Herbs & leaves can add such a hit of happiness to your kitchen table, anywhere really. Often the leaves on flowers or plants can rival the beauty of the bloom, so showcase them in low bowls where the weight of the leaf is supported by the rim of the bowl. Herbs either planted or in a clear glass of water adds to the tableau. A piece of fruit or berries just gives another layer to the lusciousness.
This has become a go-to dip over the years. The basil just makes it the perfect herby addition to vegetables (either raw or roasted), little small roasted new potatoes (my favorite with this), or chips. This green goddess dip is actually a spin-off of a dressing Ina Garten makes that I saw her whip up on her show. I add quite a bit more basil than she calls for, which helps make it more of a dip than a dressing. Whatever you call it, it is just darn tasty. It is also the easiest thing to make. Kind of a one mixer concoction sort of thing. I like to use a Cuisinart, but a blender will do the trick too.
Add 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup chopped scallions (using both the white and green parts), 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons of anchovy paste, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and 1 cup sour cream to the mixer. Pulse all until you get the consistency you desire. Sometimes I like it smooth, other times I like it where the basil is more visible. If you want more garlic, add more. If you want it to be extra pungent, add extra anchovy paste. There is no right or wrong on this. There is just yummy.
This is just the simplest thing to make this time of year when tomatoes are most plentiful and are at their peak taste & flavor wise. TPS made this the other evening and I made it the week-end before last in New York when our niece Emma came to Hawthorne for a visit. We could make and eat this weekly during the season it is so tasty. It is a one bowl meal that could not be easier. Here we go.
Preheat oven to 400 while you get things ready. In a baking dish put in small tomatoes whole. Sprinkle them in the dish with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Then add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and a good amount of torn basil. That is the image below. Roast/bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have begun to pop and open. This is needed as the juices mix with the olive oil to make the sauce for the dish. At the 15 minute point, with a spoon mix things around a bit.
While the tomatoes are cooking away, start a big pot of salted water to boil. Choose whatever type of small pasta you like. Ted really likes bow tie shaped pasta, so that is what he used the other night. Cook pasta.
While those 2 things are cooking away brown a package of the best ground sausage you can get your hands on. Simply put a bit of oil in a pan, break up the meat and cook away until cooked through. If you want a meatless or vegetarian meal, omit the sausage. We do this often and the dish still rocks without the meat.
In a large bowl combine the roasted tomatoes, the cooked pasta and the browned sausage. Mix together. To all of that take feta and crumble about and mix again. Once you have served up things on a plate or in a bowl, top with another bit of feta for the top of the dish. So yummy, so satisfying, so easy. Summer in a bowl. Enjoy!
This abundant produce time of year, think of using it in place of flowers. A big bunch of kale looks swell in the center of a table. Asparagus standing up to be enjoyed visually before cooked for a meal. A handful of parsley in a simple clear glass that you can pull from as you cook but just looks great all along the way. Bunches or pots of basil a nod to the sunny season.
Summer brings such divine tomatoes. For the easiest dinner, roast small tomatoes in a 400 degree oven in a baking dish with lots of extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper until the tomatoes have begun to pop and release their sweet juices. Toss with your favorite type of just cooked pasta and mix in a bunch of fresh torn up basil leaves. If so inclined, add a dusting of fresh Parmesan. Fini.
Even though Summer was glorious and in some ways a lovely faded memory, having a meal that brings a bit of the season year round is always a welcome treat. The grocery store often has a nice variety of tomatoes, mozzarella is always available, and basil seems to be consistent in those little plastic herb containers. Add a few good pinches of salt and splashes of extra virgin olive oil, and you have a quick Caprese salad. Easy, healthy and brings back great Summery memories, when the rain or snow come for a long visit.
Happy start of the week to all of you! The rains have begun here. I think I know what we are having for lunch…
I woke up this morning to the intoxicating scent of basil. It has filled every corner of the house with its sweet aroma. The above photo I took yesterday at the shop right after I purchased the ample 5 bunches. They were sold with the roots intact, which I really love, as the basil really last so much longer that way. Plus I think they look so cool exposed in the water of a clear vase. We will use this in almost every dish we make these next few days. I think I see pesto in our future…
This time of year when tomatoes are so plentiful, we have them almost everyday. We had friends over for the afternoon yesterday, and then had an early supper. They have twin daughters who are 8 years old, so I thought it would be fun to make a miniature Caprese salad in their honor. This salad is always a hit no matter age, but the smallness of the ingredients makes it especially visually interesting.
The market had baskets of these small tomatoes in a variety of colors and shapes. These would be perfect. I chose the cherry sized fresh mozzarella and cut them in half. I also cut some of the larger tomatoes in half, but left the really small ones whole. Add a few leaves of torn basil, and a few whole ones to spiffy up the platter, season liberally with salt to bring out the juices from the tomatoes, add a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil–and you are done. Kid and adult approved.
It has been several days of non-stop cooking, with the snow keeping us mainly at home, and mainly inside. Aside from taking Bailey out for her walks–being a good Midwestern girl, hailing from Minnesota–she loves the snow and could be out in it all day. I am not as fond of it. So I cook.
This time of year finding a tasty local tomato is not in the cards. But my favorite find during the Winter months are these gigantic boxes of grape tomatoes from Mexico. In our area, the grocer always has the huge boxes for around five bucks. They are the perfect tomato for roasting in the oven at a high temp, really bringing out the natural sweetness.
Rinse tomatoes in a colander, then put them in a baking dish. Add a liberal amount of salt. Over salting is not really an issue here. Then add a good amount of olive oil to lightly coat the tomatoes. Same with the olive oil, you really can’t overdue it, as this will become part of the sauce. Then peel a whole head of garlic and cut the cloves in half to really release the garlicky goodness. Add the garlic to the tomatoes. Finally, add whole leaves of basil to the dish. Stir so the garlic and basil incorporate. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes have burst, releasing all the amazing juices that will become part of the pasta sauce.
Once done, take out of the oven. Personally, I like taking the wilted basil leaves out and adding fresh ones, but you can leave them in if you wish. If you want this dish to be less garlicky, then discard the garlic. Fine to leave in, as well.
Once the linguini is cooked, toss with all the contents of the baking dish. The tomatoes and all of their juices and the olive oil will have made a glorious natural sauce. Add grated Parmesan once the pasta and tomatoes are mixed together. It really is delicious just like this, and can be served meatless. It is as simple and as easy as that.
If you want to make it a more substantial meal, add chicken or ground beef. I chose ground beef, which is pictured above. Sit and enjoy.
We found vintage galvanized buckets a few years back, and thought they would be perfect to grow basil in. Since we are only out on the island 2 days a week, they are easy to care for, as we just heavily water them before we depart, and give them another good watering when we arrive. We had several holes drilled in the bottom of each bucket, allowing for drainage.
Since basil grows plentifully, we have tomato & basil salad often. Either for lunch with a piece of cheese & baguette, or with dinner as our salad. I cut the tomatoes in half, tear some basil leaves, add a few healthy pinches of sea salt and some fresh ground black pepper, with a splash or two of olive oil. It is the simplest, freshest, taste of Summer.