elevating the status of the salad

Tag Archives: basil

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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.