Tag Archives: basil

Antipasto Pasta Salad

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As Morg and I chatted today about a blog she reads called Sarcastic Cooking (which is awesome despite the fact they clearly stole my name), I realized how much I’ve been denying this blog in the name of work. Let’s abruptly put a stop to that shall we?

I made this recipe a month or so ago to take to the lake, and as any meat-laced pasta salad is sure to be, it was a winner. This is a recipe from Giada de Laurentis, who, I’d like to reiterate, cannot possibly be eating the food she cooks on TV. She should look like Paula Deen with all the butter and sugar that goes into everything, yet she’s one bikini and dye-job away from being a Playmate. I do not buy it, Giada. Just know that.

Anyway, a pasta salad recipe that uses salami and olives is a slam dunk with me in any capacity; however I have modified this recipe slightly because our Italian sister went ape crazy with the oil. Seriously, I had to strain the pasta salad after I made it because it was swimming in extra virgin. But fear not – proportions have been corrected accordingly, so whip up with confidence.

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed and leaves chopped (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (add more later if too dry)
1 lemon, juiced

Antipasto Salad:
1 pound fusilli pasta
1/2 cup hard salami, cut into strips (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup smoked turkey, cut into strips (about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup provolone cheese, cut into strips
1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
2 tablespoons green olives, halved and pitted
2 tablespoons roasted red peppers, cut into strips
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.
  2. In a blender, add the basil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Blend until the herbs are finely chopped. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing is smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked pasta with the remaining salad ingredients. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Add lemon juice to taste for acidity purposes. Serve.

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Filed under Comfort food, Italian food, Pasta, Side dishes

Smartini ~ Basil & Acai Berry Cocktail

My brother Martin is finally getting hitched, so I figured we needed a stout yet sassy beverage for his engagement party. In the name of printing up (completely unnecessary but adorable) little St. Patrick’s Day menu cards, this cocktail was named “the Smartini” as a Martin/Sarah mashup.

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As a general rule, I think most dudes will drink a fruity cocktail as long as it:

  1. isn’t bright pink
  2. uses some sort of unorthodox ingredient, and
  3. doesn’t come in a fancy cocktail glass that makes you inclined to raise a pinkie.

And this cocktail passes all of those tests. The Acai Berry liquor is a trendy new kind of booze we had in Charleston while dining at Cypress (the oysters, OH THE OYSTERS!), and The Chef and I are pretty much basil sluts on every level, so this was a no-brainer.

While I didn’t squeeze the 3 dozen lemons it would have required to make a pitcher of this stuff, if I were making smaller batches, I’d definitely use the fresh stuff. Also, this has agave nectar in it, which is just nature’s fancy-sounding answer to Splenda, so do not be afraid.

The bottom line: this was refreshing and delectable, so throw it in your spring rotation.

2 parts Acai berry liquor (Veev)
1 part fresh lemon juice
1 part agave nectar
2 parts club soda
1 package basil, roughly chopped
cucumbers and lemons, sliced for garnish

  1. Pour your Acai berry liquor in a pitcher or tupperware container. Add basil. Let steep for 1-4 days, depending on desired strength of basil flavor.
  2. Combine all ingredients and chill.

I made this in a much larger quantity – i.e. used two bottles of Veev and increased amounts of the other ingredients proportionally – and that worked very well. Put it in a pitcher and dress it up with the cucumbers and lemons, and you got one pretty and potent cocktail.

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Filed under Alcohol, Beverages, Special Occasion

Les Carlos Shrimp & Crawfish Dip

This is another holiday dish that I will definitely be putting into the year-round rotation.

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I first had this dip at a Christmas party 8 years ago, and I searched for the recipe for 5 years before someone pointed out to me that it had been right under my nose – namely in Heart & Soul – the whole time.

While this does take a little while to prep and cook, it is totally worth your time. And not just because it is delicious, but also because each step of the cooking process leaves the house smelling better than the last. Butter, creole seasoning, fresh herbs and seafood? I’m on board.

Two words of caution: Make sure to thaw and rinse your seafood well to get rid of any unnecessary fishiness, and make sure you use 2 teaspoons of creole seasoning and not 2 tablespoons at each of the saute steps. Not that anyone has ever ruined 2 pounds of perfectly good seafood by doing that, but I’d like to prevent it if at all possible…

1 lb crawfish tails
1 lb shrimp, raw and roughly chopped
1.5 sticks of butter (.75 cups)
6 tsp creole seasoning
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tbsp fresh basil (3 dried)
3 tbsp fresh thyme (1.5 dried)
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup flour
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
hot sauce

  1. Melt half a stick of butter in a large skillet. Add 2 tsp creole seasoning. Add crawfish and saute for 5 minutes. Pour crawfish and butter into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt half a stick of butter in a the skillet, add 2 tsp creole seasoning, and saute shrimp in butter for 3 minutes. Add shrimp to bowl with crawfish.
  3. Melt the rest of the butter in the skillet with 2 tsp creole seasoning. Add onion, green and red peppers, celery, and garlic and saute for 5 minutes or until veggies are tender.
  4. Add fresh herbs, tomato paste and flour to veggie mixture in the skillet and stir constantly for 5 minutes.
  5. Process half of crawfish/shrimp mixture in blender (do not puree).
  6. Add crawfish/shrimp mixture (both processed and not-processed halves) to skillet and mix thoroughly.
  7. Stir in green onions and add hot sauce to taste.
  8. Serve with Thin Garlic Crostinis and get out of the way.

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Filed under Appetizers, Cajun food, Christmas, Dips, Seafood, Special Occasion

Mustard & Herb Crusted Salmon

If there is one thing on a menu that will lock down The Chef’s order, it’s crusting something. With nuts or herbs specifically, but honestly, I think you could crust something with Captain Crunch and that would get him to bite… OK, that’s probably something that would pull at my redneck heartstrings more than his, but I think we can all agree that crusting is pretty yummy.

Another that makes this a Chef Favorite is the use of fresh herbs. I think he is second only to Jamie Oliver in his love of all things herby, so using three in one recipe is a definite win.

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Incidentally, if you’ve never watched Jamie’s show on the Cooking Channel, you should check it out. He’s always Macgyver-cooking somewhere insane – like he’s annihilating a head of garlic with a rock on a beach while cooking fish he caught with his bare hands – and it still comes out looking delicious. He’s also rustically adorable, so look into it.

The Chef likes to top this with Lemon Buerre Blanc. To make that, follow this Buerre Blanc recipe and add some lemon juice and zest. Or top with Tanya’s Preserved Lemons and serve up with a side like Red Potatoes with Arugula.

alwaysorderdessert.com

4 salmon fillets*
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup dry mustard
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp finely chopped thyme
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Coat fillets with salt, pepper, and herbs.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to a dish and turn fillets in the mixture to coat both sides.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick saute pan and saute fillets on both sides, cooking until they are golden brown.

Jamie would pronounce this “fill-its.” You see what I mean? Adorable.

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Filed under Fish, Main Course, Seafood

Morg’s Balsamic Chicken & Peppers

This is another offering from the (newly upgraded) kitchen of Morganthony and the new Mrs. Ribeiro herself.

Williams Sonoma

Ever the modern woman, Morg is not only “workin’ that 9 to 5 and stayin’ cute” à la J. Holiday,* but she is also bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan. Or the chicken, depending upon the night.

Morg found this recipe on Williams Sonoma, but, as any good chef does, she has tweaked it to her liking. The recipe below uses extra balsamic and higher heat to absorb it, and that’s what gets your chicken kickin’.

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or thighs
4 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
S&P to taste

  1. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  2. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 7 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the bell peppers and onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Add the vinegar, half of the basil and half of the thyme and stir, scraping up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Return the chicken and any juices from the plate to the pan, spooning the peppers over the chicken.
  5. Cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in the remaining basil and thyme, and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Divide among 4 plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.

*I realize this reference is beyond random, but that song is catchy as hell. Also, Hunter Mills once convinced me to leave a wedding reception to stand outside his car and listen to this song in order to prove I would like it as much as Apologize by promising he would eat his jacket if I didn’t. Unfortunately, I did, but I still respect that move.

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Filed under Chicken, Main Course, Veggies

Bonnie’s Tomato Pie

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When I saw this recipe in my inbox the other day, I remembered how crazygood this stuff is and became sad that I haven’t made it in years.

Mainly because there’s just no excuse for it. The ingredient list is small and it stars two of my favorite quintessential Southern veggies: tomatoes and Vidalias. By the by, were you aware that in order to be considered “true Vidalias,” the onions must be grown in very specific parts of Georgia as defined by law? ‘Cuz I wasn’t. That’s some federally official agriculture, my man.

Anyway, good tomato pie is sweet and savory, and the basil helps to satisfy your Italian cravings while staying well below the Mason Dixon. (There’s also a full cup of mayo in here y’all, clearly it still skews “South.”) The whole process is slice, layer, slather and bake, and as I’ve heard said many times down South, ain’t nothing wrong with that.

1 pie crust
4-5 tomatoes
1-2 Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
fresh basil (a few handfuls torn)
1 cup mayo
1 cup mozzarella
1 cup cheddar
olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prick pie crust with fork and cook according to package directions.
  3. Boil and peel tomatoes. Slice and let drain for a little while.
  4. Saute onions in oil.
  5. Layer tomatoes, onions, and basil until you run out.
  6. Mix mayo and cheeses and top tomatoes and onions with it.
  7. Cook for about 30 minutes. (It may take a little longer, so just look for browned crust and bubbly cheese.)

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Filed under Side dishes, Southern food, Veggies

Ina Garten’s Pesto

I was clicking around on the Nums the other day, and I noticed an unfulfilled promise I made back on St. Patty’s Day about a pesto recipe. As a person who places unreasonable stock in that holiday, my “luck of the Irish” will be totally whacked if I don’t rectify this, so that’s what I’m doing here.

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As the title would imply, this is Ina Garten’s recipe, and aside from the usual seasoning to taste, it needs no modification. It’s a great basic pesto recipe, and The Chef can attest to the fact that I waxed dramatic about how easy and completely worth it it is to make this rather than buying the jarred stuff. (I know that’s supposed to be obvious, but sometimes you need something like this or Batali’s Basic Marinara Sauce to reteach you that fact.)

Also, this freezes incredibly well, so make a bunch for your long-term carbo needs.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts*
3 tbsp chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1.5 cups good olive oil
1 cup Parmesan, freshly grated

  1. Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds.

  2. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed.

  3. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

*The time I made this, I was too lazy to brave the psychofest that is the parking situation at midtown Schnuck’s, and I couldn’t find pine nuts at Miss Cordelia’s, so I used all walnuts. It may not feel as fancy, but it tastes just as good.

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Filed under Italian food, Pasta, Sauces