Tag Archives: basil

Insalata Caprese

18 Aug

The name means “salad in the style of Capri”.   It’s a simple but delicious dish from the Italian region of Campania, made of sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil.  In Italy, unlike most salads, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter or appetizer) not a contorno (side dish).

While it’s unknown whether the salad actually originated on Capri, it became popular after being served there to Egypt’s King Farouk in the 1950s.

Some variations include adding chopped garlic, parsley, and various sauces, like Balsamic vinegar, Italian dressing, etc.  King Farouk reportedly enjoyed it as a sandwich filling.  Some people serve it atop pieces of baguette or other bread.  There’s a little Italian deli by my house that serves a Caprese sandwich and it’s nothing short of scrumptious.  There are countless ways to enjoy this simple little salad.

Last night I went out to my vegetable gardens to see if anything was ready for picking.  Little did I know my four cherry tomato plants were bursting with ripe little treats.

 

 

With the unusually hot weather we’ve been having the past month or so (upper 90s and low 100s) I’m not surprised I haven’t had this many to pick every day.  My plants are full of ripe and unripe little round balls and frankly I can’t keep up.  Tonight I thought I better get a head start and start eating.

I have a few basil plants in my herb garden.  I love basil.  The taste, the smell, everything about it.  Even if I never put a delicious leaf in my mouth, it would make me happy just to put the leaves up to my nose and inhale.  Easily one of my top favorite smells.  I put basil in everything.  In fact, this morning I made little muffin pan omelettes and used the tomatoes and fresh basil. Thank you Bonnie, from recipeshappen for the recipe inspiration.  If you’re not familiar with her blog, check it out, it’s fun.

 

 

Since my garden has been producing such a wealth of tomatoes, and I always have the fresh basil, Caprese salad is my go-to for a light, refreshing, homegrown treat.   One of the best things about Caprese is that there aren’t really specific ratios you have to follow.  Just cut up or slice any type of tomatoes, cut up or tear the leaves of the basil (some are small enough to just throw in as is), add the cheese and dress as you like.  For me personally, I like to add balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

If you’re like me, you don’t always have a block of fresh mozzarella in the fridge and I guess you could even use the shredded stuff for pizzas.  But what I do always have on hand is string cheese (it’s the perfect low-calorie snack for after a work-out).  Some of you may not be familiar with string cheese.   What is it you ask? Why mozzarella of course.  So named because you can peel it from one end or the other and it comes away in a “string”.  Anyway… I take out my handy dandy kitchen shears and cut little discs.  It’s perfect.

 

 

This is a great little salad and one that’s so simple to make (especially when most of the ingredients come from your garden).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s growing in your garden?

Personalized Individual Homemade Pizzas

12 Aug

I was watching The Dr. Oz Show the other day and he had a few celebrity chefs as guests who had come up with lower calorie recipes for our favorite take-out dishes… Hamburgers, pizza and tacos.  I thought I’d be most interested in the taco, but after watching Chef Todd English prepare his pizza, I was convinced I needed to try it.

 

Now, if you’ve read my recipe posts before you know I never follow a recipe exactly.  Sometimes it’s because I don’t have the exact ingredients on hand, don’t care for a particular ingredient or frankly, I just forget a step or two.  Let’s face it, if I were a master chef I’d have my own TV show and wouldn’t be writing this silly blog.  Having said that however, let me say that my pizza was Uh-may-zing!

 

Growing up, one of my favorite dinners was to make individual pizzas. Everyone got to make whatever they wanted, pepperoni, sausage, pineapple, green pepper; if you wanted it you could have it.  No rules, nothing was out of bounds.  But if you made it, it was dinner.  I’ve carried on the pizza tradition with my daughters as well and it’s always been a favorite for them too.  It’s so much fun to design the perfect pizza in your mind, create it in your kitchen and enjoy it in your belly.

 

The recipe I followed (for the most part) from Todd English called for whole wheat Naan, but of course I forgot that part and picked up a package of whole wheat pita bread instead.  I’ve listed my pizza ingredients below, but feel free to check out the original recipe and short video if you want to see the real deal.

 

 

Ingredients

1 cup quartered artichokes*

2 tsp Mezzetta chimichurri sandwich spread*

2 Tbl low fat ricotta

4 or 5 large basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons

¼ cup shredded low fat mozzarella

4 or 5 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

½ cup arugula

1 tsp EVOO

1 tsp lemon juice

Salt

 

*Chef English’s recipe called for grilled artichokes, but I just used the regular quartered ones out of a can.  He also used what he called artichoke spread, but I couldn’t find that at my grocery store, so when I found the Mezzetta sandwich spread on the shelf I chose the chimichurri flavor (cilantro, parsley and garlic).  It sounded like the perfect complement to the other flavors in the pizza.  Well, needless to say it smelled and tasted delicious.  I definitely see sandwiches in my future with the spread on the bread (can’t have the rest of the jar go to waste!).

 

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Spread the chimichurri across pita to create a thin layer.  Add quartered artichokes and tomatoes.  Mix the ricotta and basil to create a smoother creamier texture.  Drop a few dollops on pizza.  Top pizza with shredded mozzarella.  Bake for about 7 or 8 minutes.  Ricotta mixture should begin to spread out a little bit.  It won’t melt down completely, just settle in.

While pizza is cooking, put arugula in a small bowl, add EVOO, lemon juice and a little bit of salt. Toss by hand to coat completely.  When pizza is ready, top with fresh arugula salad… sounds unconventional I know, but trust me you won’t be disappointed.

I was able to use fresh basil and tomatoes from my yard (always a bonus) and maybe next year I’ll have more ingredients for this pizza growing in one of my gardens.  My pizza was so yummy, it was… is  yummilicious a word? If not, it should be.

Gathered around the dinner table tonight were my husband and one of my twin daughters. I made pizza sauce for their pizzas (my basic recipe: tomato sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, onion salt, and pepper).  My husband’s pizza was pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, pineapple and fresh basil.  He loved it.

 

 

My daughter made a pineapple and jalapeno pizza and as you can see I couldn’t get to her soon enough to take the picture before she started in on it.  She loved hers too.

 

 

Remember, it’s all about you.  What tickles your taste buds?  This isn’t a pizza you have to share; it’s yours, all yours.  Don’t be afraid to use this philosophy in other recipes too.  There are some rules you should stick to, like fish and cheese shouldn’t be served together, but for the most part, think outside the box.  If you like an ingredient, throw it in there.  If it doesn’t turn out, chalk it up to a learning experience, but imagine if it’s fantastic!  You could be the next big thing, if not on Food Network, at least in your very own kitchen. And which place is more important anyway?

 

Happy cooking.

Crab Salad with Melon and Citrus Marinade

13 Jul

I came across this recipe on The Dr. Oz Show website.  Don’t know how many of you are fans of the good doctor, but I love him and have found some pretty tasty and healthy recipes on the show and site. As with most recipes I make little adjustments here and there, and this one was no exception. Here’s the original version if you’re interested:  Crab Salad

The biggest tweak was that I substituted imitation crabmeat for the lump crab.  I always have the imitation stuff on hand, but it’s a matter of personal taste and preference.

Like all recipes it’s important you read them all the way through before you begin in the kitchen.  You’ll notice below that between the first list of ingredients and the marinade, there are some duplicates when it comes to herbs.  I’m not sure it’s necessary to separate them personally.  The important thing is to make the marinade full of flavor. The rest is essentially garnish.

 

 

Ingredients

2 pkgs frozen imitation crab, (thawed)

½ cantaloupe melon

4 or 5 large basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons

3 or 4 sprigs cilantro, chopped up

Citrus Marinade (see below)

 

Citrus Marinade

1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped

¼ bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped

½ bunch basil (I used about 12-15 leaves), finely chopped

1 tsp ground fresh chili paste

4 lemons, juiced

4 limes, juiced

1 orange, juiced

¼ cup honey

¾ cup olive oil

 

Directions

Season crab meat with marinade and half of the herbs.  Arrange the melon around the plate and top with the crab mix.  Sprinkle remaining herbs over the top.

 

What I ended up with was an incredibly delicious ceviche of sorts.  I didn’t know what to expect by combining the crab “salad” and melon on my palette but the answer was surprisingly refreshing.  The recipe said it served 4 but when I divided it up into containers to take to work, I ended up with only 3.  Definitely could’ve stretched to 4, but you could put a bit more on your plate and call in a wonderful summer lunch.  Enjoy!

loveinamasonjar

rustic and handmade inspiring ideas for wedding, events, and home

Knitting Rays of Hope

Spreading Hope...a hat at a time.

Peri's Spice Ladle

Indian-inspired Food for the Global Palate

gwenniesgarden

a blog about my garden and my soft spot for cacti and succulents, travelling and art

Visions

do you see what I see

Fine Cats & Kittens

Cats and kittens beautiful pictures, fun activity's, and sweet poems.

Bullfrogs Symposium

A Celebration of Life

cancer killing recipe

Inspiration for meeting life's challenges.

Barefoot Baroness

Thoughts, words, random me...

Tyler Sarjeant's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Two Barn Farm

Sustainable Farming, Permaculture, Gardening and Homesteading in Ohio

Our Kitchen Inventions

What She Cooks....He Shoots

Life isn't so much a puzzle as it is a plan

I live. I think. I write. I shoot. Unedited.

maggiesonebuttkitchen

Passionate about cooking and baking and love to share.

jensinewall

writer, designer, creative thinker

Wanton Creation

The tales of a book and music nerd who floats between Australia, Sweden and Britain.

Little Yellow House Blog

Home & Gardening. Simple.

Greg Morton

Author | Artist | Adventurer

%d bloggers like this: