Tag Archives: Parmesan cheese

Sharpe Family Caesar Salad

Though a Caesar salad is a great choice any time, I enjoy making it as a one-dish winter meal. There is something so satisfying in the texture of the fresh romaine lettuce, the crunch of croutons, and the thick flavorful dressing; it just seems that this salad is the perfect pop of flavor for taste buds grown tired of heavy bland offerings.

The recipe, from good friends, Susan and Larry Sharpe, appears in my “Missouri to Maui” cookbook and it is simple to prepare with just six ingredients. I do have a few tips for preparing this salad: prep your lettuce early on so there is time to rinse and dry it thoroughly. If you don’t dry the lettuce sufficiently you will find that the dressing breaks down, diluted by any moisture still on the lettuce so don’t skip or rush the lettuce prep. I find it helpful to rinse the lettuce then layer it between large towels to dry. Once dry, I use my kitchen shears to chop it into coarse pieces. Another tip: mince the garlic early and use your fingers or a wooden spoon to smash the garlic around the sides of a wooden salad bowl before making the remainder of the dressing. Using a wooden bowl is a must here as the texture of the wood allows the smashed garlic to permeate the salad when tossed.

The dressing will be thick; if you have smashed the garlic in the serving bowl first, it consists of just of the parmesan (grated by hand from a large block, no substituting!), the freshly squeezed lemon juice, and the olive oil. It is the thickness of the dressing, well mixed into every bit and morsel of the salad that provides the distinctive flavor of a Caesar salad.

One note on croutons. You certainly can buy them packaged if you have a favorite brand, but nothing is as simple as preparing your own. I sometimes make them on the stove, in a skillet, using butter and seasonings, or, as i did last night, preparing them in the oven on a baking sheet after tossing them in olive oil and seasonings. The cooking blog, The Pioneer Woman, has quick recipes for each method. It’s always a good idea to freeze any left over partial loaves of French bread for making your own croutons because they can be used in so many ways. Last night all I found in the freezer was a package of sliced wheat bread squares so that is what I used and they were delicious though too flat for my liking. Croutons are easy to make, remember that!

So, just six ingredients and a little foresight about prepping, and you will soon enough have a salad to satisfy your every taste bud. Why not prepare it on the next cold night and jazz up your table? This dish is  great with a bowl of soup or a meat dish  such as a steak or venison, or, as it was very much enjoyed last night, just on its own, unaccompanied. After all, the bowl is chock full of salad AND bread AND cheese, PLUS extra flavor. You really don’t need anything more. Enjoy mightily!

Sharpe Family Caesar Salad


1 large package Romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped (at least 4 stalks)
Prepared plain croutons or homemade croutons


2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions Coarsely chop romaine lettuce and place in serving bowl; add crotons. Prepare the dressing, in deep mixing bowl, by using the back of a wooden spoon to smash garlic cloves against the sides of the bowl. Add oil and lemon juice, whisk briefly. Add Parmesan and whisk well; mixture will be thick. Do not make the dressing too early, just before serving is best. Add dressing to lettuce and croutons, folding thoroughly, coating well. Serve immediately.

Rainy Day Fettuccini

You know how it is when you return from vacation. For several days you’re doing nothing but picking up, putting away, washing and folding laundry, storing the suitcase, and anything else you can think of before easing back into your regular routine in the kitchen. This recipe, as adapted from the book, Lunch in Paris, A Love Story with Recipes, served me well last night when heat lightning hovered and lit up the western sky, thunder rumbled overhead like bowling balls run amok, and the air itself filled with almost-raindrops just slightly smaller than those thunder balls.

I find myself craving soft comfort food lately; something easily prepared and easily eaten seems is what my body and my psyche wants and pasta is just such a comfort food. Minimal time in the kitchen is appreciated here so needing just 10 minutes to prepare the sauce, rich with butter, heavy cream, egg yolks, and loads of freshly grated Parmesan, you’re in business in a jiffy. You’ll be sitting down before the first fat raindrops fall to a fabulous meal. Light the lamps and pull up a chair. Just be sure to bring a hearty appetite because you’re going to need it for this rich dish.

I adjusted the recipe because the original called for 1-1/2 pounds of fettuccine noodles and I had only a third of that on hand. The sauce came out perfectly seasoned with the adjustments. Take your time then smother the noodles with the creamy sauce and toss gently to incorporate. I didn’t even bother with bread or a salad tonight. It was one of those noodles only please evenings.

Rainy Day Fettuccini Alfredo w/peas


6-8 T. salted butter
1 cup heavy cream
6 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 egg yolks, unbeaten
1/2 lb. fettuccine noodles
Fresh or frozen green peas, to taste

Directions In a large stockpot, boil water for the pasta. Add salt liberally. Prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the cream and stir to heat through. Add the cheese, stirring until combined. Add the ground pepper. Don’t be stingy with it. Stir this mixture and cook for 5 minutes; it will begin to thicken.

Toss the pasta into the boiling water. Cook until al dente. Add the peas to the noodles for the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain and return to the pot.

While the pasta finishes cooking, whisk the egg yolks into the sauce, and continue whisking until the mixture thickens, 2-3 minutes.  Cook over low heat to prevent scorching.

Toss the sauce with the noodles and the peas in the pot and serve immediately. If you want to jazz this up, take the time to prepare a simple green salad for accompaniment complemented by a loaf of warm French bread then just dish it up and get your Ciao on!

Mason Jar 7-Layer Salad

Here’s a fun post for today! With company coming tomorrow, I took time this afternoon to do some prep work for the big supper I’m planning. Mama and I spotted this great idea in a Spring issue of Southern Living Magazine for a traditional 7-layer salad served in a most nontraditional way. I knew it would be a great salad to enjoy around the supper table when guests are in the house. The recipe for this salad has many variations and today I made a few changes of my own so the recipe is the ingredients and method used when I prepared the salad today.  Use pint size Mason jars for this.

The prep work consists of tearing the lettuce into bite-size pieces, trimming the cauliflower into flowerets, allowing the frozen peas to thaw, slicing green onion, grating a hard block of Parmesan cheese, and frying the bacon for the bacon crumbles. I did add sugar to the mayonnaise before topping the salad with that mixture and the freshly grated Parmesan as I like mayonnaise sweetened slightly for dressing purposes. I’m saving the bacon crumbles for serving at the table for individual bowls. Many recipes use Cheddar cheese for this dish but my block of Parmesan seemed more enticing to me than the packaged Cheddar in my fridge so I substituted it.

Serve with a deep bowl for guests to mix their own salad right out of the jar. A fun idea and a flavorful crisp dish! What could be better? Allow the jars to sit in the fridge overnight then place on the table with a bowl for mixing. There are multiple reasons to love this recipe: seven layers, seven good bites, one great salad!

Mason Jar 7-Layer Salad


1 head iceberg lettuce, rinsed, torn into bite-size pieces, dried
1 head cauliflower, trimmed into flowerets
1 bag frozen peas
1 cup green onion, snipped small
1-1/4 cups mayonnaise
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
8 pieces bacon, fried, drained, and crumbled

Directions: Prepare all vegetables and fry and drain the baxon. Assemble the salad in individual jars beginning with the lettuce and then in the order listed. Wipe jar tops and rim of jar carefully, seal tightly, and store in fridge until ready for serving.