Tag Archives: Basil

Caprese Salad

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Caprese Salad

A few weeks ago I made a caprese salad that was incredibly delicious and super simple.  In fact, it’s so simple, I almost feel bad calling this a recipe.  All you need are 4 ingredients, tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar.  I reduced the vinegar to bring out a sweeter, more complex, tangy flavor that paired excellently with the juicy tomatoes, rich mozzarella, and fresh basil.  This salad works great as a side for BBQs.

Caprese Salad

I used grape tomatoes so I cut them in half, basically chop up whatever tomatoes your using into bite sized chunks.  Do these same for your cheese.  For the basil I roll the leaves into a cylinder and then cut into strips that end up looking like basil confetti.  Then toss those three ingredients together in a bowl.

Caprese salad

To reduce the balsamic vinegar put it in pain and boil until it’s reduced by about half and has  a thicker, more syrup-like consistency.

Caprese Salad Balsamic Reduction

Stir everything together until well combined!

Caprese salad

Feel free to serve right away or make it ahead of time, refrigerate, and serve cold, it’s delicious either way (I may have made it the night before a picnic and had it for dinner, then ate it cold the next day…).Caprese Salad

 

 

 

Recipe

Caprese Salad

Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 pints cherry tomatoes (any tomatoes will work)

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese

8-12 large basil leaves

1 cup balsamic vinegar

– In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar to a boil and let cook until reduced by half and has  a more syrup-like consistency (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally

– While the vinegar is reducing cut your cherry tomatoes in half (if using larger tomatoes, cut into bite sized chunks)

– Cut or  tear the mozzarella into bite sized chunks

– Stack the basil leaves on top of one another and roll into a cylinder, cut down the length of the cylinder, making ~1/4″ pieces of basil confetti

– Mix the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil in a bowl

– Allow the balsamic reduction to cool for a few minutes, then pour over the salad and stir to combine

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Cream Sauce

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Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Cream Sauce

A few weeks ago I made this super delicious recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Cream Sauce from Two Peas and Their Pod.  It’s super easy and super delicious!  The combination of the red pepper, tomato, creamy Greek yogurt, and Italian spices make for an absolutely amazing tangy rich sauce.

roasted rep pepper tomato cream sauce

First cut the squash and roast it in the oven.  When it’s done let it cool for a few minutes and remove the flesh from the skin with a fork.

spaghetti squash

Roast the peppers either in the oven or over the gas flame.

roasting red peppers

When they’re blackened on all sides place in a bowl covered with saran wrap, allow them to cool and then peel, seed, and finely chop.

red peppers

Cook some onion and garlic in olive oil over the stove and stir in the red pepper, tomatoes, and oregano, parsley, and basil.  Then add some Greek yogurt.

add greek yogurt

Stir until well combined.

Stir sauce

Put some squash on a plate, top with sauce, and serve with Parmesan cheese.

spaghetti squash with roasted red pepper tomato cream sauce

Enjoy!

roasted rep pepper tomato cream sauce

 

Recipe

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Cream Sauce

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Spaghetti Squash

     1 medium spaghetti squash

     1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Cream Sauce

     3 red bell peppers

     1 tablespoon olive oil

     1 small onion – chopped

     3 cloves garlic – minced

     15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

     1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried basil

     salt & pepper

     1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

Parmesan cheese – for serving

For the spaghetti squash

     – Preheat oven to 400°

     – Cut the squash in half and rub the cut sides with olive oil

     – Place the halves cut side down on a baking sheet

     – Bake for 45 minutes until the squash is tender

     – Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes

     – Scrape with a fork to remove the flesh from the skin and place in a large bowl

For the Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Cream Sauce

    – While the squash is in the oven roast the peppers, you can either place them in the oven and rotate until all sides are charred, or roast them over a gas stove turning until all sides are black, then place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or in a plastic bag and allow to cool, then peel the skins and remove the seeds and chop finely

     – Cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft (about 5 minutes)

     – Add the red pepper, tomatoes, and spices, simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes

– Stir in the yogurt

–  Serve the squash on a plate and top with sauce and Parmesan cheese as desired

 

 

 

 

Eggplant Parmesan

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Eggplant Parmesan

Last weekend I discovered an eggplant in my fridge that I completely forgot about, not wanting it to go to waste I decided to make some eggplant parm.  I figured I could easily modify my chicken parm recipe for eggplant parm.  The problem with this was that I didn’t have any bread crumbs but I wasn’t about to let that stop me, I wanted cheesy, saucy, eggplant goodness so I scoured the cupboards and fridge looking for an acceptable substitute.  To my delight I found some wheat germ that I knew would do the trick.

eggplant parm bite

To prepare the eggplant (which I don’t have pictures of because I’m a dork) slice it into 1/4″ slices, salt both sides and let it sit for 30 minutes to draw out the water, then rinse off the salt and pat dry.  Whisk an egg, dip the eggplant slices in the egg and then into seasoned wheat germ and place on a broiler sheet, toss them in the oven and bake.

baked eggplant slices

Spread a thin layer of sauce in a foil lined baking dish (if you really enjoy scrubbing baking dishes feel free to skip the foil) and top with a layer of eggplant.  Sprinkle the eggplant with Parmesan cheese and top with mozzarella cheese (confession, I didn’t have mozzarella so I used monterey jack, it was still delicious but if you want to be more authentic use mozzarella).

cheese layer

Add a layer of sauce to the top of the cheese.

Sauce layer

Top with another slice of eggplant.

Eggplant toper

Add another layer of the cheeses.

Top cheese layer

Put the baking dish in the oven and bake until the cheese is browned and bubbly.

baked eggplant parm

Serve with extra sauce and fresh basil if you so desire.

Eggplant Parmesan

Enjoy the deliciousness that you just made!

eggplant parm bite

 

Recipe

Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 small eggplant

1 egg

1 cup wheat germ (or bread crumbs)

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, parsley)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup tomato sauce (plus more for serving)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

8 oz mozzarella cheese

fresh basil (optional for serving)

– Slice the eggplant into 1/4″ thick slices and salt both sides and let sit in a colander or on a wire cooling rack over a cookie sheet for 30 minutes then rinse off the slices with cold water and pat dry

– Whisk the egg in a bowl

– Combine the wheat germ and spices in a bowl

– Dip the eggplant slices in the egg then dredge in the wheat germ mixture and place on a cookie sheet or broiler pan

– Bake at 375 °F for 30 minutes

– Spoon a thing layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a foil lined baking dish, add a layer of eggplant, top with half of the cheeses, add a layer of spaghetti sauce, top with another layer of eggplant and the remaining cheeses

– Bake at 375 °F for 30 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbly

– Serve with extra sauce and fresh basil as desired

 

 

Mixed Herb Pesto

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Mixed Herb Pesto

When we moved into our apartment one of the things my roommate and I discovered was that plants and curtains make things feel homey and look completely decorated so I bought a lot of houseplants and herb plants.  After awhile we had an abundance of herbs so I decided to make pesto using a mix of basil, mint, and parsley.  The combination of the three herbs with garlic, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and lemon turned out really well, all the flavors complemented each other nicely.   As a bonus, pesto is super simple to make from scratch and it takes almost no time at all, and it’s incredibly versatile.

chicken and squash pesto

First mince your garlic cloves.

mince garlic

Throw all of your herbs, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, lemon juice and zest, some fresh cracked black pepper, and the garlic into a blender (yes, pesto is normally made with nuts but my blender can’t handle crushing them, if you have a food processor or a good blender feel free to throw in some pine nuts or any other nut you think would be good).

pesto blender

Stream in some extra virgin olive oil until you reach the desired consistency and then presto, you have pesto!  As I said pesto is super versatile and you can eat it with a bunch of delicious things.  For example, the first night I made the pesto we had it with some chicken and squash we grilled with olive oil and salt & pepper.

pesto chicken and squash

Then I had leftovers with some store bought tortellini with sauteed peppers and mushrooms.

pesto tortellini

It also makes a delicious condiment for sandwiches and subs, or a delicious dressing for salads.  The possibilities are endless so use your imagination!  As an added bonus pesto freezes really well so you can make a big batch and freeze the extra!

 

What’s your favorite way to use pesto?

 

Recipe

Mixed Herb Pesto

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/3 cup basil

1/3 cup mint

1/3 cup parsley

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 lemon – juice and zest

fresh cracked black pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic – minced

extra virgin olive oil (about 1/3 cup)

– Place all ingredients except olive oil in a blender or food processor

– Turn on low and stream in olive oil until you’ve reached your desired consistency

– Serve as desired or freeze in an air tight container

 

Yellow Squash Pasta

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Yellow Squash Pasta

As I’ve established before, I love pasta (see chicken fettucine alfredo, penne with vodka sauce, parmesan pasta and veggies, and pesto pasta with butternut squash) but there are some times when you want something lighter.  I’ve had spaghetti squash before, which is pretty delicious, so a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon this recipe for zucchini pasta from Miss Chris Creations I was intrigued.  I had some squash in the fridge and I decided to make a tomato sauce to go along with it, the dish turned out great!

squash pasta

First use a vegetable peeler to cut thin strips of the squash or zucchini and lay them out on a paper towels, and sprinkle them with salt (to bring out the water).

squash strips

Meanwhile mince some garlic.

garlic

Put it in a pan with some olive oil and dried Italian seasoning (basil, parsley, oregano).

garlic, evoo, seasoning in pan

Let the squash sit and then squeeze the excess water out of the squash.  I dabbed them with paper towels and then put the squash in a ball and squeezed until no more water came out.

squash

Add the squash to the pan, and some fresh ground black pepper, and cook until the squash is tender.

squash in tan

Then add some tomato sauce and cook for a little longer.

added tomato sauce

Serve on a plate and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

squash pasta

Yummmmm!

squash pasta on fork

Recipe

Yellow Squash Pasta

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

1 yellow squash or zucchini

salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic – minced

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, parsley)

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup tomato sauce

Parmesan cheese (for serving)

– Use a vegetable peeler to cut thing strips of squash or zucchini, stopping when you get to the seeds

– Lay the strips out on paper towels and sprinkle with salt, allow to sit for 10-15 minutes

– Meanwhile cook the garlic in a pan with the olive oil and Italian seasoning

– After 10-15 minutes, dab the squash with paper towels, then ball up and squeeze out the excess water

– Add the squash to the pan with some black pepper  to taste and cook until the squash is tender (about 5 minutes)

– Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for a few more minutes

– Serve, topping with Parmesan cheese as desired

Pesto Pasta with Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper

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Pesto Pasta with Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper

I love pasta and am always trying to find new ways to fix it.  Today’s recipe is one inspired by Rachael Ray’s Pepita Pesto Pasta with Roasted Squash.  It’s a delicious pasta with roasted butternut squash, and a pesto that doesn’t have any nuts.  This time around I made a few changes to the original recipe which calls for pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and jalapeño or serrano peppers in the pesto.  I didn’t have any pumpkin seeds, so I just omitted them, and I decided to use a roasted red pepper in place of the jalapeño.  I also added roasted red peppers to the pasta.  This pesto is absolutely delicious, and would also be fantastic on chicken and veggies if you’re trying to cut down on carbs.

pesto pasta with squash and peppers

First you put 3 red bell peppers in the oven to roast, take them out, put them in a plastic bag, let them cool,  peel of the skins, and remove the seeds.

rpoven

blackened rp

peppers in bagpeppersdone

Then you peel a butternut squash, cut it into bite size chunks, and bake it.

roasted squash

While the squash is roasting you make the pesto, it’s super simple.  Toss some cilantro, basil, and parsley in a food processor with Pecorino Romano cheese, one roasted pepper, garlic, lime juice and zest, a roasted red pepper, and olive oil.

pesto

Cook the penne according to package directions, reserve one cup of the cooking water before draining the pasta.  Then combine the pasta, pesto, and reserved water.

penne with pesto

Toss in the squash, and remaining roasted red peppers, top with extra Pecorino Romano cheese, and serve.

pasta and veggies on fork

 

Recipe

Pesto Pasta with Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

3 red bell peppers

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 pounds butternut squash – peeled and cut into bite sized pieces

nutmeg

salt & pepper

1/3 cup each basil, cilantro, and parsley

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese + more for serving

2 cloves garlic – grated

1 lime – zest and juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 box penne pasta (I used whole grain)


– Preheat the oven to 450 ºF

– Place red bell peppers in the oven, turning every few minutes until all sides are blackened.  Remove from the oven, place in a plastic bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap, let cool for about 5 minutes, then peel, and remove seeds, cut into chunks

– Peel the butternut squash, cut into bite size pieces, cover with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and toss to coat.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until soft

– In a food processor combine one roasted red pepper, herbs, cheese, garlic, lime juice and zest.  While the food processor is on drizzle in olive oil until everything is combined

– Cook penne according to box directions, reserving 1 cup of pasta water before draining

– Return the penne to the pot, add the pesto and reserved cooking water, and stir to combine

– Stir the roasted butternut squash and two roasted red peppers into the pasta

– Serve the pasta, topped with the Pecorino Romano cheese