The Literate Chef

Posts Tagged ‘basil’

Vegging Out & Vegging In

In General Articles, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian Meals on July 24, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Summer Vegetables on the Grill

Summer Vegetables on the Grill

Growing up, mixed vegetables frequently meant boiled peas and carrots, compliments of Birds-Eye®.  Open the box of frozen “mixed vegetables”, place the contents in water, boil them to remove all flavor and nutrients, then smother them in butter and salt to make them somewhat palatable. I must admit however, that Birds-Eye®  have come a long way since the 1950’s!

With summer in full swing and Farmers Markets popping up everywhere, “mixed vegetables” takes on a new meaning. Pick up some eggplants, preferably the small Italian variety, some red peppers and a couple of zucchinis. And, if you are so inclined, add a red onion and a summer squash, but its your call.

Following is a simple recipe for grilled mixed summer vegetables:

Ingredients:

3 Italian Eggplants, cut into 1&1/2 inch cubes (leave the skin on for added flavor and crunch).
3 Red Peppers, cored, seeds removed and cut into 1-inch squares.
2 Zucchinis, sliced into thin circles (1/4 inch or less).
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Procedure:

1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to very hot, a covered grill is best in order to concentrate the heat.
2. Place the cut-up vegetables in a very large bowl.
3. Pour in the olive oil and toss well.
4. Add salt, pepper and basil and toss well again.
5. Place vegetables on a grill pan and roast with the grill cover closed for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked to your liking.

Serve as a side dish or main course.

As an added plus, place the leftovers in a gallon-sized Ziploc® bag and refrigerate for two or three days. Get some Italian bread with a good crust and a fresh mozzarella; slice the bread in half lengthwise, add the cold vegetables to the bottom half, cover with several slices of mozzarella add the top half and you are in veggie heaven.

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Uncle Fred’s Homemade Pesto Sauce

In Pasta, Recipes, Sauces on October 23, 2011 at 6:06 PM

(Makes about 2 cups of sauce)

Ingredients:

4 cups of basil leaves (stems discarded) packed tightly
5 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely, about 1/3 cup
1 cup pignoli nuts
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for preserving
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preparation:

1.    Place chopped garlic and pine nuts in a food processor.
2.    Add the basil leaves and pulse-chop the ingredients, pausing after 10 pulses or so to push down the basil leaves with a spatula. Continue pulsing until all of the basil is chopped.
3.    Slowly add the olive oil while running the food processor.
4.    Scrape all of the ingredients from the sides with a spatula.
5.    Slowly add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and give it one or two quick pulses.
6.    Transfer the pesto sauce to a clean, pint-sized jar. When the pesto settles, slowly top it off with about ¼ inch of olive oil, which acts as a preservative air barrier and prevents the pesto from being exposed to air, turning brown and going bad. In this state it can be refrigerated for several weeks.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

Angel Hair Pasta (Capellini) with Pesto Sauce

Capellini (Angel Hair Pasta)
•    1 cup of pesto sauce
•    1 lb. of Capellini
•    Cook pasta according to directions.
•    When pasta is cooked and before draining, remove 1 cup of pasta water, add it to a large bowl, drain and add pasta to the bowl and toss, add pesto sauce and mix well.
•    Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano – Reggiano.

Insalata de Ceci

Pollo con Pesto

Roasted Halibut with Tomato and Pesto

The Last of the Basil

In General Articles on October 23, 2011 at 6:05 PM

As summer winds down into the first full month of autumn, the last of the basil has been picked. The memory of summer has long since faded as the leaves begin their whirling descent to blanket the lawn with brown, red and gold. While the outside air smells of autumn, the kitchen air is redolent with the vestiges of summer, freshly picked basil.

The aroma of basil has always meant summer to me; summer on the Jersey Shore, and summer vacations on Cape Cod, where our first stop was to see Uncle Fred and Aunt Jo. On those latter occasions, not only did Fred provide us with our first night’s dinner, but also with a basil plant that he had carefully tended, and which lasted for the entire month of our vacation.

So with October in the wind a few weeks ago, we picked the leaves from the last of our basil plants and decided to extend summer for a few weeks more by making pesto with a recipe from Uncle Fred. For a brief history of pesto and its ancient method of preparation, before the invention of blenders and food processors, check out the article in this link to the foods of Liguria. Liguria is one of the western-most regions of Italy, it borders on the French Riviera and encompasses Genoa, San Remo, Portofino, and Cinque Terre.

Chicken Parmigiana alla Caprese

In Chicken, For Moms on the Go, Meat, Recipes on August 7, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Caprese Salad is a delicious combination of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. It is frequently served as a stand-alone appetizer, or as a topping on a pounded, breaded and fried veal chop or cutlet. Bruschetta is a fresh tomato and basil combination mixed with a good extra virgin olive oil and served on toasted Italian bread, as an appetizer, hors d’ oeuvre or amuse-bouche. We have taken both ideas, adapted them slightly and added them to Chicken Parmigiana, but have substituted the bruschetta for tomato sauce. The combination of cold tomatoes and hot chicken with melted mozzarella is delicious and easy to make. As a matter of fact the bruschetta can be made a day in advance and refrigerated, or can be prepared while the chicken is being fried or baked, thereby cutting down on the time required for preparing dinner.

Total Time 40-45 minutes, active time 25-30 minutes

Chicken Parmigiana alla Caprese

Ingredients:

For the Bruschetta:

2 fresh, ripe tomatoes sliced and diced.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 basil leaves, chopped
2 slices of red onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp. dried oregano

Hint: If any of Grandpa Tom’s Tomato Salad should be left, which is highly unlikely, you can chop it up and add the red onion and oregano.

For the Chicken:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Italian Style breadcrumbs
1 medium-sized (about the size of a baseball) fresh, unsalted, mozzarella, cut into 4 slices

Preparation:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Crack the egg into a shallow bowl, whisk well and add salt & pepper.
3. Add breadcrumbs to a second shallow bowl.
4. Pre-heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the butter.
5. While the butter is melting, dip each chicken breast in the egg mixture, coating it well and then in the breadcrumbs, again coating it well and add to the melted butter once it is bubbling.
6. Fry the breaded chicken breasts on medium heat for 15 minutes, turning several times to ensure a good browning on both sides.
7. When the chicken breasts are browned, transfer them to a non-stick baking pan, or cookie sheet sprayed with Pam and bake in the oven, on the center rack, for 15 minutes or until the chicken breasts register 170 degrees on a meat thermometer.
8. While the chicken breasts are baking, prepare the bruschetta by chopping, slicing, dicing and mixing, or if made in advance, pour yourself a glass of wine and relax.
9. When the chicken breasts are baked, place two slices of mozzarella atop each breast and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese melts.
10. Remove the chicken breast to plates and cover generously with the bruschetta, using a slotted spoon to reduce the amount of liquid.

Serve with Broccoli Florets Sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

A Chianti Riserva filled with depth and complexity makes a great accompaniment to this dish.

Grandpa Tom’s Tomato Salad

In Salads on July 24, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Grandpa Tom's Tomato Salad

Grandpa Tom’s Tomato Salad

(makes 4 to 6 servings)

Ingredients:                                                                                                       

3 lbs. ripe tomatoes (about 5 or 6)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup basil leaves (about 30)
4 tbsp. water

Steps:

1.    Rinse and dry the tomatoes and cut in half, vertically, and remove the stem part. Cut each half into wedges of 6 or 8 depending on tomato size. If wedges are too large, cut each in half.
2.    Place the cut-up tomatoes in a large mixing bowl; add the olive oil and mix well to coat each piece.
3.    Add the salt and mix well again (this helps the tomatoes give up their juice).
4.    Add the garlic and mix.
5.    Shred the basil by hand, and mix it into the salad.
6.    Add the water and mix again.
7.    Let sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, stir occasionally to combine the flavors.
8.    Serve with crusty Italian bread to sop up the juice after the tomatoes are eaten.

Please See Memories of Grandpa and Summers at The Shore

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