Posts Tagged ‘basil’

{Meatless Monday} Spaghetti Caprese

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Eating meatless seems simpler in the summer, when steamy hot August days often leave me in the mood for little more than a salad for supper. The traditional caprese salad, comprised of tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, is perfectly sufficient for dinner along with a few slices of a nice, crusty baguette. I was in the mood for something with slightly more substance, though, so I added pasta. You’ll want to use very ripe cherry tomatoes and real, fresh mozzarella — the liquid from the tomatoes and cheese combine to make a silky sauce for the spaghetti. I used Blue Ridge Dairy’s boccini mozzarella (small ball-shaped) from the Falls Church Farmers Market.

The sungold yellow cherry tomatoes and the basil for this meal came from our own kitchen garden — the two stars of our garden, I might add. While the sungold tomatoes have not made a tomato lover out of my son, he did voluntarily taste one … and offer to try them again another time. Small steps… he does enjoy picking them and bringing them in for us to eat, though!

Recipe: Spaghetti Caprese

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • about 4 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, preferably small balls (halved) or else cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper

Instructions: Prepare spaghetti according to package instructions; drain and set aside. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Cook until garlic softens and begins to appear translucent, being careful not to brown. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook several minutes, letting tomatoes give off their juices. Add basil, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Toss with the spaghetti noodles and let cool a couple minutes before adding the mozzarella. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Panzanella with Cannellini Beans

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Looking for a no-cook summer supper idea? How about one that uses up almost-overripe tomatoes and stale bread? Panzanella is an Italian summer salad that is best made with the ripest summer tomatoes you can find — and the perfect way to use those tomatoes sitting on your kitchen counter.

Panzanella can be served as a side dish or the main course — because I was serving this for Meatless Monday, I added cannellini (or white kidney) beans to boost the protein content. A good quality cheese — parmigiano reggiano or my personal favorite, a sharp pecorino — is a great finishing touch. Because I use canned beans to save time (see note below), I like to cook them with a little garlic first to add flavor. You can omit that step if you prefer, or if you’re more organized than I and cook dried beans ahead of time.

Recipe: Panzanella with Cannellini Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf day-old Italian bread
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans*
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large, very ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • parmigiano or pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus 1 tablespoon for the beans)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • sea salt and black pepper

* I use Eden brand organic, BPA-free canned beans

Instructions: Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium low. Cook garlic for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Rinse and drain the canned beans, then add them to the pan, stirring to combine with the garlic. Cook on low for 5 minutes.

In a large salad bowl, pour the bread cubes, cooked beans, tomatoes and basil. Separately, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make a vinaigrette. Drizzle over the salad and toss gently to combine. Let the salad sit on the counter for 15-30 minutes to let the flavors meld before eating. Just before serving, grate some cheese over top. Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!

Note: this recipe depends on juicy tomatoes to moisten the salad — if your salad seems dry, add additional olive oil and vinegar to taste.

(Sorta Meatless Monday) Coconut Basil Shrimp Stir-Fry

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I’m not sure if there’s an official rule about seafood on Meatless Monday, but I’ve generally avoided it thus far. Since part of the purpose of Meatless Monday is to raise awareness of the environmental impact of our food choices, I figured I’d make an exception for a farewell to Gulf shrimp. This dinner was loosely inspired by Aimee’s coconut rice, in that I had the two ingredients on the mind. The snap peas came from the farmers market, and were just as crisp and sweet as they look. And the basil was the first harvest from my freshly-potted herb planter.

Recipe: Coconut Basil Shrimp Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound wild Gulf shrimp
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 cups snap peas
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

Instructions: Toast coconut in cast iron skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside. Warm olive oil in skillet and cook garlic until soft and translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook until pink and cooked through. Add soy sauce, snap peas and coconut and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle basil over top. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

The FoodieTots family participates in Meatless Mondays, cutting out meat one day a week for our health and for the environment. (When we do eat meat, we choose local and grassfed whenever possible.) Visit the Meatless Monday pledge page to learn more, and sign up for weekly tips and recipes you can use to go meatless, too!

One Local Summer Tomato Peach Panzanella

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

By this point of the summer, meals at the Foodie Tot house tend to become simple variations of mixed grill or summer salads. To say I am obsessed with the pairing of summer tomatoes and peaches would be an understatement. This Italian bread salad, incorporating the two plus sweet corn, is the perfect showcase for summer’s peak ingredients and is a quick, no-cook, one-dish-meal that’s perfect for busy summer weekends.

tomato peach panzanella salad

Recipe: Tomato Peach Panzanella

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices day-old hearty Italian bread or corn bread
  • 2 large very ripe tomatoes
  • 2 large very ripe peaches
  • 2 ears corn, shucked
  • several basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces aged white cheddar, cubed

vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions: Toast the bread slices and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Cut the tomatoes and peaches into 1/2-inch cubes as well. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs. In a bowl, layer the bread, tomatoes, peaches and corn. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to make vinaigrette. Sprinkle vinaigrette and basil over salad and toss gently. Stir in cheese and let stand for 10 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Farms of Origin: peaches, Bigg Riggs (WV); tomatoes, basil, sweet corn, Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA (VA); cheddar, Tom the Cheese Guy (PA); bread (dinner rolls), Valentine’s Country Bakery & Meat (VA); from the Alexandria Upper King Street and McLean Farmers Markets.

More peach & tomato recipes:

What’s your favorite peach/tomato recipe?

One Local Summer is an annual challenge in which people around the world join together for 13 weeks of seasonal eating, supporting local farmers and exploring their local foodsheds. Visit FarmtoPhilly on Tuesdays for the weekly round-up; here’s what my neighbors in the Southern region cooked up this week.

One Local Supper, BLT Fettuccine

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

one local summer 2009We were out of town again over the weekend, so our local foods eating was partly an effort to use up market and CSA produce before we left. This colorful pasta creation used a rainbow of locally-sourced ingredients, starting with a favorite staple at our house, fresh pasta by Nancy of Smith Meadows. Nancy uses their wildly popular free-range eggs and herbs and vegetables grown at neighboring farms to make these delicious pastas. The flavors range from oat and wheat to herbed fettuccine and mixed greens or blue cheese pecan ravioli. Nancy has also expanded her offerings to include sauces, for an even more effortless “fast food” meal you can feel good about, too.

This week, I used bacon, cherry tomatoes and chard for a “BLT” (subbing chard for the lettuce) pasta dish, a flavorful and quick weeknight dinner, with a side of green and yellow string beans for good measure.

BLT fettucine

Recipe: “BLT” Fettuccine

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh sun dried tomato fettuccine
  • 4 slices nitrate-free bacon
  • 1 bunch chard, rinsed and cut into thick slices
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound string beans, ends trimmed
  • several basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions: Bring large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat and cook bacon until crisp and brown, 6-7 minutes. Remove to drain on paper towel lined plated. Drain excess grease, leaving a light coating in the bottom of the pan. Add chard and season with a pinch of salt and pepper; reduce heat to medium low and cook until chard just begins to wilt. Remove from pan. Add cherry tomatoes to pan, increase heat back to medium high and cook until tomatoes begin to blister, 6-8 minutes.

While the tomatoes cook, blanch string beans in salted boiling water just 1-2 minutes, then use slotted spoon or pasta skimmer to remove beans and rinse with cold water in a colander. Set aside and boil pasta for 2 minutes (or according to package instructions if using boxed pasta). Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water.

In a large pasta serving bowl, gently stir together cooked pasta, tomatoes, chard, bacon, and basil. Press gently on tomatoes to release their juices. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil and reserved pasta water until moist. (Optional: grate parmesan cheese over top.) Arrange string beans around the side of the pasta, and enjoy! Makes 6 servings.

Farms of Origin: Cibola Farms (bacon), Potomac Vegetable Farms (chard, basil), Three Way Farm (beans, tomatoes), Smith Meadow Farm (pasta) — all in Virginia.

One Local Summer is an annual challenge in which people around the world join together for 13 weeks of seasonal eating, supporting local farmers and exploring their local foodsheds. Visit FarmtoPhilly on Tuesdays for the weekly round-up; here’s what my neighbors in the Southern region cooked up this week.