Cookin’ with Love for Boone, NC!

Cookin’ with Love for Boone, NC!

There’s nothing I like better than to cook with friends. Read about my latest interactive cooking class, where THEY ended up being the teachers!

I’m front row, left: this is at Linville Ridge Country Club where we cook for Hospitality House.

Twice this summer, residents of Linville Ridge will invade our Chef’s kitchen and cook dinner for over 100 clients of Hospitality House. This past class, we had over twenty-five participants (including a much loved, precocious 9-year old), and man did we do it up!

The menu included dense cornbread smothered in a cinnamon and honey-butter glaze, a tortellini pasta salad that has been my summer picnic go-to for decades, my (award-winning) chunky pork and butternut squash chili, and a nutty, chocolatey biscotti cookie for dessert! You can find all of these recipes in Sunday Best Dishes and at

Here it is plated:

This is how we do it. First, I organize the cooking into stations; one station for each dish. Because we’re feeding so many, it’s easy to find enough chores per dish to include five or six people at each station. My secret is to take everyone out of their comfort zones. I find out who loves to bake, and scoot them over to the salad station. Those who love to sauté move right over to that bad-ass mixer. The idea is that everyone learns a little something new to play around with at home. Everyone samples the meal and takes home the recipes. There are aprons and cookbooks as party favors. I am always overwhelmed by the generous donations.

They are necessary! We’re about to embark on a new project: helping Hospitality House upgrade their kitchen into one that is not only functional, but that can support teaching culinary skills and perhaps even help feed others in our community. It’s ambitious…. so, I’ll keep you posted!

Here is the tortellini recipe I made with my class. Enjoy as a light supper, or as a satisfying side dish. Easy preparation allows for all of the ingredients to be tossed with the vinaigrette and chilled until you are ready to serve.

Pasta Salad with Southwestern Vinaigrette
serves 6 to 8
45 minute cuisine

For pasta:
1 pound cheese tortellini
½ pound hard salami, cut into ½-inch chunks
½ pound sharp white American cheddar cheese, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 (7-ounce jar) roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
For vinaigrette:
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 medium lime (about 2 tablespoons)
¼ small red onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh cilantro
¼ cup fresh spinach leaves
¼ to ½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Rinse in cold water and place into a large bowl. Add the chunks of salami and cheese, and the roasted pepper and tomato halves.

Place the red wine vinegar, lime juice, red onion, garlic, honey, cilantro and spinach leaves into the bowl of a food processor and blender. Pulse to combine. Add the olive oil through the feed tube, a little at a time. The vinaigrette should be thick and completely emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour ¾ of the dressing over the pasta and toss to combine. Chill the salad until you are ready to serve.

Bring to room temperature, and toss with the remaining salad dressing for maximum flavor explosion!!!

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