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Posts Tagged ‘basil’

10 Things to Do With Basil

Summer means an abundance of basil. The first thing I usually do when basil shows up is make pesto, which is probably the first thing most people do with fresh basil. Now, pesto is great and all, but it does get old. After you’ve made and frozen all the pesto you can stand, check out these other tasty ways to use basil.

1. Add sliced or chopped basil to your favorite canned tomato soup to give it a touch of homemade-ness (is that a word?). My favorite is Amy’s Chunky Tomato Bisque.

2. Layer sliced heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a classic Caprese salad.

3. Make this caper-basil vinaigrette for salads, or go ahead and serve it on the twice-grilled peppers with Buffalo mozzarella in the same link above. It’s one of our favorite appetizers.

4. Use it to make bruschetta, an Italian spread that also features fresh tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Spread it on small pieces of ciabatta for an easy hors d’oeuvre.

5. Muddle it (mash it up to release its flavor) and add to lemonade for a refreshing twist on a summer favorite. If you are so inclined, add vodka to make it a hard lemonade.

6. Use it to make a delightfully herbal bread.

7. Tired of only using basil in Italian food? Try it in this Thai chicken stir-fry.

8. Add a handful of roughly chopped basil to a cup of extra-virgin olive oil and let it sit in the fridge for several days. Strain out the basil, and you have basil-infused oil to use in salad dressings, drizzled over your Caprese salad, or tossed with grilled vegetables. Store in the refrigerator.

9. How about basil in dessert? This basil-blackberry crumble looks tasty For that matter, try mixing sliced basil with your favorite fruit for an easy summer snack. Peaches and strawberries come to mind first…mmm.

10. Use it in a sandwich with grilled summer vegetables, drizzled with olive oil.

How else do you like to use basil?

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Grain-based salads are filling, versatile, and wonderful picnic foods. For this one, I mixed barley with some maple-roasted carrots and tomatoes and pan-glazed tempeh, and then sprinkled with a bit of sliced basil to brighten up the flavors a bit. It’s just slightly sweet. Wheat berries would also work instead of the barley, or even brown rice. If you’re not a fan of tempeh, just use chicken instead.

Barley Salad with Sweet Roasted Vegetables

1 cup barley
3 cups water

8 oz carrots, cut into small pieces
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

8 oz tempeh, cut into thin slices
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup sliced basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine water and barley in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 40 minutes. If there’s any water left in the pan, drain it off. Set the barley aside in a large bowl.

Combine vegetables, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, or until veggies are browned and tender. Add to the barley.

In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp maple syrup, broth, salt, and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add tempeh and fry about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown. Add vinegar mixture and cook, stirring as necessary to keep tempeh from sticking, until liquid thickens into a glaze. It’ll take about 10 minutes.

Add tempeh to barley mixture and stir to combine. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

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I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of cooked salmon. Smoked salmon or sushi? I’m completely on board with that. But I don’t looooove the flavor of cooked salmon. That said, I appreciate its subtle sweetness and the health benefits it provides, so I work with it.

This recipe gives it a ton of flavor. The simple spice rub gives it a nice crust, and the sauce adds a bright, summery flavor (and uses a lot of basil, which we seem to be overflowing with lately). Greek yogurt is yogurt that has been drained for a bit and is extra creamy. If you can’t find it at the store, line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth or heavy-duty paper towels, dump in the yogurt, and let it sit over the sink for about 30 minutes.

Salmon with Cucumber-Basil Sauce

Sauce:

2 cups Greek yogurt
2 cups packed basil
1 tsp cumin seeds (or 1/2 tsp ground cumin)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 pickling cucumbers, peeled and seeded* (or 2 regular cucumbers)

Salmon:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb salmon fillet, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp red pepper

Roughly chop basil. Combine all ingredients except for cucumbers in a food processor and process about 30 seconds, until it’s pretty smooth. Roughly chop cucumbers, add to food processor, and pulse a few times until combined. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine cumin, salt and pepper, and coat salmon with cooking spray. Coat salmon with spice rub. You may not need all of it, but you at least need most of it — it’ll be pretty thick. That’s what helps get you that nice crust.

Place salmon skin-side up onto hot oil. Cook 6-7 minutes, resisting the urge to poke or move the salmon. You can tell it’s done with its bright pink color fades a bit. Serve with sauce.

You’ll probably have extra sauce. It would be great on grilled chicken or grilled veggies, as a dip, or just drank from a cup with a straw. Just kidding on that last one…kind of. It’s really good sauce.

*To seed a cucumber, first peel it. Then scoop out the seeds with a spoon, like so:

You’ll end up with nicely hollowed cukes, like this:

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