Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, & Dill

Vegetable Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill by Produce with Amy“Woods were ringed with a colour so soft, so subtle that it could scarcely be said to be a colour at all. It was more the idea of a colour – as if the trees were dreaming green dreams or thinking green thoughts.” – Susanna Clarke

Mike and Phoebe on the Heritage Trail I think it is safe to say that winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is over. Today, on the 1st of June, it feels like we have been given a fresh start. To celebrate I broke open a fresh journal – clean pages – just like today’s freshly washed sky. Last week – Mike, Phoebe, and I enjoyed the blissful weather. The freshly minted leaves startled our senses, so green and new that they jolted us awake. As we hiked, the air itself appeared green. Vibrations of chartreuse permeated our vision like a green haze. It made our hearts soar and we were thankful.

GardenYesterday I started my container garden and decided that instead of buying ornamental fillers (vines and greenery) for my flower boxes,  I will use edible plants. I planted cilantro, parsley, dill, and basil. Instead of using morning glories as climbers, I planted peas and beans. I cannot wait to watch them progress over the summer. Our perennial herbs planted outside (chives, sage, oregano, thyme, mint, and lavender) are starting to flourish with the warm temperatures. I earned 5 Activity Points Plus hauling planters from the basement and did lots of squats weeding.

The school year is rushing to a close and I have six more days with my students before summer break is here. My goal for the summer is to share a minimum of two blog posts a week. My journal is quickly filling up with potential ideas and recipes. Though, I have been busy, I have continued to eat healthy and my favorite lunch or dinner for the past couple weeks has been vegetable filled pasta salad. I have been tracking Points Plus on weekends and sticking with the Simply Filling Technique on weekends. This way of eating, partnered with increased activity, has helped me lose 5 pounds in the last three weeks.

The salad that I am sharing today consists of 100% Power Foods. I am trying to reduce my intake of sugary fruit and am trying to incorporate more vegetables (I do eat fruit and am currently eating berries, green apples, and grapefruit – with small amounts of other fruit in my green smoothies).

A couple weeks ago, the topic in the Weight Watchers weekly handout was fiber. One of the high fiber foods that was mentioned was artichokes. I love artichoke hearts in salad and on pizza so I decided to incorporate some into my lunch for the week.

This photo was taken a couple years ago at my brother Jamie's on Christmas. I was making him artichoke dip...one of his favorites.

This photo was taken a couple years ago at my brother Jamie’s on Christmas. I was making him artichoke dip…one of his favorites.

Salad by Produce with Amy

VEGETABLE FILLED PASTA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS, CAPERS, & DILL

  • 4 cups of cooked whole wheat penne pasta (approximately 1/2 box of 13.25 ounce pasta)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can of artichoke heartsVegetables
  • 1 pint of halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 3 cups of asparagus (I was going to use broccoli but our neighbor brought over wild asparagus that he picked)
  • 3 peeled and chopped carrots
  • 4 ribs of chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 3.5 ounces of capers (drained)
  • Fresh chopped dill to taste (I used one small clamshell that I purchased in the produce section)

DRESSING

  • 3/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 juiced lemon and zest ~ if you use fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (spicy brown mustard also works well)
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano 
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I am going to add 2 teaspoons of oil to each serving for portion control)

Chop all the ingredients and mix in large bowl. This salad makes approximately 12 cups. My husband and I will eat it all week. If you want a smaller portion you could reduce all the ingredients.

This salad would make a fantastic addition to a cook out or gathering. It takes better the longer it sits and will stay fresh for over a week (7-10 days).

Printable Recipe: VEGETABLE FILLED PASTA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS

Vegetable Filled Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Capers, and Dill by Produce with Amy

 

If you like this salad you may want to check out my other salad recipes.

Please make sure you stop by my Facebook page, sign up for email updates of my posts, and follow my posts on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for joining me in the journey to eat more fruit and vegetables. Together we can thrive and embrace a healthy lifestyle. I look forward to sharing more recipes with you this summer.

Phoebe met two adorable Corgis down the street from our house.

Phoebe met two adorable Corgis down the street from our house.

Our neighborhood is bursting with spring!

Our neighborhood is bursting with spring!

My first flowers from my garden this season: Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley.

My first flowers from my garden this season: Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley with some of my vintage glass.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Peppers & Carrots ~ Plant-Based

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Peppers & Carrots by Produce with Amy“Most people are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should do, they never get around to what they want to do.” 
–Kathleen Winsor

This morning, as every day, I woke up with a list of things that I wanted to accomplish. At about noon, I felt my regular Sunday anxiety start to multiply. No matter how productive I am, I get that sick feeling in my stomach that I did not do enough. When this happens, I remind myself to breathe. I take a few deep, cleansing breaths and remind myself how fortunate I am to have a teaching career that I love. I might not get to the bottom of the mountain of papers I hauled home and my house and closets may not be fit for a magazine spread, but I am doing the best that I can. While the temperatures dip outside I have a cozy home that I am able to keep warm, a kitchen full of nourishing food, and my health is currently strong. Being thankful for what we have always sheds some perspective on stress and makes it seems less significant.

The fact that I have a food blog is proof that I have made many lifestyle changes. In January of 2013, I decided that I wanted to make time for my own writing and share some of my recipe ideas. While the entire process of coming up with a recipe, cooking, documenting with photos, selecting photos, and writing is time-consuming ~ it is worth all the labor. I feel a burst of elation every time that I hit publish because it is a reminder that I am making time to pursue my passion. That said, I have many recipes waiting in the wings to share. Therefore, I am going to make this post short and sweet so I can share a couple of recipes today.

You know from previous posts that soup is a weekly staple in our house. My husband Mike and I each have a cup with dinner. It bulks up a meal and allows us to have a smaller portion of our entrée. As a Weight Watchers leader I encourage my members to make soups that are full of Power Foods. The cauliflower soup recipe that I am sharing today works perfectly with Simple Start or the Simply Filling Technique.

I decided to roast the cauliflower first to make the flavor more robust. I cut one large head of cauliflower into florets and drizzled with the following mixture:

*2 Tablespoons coconut oil
*2 Tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce would also work)
*I Tablespoon Dijon mustard
*1 Tablespoon minced garlic
*1 teaspoon cumin

I roasted the cauliflower for 60 minutes at 350 (I flipped the cauliflower at 30 minutes). (Normally, I roast vegetables at 450 for a shorter amount of time but I had bread baking at the time that needed the oven to be at 350)
Roasted Cauliflower

Words cannot even explain how amazing the house smelled from the roasted cauliflower. It would serve as an incredible side dish and I really regretted not buying two heads of cauliflower. 

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SOUP WITH SWEET PEPPERS AND CARROTS

  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 4 ribs of chopped celery
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or your cooking oil of choice)
  • 1 head of roasted cauliflower
  • 3 small red bell peppers (or 2 large)
  • 5 peeled carrots
  • 1 seeded fresh jalapeno
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger root
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the celery, garlic, and onion in the coconut oil until soft. Reserve and put in a separate container (When I make pureed soups I often like the texture of the celery and onion so I add it to the soup after blending. If you want your soup to be completely smooth you may add all the other ingredients right to sautéed celery, onion, and garlic).

One nice thing about pureed soups is that you do not have to chop the vegetables into small pieces.

One nice thing about pureed soups is that you do not have to chop the vegetables into small pieces.

In the same pot add the rest of the ingredients (except the cauliflower). Bring to a boil and cook approximately thirty minutes until the carrots and peppers are soft. Let cool for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower to the blender and pour in the pepper and carrot mixture. Puree until smooth. Add the puree along with the reserved celery, onion, and garlic. Heat and serve. Makes approximately ten cups of soup.

Printable Recipe:Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Peppers & Carrots

Pin it HERE.

I did add the cauliflower to the mixture but next time I will add it directly to the blender since it is already cooked.

I did add the cauliflower to the mixture but next time I will add it directly to the blender since it is already cooked.

You may also decide to roast the peppers and the carrots with the cauliflower (which would reduce the cooking time of the soup and enhance the taste of both).

The color of the soup is vibrant and I think that the flavors really combined well together. It is rich and creamy and I think that if you served it at a dinner party your guests would be shocked that it is healthy and 100% plant-based. It tastes indulgent, comforting, and satisfying.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Peppers & Carrots

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I have enjoyed sharing the recipe with you. Make sure that you check out my other soup recipes. I would love it if you stopped by my Facebook page and please feel free to share my recipes. Together we can embrace a healthy lifestyle that is full of fresh produce. Check back often. In the coming days I will be sharing my plant-based version of a Hot & Sour Soup, a Mushroom Stroganoff, and more jarred salad recipes. Remember to stop and breathe when you are busy and I wish you a productive and powerful week!

Roasted Cauliflower by Produce with Amy