Monday, September 17, 2007

Simple Salsa Salad and Cherry Fluff Cheesecake

Okay, I know I promised a great muffin recipe today... but you'll just have to be patient! I'm still learning how to use gluten-free flours and trying to find just the right recipe! I did make a batch this weekend, but they didn't turn out quite as I had hoped... so I'm going to try again before I present them to you!

Instead, I have two recipes for you: First, a delicious and refreshing "end of summer" salad! It's very easy to make, tastes delicious, is gluten free, practically a rainbow of colors, is a hit with crowds, and it's healthy for you to boot! Second, an "easy as pie" no-bake cherry cheesecake!

Michael's family had a big get-together this weekend, and I had to make a few dishes to bring along. I wanted to make a relatively healthy veggie side dish (as I knew not many of those would be available!) and a dessert that was gluten-free for me but tasty enough for everyone else to enjoy.

Here's what I came up with:

I named this a "Salsa Salad" because at the get-together Michael's aunt Linda wanted to know who made the salsa, she was asking everyone who made it... I didn't even know there was salsa there... then it dawned on me... my salad had quartered cherry tomatoes and other fresh veggies, and since that was the only dish with tomatoes that must be what she was talking about.

All you foodies know, that it's a huge compliment when anybody asks about your dish... so I sheepishly, but proudly admitted the dish was mine. The aunt said, "We LOVE this! We usually serve salsa like this with fish" I thought it was strange since the salad had Italian dressing and other than tomatoes and a green pepper, it didn't have any "salsa-like" ingredients... but I liked the name... so here is my "Simple Salsa Salad":

Simple Salsa Salad
  • 1/2 a container of sweet cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 cup baby carrots, sliced
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup Light Italian Dressing (which was also gluten-free)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
In a medium sized bowl, toss together all prepared vegetables. Pour Italian dressing over vegetables and toss to cover. Chill before serving and garnish with parmesan cheese.

For the gluten-free dessert, I created a cheesecake recipe, which used crushed walnuts for a crust:

Cherry Fluff Cheesecake

  • 1 (8 oz.) package reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1 (8 oz.) tub whipped topping
  • 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 - 2 cups whole walnuts, crushed until crumb-like in food processor or blender
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 can low-sugar cherry pie filling (most are gluten free, using corn starch as the thickener, check your ingredients)
In a medium-sized bowl mix cream cheese, whipped topping, and granulated sugar, until thoroughly combined. In a smaller bowl mix crushed walnuts, brown sugar, and melted butter until crumbly.

For crust, press walnut mixture evenly into a baking dish that has been spritzed with non-stick cooking spray. Pour cream cheese mixture evenly over the walnut crust. Top with cherry pie filling and chill until ready to serve. Makes 8 servings.

Here's the finished pie!

I was really excited that both of these recipes were a hit! There were NO leftovers either with the "salsa salad" or with the cheesecake! The big family get-together gave me a chance to experiment to see if I could make foods that were both appetizing and delicious for people with or without a gluten-intolerance. I feel like I succeeded! In the future, I plan on working with more fresh ingredients to create recipes that are safe for people with gluten-intolerance, but are also delicious to those who aren't!! Thanks for reading!
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