Posts tagged ‘basil’

July 11, 2011

Pesto Pasta Salad

(NOTE: since the publishing of this post, it was accepted to Tastespotting, Foodgawker is still pending. I get so frustrated with those sites sometimes, but it sure is satisfaction when they accept my photos – a challenge!)

During the summer the easy no fuss side dishes are a must-have! Nobody wants to turn on the stove or oven and heat up the house in the middle of summer. A foodie included! While a friend and I were roaming the Farmer’s Market this past weekend, she recalled one of the vendors who made a pasta salad with pesto and toasted pine nuts. She said she sometimes that salad was her only reason for going to the Market. However, there was no sign of the pesto and toasted pine nut salad in sight; so we decided to make our own version.

There was a cheese in the salad that after making this version with mozzarella, we realized the salad at the Market probably had Ricotta Salata. So, maybe that would be a good addition to this salad. We’ll try it out next time.

 

1lb pasta (Campenelli used in the photo above, pesto clings best to textured pastas – getting in all the nooks and crannies)

8oz fresh bocconcini mozzarella (fresh mozzarella)

1 cup pesto (homemade or your favorite store bought)

1 cup sliced grape tomatoes

1/2 very finely sliced red onion

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Cook pasta according to directions on the box, making sure to season the water generously with salt. (think sea water. While the pasta is cooking is the only opportunity to infuse the pasta with flavor).

While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts, thinly slice the onions and cut up the tomatoes. I like to quarter the tomatoes and the larger tomatoes I will cut the quarters in half.

For the cheese, I pull pieces off the ball of cheese rather than cutting it, that gives the pieces a “rustic” feel and the chucks of cheese wrap around the pasta.

Once the pasta is done cooking, strain it and rinse it immediately with cold water. Add the pesto and stir until all the pasta is coated. Then add the onion, tomatoes and cheese and toss.

Sprinkle the top with toasted pine nuts and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

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April 25, 2011

Un-Traditional Easter Dinner

Since our family had to postpone Easter dinner until next weekend, I decided to make Braciole for Easter. It’s a dish I attempted and failed at before so it was time for another try.

Braciole is an Italian dish made with steak (sirloin pounded into think strips, or flank steak pounded to about a 1/4’”) stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese, and herbs, then stewed in a tomato sauce.

Technique: Braising. Braising and stewing begin with searing meats to lock in the moisture and create a good crust on the meat. Another great side effect of Braising is the sauce. Braising uses a small amount of liquid so by the end of the cooking process the sauce has reduced and developed deeper flavors.

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I begin with the tomato sauce since it should simmer for 30-minutes, then I use that time to make the stuffing and prepare the steak.

Tomato Sauce

2 cloves of garlic

1 onion, finely diced

8oz mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup white wine

crushed red pepper

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

4-5 basil leaves

salt and pepper

In an oven safe pot saute the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms until they are softened. Deglaze the pan with the wine and allow to cook about 3 minutes.

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Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper and let the sauce cook for about 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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After 30 minutes add the torn basil leaves to the tomato mixture and stir.

Steak

1 flank steak

1/2 c bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/4 c parmesan cheese

1/2 bunch of parsley

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper

NOTE: Add other ingredients to the stuffing such as, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, green onion, spinach, mushrooms, etc…

(Next time I am going to try spinach, provolone and sun dried tomatoes, and I won’t process it in the food processor).

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Place all the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process until it’s paste-like.

Lay the steak out on a cutting board and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Spread the stuffing over the steak, then roll it up starting with the narrow end.

Tie the ends and middle with kitchen twine. Sear the steak on all sides until it is brown, then add it to the tomato sauce. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. The longer you cook it the more tender the meat.

I served the Braciole with roasted asparagus and basil butter orzo.

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January 8, 2011

Basil-Garlic Bread

Adapted from Tyler Florence, Stirring the PotIMG_6146-29

This is a good recipe to freeze and use for later, in fact that is how Tyler Florence presents this recipe in the book. Buy a few loaves of bread at a time so you have a few on hand in your freezer. You can save any leftover basil-garlic butter for sandwiches, pasta, or anything else you can think up!

This is my new favorite garlic bread, although my daughter did not like it. I think if I make it enough she’ll eventually cave…

1 stick butter

3 cloves garlic

1 cup bunch fresh basil leaves

1 loaf French or artisan bread

½ cup grated parmesan

¼ teaspoon salt

couple cracks black pepper

In a food processor, add butter, garlic, and basil leaves, process until the basil and garlic cloves are finely chopped and combined.

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Stir in the salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

Cut the loaves of bread into slices – cut almost all the way through, leaving a bit of the bottom intact.

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Spread the butter between the slices of bread and then on the top of the bread. Wrap up in foil and label the bread so you know what it is and mark it with instructions “325°- 30 minutes”

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If you want to make this bread right away, bake it in foil at 450°for 15 minutes.

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