Archive for the 'herbs' Category


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.


Sage Ice Cream

I once tasted this incredible gelato in Santa Fe.  It was our last day there and we stopped in a little gelateria near downtown. The owner offered us a taste of sage. He had about a half dozen herbal flavors  —  basil, rosemary and thyme — but sage was hands down the best, he said. He couldn’t have been more right. If you’ve never had sage ice cream, you must try it. It’s refreshing like mint, but more subtle. It’s an unusual ice cream flavor that now makes all the sense in the world. It’s as memorable as the cinnamon gelato we had in Rome.

Summer berries are waning, so I figured last weekend was the perfect time to experiment with ice cream and sage. I picked this recipe on Epicurious after scouring the internet for ideas. This one had more than 50 people raving about how good it was. The egg yolks make it slightly yellow with a slight tint of green. The result is refreshing, creamy and decadent.

So here it is! It’s better than anything Ben & Jerry’s has come up with. I’m making this again soon. For fall: a scoop of sage ice cream with a warm piece of pumpkin cake.

Sage Ice Cream
Gourmet, October 2001

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half-and-half
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh sage
4 (2- by 1/2-inch) strips lemon zest
9 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Bring cream, half-and-half, sage, and zest to a boil in a large heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Remove from heat and steep, covered, 10 minutes.

Whisk together yolks, granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in half of hot cream, then whisk egg mixture into remaining cream in saucepan. Cook custard over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it coats back of spoon and reaches 170°F on thermometer, about 5 minutes (do not let boil).

Pour custard through a fine sieve into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally. Chill custard, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 3 hours.

Freeze custard in ice cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.


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.

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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.

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Pappa al Pomodoro

Jeff’s parents are in town this week to celebrate Father’s Day with us.

It’s Jeff’s first one. Since he’s such an awesome husband and dad, I want it to be terrific. I also want it to be terrific for his parents, so I’m going overboard in the kitchen. My plan is to make a special meal for everyone each night this week. We’ll have take-out a couple of nights too so I don’t keel over.

Tonight was Susan’s night. On the menu was Pappa al Pomodoro, a tomato soup that proves canned tomatoes can be just as exceptional as fresh ones. (I spotted a few tomatoes last week at the farmers’ market, but we’re still a couple weeks from a good selection.) This is one the best tomato soups I’ve found. You can make it year round. Chopped fennel, carrot and onion make this soup a bit chunky, one reason I like it so much. The other reason probably has to do with the basil and Parmesan.  Before serving, take a whisk and break up the bread, making it nice and thick. Croutons and crispy basil top it off. You could ad some crispy pancetta, which I didn’t do this time.

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Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli

I wish I had my parents’ problem. They have broccoli coming out of their ears. Their garden is producing so much they can’t keep up.

Maybe next spring I’ll plant my own. But for now, I’m finding it at farmers’ markets. It was piled high at the Webster Groves market on Thursday and made a strong showing this morning at Tower Grove. A couple of months ago, when broccoli was not in season, I bought a few pounds at the store and made this flavor-burst of a side dish. I wanted to try it again when broccoli is at its best, and that’s now.  Of the myriad recipes that highlight broccoli, I dare say this ranks near the top.

Here it’s tossed with olive oil and sliced garlic. Toasted pine nuts are added, along with lemon zest, lemon juice, basil leaves and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I use more olive oil than the original recipe calls for. Reduce it if you’d like. And if you’re shy about lemon, reduce the amount of juice just slightly.

The broccoli becomes slightly brown in the oven. It’s supposed to do that. The garlic also gets brown and crispy. Roast it in the upper part of the oven to avoid too much browning.

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Linguini with Shrimp, Asparagus and Basil

When books and magazines start taking over our coffee table, Jeff always looks at me. I know the look. Half of the clutter is my cook books and food magazines. The funny thing about that is I don’t even subscribe to any food magazines. I just hold onto my old ones and rediscover them every now and then.

I started leafing through one of my old Bon Appetits the other day. In May 2007, a photographer snapped a pic of this dish in front of the Sydney Opera House and made it the cover photo. I’ve made it for family and friends about a half dozen times since the issue came out. I made it again last night. We already had some asparagus, lemon and several pots of basil growing outside on the deck. Basil is what makes this dish.  The only wild card is the hot pepper. Red jalapenos, I’ve found, can vary in their degrees of heat. Maybe it has to do with shelf life, who knows. This time I used fresno chiles instead, with good results. If you can’t find a red chile, settle for green. The taste will be the same. The visual is all that will be lacking.

Continue reading ‘Linguini with Shrimp, Asparagus and Basil’


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