Monday, January 11, 2016

Mediterranean Winter ChickPea Pasta Salad

Everyone enjoys a good pasta salad during the summer months when veggies are at their peak.  During the winter, tomatoes, especially, suffer from lack of taste, texture and flavor.  This is a delicious, warm pasta salad made with chickpea pasta!  If you love pasta (and who doesn't) but are trying to watch your carbs or just want to start eating healthy for the new year, this is a great recipe.  High in protein and fiber, this is a nice additional to your pantry on a night that you just need a pasta fix!  The folks at Banza sent in their "Banza Boys" to the local ShopRite to give everyone a sample of their pasta. 
Banza is a small team based in Detroit with a big goal:  To change food for the better!  By making pasta from chickpeas instead of wheat, they have discovered that pasta can be as healthy as it is delicious!

Mediterranean Winter Pasta Salad

1 8 oz. box Banza Shells
1 5 oz. clamshell Organic Baby Spinach
2/3 cup marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 red roasted pepper, drained and chopped
6 sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup marinated kalamata olives halved
1 plump clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup liquid from marinated artichoke hearts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
Salt and Pepper to taste


Bring 6 inches of water to a boil in a large pot.  Salt boiling water and add pasta.  Cook according to package directions or until desired tenderness.  While pasta is cooking, roughly chop baby spinach.  Add spinach into colander where you will drain your pasta.  When pasta is cooked, drain directly over spinach to wilt slightly.  Transfer warm spinach and pasta to a large bowl.  Add artichoke hearts, onion, roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and olives and mix to combine.

In a one cup measure, combine marinade liquid, olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Combine with pasta mixture.  Serve warm with feta cheese crumbles.

Visit Banza to learn about the benefits of chickpeas and for more creative Banza recipes!
You can find Banza on Facebook
Twitter and Instagram
 And yes - their pasta is available nationwide at Wegmans, ShopRite, Whole Foods & Fairway- among many other retailers.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

Making homemade sausage is easier than you think!  Mix your own sausage and it can be free of preservatives that are found in processed foods.  To cut the fat, these sweet and savory sausages can be made with ground chicken or turkey.

You can easily make these into patties - but if you get a bit more ambitious, you can have the traditional shaped sausage without using any casings.
Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Gala or Honeycrisp apple, grated
1/2 cup grated sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, ground
Dash of paprkia
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1 lb. ground chicken


Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Add apple and onion.  Cook about 2 minutes or until apple and onion begin to release their juices, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.  Set aside to cool.

If you are grinding your own chicken, cut boneless, skinless pieces into one-inch cubes.  Place in food processor in batches.  Cover and pulse until the ground meat holds together.  Do not over process.

In a medium bowl, place chicken, cooled apple and onion mixture, parsley, poultry seasoning, thyme leaves, ground fennel, paprika and salt and pepper.  Mix well with your hands, just to combine.  Refrigerate one hour for flavors to blend.

To make sausage:

Place one piece of plastic wrap, approximately 12 x 16 on counter top.  Place 1/3 cup of sausage mixture in the center.  Fold over plastic wrap and mold into a cylinder.  Twist ends in the opposite direction and tie ends.  Cut off any excess plastic wrap.

Fill a medium saute pan about 2/3 cup filled water water.  Bring to a low simmer.  Lower sausages into barely simmering water.  Cover and poach until cooked, about 10 minutes.

Remove from simmering water and let cool enough to handle.  At this point you can refrigerate or freeze.

All the juices are trapped inside these little bundles.

Remove water from skillet.  Dry with a paper towel and add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter and heat over medium heat.  Cut end of sausage casing with scissors and squeeze out sausage (along with the juices) into saute pan.  Saute until most of the liquid evaporates and sausage are nicely browned on all sides.

Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup and a stack of pancakes or waffles.  This makes a great "breakfast for dinner" meal.


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