Archive for the 'basil' Category

31
Jul
11

Succotash

I know a recipe is good if I’m still thinking about it three weeks later. Yesterday I picked up six ears of corn at the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market because I needed to make this again. Sweet corn kernels, limas, garbanzos, tomatoes tossed with tarragon and a champagne vinaigrette. It’s so amazingly addictive. Hands down, this is my favorite find this summer.

I adapted this from a recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website.  There is a lot of wiggle room here — grill the corn, or boil it. Use other varieties of beans, such as fava, or use different herbs. But please, do include tarragon. The hint of licorice and the sweet tang of the vinaigrette is what really make this work.

I took some of this over to my friend Christine, who had twin boys five months ago. Yes, it’s taken me five months to take food to her. I also took her my mom’s chicken tetrazzini — 80’s comfort food at its best.  Better late than never, right?

And few things are better than summer veggies in late July. Sweet corn, multi-colored tomatoes, fragrant herbs. Before I turn you loose with this recipe, know that this may take longer to make than you’d expect. Plan for 45 minutes if you use corn on the cob. The only problem here is you’ll end up with more vinaigrette than you’ll need. This is best at room temperature. I can say with near certainty that it’s nothing like the succotash you grew up with.

Succotash
adapted from Williams-Sonoma.com

For the Champagne vinaigrette:

1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T Champagne vinegar
2 T Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper

Succotash

6 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
3 to 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups frozen lima beans
1 1/2 cups frozen edamame
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced
10 to 12 cherry or tear-drop tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 T chopped fresh basil
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

To make the vinaigrette, in a bowl, combine the grapeseed oil and olive oil in a measuring cup with a spout. In a nonaluminum bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt and white pepper. Add the oils in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Use immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Bring a pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil corn for 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Remove kernels with a paring knife, running the knife down the cob vertically. Put corn in a large bowl. Boil edamame and lima beans according to package instructions.

In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, chickpeas, lima beans, vine-ripened and teardrop tomatoes, basil, parsley, tarragon and onion. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and black pepper.

Serve with the remaining vinaigrette on the side. Serves 6 to 8.

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23
Jan
11

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

We’re on Week 2 of what seems like constant snowfall. At least five inches fell about 10 days ago. Then eight inches fell last week. Another two inches or so fell today. Yesterday afternoon, I rushed out to the store with the rest of St. Louis to stock up on bread, milk, eggs, and — ahem — cannelloni noodles.

When it snows, we stay in. Gabi started walking last month. She’s not exactly ready to go bounding out into the snow. So, we spend a lot of  time pointing at it from inside.  Today, while Jeff and Gabi played in the living room, I cooked. I baked cinnamon raisin bread (post will follow later this week). I took my second stab at vanilla yogurt. And, I make this spinach cannelloni for dinner.

I’ve been thinking about this dish since summer. I bought this Jamie Oliver cookbook when the weather was quite hot — too hot for cannelloni.  It’s been in my head ever since. There are several reasons to try this one. First, this is a pretty simple cannelloni recipe. No bechamel sauce is necessary. Boiling the noodles isn’t either. And, the end result is wonderful in every way. The cannelloni is warm, melty, delicious. The noodles are a bit crispy on top. The spinach and ricotta make a light and super yummy filling. On a snow day like today — it is perfect.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
adapted from Jamie’s Dinners: The Essential Family Cookbook

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
handful of fresh oregano or marjoram, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
8 large handfuls spinach (about 3 large bunches), thoroughly washed
handful of fresh basil, stalks reserved and chopped, leaves torn
28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
salt and freshly ground pepper
pinch of sugar
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
16 cannelloni tubes
7 ounces mozzarella, broken up

For the white sauce
1 cup creme fraiche
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Find baking pan large enough to fit cannelloni in one layer, if possible.

In a medium saucepan, heat butter on high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, one of the sliced garlic cloves, a handful of the chopped oregano or marjoram, and the nutmeg. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add spinach in batches. Use tongs to turn it over, and add more as it cooks down.

Cook spinach for 5 minutes. Then, put the spinach into a large bowl and allow it to cool. Return the pan to heat, add a bit of olive oil, the other clove of sliced garlic, basil stalks and the chopped tomatoes. Pour tomato juice from the can into the pan. Add about a cup of water. Bring to boil. Turn the heat down, add a pinch of salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until you have a loose tomato sauce. Take the pan off the heat and add the basil leaves.

Squeeze excess water from the spinach, but keep the liquid in the bowl. Finely chop the spinach and put it back into the bowl. Mix it with the liquid.  Add the ricotta and 1/2 cup Parmesan, stir to combine. Fill the cannelloni with the spinach mixture. You can do this with a piping bag, or fill a plastic sandwich bag, twist the bag so the filling is pushed into on corner,  cut a hole in the corner and squeeze. Or, use your fingers to stuff the noodles.

Pour the tomato sauce into the baking dish. Put the filled cannelloni on top of the sauce. Arrange in one layer so the noodles are snug.

To make the white sauce, mix together the creme fraiche and the cup of Parmesan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Loosen the sauce with a little water until you can spoon it over the cannelloni. Sprinkle withremaining Parm and te mozzarella pieces, and back for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

21
Sep
10

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

The kitchen sink became clogged over the weekend. For two days we couldn’t use it. After spending what seemed like hours plunging it, pouring boiling water down the drain, and trying to fix the problem with a baking soda and vinegar solution, we called the plumber. Turns out the problem wasn’t a simple clog, but our 100-year-old pipe that had corroded and leaked beneath our basement floor. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but the long and short of it is this:  It’s now fixed.

Before the sink debacle, I went to the Tower Groves Farmers Market for one last tomato fix. Our tomato plants have stopped producing. It’s the tail end of the season. So, I stocked up one last time. I grabbed a mix of heirlooms, red onion and carrots for this cream of tomato soup. I’ve been wanting to try it since Christmas, when I received the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook. It’s almost cruel to receive a cookbook in December with this recipe, knowing it will be months before tomatoes would be in season. Cream of tomato soup has been on my to-do list ever since.

And let me tell you, it is awesome. The soup is smooth with several layers of flavor. There’s the hint of basil and garlic. The sweetness of the carrots enhances the tomatoes.  The onion adds a subtle bite. It would be easy to skip the Parmesan croutons, but don’t cut this corner. They’re essential. They absorb the soup and they add crunch. Yum!

Continue reading ‘Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup’

04
Sep
10

Eggplant Caponata

I know what you’re thinking. Seriously? More eggplant??

Eggplants are like bay leaves. I use them all the time but don’t really know what they taste like. As long as they’re in season, they’re on our counter.

All summer, I’ve wanted to make caponata, a Sicilian dish that’s usually served as a salad or relish. There are a gazillion variations of this, but generally it’s comprised of eggplant, onion, tomatoes, capers, olives, nuts, anchovies, vinegar and olive oil (I skip the anchovies). It’s one of those foods that improves with time. You make it, put it in the refrigerator for 8 hours or more, and then serve.

This one has almonds and pine nuts, which lend a nice crunch. The flavors are strong. I prefer it on toasted bread, but you could eat it as a relish or salad. Serve at room temperature.

Continue reading ‘Eggplant Caponata’

20
Aug
10

Pasta Caprese

It’s tomato season. And that means raw tomato sauces.

Among my favorites: cherry tomatoes marinated in balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and tossed with arugula. Romas diced and tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Heirlooms chopped and mixed with olives, red wine vinegar and majoram. There are hundreds of ways.

A few days ago, I used  romas from our garden and several heirlooms from our Fair Shares box to make this rustic raw tomato sauce. If you like caprese salads, you’ll like this. And if you have little time to make dinner, you’ll thank me for it, too.

It comes together in less than a half hour, and the ingredient list is small. The success depends on quality, like so many recipes that rely on a handful of fresh ingredients. Tomatoes must be in season. Your olive oil must be good enough to stand alone. Your mozzarella must be fresh, packed in water.

This is a nice way to use summer tomatoes. I ate the leftovers last week for lunch. It’s great at room temperature, or even cold, as a pasta salad.

Pasta Caprese
Cook’s Illustrated, July 2007

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 small shallot, minced fine
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut in 1/2-inch dice
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound penne, or other tubular pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Whisk oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Add tomatoes and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate tomatoes longer than 45 minutes.

While tomatoes are marinating, place mozzarella on a plate and freeze until slightly firm, about 10 minutes. Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well.

Add pasta and mozzarella to tomato mixture and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 7.

04
Aug
10

Turkey Sausage Lasagna

My friend Kim had a baby recently. In other words, I had an excuse to make this lasagna. I’ve developed quite an attachment to this recipe. It was first meal I made at our condo in the Central West End, shortly before Jeff and I got married. I’ve made it for special occasions, cold weekends, and whenever I crave it, like this week (so what if it’s 100 degrees outside?). Last year at this time, my  friend Mark from Malaysia came over for an American cooking lesson, so to speak. He wanted to learn to make lasagna, so we cooked two batches. One we inhaled with Jeff, Elie and Chris on our deck that night, and the other went into the freezer. I brought it out about one month after Gabi was born.

So once again, the opportunity presented itself. Two batches. One for Kim and Todd. The other for our freezer. Yesterday I took ours out and heated it up until the cheese started to burn slightly along the edges. The turkey sausage-tomato sauce infuses the lasagna with hints of fennel. The ricotta cheese mixture, with parsley and basil, give it a freshness you don’t find often in lasagna. The goat cheese adds some salty tang. It all comes together in one melty, cheesy, tomatoey kiss.

There are millions of lasagnas out there. I always come back to this one. It comes with terrific memories, and the taste is out of this world.

Continue reading ‘Turkey Sausage Lasagna’

24
Jul
10

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

We’re finally settling into a routine. It’s been four weeks since I returned to work, and two weeks since our 10-month-old started daycare. It’s not as crazy around here as it was 14 days ago. Still, finding time to cook during the week is tough.  Making this fabulous tart on a Tuesday night felt like a coup.

I must disclose that I did come home from work early. I picked Gabi up from daycare around 2, stopped at the store, put her down for a nap and made the tart dough.  By 5:30 the tart was ready to pop in the oven. It was about then that two of my favorite people — Colleen and Don — knocked on the door. They were passing through town on their way from Providence, RI to Seattle. They’re about to move to Hawaii, lucky them, and they were staying  the night with us.

I put the tart in the oven a couple hours later, when Gabi was down for the night. We ate it with a green salad and crisp white wine.

The tomatoes and onions are sweet, the crust is flaky and buttery, and the goat cheese lends offers tome tang. Make this tart once and you’ll want to make it again and again.

Continue reading ‘Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart’




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