Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Missionary Cookbook Chapter 4: Pasta Profiles 4 amazing Pasta Salads from one basic recipe


It's time for a little update on the mission of my amazing son Elder Luke Petersen. For those who have been following his adventures with us. We've had a change in location happen recently that was unexpected but necessary for his health. We are excited to share that Luke was transferred to Salt Lake City, Utah to finish his missionary service staying with his grandparents (my parents). He is still away from home and still a full-time missionary. He is what is called a Service Missionary.

He is now working with the horticultural department and plants that will help make beautiful church Temple grounds, at our church headquarters, conference center, and visitor center. The grounds are extensive and full of gorgeous areas that need a huge amount of work. This is an amazing opportunity for someone who loves plants like Luke does! People come here from all over the world to feel the love of God and learn about Jesus Christ. It's Luke's way of spreading the seeds of the gospel. I ❤️ him for being willing to serve in this way. I am also so excited to see his love of God's creations in action.

He has also been working with my parents fulfilling humanitarian efforts at Welfare Square to feed the hungry worldwide. My parents have been full-time service missionaries at the Bishop's Storehouse at welfare Square for the last year. Welfare Square is a landmark location for The Church of Jesus Christ in its efforts to care for those in need. The square hosts various employment services, food production, and storage facilities, distribution centers, and training facilities. The services housed here are provided free of charge.

We believe in following the example of Jesus Christ to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and lift up the downtrodden. In the 1930s, many people in the Salt Lake City area were struggling as a result of the Great Depression. In 1936, the Church formalized a welfare program to provide for basic needs and give opportunities for employment. Two years later, in 1938, Welfare Square was created.

Welfare Square resides on its own campus and includes a 178-foot grain silo, a milk and cheese processing plant, a cannery, a bakery, a market-style grocery, a clothing collection warehouse, and employment assistance offices. Services on the square are operated by volunteers and employees of the Church.

I love that God knows our hearts. He knows how much Elder Petersen has always loved working with plants and the peace that he feels when he is surrounded by God's creations. I know that the Lord's creations testify in their own way that God is real and so does my sweet son. I don't doubt that he is working with these plants because he is learning some lifelong lessons to lead people to Jesus Christ. 

It is a wonderful experience so far and one that he is growing from immensely. No pun intended. Okay. Maybe a little pun intended. 
Look how awesome he looks in his official uniform. My heart. Xoxo! I'm just a little bit bursting with momma pride. Only because I saw my own father wear this same uniform for forty-five years of my life. I know what kind of a dedicated Christ-like man my dad has always been, and it takes a giant to fill these threads. Luke's calling is for the next eighteen months. Time is going to fly! 
So, I know that even though my son is staying with his grandparents and serving a service mission now, he is still making meals and taking his own lunches to the temple grounds in Salt Lake City. 

So here's the premise. One salad to rule them all. 

The original post for this was called the profile of a Killer Salad on this blog and something I taught my kiddos early on was how to step into the kitchen and know what flavors worked together. So this is something I wanted to share today with this chapter of The Missionary Cookbook for those who are looking for beginner simple recipes to make life easier for those first starting lives away from home. 

Herb Alchemy 101 Cooking Without a Recipe

How many just read the words "herbs and spices without a recipe" and panic set in? I can hear you saying, "I don't cook like that! I need a recipe.” If that is you, then this post is for you. I want you to try to let go of your cooking inhibitions and think with your heart. If my 5-year-olds could do this, you most definitely can do it now! I believe in you!

So to begin with a basic explanation, herbs are the aromatic leaves, flowers, and stems of plants and spices are seeds and the bark of aromatic edible plants. Fresh or dry herbs and spices will work in cooking applications, but make sure you smell them inside the jar. If it smells like a spice or herb, then the stuff inside is still full of flavor. Most spices will need to be in an in-ground or grated form for cooking or baking. If you don't have a spice mill (not many people do), then just buy them pre-ground. 

Below is the basic outline of some flavors that work together well. Follow the steps and you will find success.   

Step 1: Begin with the pasta salad base.

Chef Tess’ Pasta Salad 101

Basic Pasta Salad

1 lb. pasta of your choice, cooked al dente according to package directions and seasoned well with salt and pepper
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup carrots, shredded or chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced thin
½ medium red onion, sliced thin or chopped fine

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. 

Step 2: Make one batch of basic vinaigrette.

Basic Vinaigrette for Pennies a Jar! 

¾ cup olive or vegetable oil (flavored oils are great)
¼ cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tsp. fresh pressed garlic
Herbs and spices (see below for variations)
Salt and pepper

  • Whisk oil and vinegar with other ingredients in a bowl. 
  • Start with a half teaspoon at a time of the herb or spice you want to add and then sample. 
  • Adjust flavors according to your taste. 
  • For one batch of salad, you will need one batch of salad dressing. 

Step 3: Add flavor profile to dressing & mix salad. 

Dressing Variations 

These herb and spice suggestions are to be used in the basic vinaigrette recipe to customize the recipe to fit your need. Add the flavor combinations directly to the basic pasta salad recipe. Come up with your own and try mixing and matching fresh veggies as they are in season. You can even add seasonal fruit you like. For hearty dinners, add some roasted chicken, beef, fish, or tofu. Try marinating your meat in the vinaigrette to save a lot of money instead of buying those fancy bottles of pre-made stuff. You can do this! It can be very liberating, but for you folks who just want a grab-and-go dressing fix, just use the pre-made spice blends.

These are lists of flavors that work together for the cuisine you want to create they are not a complete list. They are intended to get you started

Herbs: Basil, rosemary, thyme, flat-leaf parsley, marjoram
Spices: Fennel, caraway, crushed red pepper, celery seed
Flavoring: Hard cheeses like parmesan, asiago, olives, roasted peppers, citrus zest, capers

Herbs: Dill, oregano, rosemary, mint, parsley,
Spices: Fennel, anise, black pepper, dill seed
Flavoring: Feta cheese, olives, pickled peppers

Herbs: Cilantro, oregano, thyme
Spice: Cumin, coriander, chile pods, black pepper, allspice
Flavoring: Lime zest, roasted corn, green onions, radish, black olives

Herbs: Cilantro, mint, lemon grass, sesame oil (use 2 tsp. in place of some of the oil)
Spices: Cumin, chile paste, curry paste, fennel, ginger
Flavoring: Lime zest, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, citrus zest, peanuts or cashews

©Chef Stephanie Petersen. 2011. All rights reserved. Copies are NOT permitted without written consent from the author even for personal or church use! Chef Stephanie Petersen can be contacted at and is Chef Tess on Facebook and Twitter. 

There you go darlings. Begin learning some flavor profiles. I'll be posting more in the future! I promise.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

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