Beet and Basil salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Happy Valentine’s Day!
In case you didn’t know, beets are SO so good, fabulously cheap, and they are FULL of fiber and nutrients to keep you full and healthy.  They also are a vibrant hue of red that is perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner salad!  Goat cheese is so smooth and creamy…. in this dish it creates a perfect balance between the crunchy walnuts and sweet fresh basil and sumptuous beets.  Topped with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh cracked pepper, and you will see what we mean!
Serves 2-4 depending on serving size desired
2 medium beets
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup basil, sliced in strips
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste
You’ll need a pot with a steamer basket insert and lid, fill the pot with 2 inches of water ( we use a metal colander that happens to fit perfectly within our stock pot)  Place the beets in the basket and cover with the lid, bring to a boil, then simmer with lid on for 35-40 minutes until beets are poke tender.  Allow them to cool a bit, then using a paper towel rub the skin off the beets, it should easily peel off.  Trim the top and bottom stem parts away.  Slice the beets in to 1/4″ thick round and place in an ice bath to cool completely. 
Pat the beet rounds dry, then plate desired amount.  Top the beets with some goat cheese crumbles, then some basil, sprinkle with walnuts, and drizzle olive oil on top.  Fresh cracked pepper and salt if desired! 

Tortellini, Tomato and Spinach Soup

Most weekends, you’ll find us on a Sunday morning perusing recipes and creating a grocery list over coffee and breakfast…. ooo glorious weekends!  We had made a trip Saturday to our favorite Italian grocer on Taylor Street- Conti Di Savoia, for a quick Italian sub for lunch ( aka, the best sandwich EVER no joke).  While were there, we decided to pick up some fresh cheese and porcini tortellinis to have on hand to make a quick dinner.  Well, Sunday we added the ingredients to the following recipe to our grocery list and were happily surprised at how wonderful and satisfying tortellini can be in a soup- who knew?  Normally you’d be prone to tossing a jar of red sauce on them and calling it a night, but this recipe is oh so much better.  You can actually taste the fresh tortelli flavor and a nice bite of fresh veggies plus a kick from teh crushed red pepper flakes, all balanced with a bit of fresh parmesan cheese… this is what you need:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 clove garlic, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 (14-ounce) can low sodium diced tomatoes, with juices
1lb fresh tortellini, cheese or spinach or mushroom
4 ounces fresh baby spinach, sliced in ribbons
Coarse grained salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, very loosely packed
  In a 3-quart soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring often until onions are translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes, stir well for a couple minutes.  Add broth and tomatoes, turn heat up to high, and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes.  Next, add the tortellini and spinach, cook 6 minutes more. Taste, adjusting seasonings with salt and pepper.  Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of Parmesan.