I was sorely tempted to use store bought fresh(ish) salsa. It is convenient, right tasty and so on. I looked at the “use by: date and gently returned it to its place in the grocery store fridge. I don’t use “fresh” food that “keeps” for months.

Today’s recipe is concocted from my favorite ingredients. You can adjust it to your tastes. I used the original Rotel. You can use the really hot or the medium. You can leave the seeds and veins in the jalapenos for even more heat. I added more oregano and considered a dried Italian herb blend. The variations are unlimited.

I added chicken to my version. I sliced the chicken, fried it in butter and bacon drippings, then used the drippings to brush on the flatbread. And finally, I used flax, oat bran and whole wheat lavash bread. It was almost healthy.

While the BLT Pasta Salad is way better when it’s first made, I ate it the second day and was happy to see the lettuce had held up rather well. Not well enough to qualify as a make-ahead salad for company, but better than I expected, and good enough for me. So I ate it all.

You can use your choice of flat bread or even round tortillas for the quesadilla. Simply arrange them to lap over and cover the pan.

BLT Pasta Salad

For the dressing:

2/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 package dry ranch dressing mix

In a small bowl, whisk together. Chill at least one hour.

For the salad:

16 ounces pasta cooked al dente according to the package directions. Rinse, drain and cool completely.

2 cups diced tomatoes

2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce

10 slices crisp bacon, finely chopped

In a large bowl, add dressing to pasta and lettuce. Toss to coat. Add tomatoes and toss gently until well mixed. Garnish with crumbled bacon. Serve immediately.

Sheet Pan Quesadillas

1 package flat bread

Butter, oil or bacon drippings

Salsa

12 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese

Spray a baking sheet with Pam. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Brush one side of one piece of flat bread with oil, butter or drippings. Lay oiled side down on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with cheese. Using a slotted spoon, sprinkle generously with salsa. Sprinkle with more cheese if desired. Place second piece of flat bread on top. Brush with oil or butter. Sprinkle generously with cheese.

Bake until cheese is melted and golden. Cut into desired number of pieces. Garnish with sour cream if desired. Serve immediately.

Cook’s note: Add a layer of bite-sized pieces of cooked chicken if desired.

Salsa

1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley

2 cloves garlic, grated

Juice of one lime

1 avocado, diced

2 tomatillos, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined and diced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon olive oil

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Assemble all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir gently. Refrigerate until ready to use. Add to quesadilla with a slotted spoon. Enjoy any leftovers with tortilla chips.

Miss Olivia Sipe is the owner of Miss Olivia’s Table in Maryville.

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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