Arugula Salad with Grapes

This is another recipe dictated by my pregnancy appetite these days, but it’s a light and refreshing salad that could work well under normal circumstances, too! The combination of tart grapes with creamy avocado is divine. Try this for a light lunch with friends or as a simple first course at dinner.

Serves 2

Fresh arugula
16 green grapes, washed and halved lengthwise
1 ripe avocado, peeled, halved, pitted, and sliced
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

Drop about two handfuls of arugula on each plate. Top with an equal amount of grapes and avocado, breaking up the avocado slices just a little before you add them. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

Peachy Keen Lentil Salad

I know — this is yet another salad recipe, but it’s the summer and I just want cool, simple dinners these days. I got this recipe from the back of an artsy greeting card with a huge peach on the front in Atlanta about 10 years ago. I put it in my recipe book and never got around to making it until last night. The result was so delicious that it was another case of, “Why on earth did I wait so long?”

Everything works together really well here — the peaches freshen up the lentils, the balsamic brings out the flavor of the fruit, the basil works well with the feta. This is a great salad to serve for lunch, maybe with crispy crackers. On its own, it makes a wonderful meal for vegetarians and those on low-GI and Weight Watchers plans — especially if you can find fat-free feta.

One more thing — this is a great way to use up leftover feta you may have in the fridge. Just adjust the proportions as needed.

Serves 4

1 cup green or Puy lentils*
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup crumbled feta (fat-free if possible)
2 peaches, cubed
2 basil sprigs, chopped
Dash of lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Boil a pot of water and add the lentils. Cook about 10 minutes or until the lentils are al dente. Drain and set aside.

When the lentils have cooled, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. And add the lentils and mix gently to combine.

*French Puy lentils and green lentils retain their shape when cooked, so they’re good to use in recipes like this one. Click here for a list of different kinds of lentils.

Rotini in Herbed Balsamic Tomato Sauce

This is a different spin on the standard tomato sauce for pasta. The herbs and balsamic give it a deeper flavor, and the zucchini (courgettes) is a subtle way to work in some vegetables. It’s easy, tasty, and looks good on the plate, making this an ideal weekday dish.

4 sun-dried tomato halves
1 Tbsp. olive oil (or slightly more)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large zucchini (courgette), diced
2 cans peeled plum tomatoes, with liquid
1 tsp. (or more) dried rosemary
1 tsp. (or more) dried oregano
8 oz. dried rotini pasta
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Cover the sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water and soak for 10 minutes or so. Drain and chop.

Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat, then add the garlic. When fragrant, add the zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes. Add the sun-dried and plum tomatoes, along with the herbs. Cook 15-20 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring often and breaking up the tomatoes with the spoon.

When the sauce is done, turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine. Taste and season as desired with salt and pepper, then serve over pasta. Have cheese at the table to put on top.