 20 minutes before you need them.


Grilled Marinated Flank Steak – Because I never need an excuse to ask for it for dinner.  The honey gives the meat this hint of sweetness that drives me over the edge.  This steak is the best.
Advance Prep:  Marinade this baby the night before, and hand it off to a loved one to grill for you about 20 minutes before dinner.

The Barefoot Contessa’s Penne with Five Cheeses – We had some vegetarians round our Christmas table this year, and they needed something of sustenance.  I remembered that I made this for Christmas Eve many moons ago (the power of making notes in the margins of my cookbooks) and it was darn good.  Of course, I forgot the penne back in DC and so I scrambled to make this work with the pasta we had in the pantry.  Testudo pasta for the win.
Advance Prep: Make the dish, the night before or the morning of, and bake it off when you need it.  If you’re taking it straight out of the fridge, put it in the oven while it preheats, so it warms up gradually.  If you take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature first, then you can just stick it in once the oven is preheated.  If you think of neither of those options in time, no worries, it just might need longer to bake.

Green Beans with Almonds – There’s no link for this one, dear readers.  Saute up some Trader Joe’s frozen green beans in some onions.  At the end of cooking, add a couple splashes of red wine vinegar and some toasted almonds.
Advance Prep: Get everything ready in the morning, cover, leave it on the stove.  When it’s time for dinner, uncover, and reheat over a medium to high flame.  If you do prepare the green beans in advance, hold off on adding the almonds until right before serving.

The Barefoot Contessa’s Brussels Sprouts with Bacon – Per Wooden Nickels’ request, because she heard they were the best around.
Advance Prep:  Get everything ready that morning and throw in the oven when you’re ready.


Skinnytaste’s Cranberry Bliss Bars – Cutting a 9 x 13 pan’s worth of bars in little triangles leaves you with more bars than you know what to do with.  So despite gifting these to my morning Starbucks team, I had plenty left for our Christmas table.
Advance Prep:  Make these a couple days in advance, wrap well with foil or plastic wrap, refrigerate, and place on the table when the time is right.

Star of David Cupcakes with the leftover chocolate frosting from this cake – Santa brought me these in my stocking last year, and Christmas seemed as good a time as any to break them out.  The box did come with frosting mix, but I had whipped up my father-in law’s birthday cake/Christmas Eve dessert that same night, and my husband suggested I use the remnants of the bowl for these as well.
Advance Prep:  Make these a couple days in advance, wrap well with foil or plastic wrap, refrigerate, and place on the table when the time is right.

Joy the Baker’s Chocolate Peppermint Icebox Yule Log Cake – And then I found out that Grandma Glass of Milk made an icebox cake right before my parents’ wedding.  And all was well.  It’s worth noting that the peppermint whipped cream that goes into the making of this cake is absolutely heavenly, and you will still have a bit left after stacking everything together, so I’d suggest having hot chocolate at the ready.
Advance Prep:  Joy’s cake needs some time in the freezer before it’s served.  This one is a must-make in advance, at least 24 hours before serving.  Then it needs 20 minutes out of the freezer before you’re ready to slice into it.  The perfect pause between dinner and dessert.

The Magic of TV

Someday, when we have more time, we’ll discuss the reason that one cannot turn off a favorite movie (most notably this, this, this, this two-part saga, and this) when it appears on TV, despite having the (commercial-free) DVD in one’s own closet.

twice baked potatoes

I watched almost all of these movies over Thanksgiving break, which brings me to my next point.  OMG TV.  I have always watched more TV than any one person should, but lately, my obsession is reaching new heights.  Or depths.  Call it like you see it.

In any given week, I don’t like to miss:

The Mindy Project

Modern Family


Carrie Diaries (don’t judge)

twice baked potatoes 2

And thanks to Netflix and some friends who let me borrow, I’m at various points of finished with:

Desperate Housewives

Breaking Bad

Cougar Town

How I Met Your Mother

Basically, I’m what’s wrong with America.  But sometimes, after a long day at work, you need to cozy up to the TV and unwind.  It’s about all I have the brain power for these days.  And nothing says cozy like a twice baked potato.  These can be done in any number of ways.  I was so excited to recreate Dash and Bella’s take on them, only to discover we had no prosciutto in the fridge.  Alas!  Another time.

The glorious thing about twice-baked potatoes is that once you know how to make them, and once you grow more comfortable in the kitchen, there’s nothing they can’t become with some substitutions.  I’ve included my notes, as always, but let your own preferences be your guide.

To make 5 twice-baked potatoes, you will need:

  • 3 russet potatoes (aka baking potatoes)
  • 1/4 C sour cream (But I used yogurt, and you could certainly use cream cheese as well.  You’re going for tanginess here.)
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • a couple tablespoons of herbs and/or seasonings (I only had thyme on this particular evening, but man do I love some chives in these.  Also, Old Bay.)
  • 1 C grated cheese (I had the remnants of a bag of Mexican blend, but cheddar is always a winner, as are Parmesan and Gruyere.)
  • slices of prosciutto, to stay true to the above-blogged recipe

Preheat your oven to 375.  Wash and dry the potatoes and place them in the oven for 90 minutes.

Remove them from the oven and let them cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Working carefully, as they’ll still be hot, slice potatoes in half, and scoop flesh from insides, leaving about 1/8 inch of potato goodness around the inside.  Transfer the potatoes to a bowl, and mix in sour cream, butter, salt, and almost all of the herb mixture.  Give things just a couple of turns, lest you overwork the potatoes.  They’re going back in the oven, so don’t worry if there are still pats of butter mixed in.  Ooooh, butter puddles.  I just got chills.

Toss your most dejected looking potato-half into the trash can.  Scoop potato mixture into remaining 5 halves, till each overflows with carby goodness.  Top with cheese, and prosciutto, if you, unlike me, keep it in your fridge at all times.  Bake another 10 minutes, sprinkle with herbs, and finish for 5 more minutes.  At this point, the cheese will be bubbling, and you’ll be at the end of your ability to resist what is staring back at you from the oven.

Eat these as soon as possible.

To make ahead, bake the potatoes, scoop out the flesh, mix in your mix-ins, and stop before topping with cheese.  Wrap potatoes tightly in foil, and freeze until you need them.  Bring them to room temperature before topping with cheese and baking as directed.

On Never Changing

My husband and I went back to our alma mater for homecoming in late October, and we happened to run into an old friend.


There’s a bond among people who lived in the same dorm their freshman year that is not easily broken.  Sure, we hadn’t seen our friend in ages, but we picked up right where we left off, and ended up catching up with her for quite some time.  It was a morning well-spent.  Especially because no matter the gathering, this particular friend is always the mom of the group.  She’s the one who has the tissues in her bag, or the Tide-to-Go pen.  And she always, always, always has more food than anyone could ever eat in one kind of sitting.  That’s my favorite kind of friend.

She was walking us through her tailgate selections, and when she started describing her salad, I started drooling.

barley bacon pomegranate salad

We got home from the game and had it on the table for dinner that night.

To make Lauren’s Pomegranate, Bacon, and Barley Salad for 4, you will need:

  • 3 T red onion, finely minced
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 C barley, cooked in 2 1/3 C water (place the barley and water, and a pinch of salt, in a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 45 minutes, until barley is cooked)
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked, and broken into pieces about an inch in length
  • 1/3 C chopped walnuts, toasted
  • arils of 1/2 a pomegranate
  • 4-5 C spinach leaves

Pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.  Add about 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper, each, and stir everything till combined.  Place onion in bowl and give everything another stir.  Set aside.  This step helps the onion lose a little of it’s crazy bite, so the flavor has some time to mellow out here.

Place barley in salad bowl.  Add bacon, walnuts, pomegranate arils, and spinach and give everything a nice toss.

Top with dressing, toss till combined.

Serve immediately.

(If making in advance, keep dressing separate and pour over right before serving.  A word that bacon never keeps its crispness much past a day, however.)