I love pasta salads and this one from Half Baked Harvest is full of my favourite ingredients: fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, deli meat, fresh mozzarella and arugula. This salad, which can be made ahead, is bursting with flavour and would make a great lunch or light dinner. Cook’s note:  I used prosciutto instead of salami.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Eden Organic red wine vinegar, Unico artichoke hearts, Unico roasted red peppers and Savor sun-dried tomatoes. All are additive-free. Genuine prosciutto and Parmesan are additive-free—look for the cheese’s name stamped on the rind. Check the pine nuts to make sure they don’t contain preservatives. Tre Stelle fresh mozzarella is additive- and colour-free.

Toss warm pasta with dressing and basil

Add remaining ingredients and top with arugula and basil

Antipasto pasta salad with herby Parmesan vinaigrette

Ingredients:

1 pound (454 g) short cut pasta

1/3 cup (82 ml) extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup (60 ml) champagne or red wine vinegar

1 small shallot, grated

1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh thyme leaves

Zest of 1 lemon

¼ cup (60 ml) grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons (30 ml) toasted pine nuts, finely chopped (optional)

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 cups (500 ml) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

2 roasted red bell peppers, sliced

1 jar (14-ounce/396 g) marinated artichoke hearts, drained

½ cup (125 ml) oil packed sun-dried tomatoes oil, drained and chopped

4 ounces (113 g) spicy salami, thinly sliced

8 ounces (226 g) fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella, torn

1-2 cups (250-500 ml) baby arugula

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, to a large serving bowl, add olive oil, vinegar, the shallot, thyme, lemon zest, parmesan, pine nuts (if using), and a pinch each of crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add half the basil and the hot pasta and toss vigorously to combine.

Add the bell peppers, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, salami, mozzarella, and half the arugula, tossing to combine. At this point, the salad can be served warm or cooled and kept in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

To serve, bring the pasta to room temperature. Top with the remaining arugula and basil. Season with freshly cracked pepper and salt. Serves 6.

From Half Baked Harvest

This recipe from allrecipes.com is a lovely way to cook fish. Sauté onions, garlic and tomatoes. Stir in wine, olives, capers and hot pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and add the fish. Cover and gently simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. Remove fish, add butter to the sauce, simmer for a few minutes, stir in cilantro and serve the sauce over the fish. I used branzino fillets, but you could use any firm whitefish.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used a white wine from Frogpond Farms that had a sulfite level of less than 10 parts per million. I used President’s Choice garlic stuffed green olives and Unico capers—both are additive-free. Check the hot pepper flakes and the butter to make sure they don’t contain colour.

Sauté onion, garlic and tomatoes before adding fish.

Sea bass with tomato and caper-olive sauce

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups (375 ml) thinly sliced white onions

2 tablespoons (30 ml) minced garlic

4 cups (1 L) seeded, chopped plum tomatoes

1 ½ cups (375 ml) dry white wine

⅔ cup (165 ml) sliced stuffed green olives

¼ cup (60 ml) drained capers

⅛ teaspoon (0.6 ml) red pepper flakes

4 (6 ounce/170 g) fillets sea bass

2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter

¼ cup (60 ml) chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions until soft. Stir in garlic, and sauté about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften. Stir in wine, olives, capers, and red pepper flakes. Heat to a simmer.

Place sea bass into sauce. Cover, and gently simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Transfer fish to a serving plate and keep warm.

Increase the heat and add butter to sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir in cilantro. Serve sauce over fish. Serves 4.

From allrecipes.com

This excellent baked pasta from NYT Cooking combines sausage with spices, tomatoes, pasta and lots of cheese. Brown the sausage and add spices. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer. Add the pasta, then remove from heat and top with the cheese. Bake until the pasta is cooked and then run under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Free From hot Italian sausages and Unico tomatoes. Check the spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Look for fresh mozzarella and ricotta without additives or preservatives. Genuine Parmesan cheese is additive-free – look for the name stamped on the rind.

Brown sausage

Add spices and tomatoes and simmer

Stir in pasta and add cheeses

Bake until pasta is tender and then brown under the broiler

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

¾ pound (340 g) bulk hot or mild Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried oregano

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) fennel seeds, coarsely crushed

Pinch of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving (optional)

1 (28-ounce/793 g) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices

1 (14-ounce/396 g) can crushed or strained tomatoes

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt

12 ounces (340 g) dried pasta, such as small shells, farfalle or other shaped pasta

8 ounces (226 g) fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces

6 ounces (170 g) whole-milk ricotta (about ¾ cup/187 ml)

⅓ cup (82 ml) grated Parmesan

¼ cup (60 ml) basil leaves

Black pepper, for serving

Preparation:

Heat oven to 425 degrees F (218 C). Heat oil in a 12-inch (30-cm) ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Crumble sausage into skillet, using a spoon to break it into small pieces. Cook until starting to brown, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes (if using) and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in whole tomatoes and their juice, using a spoon to break them up. Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and 2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.

Stir in pasta and 1 cup (250 ml) water and return to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, pluck out the bay leaves, and fold in about a third of the mozzarella.

Top pasta with remaining mozzarella and dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then transfer to oven. Bake until pasta is tender when poked with a fork, and cheese is bubbly and lightly golden, 18 to 22 minutes. (If you’d like a more deeply browned topping, run the pan under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes.) Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Top with basil, plenty of black pepper, and more red-pepper flakes, if you like. Serves 4.

From NYT Cooking

This recipe from Canadian Living is a perfect quick lunch or supper. Combine the mayo, lemon juice and mustard and add cooked shrimp and chopped pickles, dill, capers and shallot. Place arugula warmed buns and top with the shrimp mixture. Cook’s notes: For a lighter version, use yogurt instead of mayonnaise. I used a baguette instead of hot dog buns.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives.

I used Hellman’s mayonnaise, freshly squeezed lemon juice, PC Organic frozen shrimp, Putter’s dill pickles, Savor capers and an Ace Bakery baguette — all are free of additives, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.

Tartar sauce shrimp rolls

Ingredients:

¼ cup (60 ml) mayonnaise

1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice

1 teaspoon (5 ml) Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

12 oz (340 g) cold water shrimp, patted dry

2 tablespoons (30 ml) finely chopped dill pickles

1 tablespoon (15 ml) capers, rinsed, drained and finely chopped

1 tablespoon (15 ml) finely shopped shallot

1 cup (250 ml) arugula

4 hot dog buns, warmed

Preparation:

In bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp, pickles, capers and shallot; mix gently. Place ¼ cup (60 ml) arugula in each bun. Divide shrimp mixture among buns. Serves 4.

From Canadian Living

This delicious cake from the Eat With Us cookbook is made in a cast-iron skillet. Pre-heat the skillet and then coat the hot pan with melted butter. Add the cake batter to the pan, top with strawberries and bake for about 35 minutes. Let cool, then remove the cake from the skillet. Dust with icing sugar, top with more berries and serve.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter that does not contain colour. Astro Original Balkan-Style Yogurt is additive free. Use pure maple syrup and pure vanilla extract.

Spread batter in pre-heated cast iron skillet and top with berries

Bake about 35 minutes, cool, and top with icing sugar and berries to serve

Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) flour

2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder

½ tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda

¼ tsp (1.25 ml) salt

½ cup (125 ml) plus 1 tbsp (15 ml) butter, room temperature

1 cup (250 ml) Greek yogurt

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup (250 ml) maple syrup

1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla

1 cup (250 ml) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise, plus additional for serving

Icing sugar, for serving

Preparation:

Place a 10-inch (25-cm) cast-iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 350°F (177°C).

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk ½ cup (125 ml) of the butter until it is soft and fluffy, then mix in the rest of the butter, yogurt and eggs. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix until just combined.

Remove the skillet from the oven and add 1 tbsp (15 ml) of butter. Using oven mitts to hold the skillet, swirl the butter around to coat the entire pan. Pour in the batter and use the back of a spoon to spread it into an even layer. Top with the strawberries.

Using oven mitts, place the skillet back into the oven and bake for 35 minutes, until the cake is lightly browned and a knife or toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Once the cake has cooled, place on a cake stand and dust generously with icing sugar. Top with additional strawberries. Serves 6-8.

From Eat With Us

This recipe from Half Baked Harvest combines grilled salmon with a hearty salad of orzo, chickpeas, red pepper, tomato, olives, cucumber, avocado, herbs and lemon-infused feta cheese. Healthy, colourful and delicious.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for a balsamic vinegar with no sulphites added, such as La Bonissima brand. Make sure your dried spices don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Tre Stelle feta is additive-free. Roast your own pepper or look for jarred roasted peppers with no additives, such as Pilaros brand. Unico or Blue Menu chickpeas are additive-free. I used President’s Choice garlic-stuffed olives, which contain no preservatives.

Season the salmon before grilling

Serve the grilled salmon with a chickpea and orzo salad

Ingredients:

4 (5-6 ounce/140-170 g) salmon fillets

1 tablespoon (15 ml) balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons (10 ml) smoked paprika

2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tablespoon/15 ml dried oregano)

1 shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced or grated

Red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper

6 tablespoons (90 ml) extra virgin olive oil

1-2 lemons, sliced and seeds removed – use to your taste

8 ounces (226 g) feta cheese, crumbled

½ cup (125 ml) fresh basil, dill, and or mint, chopped

Orzo salad

3 cups (750 ml) cooked orzo

1/3 cup (82 ml) extra virgin olive oil

1 cup (250 ml) fresh basil, dill, and or chives, chopped

1 roasted red pepper, chopped

1 (14 ounce/396 g) can chickpeas drained

2 cups (500 ml) cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup (125 ml) green olives

½ cup (125 ml) cucumber

1 avocado, diced

Preparation:

Place the salmon in a 9×13 inch (22×33 cm) baking dish. Add 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, paprika, oregano, shallot, garlic, and a pinch each of crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Rub the seasonings and oil evenly into flesh. Toss the lemon slices into the oil.

To make the salad. Add the orzo, olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, herbs, and a pinch each of crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to a large serving bowl. Add the chickpeas, red peppers, tomatoes, olives, and avocado, toss to combine.

Heat your grill, grill pan, or skillet to medium high heat. Place the salmon on the grill, skin side down. Add the lemon slices. Cover and cook until skin is lightly charred, 4-5 minutes, flip the salmon and lemons, grill another 3-4 minutes until opaque. Remove everything from the grill.

Finely chop the lemon slices and mix them with the herbs, crumbled feta, and 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the feta to the orzo salad.

Divide the salad between plates. Add the salmon and sprinkle with lemon feta. Top with lots of fresh herbs, and an extra squeeze of lemon, if desired. Serves 4.

From Half Baked Harvest

This recipe, adapted from a variety of fresh tomato-sauce pasta recipes, is a delicious way to use late summer tomatoes, basil, onion and arugula. Marinate chunks of tomato in salt, pepper and olive oil. Sliver red onion and place in an ice-water bath with a little salt to mellow their flavour. Tear handfuls of basil and arugula into bite-sized pieces and use your vegetable peeler to shave off strips of hard cheese, such as Parmesan. When you are ready to eat, cook the pasta and toss with the tomatoes and other ingredients and top with more cheese, pepper and hot pepper flakes.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Genuine Parmesan cheese (look for the name stamped on the rind) is additive-free. Check the hot pepper flakes to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Marinate tomatoes for at least 30 minutes

Arugula, basil and red onion are added to the pasta and tomatoes

Add Parmesan cheese - I had some burrata so I added that too

End-of-summer pasta

Ingredients:

3 or 4 large ripe tomatoes, heirloom if you can get them, cut into chunks

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup (82 ml) olive oil

12 oz (340 g) dried spaghetti

¼ red onion, cut into slivers

1 cup (250 ml) basil

2 cups (500 ml) arugula

½ cup (125 ml) strips of hard cheese, such as Parmesan, shaved off with a vegetable peeler, plus more for serving

Hot red pepper flakes (optional)

Preparation:

Add the tomatoes to a glass or ceramic bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes. Add olive oil and let marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Cook the spaghetti in salted water. While the spaghetti cooks, put the red onion in a small bowl with ice water and a pinch of salt. Tear basil and arugula into bite-sized pieces.

Drain the pasta and return to pot. Add about 1/3 of the tomatoes, toss gently and then add the rest of the tomatoes, the drained red onion, the basil, arugula and cheese. Toss gently and serve topped with more cheese, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Serves 4.

This chicken dish from Half Baked Harvest tops pan-fried chicken cutlets with a thyme-infused butter sauce, sautéed cherry tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella and basil. Tasty, quick and seasonal.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter that contains only cream, with no colour added. Make sure your hot pepper flakes do not contain colour or anti-caking agents. I used Tre Stelle bocconcini, which is additive-free. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Sauté the tomatoes, garlic and thyme

Pan fry the chicken

Return tomato mixture to pan, add cheese and broil for a minute or two

Florentine butter chicken with burst cherry tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 large egg, beaten

¼ cup (60 ml) all-purpose flour

4 boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets (about ¾-inch/1.9-cm thick)

Kosher salt and pepper

10 tablespoons (150 ml) cold salted butter, cubed

4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil

2 ½ cups (625 ml) cherry tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, smashed

2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh chopped thyme

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

4 ounces (113 g) buffalo or regular mozzarella, torn

3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice

½ cup (125 ml) fresh basil, torn

Preparation:

Place the egg and flour in separate shallow bowls.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge both sides of the chicken through the egg, and then through the flour, tossing to coat. Place the chicken on a plate.

In an oven-safe skillet set over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the tomatoes, garlic, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) thyme, and a pinch each of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the tomatoes begin to pop, about 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the tomatoes to a plate.

In the same skillet, melt together 4 tablespoons (60 ml) butter and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken and cook until the bottom side is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken and add 6 tablespoons (90 ml) butter and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) thyme, swirling the butter around the chicken. Cook, basting the chicken in butter until the chicken is cooked and golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.

Remove from the heat, add the mozzarella around the chicken. Spoon the tomatoes and lemon juice over top. Transfer to the oven, broil 1 minute, until the cheese is melted. Serve topped with lots of fresh basil. Serves 4.

From Half Baked Harvest

This vegetarian recipe from Canadian Living is quick, healthy and tasty. Marinate cubed halloumi cheese and vegetables in a lemon-pepper and spice mixture, thread onto skewers and grill for 5-10 minutes.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use fresh lemon juice and make sure the dried spices do not contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Thread marinated halloumi and vegetables onto skewers

Grill, turning once, until vegetables are tender and slightly charred

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

2 teaspoons (10 ml) grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice

1 teaspoon (5 ml) pepper

1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried thyme

1 teaspoon (5 ml) caraway seeds

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Salt

1 7-oz (200-g) pkg halloumi cheese, cut in 1-inch (2.54-cm) cubes

12 small white mushrooms

1 zucchini, cut in ½ -inch (1.25-cm) thick slices

1 sweet orange pepper, cut in 1-inch (2.54-cm) squares

1 small red onion, cut in 1-inch (2.54-cm) squares

Preparation:

In large bowl, combine oil, lemon zest and juice, pepper, thyme, caraway and garlic; season with salt. Add halloumi and vegetables; mix well to coat. Marinate for 5 minutes. (Make-ahead: Can be stored in airtight container and refrigerated for up to 24 hours; the longer the cheese and vegetables marinate, the more flavourful they will be).

Preheat barbecue to medium-high heat (about 375°F/190°C); grease grill. On metal or soaked wooden skewers, thread halloumi, alternating with vegetables; reserve remaining marinade. Place skewers on grill and cook until cheese is marked, turning halfway through grilling time, about 4 minutes. Serve with reserved marinade, crusty bread and lemon wedges, if desired. Serves 4.

From Canadian Living

This pasta recipe from Cook’s Illustrated creates a delicious sauce of onion, pancetta and stock. Add dried pasta and simmer until it is barely tender, then add peas, parsley, Pecorino cheese and mint. A tasty supper and only one pan to wash!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for pancetta that is preserved with celery salt instead of nitrites. I use Imagine Organic chicken stock, which is additive-free. Make sure the cheese does not contain colour.

Cook pasta in the sauce until al dente, then add peas

Serve topped with extra cheese

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 onion, chopped fine

2 ounces (57 g) pancetta, chopped fine

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) table salt

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) pepper

2½ cups (625 ml) chicken broth

2½ cups (625 ml) water

7½ ounces (212 g – about 1½ cups/375 ml) ditalini

1½ cups (375 ml) frozen petite peas

⅓ cup (83 ml) minced fresh parsley

¼ cup (60 ml) grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving

2 tablespoons (30 ml) minced fresh mint

Preparation:

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, pancetta, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add broth and water and bring to boil over high heat. Stir in pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid returns to boil. Reduce heat to maintain simmer; cover; and cook until pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in peas and remove saucepan from heat. Stir in parsley, Pecorino, and mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, drizzling with extra oil and passing extra Pecorino separately. Serves 4.

From Cook’s Illustrated

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