Metro-East Living

2 alternatives to classic summer dishes

This seven-layer salad has chicken and tortellini in it.
This seven-layer salad has chicken and tortellini in it.

Can a cobbler be made in the slow cooker?

Are there any new ways to make a seven-layer salad?

The questions arrived in my email last Monday morning. Readers in need of help.

Well, that’s my job. So, the answer is yes to both.

The Black and Blue Slow-Cooker Cobbler recipe from Taste of Home uses frozen blueberries and blackberries, which may be a bit of a disappointment with so much fresh fruit around, but they hold up best in these kinds of recipes that cook for several hours.

Advantage to using a slow cooker: The kitchen will stay cool and you can serve out of the cooking container. (Put the cooker with lid inside a cardboard box with an old kitchen towel under it to contain any possible spills if you need to transport it.)

On to seven-layer salads: They remain very popular because they deliver a dish that is as tasty as it is colorful. Presentation in a glass bowl is required.

I chose the Layered Tortellini Pesto Chicken Salad recipe by Betty Crocker. (The chicken is optional.)

The pasta adds a nice layer to the green salad and the pesto dressing on top is just the right touch of summer basil. Of course, if you’re lazy, busy or in a hurry, you can use whatever bottled dressing you like.

Also, I think fresh pea pods could easily be substituted for the peas.

Contact me at, 618-239-2664 and follow me on Twitter @BoyleSuzanne. Write to 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

Executive chef Thomas Hiestand shows you a quick way to make a gorgeous, healthy salad with arugula, roasted beets, tomato and onion. Hiestand is the executive chef at Kingston Plantation, home of Vintage Twelve, in Myrtle Beach.

Black and Blue Slow-Cooker Cobbler

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

3/4 cup water

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Combine the eggs, milk and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Spread the batter evenly onto the bottom of a greased 5-quart slow cooker.

In a large saucepan, combine the berries, water, orange peel and remaining sugar; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat; immediately pour over batter. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out clean.

Turn cooker off. Uncover and let stand for 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Yield: 6 servings, each with 391 calories, 7 grams fat, 72 mg cholesterol, 190 mg sodium, 80 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 5 grams protein.

Layered Tortellini Pesto Chicken Salad

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini

1 cup frozen sweet peas

5 cups torn romaine lettuce

1 1/2 cups julienne (matchstick-cut) carrots

2 cups chopped chicken or grilled chicken strips, optional

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips


1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/2 cup basil pesto

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

Cook tortellini as directed on package, adding peas during last 4 minutes of cook time. Drain; rinse immediately with cold water. Pat with paper towels to remove moisture.

In 3- or 4-quart clear bowl, layer the lettuce, the carrots, chicken, peas, tortellini and bell pepper.

In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, pesto and buttermilk. Spread a small amount over top layer of salad. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours until chilled or overnight. Sprinkle with basil before serving. Have remaining dressing on hand.

Makes 8 servings, each with 330 calories, 18 grams fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 440 mg sodium, 24 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 17 grams protein. Exchanges: 1 starch; 1/2 other carbohydrate; 1 vegetable; 1 1/2 lean meat; 2 1/2 fat. Carbohydrate choice: 1 1/2.