Tag Archives: Basil

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Parsley and Walnut Pesto, featuring roasted garlic

So…I haven’t posted anything in a while, do you forgive me? I was a little busy this summer with my internship, but I will try to never again leave you waiting for so long.

Although I will leave you waiting for the recipe due to my usual rambling, so here’s a preview of the actual purpose of this post.

I haven’t been able to check on the garden at my parent’s house very often this summer, but I do know it wasn’t quite as prosperous as last year. There was probably too much rain for some of the vegetables. We still got a lot of tomatoes and green beans, but practically no squash or cucumbers. It was a little sad. We attempted beets and carrots this year too, and it looks like we may have planted them too close together, but it’s ok because we still got some delicious product from it!

Check out these lovely beet greens, and the carrot greens behind them

Tomatoes! You might see these a couple times in this post as a garnish

We did manage to get a ton of herbs, which we smartly planted right outside the kitchen door. I came home from NYC on August 26th, so my mom and I made sure to cut as much of the herbs as we could to save them from Hurricane Irene. It started raining while we gathered, but the hurricane didn’t really get going until much later.

Basil!

We decided to freeze most of the basil. So we cut, picked the leaves, washed them, let dry, then put into freezer storage bags and hoped the hurricane wouldn’t knock out our power (it didn’t). I saved some unpicked bundles in a container of water to use during the week.

I love me some parsley

We did pretty much the same thing with the parsley, except I kept a lot more unfrozen to make a parsley pesto for dinner.

I know many people make basil pesto. I had a ton of basil, why did I make the pesto predominantly with parsley? Well, because I felt like it. Were you expecting a real reason? And why walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts? Because we had walnuts in the house, and because they are way cheaper than pine nuts and still delicious.

One more explanation before I present you with the recipe: why did I roast the garlic? That’s an easy one. My parents don’t like raw garlic. Even in a delicious pesto they find the flavor to be too overwhelming. So, I roasted it. A head of garlic might sound like a garlic festival to those who aren’t fond of the tasty morsels, but when you roast it the flavor becomes much more subtle and bearable. Just cut the top off of the head leaving the cloves exposed. Don’t worry, there’s a picture coming later.

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Italian Tofu Subs

A few months ago I came across a section about tofu in an issue of Food Network Magazine. Having been a vegetarian once-upon-a-time, I was intrigued and added the recipes to my scrapbook. I’ve been planning all this time to try out the recipes, but just kept forgetting to buy tofu. I was clever recently though, and remembered to get some while at Trader Joe’s. As I was trying to decide what to make with the tofu and all the tomatoes I have, I remembered my scrapbook and the lonely, untested, tofu section. I had also just made Italian seasoned breadcrumbs with a baguette that I didn’t want to go bad so I had to find a way to use those too. I was looking over the Tofu Parmesan Subs, and thought it would be fun to try, except of course I would change it.

And isn’t my version lovely?

I didn’t feel like making a sauce since I wanted to use slices of tomatoes, and I’m poor so buying spinach seemed silly. I happened to have leftover mozzarella in my fridge from when I had my friends over, and I also retrieved my herbs from my house last time I visited so I had fresh basil to work with. Tomatoes, mozzarella, basil. How very classic! If nothing else, I know these things all work together, so I fearlessly jumped into my new recipe.

If you’ve ever cooked with tofu before, chances are that it totally sucked. Did the tofu stick to the pan and fall apart? Did the coating slide right off after you thought it was all done? Yes, well, these have been frequent issues of mine. If it’s never happened to you, then I hate you. Luckily, my new skillets are amazing and since I bought them I have had no tofu issues. I’m no longer paranoid about making sure they’re crazy dry before cooking, I just do a little towel drying then go for it. These skillets are kinda pricey, but I adore them and it’s worth it. It also helps that I used my prize money from the Food Network to buy them :)

Look at how perfectly it cooks a thin, crunchy coating

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Zucchini Frittelle

I like to think of these as zucchini pancakes. They are slightly cake-like and a little eggish and very zucchini flavored. I got this recipe initially over a year ago from my mom’s friend, and this year when her friends were over and looking in the garden they reminded me of this recipe and how it would be a good way to use some of the zucchini. I tried it out, not really remembering how I made it before, and they came out pretty well. I think they are a little darker than they should be, but I still enjoyed them and my family quickly devoured them.

I tweaked some bits of the recipe a little to fit the ingredients I had on hand and wanted to use, or didn’t have on hand as the case was. The recipe called for 2 small zucchini, I only had 1 large one, so I decided it was acceptable.  The recipe also called for just basil leaves, but as I was in a charitable mood I allowed parsley to join the party as well. It’s an easy recipe to play with. My only problem was the recipe only vaguely said ‘heat some oil’ and I wasn’t sure how much that meant. Should I pan fry? Deep fry? I went with the cheaper and healthier option and just used a little oil and pan fried it, like so.

There isn’t much to say about this recipe. It’s very simple and doesn’t have all that many ingredients, and there aren’t any intricate preparation instructions. I did enjoy using one of the shredding blades on my food processor to finely grate the zucchini with no effort at all on my part. It totally beat the days when I used a box grater like a chump. Then just mix, fry, eat! Although I will warn you, it is a little oily so I recommend laying them on a paper towel covered plate while they cool!

mmmmmmm…cheesy and green, a good combination

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Farmer’s Tomato Pie

Before I get going on the recipe I thought I’d give a little update on the garden. We’re still getting an overwhelming amount of tomatoes, and as a result my mom and I have made at least 4 batches of my grandma’s sauce (a recipe that will never be on this blog!) and yet there are still more. There are always more. We went away for a week, and upon our return we had more tomatoes, green beans, an eggplant, and some cucumbers. I’m very pleased to inform you all that I did find a way to use up many cucumbers, Julia Child’s baked cucumber recipe! It uses 6 whole cucumbers, and the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking provides a variety of ways to serve them. I’ve made it with the cheese sauce.  j’ai adore.

My herbs are doing alright. The basil and sage are growing strong, the parsley is ok, and the dill has completely died. I think I over-planted the pot, not expecting them to grow so much, and the dill suffered for it. Also, the green beans somehow made their way over to the dill and started growing wrapped around it. I wanted to take pics, but it’s rainy out so I didn’t.
There is also some delicious looking butternut squash growing!! I’m excited! I’m going to make butternut squash risotto for my brother’s birthday on Wednesday, and you can betcha that I’ll put the recipe on this here blog :)
We had a plethora of chili peppers as well, and as a result we ate some, froze some, and are drying out some more. And there are still many growing. Here’s how the drying ones are coming along:
I know, they are very pretty and strange looking.
Now on to the recipe! Normally I post original recipes, however as a result of my whining in my last post about too many tomatoes, my friend’s mom, Marilyn Leibe, generously suggested I make a Farmers Tomato Pie. I was unimpressed at first, thinking of a pie crust filled with ketchup, but she assured me that it is tasty and emailed me the recipe. The recipe looked way more interesting than my initial impression, which was mainly based on the name. When one thinks of a pie, they normally think of the sweet dessert kind and not the savory kind. Since this is full of tomatoes and cheese I chose to think of it as a pizza pie.
I was wary of making it at first, but faced with so many tomatoes and a lack of desire to make more sauce I figured I might as well try. I’ve never actually made a pie before, and as you’ll see in the pictures I couldn’t care less if the crust was properly crinkled or whatever it’s called. I probably should have baked the crust a little longer, but lessons have been learned.
I followed the recipe almost exactly, but I had two bags of cheese that were mostly finished so instead of measuring I just used what I had left. I used up a bag of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. They became good friends in this dish. The recipe also didn’t specify what to do with the basil other than just topping the pie after it baked, so I went with a fancy chiffonade(roll up the leaves and cut into long, thin strips).

Before baking
After baking
The end result was quite pleasing. I should have baked it a little longer, but I was nervous about over-cooking it, as well as a little hungry, so I’ll try to be more patient next time. It reminded me of pizza, but with a lighter crust and more tartness from using fresh tomatoes instead of a sauce. It tasted absolutely nothing like a ketchup pie, and for that I am grateful. I’ll probably end up making it again this week with more adjustments since I now know how it works. Maybe some chili peppers next time? And sausage too? I think it will be spectacular.
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Garden Sauce

We are very fortunate in that our garden is producing a large amount of produce, however it has been difficult at times for us to use everything before it goes bad. For example, we have been eating cucumbers with almost every meal and we still have an extra 6 on our counter, and many more left to be picked. We have more hot peppers than I know what to do with (don’t worry, I will figure it out!), and up until today we had multiple bowls filled with tomatoes sitting around.

Plus, my herbs are going mad. Check it out:

So today my mother and I decided to make a red sauce, using our home grown tomatoes and fresh herbs. Using more than 7lbs of tomatoes, a healthy handful of basil, and a few extra ingredients we managed to make a delightful garden sauce. I mostly enjoyed how it didn’t have any of that tinny taste you can get from using canned tomatoes to make sauces, therefore giving me the freedom to relax and not worry about covering that extra, unwanted flavor.

This is just one bowl of them
We discovered that the best way to get the most juice, with the smallest amount of seeds and skins, was to first blend the tomatoes and then strain them in a mill. In case you are unaware, when I say “mill” I am referring to a strainer that has a handle for you to rotate and squish all the juice out while keeping the seed and skins inside. If you don’t have one, then just using a strainer and pressing on the pulp with a spoon will work fine.
Here is a blurry picture of ours:
We washed, cut in half, blended, milled, and sauce-ified. It was a pleasant process. And way less obnoxious than it might sound. In the end we created a very fresh tasting sauce, sort of like pasta fresca but a little more complex with the addition of wine and cheese cooked in. Of course we have many more tomatoes on the way, and I will have to find many more uses for them!
This recipe does make a lot of sauce, so feel free to cut it down or be prepared to have some leftover.

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Gardening Fun

Gardening is fun, especially if you have someone else do it for you, and then reap the benefits. That’s how I roll. Earlier this year, my dad and brother (with my assistance, of course!) felt the need to make a huge garden structure thing, in order to keep the deer and critters out as well as to make us look fancy. I must admit, it does look nice. I mostly helped by halfheartedly digging a hole with a post digger. Turns out that I don’t enjoy manual labor. At least I tried!

We planted some seeds, planted some already started plants, and I re-potted my herbs so they could have room to stretch. And holy crap did they stretch! The sage went insane! Especially in the past couple of days. I mean, it was doing alright outside, then when I looked at it yesterday they were giants! I definitely need to use them soon. And the basil has been growing well, but it seems some bugs might like it too since the leaves have little holes in them. Oh well, I still used some today in my grandma’s sauce.
The parsley and dill had all but died before I re-potted them. Now they’re coming back strong! It’s quite exciting. And I also cheated and bought rosemary and mint since I couldn’t find mint seeds, and the rosemary smelled too good to not buy. The mint is the only one not in the garden, I put it in it’s own pot right under my window. No real reason for that, it’s just where the pot already was.
Lots of stuff is growing, and I’m kinda looking forward to all the fresh and free vegetables that will be coming later in the summer. Oh, and the strawberries! I have learned that strawberries fresh off the vine are ridiculously fantastic.
Now you can all look forward to summer recipes with home grown ingredients besides just the herbs (which are finally usable and can fulfill the purpose of this blog!). I’m gonna make zucchini bread, butternut squash risotto, grilled vegetable sauces, green bean casserole, soups, desserts, drinks, anything and everything I can!
Now I’m freaking hungry.
Watch out, it’s pic heavy below the cut. Click them to see them bigger

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The herbs are ok

I know it’s been a while since I posted new info about my herbs. And no, it’s not because I forgot or anything lame like that, it’s because they honestly hadn’t changed much since my last update. There was a few days when I thought they were going to die, and that wasn’t cool, but since it got warmer they’ve been doing much better and have actually grown a little! I’m going to start watering them with a fertilizer water thing that my dad made for our garden and I hope it will make the herbs grow to the point where I can actually use them. I did NOT expect it to take quite this long!

The basil has finely grown some new basil like leaves. After remaining unchanged for 2 months I was concerned that I had duds, but now I see actual progress. See how cute? It actually resembles basil now! I just want to gobble it up!

Now, the parsley I was really really worried about. It was not doing well at all. It was losing the green color and being all long and floppy and terrible and kind of shriveled  up. Thankfully it looks like an actual plant again! I rescued it! I probably wasn’t watering it enough because of my fear of over-watering my herbs. But now the parsley is quickly on its’ way to a full and healthy recovery, all for the purpose of being eaten! Mmmmmmm tasty….

The sage has always been pretty and healthy looking. The only real change is the leaves are bigger and cooler looking, and there is more of them. Enough said, check out the pic.

My dill is being kind of strange. It’s growing well, but with a purple tint to it. Is this normal? I guess I just have to wait and see. It is steadily growing, so it’s still doing well, right? Oh well, at least it’s looks neat!

We’ve also started growing plants for the garden in the back yard. My dad and brother (with my help of course!) built this huge wooden structure for our garden, so we’re pretty excited about it. They had to build such a big garden so the deer won’t be able to just eat everything. I’ll put up pics of it when we’ve planted some of the plants outside. Right now the peppers and tomatoes and eggplant are growing inside, and are doing quite well if I do say so myself! Here are some of the tomato plants! They’re huge (compared to the herbs at least)!

So many growing things! Only problem now is how to get rid of all the stupid little flies. I’m going to blame my brother’s orange tree for them. No way can my cute little herbs be at fault!

Drunken Herbal Chicken Marinade

My mom and I were discussing what to have for dinner tonight, and we decided on chicken, whipped carrots with dried cranberries (it’s seriously awesome), and a salad. So, what to do with the chicken? I felt the need to make a marinade, and in my fridge I found some fresh parsley, fresh basil, and white wine that nobody wanted to drink since it isn’t all that good. Plus I had a lime that needed to be used soon. And so a marinade was started. I added in some more flavors, and let it sit for a while. Then my brother used his indoor electric grill (it’s rainy and nasty so no one wanted to grill outside) and we had a tasty and easy Monday night feast.

Herbs grow even when I’m not around

I came back a couple days ago from a mini-trip to Boston, and was very excited to see my herbs again! Does that make me wicked lame? Oh well. The day I left (last Thursday) there was a new baby basil growing, and when I came back there were like a thousand more! Or maybe just 5. You understand. It was very exciting for me. Still no dill or sage, but I’m hoping by the end of the week I’ll see something.

And the parsley is starting to become awesome! They are sprouting new bits! I tried to take a picture of it, but I’m not sure how clear they can be seen.

What can I make with basil, parsley, sage and dill?!

I went to the store the other day with the plan of buying sage and mint seeds, and what did they have? Practically nothing! I managed to find the sage seeds, but there was no mint to be found. I really wanted another type too since my brother replanted his pear tree and gave me the empty pot left behind. I couldn’t just let an empty pot sit around when it could be the vessel for a glorious herb!

After a great internal debate (and about a half hour looking like a crazy person staring at seed packets) I finally decided upon dill. Why dill? Well, it’s tasty, pretty, and makes me laugh because I think it’s a silly name. Also I don’t have a lot of experience with it and figured this was a good time to learn. Those are good enough reasons for me!

I planted the seeds last night, so it’ll be a while until anything interesting happens with them. Although I do expect to see my extra basil soon!

Here are some photo updates of my basil and parsley:

 

Pretty, right?