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Posts Tagged ‘basil’

I went through my garden to harvest what was ready or needed to be thinned. After a quick run through,  I took a look at my pickings.

Swiss chard, baby gray zucchini, and green beans.  Hmmmmm.  Since it was overcast, soup pops into mind.  And minestrone fits the bill.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of tomato based soups, but I can make an exception if the veggies are from my garden, or if it is this particular minestrone soup.  And since I can have both, well there you go!

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, sliced in 1/8 to 1/4 inch rounds
  • 3-4 stalk of celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 4 large swiss chard or bok choy stalks,  separate the stalks from the leaves,and then chop all of it (you can substitute 3 cups of fresh spinach as well!)
  • 1-1/2 cups of fresh or frozen green beans
  • 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup of red wine (optional, but yummy!)
  • 1 14oz can of cannellini or kidney beans (I used light red in this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I’ve even used a tablespoon of basil pesto as a substitution!)
  • 2 zucchini, halved and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups of slightly undercooked pasta (I would recommend a mini penne, mini elbow, or something unique. No flat noodles!  I used a campanelle for this batch)
  • Shredded parmesan or Italian cheese blend for topping
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot on medium high, heat the olive oil until it’s shimmering.  Stir in the carrots, onion, and celery and sautee until they just start to brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about another minute.

Pour in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (juice included), green beans and chard stems, and give a good stir.

Next add in the kidney beans, beef broth, and wine if you’re using it.

Bring the soup to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Stir in the chard leaves (or spinach), oregano and basil

then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Next,  stir in your semi-cooked pasta and zucchini.

Again cover with a lid and simmer for another 15-25 minutes until the pasta is cooked to “al dente” or still has a little tooth to it.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve sprinkled with shredded parmesan. Yet another recipe that gets even better the next day!!!!!

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Basil “Pesto”

The reason I don’t like calling this sauce a true basil pesto is that it’s missing a main ingredient.  I don’t add pine nuts.  I’ve tried pesto with toasted pine nuts, with a small amount of pine nuts, with walnuts even (which is good!) but was still not happy.  The nuts seem to take away the from the flavor of the basil, which is the showcase of this sauce.  So I just stay away from them. I use this to make creamy pesto dressing, pesto bread, pesto lasagna, pizza…  so I figure I better post this recipes as the base to many!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of basil leaves
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup of olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan or Italian cheese blend
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter

Pick all the basil leaves from the stems. Inspect your basil to make sure there aren’t any critters living on there. I had a bad experience with aphids on basil once. Gently rinse of the leaves and dry on a paper towel.  You don’t want to bruise the leaves.

Stuff all your basil, garlic, salt, and olive oil into a blender or food processor.

Blend for 20-30 seconds or until he garlic is completely chopped up and you have a bright green slurry.  It may take longer than 30 second depending on the blender you’re using, and it may need more olive oil. Drizzle oil in as needed up to 2/3 cup of olive oil.

Once your garlic and basil are all chopped up, add in cheese and melted butter.

And pulse 5-6 times to blend the cheese.  Store refrigerated in a mason jar (the glass isn’t porous and

doesn’t stain) but make sure the top is completely covered by a thin layer of olive oil to prevent spoiling.

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Nothing celebrates spring like a bright plate of pasta chock full of veggies.  I find myself craving this every year as the fields turn bright green with new foliage. It always makes me think of my friend Trina, and trips to Alexander Valley for wine tasting. Oh, the days when I didn’t have kids…    OK,  enough with the daydreaming.  At least there’s still the primavera. PS:  T- I miss your little water-tower house!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pasta of your choice (Fettuccine is the norm, but I didn’t have any so I used farfalle in this recipe)
  • 16 stems of asparagus, woody end snapped off
  • 2 small zucchini (6-7 inches long)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 tbsp butter, separated into tbsp sized pats
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 4 tomatoes, preferably Roma or Plum but whatever is on hand will work
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press (which is my personal favorite way!)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, or Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 cup of loosely packed basil, chopped
  • the juice from half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 large bowl of ice water

This will make enough for 6-8 entrée sized servings, so beware! You can always cut the recipe in half.

Put two pots on the stove with 3-4 quarts of water and 1 tbsp of salt in each. Start prep work while bringing the water to a boil.

I cut up the vegetables in a specific way to speed up the cooking process. Be sure to keep them separated since they are initially cooked separately. Start with the asparagus. I cut two inches of the tips off, then slice in half lengthwise along the remaining stalk, and in half again as shown in the picture below.

As for the zucchini and carrots, take a peeler and press down a little while making your peeling motion in order to get a slightly thicker peel.

Then stack up the peeled strips and cut them in half lengthwise.

If you buy whole mushrooms, slice them!!!

Once your water is boiling, drop in the asparagus and boil for 45-60 seconds.

Then remove using a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Ta-dow. Once it’s cooled down (about a minute) remove from the cold water with a slotted spoon (you’ll need the water for cooling down the other cooked veggies) and put into a colander to finish draining.

Next cook the zucchini for 30-40 seconds

then plunge into the ice water, repeating the cooling down and then draining process. Next are the peas for 30 seconds, remove, cool-down and drain, and then the carrots for  1-1/2 to 2 minutes. I bet you can guess how you cool these down.  Once all veggies are cooled and drained, you should end up with a big and beautiful bowl of color. Take a look!

Purty!

Cut an “x” into the tips of your tomatoes like so –

and put into the boiling water.  Cook until the “x” on the end just starts to peel back or split, then plunge into your ice bath to stop the cooking process.  They should look something like this –

The skins should slide off pretty easily. Use the peeler on any stubborn pieces of tomato skin.  Now cut out the stem and chop them up.

Now is the time to cook your pasta. Pour it into the second pot of boiling water and stir to prevent sticking.

You can finally dump out that boiling veggie water from your first pot, and rinse it out since we’re going to use it to make the sauce while the pasta is boiling. Yep, we’re only using two pots to make primavera. How great is that!

Put 3 tbsp of butter into the dry pan and saute your mushrooms until lightly browned. Add in the chopped tomatoes.

Cook until the tomatoes start to break up about 8-10 minutes.

Check you pasta. If it’s done, drain and set it aside. If not quite done, continue to boil.

Add in the last tbsp of butter and your garlic to the mushroom mixture.

Cook until the garlic has mellowed, approximately 3 minutes. Turn down the heat to low, then add in the cream and half of the parmesan cheese (Save the rest of your cheese for sprinkling on top!) and stir until the cheese has melted and blended in with the sauce.  Simmer for an additional 3 minutes stirring until the sauce has slightly thickened. Set aside off of the heat until your pasta is done.

Pour drained pasta and veggies into the sauce and stir until completely combined.

Stir in basil and lemon juice and serve! Of course I sprinkle mine with more cheese due to my dairy addiction.

Join me.

I’m a dairy pusher.

Cut to 3 minutes later.

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This recipe is so yummy that even my 2 year old loves it.  Gotta have something to do with the vodka . It’s an oldie, but a goodie!

  • 3-4 mild Italian sausages
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 16 ounces pasta, such as rotelle or penne
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • Approximately 1  cup of chopped or shredded basil, more if you like it!
  • Parmesan for sprinkling

Lightly brown the Italian sausage in a non stick pan for 5-7 minutes.  Just enough to firm them up and make them easier to cut. They do not have to be completely cooked at this point.  Pull sausages out of the pan and slice into 1/2 inch pieces.  Throw them back into pan and fry until browned and cooked thoroughly, about another 7-10 minutes.  Place sausage pieces into a bowl and set aside.

Start boiling pasta according to directions

Clean your current pan or be lazy like me and get out another pan.  Pour in olive oil and butter, then heat over medium high heat until butter is frothy but not browned.  Quickly stir in onion and shallots, cook for 2-3 minutes then add in mushrooms. Saute for an additional 5 minutes. Don’t forget to check to see if your pasta is done!!!!

Add vodka to the mushroom mix and cook until the liquid reduces by half. Next pour in chicken stock, tomatoes(including juice from cans), and garlic, then lower heat. Add sausage pieces back to pan.   Simmer for  10-15 minutes until flavors of your sauce are combined.

Whisk corn starch into cream until blended. Mix cream mixture with sauce and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and stir in pasta and 1/2 cup of the basil. Sprinkle parmesan and remaining basil on top.

I love serving this with french bread and a salad…    total pasta basics!

For a vegetarian version: Omit sausage, and chicken stock.  Substitute veggie stock , add  1/2 tsp fennel seeds  and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes when putting in the tomatoes and garlic. I think fresh sliced fennel bulb might be a good addition to saute with the mushrooms and onion if you like as well. MMMMmmmmmMMMMMmmmm!

Ta-Da!!!!!!!

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