Category Archives: simple recipe series

Sweet Potato and Feta Salad

Just thought I would share a perfect summer salad.  I thought I invented it but alas, found similar recipes on the internet.  Mine was simpler and only had these ingredients:

  1. Roasted sweet potatoes — so easy to make, I just drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil, then bake at 375 (?) for about 40 minutes or until tender. 
  2. Feta
  3. Salad — I used a mixed bag of organic greens
  4. Black pepper
  5. Olive oil
  6. Salt

Here’s the genesis of the recipe: My youngest suddenly decided that he hated  sweet potatoes, after I had already roasted a large batch.  I sliced a few and ate them with a drizzle of olive oil and salt.  Then I decide to get more creative.  I sliced the rest of the potatoes and added it to the salad, crumbling feta on top.  For the dressing, I simply used extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.  I had a feeling the salty feta would complement the sweetness of the potatoes and I was so right.  Kid — you don’t know what you’re missing!

Simple Recipe #22: Teriyaki Salmon Skewers with Sesame

As usual, I didn’t really see my husband make the dish but here’s my attempt to pass on a very healthy and good recipe:


Salmon Steak (or Salmon Fillet)


Soy Sauce


Olive Oil

Salt, Pepper

Sesame Seeds

I know that he coated the salmon steak with a combination of mequiste honey, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar and olive oil.  These were cut into thick cubes and put on skewers and broiled in our convection oven for about 15 minutes or so (until fully cooked).  He also added sesame seeds at one point, before or after cooking I’m not sure.  The end result was really amazing, so much that he plans to do the marinade again with chicken or fish.  The meal was completed with a side of mixed green salad with olive oil / salt as dressing. 

I hope to upload a photo or update the recipe with more details soon.  If not, try for yourself and see how easy it is to make a healthy, delicious and simple fish recipe.

By the way, does anyone know if salmon is considered a sustainable fish? Mark Bittman at the New York times had a very informative article about buying sustainable seafood with several recipes that’s worth checking out.  I have no idea if access to this article will be restricted when New York Times begins digital subscriptions so I’ll sum up Bittman’s findings:  If you buy fish at Target, Whole Foods or Wegmans, you’ll know the fish are “sustainable” , i.e. fish that are not being overfished to the point of extinction. However, I’m not sure if the term also includes environmentally friendly fishing or fish-farming practices.

Simple Recipe #21: Bell Pepper And Onion Frittata

You know a recipe qualifies as simple when you can throw this together while still dressed in work clothes after a long day in the office.

My husband and I were both tired. We had dinner but nothing that I could bring for lunch.  So I quickly sautéd a sliced yellow onion and  sliced red bell peppers in a skillet (yellow onions first, let it sweat a bit, then add bell peppers, using extra virgin olive oil of course, salt and fajita seasoning to taste).  In the meantime, I cracked 4 eggs, added Cotija cheese and fresh black pepper, and whipped it until everything was mixed well.  When the onions and bell peppers were cooked, I added in the mixture and let it sit for a few minutes (until the bottom should be cooked).  While the top was still a bit runny, I put it in the oven on Broil to cook the top.

That was it! In about 30 minutes, I was done and had two slices of frittata for lunch (heated for 45 seconds in the microwave).

Simple Recipe #20: An Italian Version Of Caldo De Res (Mexican Beef Soup)

Making soup from scratch sounds intimidating but you’ll be surprised by the simplicity of this recipe.   Caldo de Res is a hearty Mexican beef and vegetable soup.  We didn’t look up the recipe so my husband put an Italian spin to it by adding red wine, olive oil and peperoncino to the broth.

All you need is:

Beef Shanks ( 4 -5 pieces or 1 pound)

Russet Potatoes (cubed)


Cabbage (1/2 a head)

White corn ( whole, cut in halves; optional but I highly recommend it)

Yellow zucchini (very optional)


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Peperoncino (I think the standard recipe calls for cumin?)

Red Wine

And all you have to do is:

1 ) Season the beef shank with salt and pepper. In a large pot, add olive oil and sauté the beef shank on both sides.  Add enough water to fill about half the pot.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Add potatoes, carrots, corn and cabbage.  Cover with lid and let simmer for another hour.

2 ) Remove lid, stir, and simmer for another hour with lid off.  We added zucchini at this later stage because it doesn’t require much cooking.  You can also add cabbage at this point if you prefer.  Just before eating, add chopped cilantro.

Tip:  To make this dish last, on the 2nd or 3rd night, add arborio rice and/or Spanish beans to the pot and simmer some more.  These additions make the soup more filling and tricks those who hate leftovers into thinking that it’s a new dish altogether. We also grated parmigiano on top for an even more Italian spin.

Simple Recipe #19: Broccoli And Tuna Pasta Salad

In my simple recipe series, I included pasta salad in a short post with two other salads.  However, this dish is so easy and perfect for workday lunches that I thought it deserved its own post.  I even made it healthier by using whole wheat pasta this time.  The portions are quite large because I wanted to make enough for two lunches.  Enjoy!


Whole wheat pasta (barilla, 1 1/2 cup)

Broccoli (3 – 4 florets)

Tuna (1 canned, packed in olive oil)

Red onion (less than 1/2)


Black pepper

Extra virgin Olive oil

Cayenne pepper

Garlic powder


1 ) Steam the broccoli.  (It’s done when you can pierce it with a fork with a little effort but not too easily  — don’t let it get too mushy!)

2 ) Cut the broccoli into smaller pieces and mix into a large bowl with tuna and chopped red onions. Drizzle more olive oil. Add salt and black pepper. Add a dash of cayenne and garlic powder. Mix all ingredients well.

3 ) Cook whole wheat pasta according to direction.  Drain and rinse in colander.  Note: Wheat pasta is very hardy so be sure to taste before draining. I like to cook it a little longer than package instructions.

4 ) Mix the pasta into the large bowl.  Add more olive oil if necessary, salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic powder to taste.  The cayenne is just to add some spice to the recipe and purely optional.

Simple Recipe # 18: Arugula with Tuna And Avocado Salad

Since many people resolve to eat healthier in the New Year, I thought I’d share this quick and healthy salad.   I don’t know the calorie count but tuna is a great source for protein while avocadoes and olive oil are “good” fats.  Plus, It’s a good option for lunch at work if you pack the salad dressing ingredients on the side.   I was told by a few transplants that avocado is a California thing?  It lends the dish a nice, creamy texture so I would urge you to try it even if you’re not a fan.   



Canned Tuna packed in olive oil (1)

Avocado (1)

Cherry Tomatoes

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar



1 ) Wash the arugula and rinse the cherry tomatoes.  Slice the tomatoes in halves.  Put in a large salad bowl. 

2 ) Add in 1 can of tuna. Use the best that you can find.

3 ) Slice in avocado.

4 ) Add in extra virgin olive oil, salt, and a dash of balsamic vinegar.  Toss well.

Simple Recipe #15, #16 and #17: Pasta Without Red Sauce

Three of my favorite simple pasta dishes do not require red sauce (or cream sauce).  These are easy to make and perfect for weekday nights.  As with all recipes with few ingredients, quality is key.  I urge you to buy good pasta like Barilla or De Cecco at the very least, good extra virgin olive oil, and a chunk of Italian Parmigano-Reggiano that you grate on top (none of that pre-grated stuff).

1 ) Pasta with tuna

Cook pasta according to directions.  This works well with spaghetti or penne.  Once the pasta is done al dente, drain and then toss in a pan.  Add in a can of tuna packed in olive oil and add more olive oil.  Add in a can of tuna packed in olive oil.  Mix well.  Grate fresh black pepper on top.  Serve.  Have fresh parmigano on hand so each person can grate on top of their own plate.  Optional: If you want to mix it up, you can also saute yellow or brown onions while the pasta is cooking and mix it in when you add the tuna.  We usually use a brand called “As do Mar” from Portugal and distributed by an Italian company.  It’s a high-quality product but expensive so don’t use it for regular tuna sandwiches.

Linguine cacio pepe with pancetta

Above: Linguine cacio pepe con pancetta

2 ) Cacio e Pepe (or pasta with pecorino and black pepper)

Sounds too simple, right?  All you need is pasta, fresh black pepper, extra virgin olive oil, salt and a good pecorino cheese.  Like parmigiano, pecorino is a hard, salty Italian cheese, suitable primarily for grating.  It has a distinct flavor that is different from parmigano.

3 ) Pasta aglio, olio e peperoncino (pasta with garlic, oil, and peperoncino)

Cook pasta according to directions.  While the pasta is cooking, slice a clove of garlic and saute with olive oil until the garlic is yellow/brown.  (Important:  Watch the garlic because overcooking garlic will make it bitter.)  Add in the chopped peperoncino.  We have a few different hot dried chili peppers on hand but I do prefer ones from Italy.  You can use one peperoncino unless you like it hotter. 

When the pasta is ready, pour it in the saucepan with the hot oil and saute it for about one minute to coat it with the oil.  That’s it!  Parmigiano is optional.