Tag Archives: Salad

Al Dente On The Side: Tortellini Salad

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Tortellini salad ranks somewhere below fried smelt and French onion soup, but still within the top five on the list of holiday mainstays in the Paventi/Mancini family.

This was a latecomer to the race. As the faces at the table changed, so too did some of the dishes. In this case, I think it was a greater variety of pasta available at Wegmans, combined with some tinkering by The Father that led us to this summertime side dish. Continue reading Al Dente On The Side: Tortellini Salad


Christmas 2013: Calamari Salad

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No real story here. This is a standby side for our holidays and a rather typical salad for an Italian Christmas or New Years Eve. It made its return as the seafood accompaniment to the meat-wrapped meat entree I prepared.

My father’s version is good, but it’s not quite as balanced as the version served at Asti Caffe and Trattoria in Syracuse, which this salad is patterned after. Continue reading Christmas 2013: Calamari Salad

Al Dente On The Side: Green and Wax Bean Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

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We established long ago that I’m a food bigot. It’s an ugly habit that I’ve worked hard at breaking. It turns out my discrimination went beyond mere food genres and straight to ingredients.

Yes, I was a bean racist. When it came to string beans, I was not color blind. Green was the beginning and end of any conversation, and yellow was never mentioned. I’m not entirely sure why. They taste the same and, with the exception of color, look the same. Maybe it’s the name: wax beans. Who wants to eat a wax bean?

Anyhow, I regularly buy fresh beans during the summer and make side dishes or salads from them (a Mancini classic: blanche string beans, mix olive oil, garlic and red wine vinegar, toss with beans, refrigerate, enjoy). This week at the Regional Market, Monarch Farms — a non-certified organic farm — had enormous green and wax beans. At $3.50 a basket, they were a winner in this recipe that was part of a feature in The New York Times dining section.

Continue reading Al Dente On The Side: Green and Wax Bean Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

Al Dente On The Side: CNY Regional Market Pasta Salad II

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My first CNY Regional Market Pasta Salad was gone in a matter of days. The Wife scarfed it down without much challenge.

This one has sat a little while, but not because it wasn’t good. There’s just a lot of it. Stupid orzo.

Orzo is a great pasta and probably my favorite shape. It’s also deceptively small. The little grains seem to explode in size when cooked. A seemingly small bag of pasta explodes like a family of rabbits.

The pasta came from my favorite haunt at the market — Flour City Pasta — and the tomatoes from Schrader Farms in the outdoor B aisle.

Continue reading Al Dente On The Side: CNY Regional Market Pasta Salad II

Killing Them Softly: Hors Deuvres


EDITOR’S NOTE: My recent discovery of our families’ collection of 1970s era church cookbooks has been nothing short of a conversation piece around Al Dente HQ. The kind-hearted and well-intentioned women behind these recipes set cooking back years, all the while trying to kill their families with butter, shortening and lard. Not wanting to hog the glory and splendor for myself, it is my pleasure to share these classic culinary gems with you. These are the original recipes with very little editing. If you have one of these around your house or find one at your parent’s home, please contact me. I would love to get my hands on it.

RECIPE: Hors Deuvres
AUTHOR: Toni Magnarelli
COOKBOOK: Our Lady of Pompeii’s Society of St. Therese Cookbook

WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS? I’ve had cocktail wieners before. I’m not proud of it. Sometimes they have been in ketchup. Sometimes they’ve been in barbecue sauce. Never have they been in heated salad dressing and never have they been called hors d’oeuvres. Or Hors Deuvres.

Hors Deuvres

  • 1 bottle Catalina sauce/salad dressing
  • Cocktail hot dogs

Combine. Heat through and serve.

Note from Jared: I shit you not. This is the recipe.

Al Dente on the Side: CNY Regional Market Pasta Salad

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Saturday morning trips to the Central New York Regional Market started before I was in elementary school. My father would take me for an early morning run so he could get produce for the week. For my efforts as a well-behaved child, I would get popcorn, and the chance to tell my friends that I had popcorn for breakfast.

Vegetables were always a big part of our dinner table. What my grandfather didn’t grow on his land in Geddes (he did basically everything but lettuce, corn, onions and potatoes), we would get at the market.

Continue reading Al Dente on the Side: CNY Regional Market Pasta Salad

Meatless Monday: Middle Eastern Spinach Salad

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For the last few days of vacation, The Wife repeated the phrase “When we get back home, I’m getting back on the food wagon” like it was a chant.

The food wagon is her way of saying that she wants to return to healthier eating. Our trips are a buffet of snacks and cookies. For instance, I made a batch of taco dip that barely lasted three hours. We averaged a loaf of bread, a two bags of (potato or tortilla) chips and a dozen chocolate chip cookies a day. It was stunning.

Anyhow, The Wife wanted to start Sunday with our first dinner home. I got the proclamation of “we’re having salad for dinner” somewhere along Delaware’s Route 1 expressway. That was derailed when The In-Laws joined us for dinner/distracted The Kid while we unpacked. That night we had pizza. Good, greasy pizza.

Soooooooooooo, Monday was the kickoff of the food wagon. And salad she got.

Continue reading Meatless Monday: Middle Eastern Spinach Salad

Al Dente On The Side: Grilled summer veggies


Not a huge story here. The In-Laws came over for dinner on Saturday and I was looking for a different way to do vegetables.

Now, here’s what I will say. A grill basket work best here. I thought my asparagus was thick enough to stay out of the grooves on the grill if I could it right on the surface.

I was wrong. Continue reading Al Dente On The Side: Grilled summer veggies