elevating the status of the salad

Tag Archives: basil

Let’s skip the small talk and get right to this salad-as-a-meal.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

1 package of baby kale, or a bunch of any kale will do

2 portabello mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic, minced

5 basil leaves

about 1/3 cup olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar (or another sweetener of choice)

salt and pepper

Directions

  1. You’ll need to get your quinoa going first. Follow the package directions, or do it this way. I tend to use much less water than is recommended because let’s face it – soggy quinoa is gross: Boil 1.5 cups of water. Once it boils, add the quinoa, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer and cover for about 15 minutes.
  2. While that is happening, prepare your mushrooms. You can choose to scrape out the gills with a spoon (that’s what I like to do). Then, chop your portobello mushrooms into bite sized pieces. Toss it with a small amount of olive oil, the minced garlic, and some salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until they are very soft.
  3. Now that you have your hot food going, it’s time prep the kale. Your kale should be washed and drained. If not, do that. Then, roll it up into a tube and cut it into slivers. Put the kale in your big serving bowl.
  4. For the dressing, it helps to have a mini food prep. Chop up the shallot and toss it in there with 1/4 cup of olive oil, basil leaves, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, sugar or honey, salt, and pepper. If you do not have a small food processor, you can just mince your pieces up really tiny and give it all a good whisk.
  5. By now, your mushrooms are probably ready and that is great because you don’t want to use a million pans. You can rinse the same pan you used for the mushrooms and toast up some sliced almonds on low in it for about 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Just watch them or they will burn! Remove from heat.
  6. Time to put it all together! Make sure your quinoa is dry enough. If not, drain it. Then, add the cooked quinoa and mushrooms on top of the kale. Stir it all together while it is still warm, and the kale will wilt a little. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Top with toasted almonds.

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My challenge this morning was to create “salads” that could be eaten on a boat, picnic style. Whether you’re heading to a barbeque, movie night in the park, or any other occasion where utensils are a hassle, here are a few easy ideas:

The first is  caprese salad…on a stick. You need:

  • small mozzarella balls, cut in half
  • a bunch of grape tomatoes
  • basil leaves
  • salt
  • your favorite balsamic vinegar dressing (you can make your own by whisking/shaking equal parts vinegar and olive oil)
  • toothpicks

Assemble toothpicks with the mozzarella on the bottom, flat side down so it can stand. Then, fold one basil leaf in half and put it on the toothpick. The grape tomato tops it off. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Just before serving, drizzle with balsamic dressing.

The other option is chopped up vegetables and some great dressing as dip. I went with Sang Lee’s sweet ginger dressing. The farmer’s market had quite a selection for dippable vegetables today. I went with: wax beans, red and green bell peppers, burpless cucumbers and carrots. I also used some home-grown roma beans.

OK, it may not be rocket science… but it’s August and sometimes we just want to cut vegetables and use them as a vehicle for good dip.

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This cashew pesto is really easy, and can be put on anything. It complemented smoky grilled eggplant.

All measurements are approximate, so adjust according to taste.

Ingredients:
1 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for at least an hour
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
A handful of basil
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Water to thin out as needed (1/2 cup?)
1/2 t salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed.

For the eggplant…

Turn heat on grill to medium/high.

Slice into planks and brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Grill for 4-5 minutes a side.

Wrap in foil for 10 minutes to evenly cook the eggplant.

To serve, spoon some pesto on the plate and place a few slices of eggplant on the pesto.Top with basil or fresh slices of tomato.

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I have a funny feeling that you want more kale recipes. Here you go! I used curly kale for this one. Also, disclaimer that I didn’t measure anything, so please adjust amounts to make it the way you like it. Have a good variation of this recipe? Let me know!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups kale
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 large parsnip, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place parsnips on a sheet pan and toss well with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes, or until soft.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Cook the onions for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned. You can add a bit of water if the pan starts to dry out.

3. Combine basil, garlic, mustard, lemon, vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding small amounts of water as needed until the desired consistency. Add salt to taste.

4. Now the fun part: Place the kale in a large bowl and gently stir in onions and parsnips. Use your hands to coat the kale evenly with the dressing.


My parents went out east to go for a bike ride. They came back with a bushel of corn. Apparently it was a bargain. As a result, I got a fridge full of corn! (Yes, you are supposed to refrigerate corn if you are not going to use it that day.) 

What to do with the surplus of corn? I wanted to make a corn chowder that didn’t require me to drink a cup of heavy cream. Enter coconut milk. This chowder would go really well with a side of basmati rice. This recipe comes from The Food Network’s site

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears corn
  • 2 cups diced red-skinned potatoes (about 12 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into thirds (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 red jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced ( I used green jalapeño–keep the seeds in if you want some more heat)
  • 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk (I used the light version)
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 lime, plus lime wedges for garnish
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced

Directions

  1. Cut off the corn kernels; set aside. Combine the cobs, 1 cup potatoes, 1/2 cup scallions, 1 tablespoon ginger, the garlic, peppercorns and 5 cups water in a pot. Smash the lemongrass, if using, and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. About 10 minutes before the broth is finished, melt the butter over medium-high heat in a separate pot. Add the remaining 1 cup potatoes, season with salt and cook until slightly soft, 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ginger and the jalapeño; cook 1 minute. Add the corn kernels; cook until the vegetables are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Strain the broth, pressing out as much liquid as possible; discard the solids. Add 2 cups of the strained broth to the potatoes and corn; bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, basil and mint; season with salt. Stir until simmering. Remove from the heat and add the radishes, cilantro and lime juice. Top with diced tomato and the remaining 1/4 cup scallions and serve with lime wedges.

Here’s another version of the classic Caprese salad. This one takes a little bit more prep work than the original post, and it’s a welcome variation because you can eat this one without a knife. Sometimes, the fewer utensils the better, especially when having to carry everything up and down a spiral staircase. This is a delicious side dish for a summer BBQ. To make it a hearty main dish, you can add couscous or quinoa and some toasted pine nuts.

The cherry tomatoes and basil came from my garden in the sky. I was pretty excited that I grew enough tomatoes to make a salad that fed 5 people!  

Thanks to The Curvy Carrot for this fantastic recipe.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about three tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Toss the tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the sugar in a medium bowl.  Set it aside and let stand on its own for 30 minutes.

2. Transfer the tomatoes to a salad spinner and spin them for a few seconds to remove the seeds and extra juice.  Make sure you conserve the juice.

3. Put the spun tomato juice/seeds through a fine strainer to reserve the juice and discard the seeds.

4.  Heat a medium saucepan over medium-low heat on the stove.

5.  Add 1/2 cup of the tomato liquid, the shallot, and vinegar to a simmer.  Let simmer until the mixture is reduced to about 3 tablespoons. (I didn;t have that much tomato liquid so I just let it simmer for a while and then decided it was done when I felt like it)

6. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and cool to room temperature.

7. Whisk in the oil and salt and pepper to taste.

8.  Add the basil and the mozzarella to the tomatoes. Toss gently to combine.


This post is a result of a request from a friend who has great taste in posters. I have a feeling this friend also has an abundance of garlic scapes lurking in her fridge.

Honestly, I don’t remember the amounts. This is really more of a technique. You can adjust the amounts according to your taste. I think this pesto would be great as a bruschetta. 

If you have too much pesto, you can freeze whatever you won’t eat that day.  I used a few tablespoons of it with some angel hair pasta and a bit of the pasta’s cooking sauce. I froze the rest in ice cube trays for future meals. 

Thanks for the inspiration, omnonnombk!

Ingredients:

  • Around 5 garlic scapes
  • a handful of basil
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts (You can toast these first if you want to get fancy)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Using a food processor, blend together the first 4 ingredients until well combined, scraping the sides as needed.
  2. Add the parmesan cheese and process again until blended together.
  3. Use the small hole in the food processor to slowly add olive oil while the blender is going. You’ll need to scrape down the sides a few times.



Are you familiar with Whole Foods’ Step System for animal welfare ratings? If you haven’t already heard me or someone else going on and on about it, here’s the link. What’s tricky is that they don’t have all of their cuts available in all levels at all times, so one has to be flexible. I’m still too new at buying meat to know about good substitutions, but I’m slowly learning. I went to get flank steak, as this Cooking Light recipe called for, but they did not have any steps 4-5 of that kind. The butcher suggested skirt steak, which they had in a Level 4. Great! Thanks, helpful butcher! I ended up bringing home entirely too much steak because I got flustered ordering it, and froze half for fajitas another night.

Also, this recipe calls for fish sauce. So do most Thai recipes that I find. Since I don’t eat fish, I just omitted it. However, when I took a Thai cooking class, I was told you can substitute “this mushroom sauce” for the fish sauce. However, I was in Thailand at the time and could not read the label on “this mushroom sauce.” Oh well. I should look for it in an Asian market one of these days. In the meantime, I usually just taste my food and add more soy sauce if I think it needs more salty flavor.

This gave me a chance to use some of my fresh herbs: mint, basil, and cilantro.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 3/4 cup julienne-cut carrots
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle steak evenly with pepper and salt. Add steak to pan; cook 6 minutes each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove steak from pan; let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.
  2.  Combine juice and next 4 ingredients (through Sriracha) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.
  3.  Combine cabbage and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Add 6 tablespoons juice mixture to cabbage mixture; toss well. Toss steak in remaining 2 tablespoons juice mixture. Add steak to cabbage mixture; toss to combine.

You can lighten this salad by omitting the goat cheese. However, this particular version was made with Bucherondin, a goat cheese log from Stinky Brooklyn. It is also tasty if you substitute sunflower seeds for the almonds. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 6-8 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 4 basil leaves, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. To reduce the vinegar, pour it into a small saucepan along with the brown sugar. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Stir frequently, and be careful not to burn the vinegar. When it reduces by about half, remove from heat. When cooled to room temperature, whisk in olive oil. I added a little bit of salt and pepper, put it in a sealed container and gave it a few shakes.
  2. To assemble the salad, layer spinach, strawberries, goat cheese, almonds, and basil.
  3. Drizzle the salad with dressing just before serving. You will have extra dressing, which you can refrigerate and use at another time.

This basic dish is a great way  to take advantage of the different varieties of tomatoes available in the Northeast at the end of the summer.  While this salad may not win creativity points, it is worth posting because it is a classic combination and requires no cooking. I like to julienne the basil (so quick—see below) to spread the herb’s flavor out more evenly. The leftovers can be put into a sandwich for lunch the next day, or even used to make a fancy grilled cheese. 

Note: If you use really fresh and delicious heirloom tomatoes, vegans can enjoy this salad without the cheese: just add a bit more salt to the tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh, salted mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch slices. If you can find buffalo mozzarella, that would be best.
  • 2-3 tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • balsamic vinegar for drizzling
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 15-20 basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Layer the mozzarella and tomato in alternating slices on a large serving plate.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Julienne the basil: Stack 5-10 basil leaves in a pile, facing the same direction. Roll the basil leaves up into a tight roll. Then, slice the basil into thin strips.  Repeat with remaining basil leaves.