Mexican Chicken Lasagna

Sometimes a change from the classics is a good thing.  Variety is the spice of life, right?  I LOVE a good, classic, tomato-y lasagna!  Well this is an upgraded, creamy, flavorful chicken version of lasagna.  Low-cal it is not, but it is comfort food at its finest.  I used rotisserie chicken, so this goes together in a flash.  Everyone at the table will be asking for seconds of this one!   ~Kathy

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Preheat oven to 375˚.

In a bowl, season shredded chicken with cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper.  Stir in onion, green chilies, salsa verde and ¾ c. pepper jack cheese.  Combine well.

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In the bottom of a baking dish, spread a small amount of the chicken mixture.

Top with layer of lasagna noodles which have been pre-moistened with water (I just run them under a slightly running faucet).  Spread with another layer of the chicken mixture.  Spoon or pour Crema Mexicana over the entire layer, paying close attention not to skimp around the edges.  Drizzle about 1 ½ T. of chicken broth on each layer.  Top with a layer of shredded Mozzarella and pepper jack.

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Continue building casserole alternating between layers of dampened noodles, green chili-chicken mixture, Crema Mexicana, chicken broth and shredded cheeses.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking another 5-10 minutes until cheese on top has melted and the entire casserole is bubbling and hot.  Allow the casserole to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

 

Mexican Chicken Lasagna
    Ingredients
  • 3 c. cooked, shredded chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 ½ c. shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
  • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (15 oz.) container Cacique Crema Mexicana (table cream)
  • 2 (7 oz.) cans fire roasted diced green chilies
  • 1 c. green taco sauce (or salsa verde)
  • 1/3 c. finely diced onion
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ c. chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 to 16 no-boil lasagna noodles (also called oven ready)
  1. Preheat oven to 375˚.
  2. In a bowl, season shredded chicken with cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in onion, green chilies, salsa verde and ¾ c. pepper jack cheese. Combine well.
  3. In the bottom of a baking dish, spread a small amount of the chicken mixture.
  4. Top with layer of lasagna noodles which have been pre-moistened with water (I just run them under a slightly running faucet).
  5. Spread with another layer of the chicken mixture.
  6. Spoon or pour Crema Mexicana over the entire layer, paying close attention not to skimp around the edges.
  7. Drizzle about 1 ½ T. of chicken broth on each layer.
  8. Top with a layer of shredded Mozzarella and pepper jack.
  9. Continue building casserole alternating between layers of dampened noodles, green chili-chicken mixture, Crema Mexicana, chicken broth and shredded cheeses.
  10. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes.
  11. Remove the foil and continue baking another 5-10 minutes until cheese on top has melted and the entire casserole is bubbling and hot.
  12. Allow the casserole to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.
https://foursistersdish.com/2018/05/03/mexican-chicken-lasagna/

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Italian Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf

This recipe came to me in church cookbook from a small town in western Oklahoma. I’ve adapted the recipe over the years but the original is from Rita from Fairview. I don’t know Rita but I am grateful to her for this recipe. Church cookbooks are the best, aren’t they? I’m always looking for new ones to add to my collection. They are always full of tried and true family recipes and time tested pot-luck favorites. I go through them page by page, flagging recipes I want to try with sticky-notes. This is one of those recipes I’ve had flagged for a long time. I keep coming back to it, making notes in the margins when I make it. It’s a good one, this meatloaf. Picture a giant stuffed Italian meatball. I serve it over spaghetti because, of course you have to have spaghetti with a giant cheesy meatball. Italian dinner perfection! ~Erin

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Making this Italian Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf is so much faster and easier than making a million little meatballs, but you get similar results (only cheesier). Start by preheating the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl combine ground beef, onion, egg, 1 T. Italian seasoning, garlic, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, and 1/3 cup of tomato sauce (reserve the remainder); mix until well combined.

Mix breadcrumbs into meat mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.

Turn the meat mixture out onto plastic wrap or wax paper. Pat into a large rectangle. (Please excuse the blurry photo… my 11-year-old took it. 🙂 )

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Sprinkle the meat evenly with both cheeses. (Keeping it real with my cooking mess in the background.)

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Begin to roll the meat by pulling the plastic wrap up and toward you. Continue forming into a roll and tuck the ends under.

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Transfer the roll to a large baking dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together 1 can plus what’s left of the other can of tomato sauce, ½ T. garlic powder, ½ T. Italian seasoning, 1 tsp. onion powder, ¼ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper.

Pour tomato sauce mixture over meatloaf.

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Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 1 hour.

Serve over spaghetti, if desired.

Italian Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf
    Ingredients:
  • ~ 1 ½ lb. 96% lean ground beef
  • ~ 1 small onion or ½ a large onion, finely diced
  • ~ 1 egg, beaten
  • ~ 1 ½ T. Italian seasoning, divided
  • ~ 1 T. minced fresh garlic
  • ~ ½ tsp. salt, divided
  • ~ ½ tsp. black pepper, divided
  • ~ 2 cans (15 oz. each) tomato sauce, divided
  • ~ 1 c. garlic & herb seasoned bread crumbs (I use Progresso.)
  • ~ ½ T. garlic powder
  • ~ 1 tsp. onion powder
  • ~ 1 ½ c. low-moisture part-skim shredded Mozzarella
  • ~ ½ c. shredded (not grated) parmesan cheese
  • ~ fresh chopped basil, for garnish (optional)
  • ~ cooked spaghetti noodles, for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl combine ground beef, onion, egg, 1 T. Italian seasoning, garlic, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, and 1/3 cup of tomato sauce (reserve the remainder); mix until well combined.
  3. Mix breadcrumbs into meat mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Turn the meat mixture out onto plastic wrap or wax paper. Pat into a large rectangle.
  5. Sprinkle the meat evenly with both cheeses.
  6. Begin to roll the meat by pulling the plastic wrap up and toward you. Continue forming into a roll and tuck the ends under.
  7. Transfer the roll to a large baking dish; set aside.
  8. In a medium bowl, mix together 1 can plus what’s left of the other can of tomato sauce, ½ T. garlic powder, ½ T. Italian seasoning, 1 tsp. onion powder, ¼ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper.
  9. Pour tomato sauce mixture over meatloaf.
  10. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 1 hour.
  11. Serve over spaghetti, if desired.

Weight Watchers info.: This recipe makes 8 slices at 6 Freestyle SmartPoints each. Don’t forget to add extra points if you serve over spaghetti.

https://foursistersdish.com/2018/05/01/italian-cheese-stuffed-meatloaf/

Jalapeno Popper Chicken Salad

My goodness it’s a busy time of year. All four of us sisters have been lamenting about the vast amounts of things that need checked off our daily to-do lists. Kids’ baseball games and other activities to shuttle them to, meetings & special trainings and deadlines at work, and various other responsibilities have got us run ragged and longing for one of our girls’ weekends.

Busy times like this call for meal prep. If I can find time to prep a few things to keep on-hand, we usually avoid the fast food drive thru. Last weekend I took the time to boil some chicken to use in various dishes this week. Having cooked chicken in the fridge or freezer is a major time saver on busy weeks… same for bacon (and ground beef). I like to cook up several pounds of bacon, freeze it in a single layer on a cookie sheet (so it won’t stick together), then transfer it to a freezer baggie. A few seconds in the microwave thaws it right out. Bonus: pre-cooking your own bacon is much cheaper than buying the pre-cooked kind at the grocery store.

Since I (almost) always have boiled shredded chicken and cooked bacon in the fridge or freezer, it takes no time to throw this Jalapeno Popper Chicken Salad together for lunch or a quick, no-bake dinner. I serve it on a low carb wrap with some fresh baby spinach. Quick, easy, and so much better than a cold cut sandwich! ~Erin

Here’s the Reader’s Digest Version of how to make it:

Chop up 2 jalapenos. This is how I cut them. Cut out the ribs & veins if you don’t like the heat. Leave some of the ribs if you like a little spice!

Salt & pepper the shredded chicken a bit (you can add more later if needed).

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Throw in some Greek yogurt, mayo, lime juice, and a little jarred jalapeno pickling brine if you’re so inclined. Stir it up! Then stir in the bacon and fresh jalapeno pieces.

Lastly, stir in the cheese. I do this last so I don’t totally obliterate the shreds but I don’t know if it really matters. It just makes me feel better to be gentle with the cheese. Ha!

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Ready to serve! I like mine on a wrap with some baby spinach. It’s good on some toasted bread too or just served on a plate with some Ritz crackers. Enjoy!

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Jalapeno Popper Chicken Salad
    Ingredients:
  • ~ 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 12 ounces cooked & shredded)
  • ~ 2 fresh jalapenos
  • ~ ¼ c. plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • ~ ¼ c. light mayonnaise
  • ~ 6 slices center cut bacon, cooked crisp & crumbled
  • ~ Juice of one lime
  • ~ 1 T. brine from a jar of pickled jalapenos, optional
  • ~ ½ cup fat free shredded cheddar cheese
  • ~ Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Boil & shred the chicken; set aside.
  2. Cut the tops off the jalapenos, slice, remove seeds and ribs (That’s where the heat is…leave some of the ribs if you like spicy.) and finely dice.
  3. Mix chopped jalapenos, shredded chicken, yogurt, mayo, bacon pieces, lime juice, pickled jalapeno brine, and cheddar cheese in a medium bowl.
  4. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
  5. Serve on toast, in a wrap with fresh baby spinach, or with Ritz Crackers.

Weight Watchers Info: This makes 4 servings of ½ cup each. Each serving is 3 Freestyle SmartPoints.

https://foursistersdish.com/2018/04/19/jalapeno-popper-chicken-salad/

Thai Chicken Pizza

My family loves pizza. What’s not to love?  But I get tired of the same, run-of-the-mill basics.  They are good, but come on.   I’ve got to have some variety, y’all!

When I was going to college, there was a little, local restaurant in Stillwater called the Thai Cafe, which I loved.  I miss it!  Now, I have to travel quite a ways to get Thai food.  So I came up with this jazzed up, easy to make, tasty pizza, combining some of my favorite flavors.

It is our new favorite!   ~Kathy

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Ingredients:

1 pizza crust (your favorite recipe or refrigerated — I used Pillsbury thin crust refrigerated dough; points figured with this dough selection)

3 to 4 T. Chili Garlic Sauce*

1 heaping c. chicken breast, cooked and sliced thin**

1 medium red bell pepper, sliced thin, seeds removed

1 small zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick

Red onion, sliced thin (about 2 slices)

1 ½ c. shredded low moisture, part skim mozzarella cheese

½ c. shredded mild cheddar cheese (reduced fat, if following WW)

2 T. cilantro (for optional garnish)

Instructions:

On a lightly greased baking sheet, roll pizza crust out into a rectangle, about 10 x 14 inches.

Spread sauce over crust, very thinly.

Spread remaining ingredients over pizza as desired, ending with cheeses.

Bake according to crust directions, until golden brown, cooked through and cheese is melted.

Garnish by sprinkling with cilantro once it’s cooled a little (optional).

 

Notes:

*Chili garlic sauce is found in the Asian food section (see photo).  It is full of flavor and some heat.  Use 3 Tablespoons if you like it mild/warm.   If you want it warmer, use up to 4 Tablespoons.  It doesn’t look like much on the crust, but it gives plenty of flavor!

**I used chicken breasts boiled with some onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Once drained and cooled, slice thin.   Rotisserie chicken breast would also be a good substitute.

Weight Watchers Info:  This makes 6 servings, 8 Freestyle SmartPoints per serving.

Pizza Pot Pies

I very rarely sit down and watch a TV show.  About the only time I watch a show, in its entirety, is when I’m on the treadmill.  My favorite channel?  Food Network.  I am aware that it’s odd to watch cooking shows while exercising but I love them.  Not long ago, I watching a show where chefs recall their favorite dishes they’ve ever eaten.  This particular episode featured a restaurant that served pizza pot pies.  Ooey, gooey cheese, meat, and veggies, all covered with a warm crust… I knew I had to recreate it for myself.

These pizza pot pies are a fun variation on regular pizza.  There’s just something about getting your own little dish to yourself that you can turn upside down.  Seeing the melty cheese stretch as the filling piles high on top of the soft crust is about as much fun as dinner gets. YUMMY!  ͂ Erin

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Ingredients:

1 c. self-rising flour

1 c. non-fat plain Greek yogurt

½ lb. mild turkey breakfast sausage, browned & drained

1 medium bell peppers, diced

½ medium onion, diced

4 oz. baby portabella mushrooms, diced

2 oz. turkey pepperoni, chopped

2 oz. fully cooked Canadian bacon, chopped

1 1/3 c. low-moisture part-skim mozzarella, divided

2 cloves minced garlic

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. oregano

½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. sugar

Non-stick cooking spray

1 egg, beaten

Italian seasoning, optional

Instructions:

To make the crust, mix the Greek yogurt and the self-rising flour in the bowl of your stand mixer for a couple minutes on low until well mixed.  I used my paddle attachment.  You can also mix it by hand.  Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface (flour your hands too) and knead it a few times.  Set aside while you prepare the filling.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Spray 4 6-ounce ramekins inside and out and place them on a sheet pan.  (If you don’t have ramekins, see note below.)  Fill each ramekin with 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese.  Set aside.

Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray; sauté veggies over medium heat until crisp-tender.

Add cooked sausage, chopped pepperoni, chopped Canadian bacon, minced garlic, tomato sauce, garlic salt, basil, onion powder, oregano, paprika, black pepper, and sugar.  Simmer on low about 5 minutes.

Disperse meat filling evenly on top of cheese in the ramekins.

Divide dough into 4 equal pieces and pat into discs.

Top each ramekin with a piece of dough, stretching over the sides a bit.

Brush the dough with egg and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, if desired.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Using an oven mitt, turn out on your plate for serving. Careful, it might be slippery!

*This can easily be made in an 8×8 casserole dish, layered in opposite order:  crust on the bottom, filling, then cheese on top.

 

Weight Watchers info:  Each serving (one full ramekin) is 10 SmartPoints.  Makes 4 servings.

Without the dough, each serving is 7 SmartPoints.  I wanted you to have this information in case you want to substitute a pre-packaged refrigerated pizza dough.  I understand that sometimes we don’t all have time to mix up our own pizza dough!

Pizza Dip

Any time I make this dish, I get numerous requests for the recipe.  It is a true crowd pleaser. What could be better? Pizza, but in a dip! Make this and please the folks at your next get together.  ~Kathy

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Ingredients: 

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

¼ tsp. onion powder

12 – 15 pepperonis, chopped

½ c. pizza sauce

1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

2 T. sliced black olives

1 green onion, sliced

Instructions:

Combine first four ingredients in a small bowl. Spread into a small baking dish. Top with chopped pepperonis, pizza sauce, cheese and black olives.

Bake at 350˚ for 15-20 minutes, until heated through and bubbly around the edges. Top with green onions.

Serve with garlic bagel crisps or garlic parmesan pretzel crisps.

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Italian Stuffed Shells

This recipe is a hit at our house.  My husband says it’s better than lasagna (one of our favorites)! These are great for dinner at home or would be a crowd pleaser at a pot luck.  Truly, Italian comfort food.  With simple ingredients, you can crank out an impressive dinner for your family. Serve alongside a green salad, and ta-da, dinner is complete!  The mix of cheese….  Come to Mama!   ~Kathy

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Ingredients:              

12 oz. Jumbo pasta shells (make plenty – some will break; you need about 34 for this recipe)

½ lb. 96% lean ground beef

1/3 c. chopped onion

1 c. shredded parmesan cheese (not the powdered type)

1 c. (1% fat) cottage cheese

1 (7.5 oz.) package cream cheese with chive and onion

2 c. low moisture part-skim mozzarella, shredded (reserve ¾ c.)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)

¼ tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp pepper

2 tsp dried parsley

1 (24 oz.) jar reduced fat spaghetti sauce

3 T. water

Optional garnishes:  fresh chopped basil or parsley

Instructions:

In large pot, bring salted water to a boil.   Cook pasta just until al dente (about 10 minutes).  Drain, rinse in cold water and turn open side down on paper towels to dry.

While the noodles are cooking, cook ground beef with onion.  Season with salt and pepper.   Drain grease and set aside.

Combine parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese and 1¼ c. mozzarella.   Stir in eggs, garlic, Italian seasoning, pepper and parsley.  Stir in ground beef mixture.  Combine well.

In a small bowl, mix together water and ¼ c. spaghetti sauce.   Spread into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.

Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of cheese mixture.  Set into pan open side up.  Continue filling shells until cheese mixture is gone.   Top with remaining sauce.

Cover loosely with foil and bake in a preheated 375˚ oven for 40 minutes.   Turn oven off, remove foil.  Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.  Leave in oven for an additional 5 minutes.   Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Top with fresh chopped parsley or basil if desired.

 

Weight Watchers Info.:  This makes approximately 34 stuffed shells.  A serving of 2 shells is 7 Freestyle points.  A serving of 3 shells is 11 Freestyle points.

Real Deal Macaroni and Cheese

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Growing up, macaroni and cheese was oftentimes made from a box.  Our Mom, who is a fabulous cook herself, had four daughters within eight years (can we have a moment of silence thanking the Lord that she maintained her sanity?).  So let’s face it….there had to be some shortcuts made somewhere.  Now that the processed food fad of the 70s and 80s has faded, homemade macaroni and cheese is all the rage.  I mean, you can get it on your burger in some restaurants.  If you are a connoisseur of amazing cheesiness as we are, and ready to take steps away from the box  (oh, please do), this is the recipe you need to try! ~ Tracy

3 c. uncooked elbow macaroni

6 T. butter

6 T. all-purpose flour

3 c. milk

1 ½ t. salt

1 ½ t. sugar

1 lb. cubed Velveeta

2/3 c. sour cream

1 1/3 c. cottage cheese

2 ½ c. shredded cheddar cheese

1 ½ c. shredded Swiss cheese (you can tear up slices if you can’t find shredded Swiss)

15 Ritz Crackers

¼ stick butter, melted

Cook & drain macaroni according to package directions.

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  When butter is melted, stir in flour and mix well (the mixture will form a buttery paste).  Add milk and cook until the mixture begins to thicken.  Add salt, sugar, and cubed Velveeta.  Stir until Velveeta is melted.  Remove from heat and immediately add sour cream and cottage cheese, stirring well until blended.

In a large bowl, combine cooked macaroni noodles, cheddar cheese, and Swiss cheese.  Pour the hot creamy mixture over the macaroni and stir well until cheeses are melted and combined.

Pour the entire mixture into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Crush Ritz crackers and pour into a bowl.  Combine crushed crackers with melted butter and stir to coat well.  Sprinkle the crackers over the macaroni.

Bake at 340 for 45 – 50 minutes.  If crackers begin to become too brown, cover the top with a loose piece of aluminum foil and finish baking.

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

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I love stuffed peppers. Stuffing anything in a pepper just automatically makes it better. These Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers are easy, cheesy, and meaty. They are best grilled but great out of the oven too.

͂ Erin

 

Ingredients:

6 oz. fresh, sliced mushrooms

8 oz. thinly sliced roast beef, chopped into small pieces

8 oz. (8 slices) provolone

1 medium onion, diced

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. olive oil

2 large bell peppers

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 T. steak seasoning

 

Instructions:

Cut the peppers in half from top to bottom; remove seeds and veins and place pepper halves in a pan. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook onions, garlic, and mushrooms until onions are translucent and mushrooms are tender. Add roast beef, Worcestershire, and steak seasoning; cook until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the outdoor grill to medium heat or the oven to 400°F.  Line each pepper half with a slice of cheese.  Stuff the peppers with filling and top with another slice of cheese.  If cooking on the grill, place the peppers directly on the rack and cook until the peppers are tender and cheese is melted.  If cooking in the oven, place the pan of peppers on the lower rack and cook about 30 minutes or until peppers are tender and cheese is melted.

Weight Watchers info.:  Each stuffed pepper half is 10 SmartPoints.  This recipe makes 4 servings.

Italian Tortellini Salad

I invented this on a Sunday night when I felt like something new. I love the Italian chopped salad at McAlister’s Deli, so I was thinking about that as I started, but I like how it ended up even better if I do say so myself. Its distinctive flavors still go together well. It makes a HUGE amount, so I quickly realized I’d need to share and took most of it to work the next day. I was pleased to find I didn’t even have to try to find a spot in the fridge for it again when I went to put it away at the end of lunchtime since it had all vanished – yay!

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The best part about this recipe, as I face down a 99 degree afternoon, is that it requires no cooking except quickly boiling the tortellini, and it’s served at a nice chilly temp.  This is filling enough to be your dinner or a hearty side or appetizer.  ~Robin 

Ingredients:

Buitoni three-cheese tortellini, 1 20 oz. bag

2 medium cucumbers, chopped

½ red onion, diced or thinly sliced (about a cup, sliced)

2 c. of tiny tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size (I love Sunset’s Wild Wonders Gourmet Medley for their variety of colors, but you can snag any grape or cherry tomato variety as well)  

1 c. sliced Kalamata olives (could use green olives too, but I love Kalamata olives)

About 4 c. of baby spinach (stems removed)

2 c. hard salami, cubed into ½ in. chunks (about 10 oz. by weight)*

2 c. provolone cheese, cubed into ½ in. chunks (about 10 oz. by weight)

1 c. Ott’s creamy Italian dressing

Black pepper, fresh cracked, to taste (optional)

Directions:  

Prepare one package of tortellini according to package instructions, except do not add any olive oil – it would make it harder for the dressing to stick to the pasta later.  Drain very well and set aside to dry further and cool.  

Once pasta is cool enough and well-drained, add all other ingredients except tomatoes, black pepper, dressing, and olives; then mix. Add tomatoes, olives, pepper (if desired), and dressing, gently tossing until mixed well and salad is coated with dressing throughout. Chill & serve.  

*My deli counter sliced the salami and cheese into ½ inch thick slices so I was able to simply chop it into cubes from there…big time saver!  This salami from the deli is SO much better than the lunch meat slices you may have been tortured with by a well-meaning relative as a child. I thought I didn’t like salami all my life, but it turned out I just hadn’t had the right salami.  Give salami a chance! Unless you’re one of our vegetarian friends, in which case you can save a couple bucks instead.  🙂