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Mexi Pasta Salad

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I am always on the hunt for a good summer cookout side.  There are only so many times a person can make a great Potato Salad before you feel like you have potato salad coming out your ears!  I have always enjoyed a good pasta salad though.  So, I made it my mission this summer to perfect a great pasta salad and by golly, I think I got it… In fact, I know I got it.

This pasta salad is something different, out of the box and packed with fresh ingredients and delicious flavors all marrying to become one heck of a side dish.  I served it at a cookout just yesterday along-side some BBQ chicken and grilled Montreal Steak.  But, I can totally see it with some Southwest Turkey Burgers or even just topped with some fresh avocado and Grilled Shrimp or chicken.

The trick is not to gobble it all up before you get it to the party!  I call it “Mexi Pasta Salad” because although I am pretty sure there isn’t an Abuela in Mexico throwing this together, it gives a good solid nod to the flavors of Mexico. With all your basic taco toppings thrown in and some cumin to spice things up, this salad is not your run of the mill deli get.

Add salt to a good size pot… a pot larger than you think you need for the pasta if possible.

Campanelle Pasta is what I am using today, you can really use any type of pasta for this.

Be sure to stir the pasta a few times throughout the cooking process to ensure nothing sticks together.

Here are some of the fresh ingredients you will need.

Some halved grape tomatoes.

Dice up that jalapeno into a nice small dice after removing seeds and ribs. (Unless you like a kick, then you can leave in as much of the innards as you like haha)

Dice up the bell pepper (any color is fine, I like red for it’s sweetness and color)

Once you dice up half your red (it’s really purple, I never understood why we call them red onions) pepper be sure to soak them in water for a bit to take out that onion tang that makes you cry, it’s a bit too strong for a pasta salad.

Roughly chop up half a bunch of cilantro.

Roughly chop a can of black olives. You can use freshly brined black olives if you like, but there is just something about the canned variety I like here.

Now for the little to no prep ingredients… Start with about 3/4 of a bag of frozen corn… If you happen to have fresh, please use that, I didn’t have any handy.

Rinse out a can of black beans.

Drain your pasta… I cook mine just past aldente.  Also, I did not feel like having to wash another bowl, so my extra-large pot (Magic Pot from Pampered Chef) was perfect for mixing everything in together!

In a small mixing bowl, add in 1 cup of may.

To that, add about 1/2 cup of sour cream. This may seem like a lot of moisture, but we are adding a lot to this pasta.

Now the zest of one lime.

You could add in the juice of the lime, but I find the zest strikes just the perfect balance and the juice is really not needed… Save the juice for your Blueberry Mojito!

Next add in about 1/2 tsp of ground cumin.

Now a good pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Mix your dressing.

Add corn.

Add beans.

Add dressing.

Drain onions and add in.

Add your chopping block stuff.

Mix together.

And for some extra crunch, add in half a diced english cucumber. If you prefer to use a cuke from your garden, just be sure to seed it first to reduce water content.

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Mexi Pasta Salad

Serves 10-15 as a side

Ingredients:

1 lb. pasta, cooked in salted water

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced small

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced and soaked in water, then drained

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 English cucumber, diced

1 can black olives, drained and roughly chopped

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

3/4 bag frozen corn or 2 ears fresh corn grilled

For the dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

zest of 1 lime

1/2 tsp. cumin

kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Directions:

Prepare all ingredients as stated in ingredient list.  Drain pasta.  In a small bowl mix together mayo, sour cream, cumin, zest, salt and pepper.

Add dressing to pasta. Add beans, corn, both peppers, drained onion, tomatoes, cilantro, cucumbers and black olives.  Mix well.  Taste for salt. Pour into serving bowl and chill at least 2 hours.

 

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Low Carb Caribbean Shrimp Bruschetta

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Last year at this time my family and I were just coming back and recovering from an amazing trip to Jamaica where we celebrated my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding!  There was sand, there was surf, there was a beautiful beach chair and tropical drink waiting for me daily, ahhhh.  I’m not gonna lie, it was nice!

Although I won’t be traveling to the Caribbean this year, there is always a vehicle to get me back there if just for a few moments… FOOD  Food glorious food can really take you anywhere in the world and with this dish I am transported right back to those white sand beaches and clear blue waters!

If you are looking for a fancy shmancy appetizer to serve at your next cocktail party or if you are having a fun and festive Caribbean style get together, this dish is easy, delicious and can totally be made ahead and built just before serving!  AND its low carb, gluten-free and super healthy!

Start with a ripened plantain.

Taking the peel off is not quite as easy as with a banana.

Slice thinly on an angle.

Deep fry in veggie oil.

Drain fried plantains on a paper towel.

Immediately salt.

Grab some bacon.

Cut bacon into three segments.

Sprinkle shrimp with some Jamaican Jerk Rub. This one is by Pampered Chef.

Pan fry in either butter or veggie oil.

Now you have three elements ready to go.

Gather these ingredients for your caribbean style pico de gallo.

I am using my Pampered Chef Manual Food Processor today because I want to be able to control just how processed the ingredients get, I want a small dice, but I don’t want to liquefy.

Dice up your tomatoes, red onion and peppers. For this, I am using sweet peppers, but you can totally use jalapeno peppers or even ghost peppers if you want to really go Jamaican!

Place the onion, tomato, peppers and cilantro in the food processor.

Process lightly.

Add the squeeze of half an orange.

Continue to process.  Add in kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

I added in some Portuguese hot ground pepper. (Pimenta Moida)

Cover the fried plantain with the pico de gallo.

Add a piece of fried bacon.

Add a little more pico de gallo.

Add your shrimp right on top and sprinkle with a bit more cilantro.

Low Carb Caribbean Shrimp Bruschetta

Yield 12 Bruschetta

1 ripened plantain, sliced and deep-fried in 2 cups Canola Oil

12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on

4 pieces of bacon, cut into thirds and fried until just crisp

For Pico de Gallo:

1 plum tomato, roughly chopped

1/2 red onion, roughly chopped

3 sweet peppers, roughly chopped

1/2 small orange, juiced

1 small handful cilantro

1 Tbs. Pimenta Moida (Portuguese ground red pepper)

1 tsp. Pampered Chef Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, plus more for shrimp

kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Deep fry 12 slices of ripened plantains, set aside on paper to drain.  Season shrimp with a sprinkle of Jamaican Jerk seasoning and salt. Pan fry with butter.  Set aside.  Pan fry bacon until just crisp, set aside on paper to drain.

For salsa, add in tomato, peppers, cilantro, onion, Pimenta Moida and Jamaican Jerk Seasoning and a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste into a food processor.  Process until a fine salsa is made.

Build your bruschetta = 1 plantain, 1 tsp pico de gallo, 1 pc. bacon, a little more pico de gallo, top with shrimp. Garnish with more cilantro.