Dining In

Summer Selections
By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist


Sweet and Spicy Penne
in Fresh Tomato Sauce

There is a private club in Richmond, my hometown, that serves THE most divine Cobb salad. Whenever I eat there, I always determine to try something new and different and then I think about how good that Cobb salad is.

Consequently, I know little about anything else on the menu. I can never resist this salad that is not exactly in the diet department. Chock-full of blue cheese, hard-cooked eggs, avocado, bacon, chicken and olive oil-based dressing, a Weight Watchers special, Cobb salad is not. But yummy, it assuredly is.

I had never made a Cobb salad, guessing that I could not come close to the wonders of the 2300 Club. Aha, I have!

This is, indeed, a meal salad. You don’t need anything else but some crunchy French bread — or sour dough, as we used. Well, now that I know I, too, can make Cobb salad, maybe I’ll try something else at the 2300.

Cobb salad was developed at the famed Hollywood meeting place, The Brown Derby, owned by Bob Cobb. Supposedly, he made the salad from leftovers for himself at the restaurant but it caught on and, to this day, is a favorite salad.

Cobb’s visitors to The Brown Derby were the stars of the ’40s and ’50s. Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe were among his frequenters.

We’ve also tried a one-dish pasta combination that would be good when the delicious local tomatoes come in. Using fresh tomatoes and ricotta cheese, an uncooked pasta sauce makes for easy, light summer fare.

Cobb Salad

Ingredients:

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4 c mixed greens such as romaine, Boston lettuce, red leaf lettuce or watercress

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6 or more oz. cooked chicken, cut into strips

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4 bacon strips,  cooked and crumbled

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2 hard-cooked eggs,  peeled and sliced

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2 green onions, sliced

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1 small ripe avocado,  peeled and sliced

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1 large tomato, coarsely chopped 1⁄2 c crumbled bleu cheese.

Dressing:

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3 T red wine vinegar

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Dash Tabasco sauce (or to taste)

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1 t Dijon mustard

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1 t Worcestershire sauce

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1 t sugar

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1⁄2 t salt

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1⁄4 cup olive oil

Directions: Place greens in salad bowl. Arrange chicken, bacon, eggs, green onions, avocado, tomato and bleu cheese on top of greens. Prepare dressing: Combine vinegar, pepper sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and salt in small bowl, shaker or measuring cup. Whisk in olive oil until well blended in an emulsion. Just before serving, drizzle dressing over the salad. Makes 6 servings.

Sweet and Spicy Penne in Fresh Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

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8 oz. penne pasta

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1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

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1⁄2 c riccotta cheese

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1 large tomato, quartered

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1 t salt

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Dash Tabasco sauce

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1⁄4 c Calamata olives

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2 T or more chopped fresh parsley

Directions: In large saucepot, heat salted water to boiling. Add penne. Cook until tender. Drain. Meanwhile, remove casings from sausage. In 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage until well-browned on all sides, stirring to crumble sausage. With slotted spoon, remove sausage to paper towels to drain.

In food processor or blender, blend ricotta cheese, tomato, pepper sauce, and salt until smooth. In large bowl, toss cooked penne with ricotta sauce, sausage, olives and chopped parsley. Mix well. Makes 4 servings.

 

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