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Posts Tagged ‘basil’


While we are in the midst of trying to sell the apartment, I’ve been falling back on old favorites. Last night, I made a version of this Puglian specialty, orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage and every time I make it, it brings me back to a night in southern Puglia. The meatiness of the sausage is comforting and warm on a cold fall night.

Fall always means lasagna time for me…I love making it for company too, because I can put it in the oven when they come over and spend time with people, rather than in the kitchen. My favorites for fall are mushroom and roasted carrot and butternut squash.

My favorite fall fruits are definitely pears, and I love to make crostatas with pears and gorgonzola this time of year. I make big batches of dough and freeze them for later, so I can just defrost and put together the filling when I’m running low on time.

Cold weather makes me really crave a good Sunday breakfast, and there’s no better breakfast than egg and pancetta sandwiches on homemade sage biscuits. I still have a couple of these tucked away in the freezer, and I can’t wait to have one this Sunday.

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We have been having a long heat wave here in NY, and I can’t quite bring myself to heat up the kitchen again until it breaks. I’m thinking about some no-cook or quick-cooking meals, and of course, the first thing I think of is salad. I love a beautiful caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and basil. Mozzarella gives it a little substance, so you’re not left hungry.

Of course, gazpacho is a staple of no-cook menus, and I loved this one with watermelon. The shrimp skewers are optional, but if you would like to get outside and grill, go ahead. This would also make an excellent summer lunch with the caprese.

I’ve made this capellini with tomatoes and basil several times since I posted it. It’s light and refreshing, and best of all, it’s done basically in the time it takes to boil water.

If I really start wanting some protein, I might make this ginger glazed salmon. It takes a little longer to cook, but I can do the glaze in a wider pan cut the cooking time down to 15 minutes. Having people over? This looks elegant but it’s so quick.

I still have a little of this blueberry frozen yogurt left in the freezer, and I think I’m going to have to finish it up this weekend. Nothing is better to cool down than some frozen treats.

Unless it’s white wine sangria. This is staple at my apartment all summer. Actually, all year round but in the summer it’s extra perfect.

And if I make it outside to grill this weekend? I think it’s going to be lamb burgers as a change from regular burgers. The cool yogurt and mint sauce helps in the heat too.

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Capellini (angel hair) is not used very often because it quickly becomes a gluey mess. The trick is to pull it directly out of the pot into this olive oil sauce and toss. I only use it in situations like this with a fresh, uncooked sauce because you don’t want to be messing around with it too much. It goes straight from the water to the sauce to the plate.

Capellini complements the fresh, simple flavors in this dish because it’s light and soaks up the sauce quickly. Of course, it relies on the best, most flavorful tomatoes and basil, so make sure to not refrigerate your tomatoes. I don’t particularly like raw garlic, so I always quickly saute it but feel free to use it raw if you like it. Use the good extra virgin olive oil in this one too, because it doesn’t get cooked at all.

Capellini with Tomato and Basil

1/2 box capellini

1-2 tomatoes, diced (preferably on-the-vine or other very fresh tomato)

2 garlic cloves, minced (optional: saute in a tablespoon of olive oil for one minute)

1/2 cup basil, julienned

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino

Cook the capellini in salted, boiling water according to package instructions. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil in a bowl. Add the cooked capellini with a little of the cooking water and stir to combine. Add the basil and cheese and toss. Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil and a little more cheese on top.

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I have a lot of meatballs on here by now: classic spaghetti and meatballs, tuna meatballs, and chicken meatballs, and I thought it was time for vegetarian meatballs. These were inspired by a couple different recipes I saw across the blogosphere and they disappeared so quickly that I will have to make them again. They’re perfect for a party where meat-eaters and veggies alike will love them.

Lentil Meatballs

2 cups cooked lentils

1 cup drained and rinsed chickpeas

2 eggs

1/2 cup ricotta or goat cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Juice of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon aleppo pepper

2 tablespoons chopped basil

2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it creates a paste. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until they start to brown on top.  Squeeze a whole lemon over them before serving.

Lemon Pesto

3 cups basil

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Juice of 1 lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined. Spoon over the meatballs or use as a dip on the side.

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I love tomato season– nothing makes me happier at the store than to find tomatoes that smell like they are just off the vine. It’s a rare thing, but unless you can smell them, you won’t taste much. I’ve been spoiled though, because my dad grew tomatoes and basil at home. They’re always best right after they have been picked, but I’ve found some pretty good substitutions at Eataly (a local store). Combine that with their delicious buffala mozzarella or even better, their burrata….mmmm. Capri is unbelievably beautiful and they sure know how to make a salad.

Caprese Salad

1 tomato, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices

6-8 basil leaves

1 ball mozzarella or burrata, sliced the same thickness as the tomato

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar

flaked sea salt like Maldon

Layer the tomato and mozzarella slices with the basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and sprinkle with some sea salt. That’s it!

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After the crab cakes a couple days ago, I moved on to a pasta recipe with the crab meat in the fridge. I saw Mario Batali make a version of this on The Chew and everyone was raving about it, so naturally I had to try it. His version included a habanero chili as well, but I’m a little afraid of them (or at least my stomach is…) so I stuck to jalapenos. Feel free to use one if you’re into that sort of thing. He also uses cilantro, but I didn’t have any around and I’m not that big a fan of it unless we’re talking Mexican food. Either way, it’s a great, quick dish and I’ll be making it again.

Spicy Pasta with Crab

1/2 pound crab meat, preferably Dungeness

1/2 pound tagliatelle, tajarin, or other long pasta

1 clove garlic, sliced

2 shallots or cippolini onions

1 jalapeno, minced

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped (optional)

basil leaves and chili flakes for garnish

Roast the shallots or onions in foil in a 425 degree oven for half an hour until they are soft and you can easily remove the skin. Let them cool and chop them up.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 1 minute less than the package instructions. Meanwhile, saute the garlic, jalapeno, and onions in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the crab meat and stir through. Add a cup of the pasta cooking water and let it cook down for a minute. Add the drained pasta and reserve some more water in case you need it. Add the cilantro if using it, and toss. Remove from the heat and add a splash of olive oil along with basil leaves and chili flakes for garnish.

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Ok, I know this doesn’t sound like something you’re going to go right out any make, but I truly urge you to try it. It’s such a perfect, delicious, surprising pasta and it’s one of my favorites. They make a similar dish at one of my favorite NYC restaurants, Celeste, and I had to try to recreate it. The cabbage gets caramelized down with the onions and it’s the only time when I allow cheese to go near my seafood in pasta. It just works. And as a bonus, you can make it in 15 minutes. Have I convinced you yet?

Tagliatelle with Cabbage, Shrimp, and Pecorino

1/2 pound shrimp, shelled and cleaned and cut into thirds

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 onion, sliced thinly

1/8-1/4 of a napa cabbage, shredded thinly

1/2 cup grated pecorino or asiago

1/2 pound tajarin or tagliatelle

1 cup white wine

1 teaspoon thyme

basil leaves for garnish

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water for a minute less than the package instructions. Meanwhile, saute the onion, cabbage, and garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let them start to soften and caramelize. Add the shrimp on one side of the pan and allow to brown. Make sure to remove them after 1 minute, when they start to turn pink (they will continue to cook while they rest).

Add the wine to deglaze the pan. Add the thyme. Add a 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta and the cheese and return the shrimp to the pan. Toss and cook for the final minute together. Garnish with some torn basil leaves.

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