Tag Archives: red wine vinaigrette

Wheat Berry Salad and a walk along Bear Creek

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wheat Berry Salad with Kalamata Olives and Feta Cheese

I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  All my resolutions such as losing weight and exercising more, historically have been destined for defeat.  So, since I despise failure, I don’t do resolutions anymore.  Nope, none, nada…  I look at it this way.  I make New Year’s expectations. Expectations for me are doable and achievable.  This year I expect to take smaller steps to improving my life and health.  I’m certainly not a perfect person but when I expect something out of myself, I do it.

One of the first things that Bruce and I did for the New Year was to take a long walk along Bear Creek here in the Rogue Valley.  Bear Creek is home to many species of birds, aquatic mammals and fish.  During the spring and fall months you may see large salmon or steelhead swimming up the creek on their way to their spawning grounds.  In the winter, the water in the creek is too turbid from the rain and snow to see much at all.  However, it is a great time to go birding.  So, I grabbed my camera and out the door we went.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A great egret hunting for fish in the marshy area near the creek.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A pair of mallard ducks on a log.  This is my favorite picture of the day.  The brightly colored drake is on the left and the plain colored hen is on the right.  It won’t be long before they start nesting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A closeup of a drake Mallard duck.  Notice the beautiful blue wing bar and bright orange legs?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When we got back home from our walk along the creek, I decided to make a bright and flavorful Wheat Berry Salad.  My Wheat Berry Salad is simple to make and tastes delicious! It’s made with tasty little wheat berries, red bell pepper, Kalamata olives, green onions, parsley, feta cheese and my favorite red wine vinaigrette.  In just a matter of hours, I’m already living up to my expectations.  A lovely walk and a healthful salad.  That was easy.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  •  3 cups cooked wheat berries (1 cup dried = 3 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup red bell (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (click on link for recipe)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives (pitted and chopped)
  • 1/4 cup green onions (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  •  4-  6 cups lettuce, watercress or your favorite leafy greens

Mix all ingredients (except lettuce or watercress) in a medium sized bowl adding the feta cheese last…  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Chill and serve on a bed of lettuce, watercress or other leafy greens.  Garnish with additional feta crumbles and chopped parsley.  Makes 6 servings.

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

My two favorite days of the week are Saturdays and Sundays.  I cherish my weekends.  This morning I made Pasta Salad with fresh herbs from my garden and by early afternoon I was out enjoying the warm spring weather in my yard. I saw some beautiful flowers out my kitchen window so I grabbed my camera as I was heading out the door… Weeds were pulled, plants watered and organic fertilizer was spread around my vegetable garden.

While I was working, I would stop and snap an occasional picture of whatever caught my eye.

Bees were busy pollinating my cherry tree that is now beginning to bloom.  Do you see all the specks of pollen on the honey bee?

My rosemary bush is blooming too!  The little blue flowers are lovely and the plant is amazingly fragrant.

Grape Hyacinths are little perennial bulbs that are only a few inches tall.  I had to get down on my stomach to get this shot.  I did not mind getting a bit dirty for I think this photo was totally worth it…

A few of our koi fish were swimming by the edge of our pond.  The weather is now warm enough to start feeding them again.  The koi are now eight years old and up to about a foot and a half long.  My friends tease me and tell me that they are finally sushi grade.  It’s hard for me to imagine that for I believe each of my fish has its own personality.  Not to mention, when they see me step out the back door, the koi swim to the edge of the pond, mouths open and begging for a handful of food.

Back to the Pasta Salad….  My Pasta Salad is an easy to make dish that is perfect to serve at a backyard barbeque with chicken and ribs.  It’s made with a variety of organic pastas, my red wine vinaigrette, fresh cherry tomatoes, salty little capers, black olives and fresh parsley.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese if you like.  The recipe can be doubled or even tripled.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mixed dried pasta (such as shells, bow ties and spirals)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/2 cup slice black olives
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs capers
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs for garnish

Begin by cooking pasta in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes or al dente.  Don’t overcook.  Drain and rinse pasta in cold water.  In a medium size bowl add all ingredients except for the garnish, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.  When ready to serve, mix well, taste the pasta and add more red wine vinaigrette if desired.  Add salt and pepper if necessary.  Garnish with fresh herbs or Parmesan cheese.  Makes about 4 servings.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

Red Wine Vinaigrette

I love spring.  It’s without a doubt my favorite time of year.  By the time April rolls around I’m tired of preparing stews and soups for dinner and I am so ready for backyard barbeques and fresh picked produce.  This time of the year I am starting to find fresh local lettuce, spinach and chard in our farmers markets.  The perennial herbs like mint, chives and tarragon are also available.  In just a few short months we will be dealing with the onslaught of fresh zucchini, corn, tomatoes and beans.  I can’t even wait.  Store bought tomatoes can be so disappointing…

Miniature narcissus and spearmint from my garden.

It has been a few weeks since I planted my little pocket garden and I found that I have lettuce that needs to be thinned and picked.  The heads are not quite mature but I have learned that if I steal a few leaves from each plant when I want to make salad, nobody (not even the plants) seems to notice.  Today when I got home from work I made a beautiful green salad drizzled with my Red Wine Vinaigrette.  My Red Wine Vinaigrette tastes great on a pasta or red quinoa salad.  It’s made with kalamata olive oil, sweet basil, garlic, red wine vinegar and a few other ingredients.  It’s quick and easy and you will not want to buy store bought vinaigrette ever again.  Makes about 1 cup.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup kalamata olive oil (substitute olive oil if you want)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp dried sweet basil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until well blended.  Store in tightly covered container in the refrigerator.  Keeps about 1 week.  Makes about 1 cup.