Tag Archives: Basil

Zucchini and Tomato Tart

Only one more test to go (my last practical for my entire educational career!), then I’m a free woman!  My test isn’t until 8:30 tomorrow night, which gives me quite a bit of time to study (and agonize) until it’s all over.

I was searching for recipes using zucchini (since it appears I will be receiving yet more of it in my CSA box tomorrow), and I found this very yummy-looking tart from The Flour SackSince I haven’t made real food in a while, I thought it’d be a nice change from having Fritz grill everything while I cram for exams.

Zucchini and Tomato Tart Printable Recipe Cards

for the crust:

  • 2 C whole-wheat flour (you should probably use pastry flour, but I used straight whole-wheat)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • scant 1/2 C ice water

for the filling:

  • 1 C fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 C feta cheese
  • 1/4 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 C thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

top:

  • 1 medium to large zucchini, sliced thinly
  • handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • drizzle of olive oil (about a T)

This is a bit of a complex recipe, just in terms of how many bits and pieces there are to prepare, so make sure you have a little counter space and time available to you before starting.

Start with the crust.  Oil a 10-inch tart pan.  Combine the flour and salt in the mixer bowl, then drizzle the olive oil over the top while the mixer is running.  It should form small little balls throughout the flour (some flour will remain dry).  Slowly add the ice water until all the flour is moistened, and stop the mixer.  Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice to form a ball before rolling out to a large circle.  Lightly place onto the tart pan, press into place, and cut off the excess edges.

I didn’t have a tart pan, so I used a slightly smaller pie pan.  It worked fine, but I think the larger size would work better in making a thinner tart that cooks more quickly and evenly.  I used the extra edges to make four small mini-tarts–so cute!

Refrigerate the crusts for at least half an hour, then place them in the oven (preheated at 375 degrees) for 15 minutes, weighted down with pie weights or dried beans over a piece of parchment paper.  After 15 minutes, remove the weights and paper and let it toast for another 5 minutes.

While the crust is chilling and cooking, set up the zucchini.  Because they have such a high water content, toss the thin slices with a pinch of salt and lay them out on paper towels.  This will let them release some water before they drown your tart while cooking.

Mix the filling ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  When the crusts are ready, spoon the filling into an even layer.  Dab the zucchini slices with a paper towel to dry them, then layer in a circular pattern over the top.  Drop the grape tomatoes, halved, on top, and drizzle with olive oil.

Don’t expect yours to look exactly like mine, since I doubled the zucchini–I’ve got a lot to use up!  I absolutely love zucchini, so I was happy with more, but the proportions would probably be better with the original amount.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about half an hour, when the tart is cooked through–the zucchini is tender and the tomatoes are bursting with flavor.

A work of art to look at!

My only complaint with this tart was that the crust was a bit dense–that may be my fault, since I didn’t use pastry flour.  I also would have preferred to put it in a larger pan than what I had lying around, but I didn’t have anything that would be a better fit.

I must say, however, that the bite-sized tarts were absolutely amazing.  Two-bite-sized, really, but super cute and the perfect ratio of crust, cheese, and vegetable.

We ate half of the tart, and were completely stuffed.  Very filling.

Anyhoo, I have to go write a take-home final for my ethics class (best kind of test there is), so have a lovely evening!  To keep up with the late nights, I’ve been drinking vast quantities of English breakfast tea to keep me feeling sane–what’s your comforting drink of choice?  I’ve never really been a coffee kind of person.

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Basil Lime Pesto

I did promise another basil recipe for you today.  And when I make a promise, I most often deliver.  Probably around 88% of the time.

I’m a busy lady.

You guys lucked out this time–mostly ’cause the basil was wilting, limes were dessicating, and the pesto clock was running out of time.  Fritz isn’t a huge garlic fan, so I decided to leave it out and use lime for that special kick.

The limes may or may not have been leftover from some margaritas I made on Tuesday.  Don’t judge me.

Basil Lime Pesto  Printable Recipe Card

  • 2 C tightly packed basil–it looks like a lot when it’s not packed
  • 1/4 C walnuts
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1 t salt
  • juice and zest from 2 limes

One of the best things about pesto is how quick it is.  Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  It’s okay to have some nice basil and walnut flecks in there so it looks pretty, too.

It might taste a little salty (you can start with 1/2 t salt and add more as you like), but don’t forget that a little bit of pesto goes a long way on pasta and other dishes–it won’t taste as salty when you are using it.

Either freeze for long-term storage (I use ice-cube trays for single serving sizes, then transfer to a zip-lock), or keep it in the fridge for a few days (maybe a week with all the lime juice?  I’ll let you know).

The other nice thing besides the ease of making pesto is its versatility–use on sandwiches, with pasta, in a tomato salad, on roasted chickpeas, in soups, with eggs…anything, really.  And the lime is a totally nice change from garlic–brighter.  Summery.  Margarita-y (just kidding!).

I’ll probably freeze half of this recipe (it made about 1 1/2-2 cups) and use the rest over the weekend.  Yum–possibly on top of some grilled veggies?  Part of a steak marinade?  So many ideas!

I received an exciting new box in the mail today containing a new lens that we (okay, I) bought!  I had it out for literally only a few minutes, so I obviously still have a lot to learn on it, but here’s what a few shots look like:

It’s a Sigma f1.4 50mm prime lens–you’ll be seeing a lot more from it later this weekend as I take time to play with it.

The Jensens are coming over for s’mores in a few, so get out there and enjoy the night!

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Filed under Sauces

Basil Melon Sorbet

Sometimes, I decide I want to do something, and despite my previous plans it turns out in quite a different way than I originally intended.

I wanted to make ice cream (because it’s hot), and since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–Part II is coming out, I thought I’d make it butterbeer flavored.  Good idea, right?

Yes.  Except that I came home from school and wanted to use some of the basil from my CSA box, and there was an oh-so-ripe ($1) cantaloupe in the freezer, and making a cream-and-egg based butterscotch shortbread caramel ice cream just sounded so heavy and dense and waaay too rich for the occasion.

Luckily, I’m adaptable, and the ice cream maker is always in the freezer ready at a moment’s notice whether it’s to be filled with sorbet or custard.  And honestly?  Butterbeer ice cream can always happen later.

Basil Melon Sorbet  Basil Melon Sorbet Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 C water
  • 1 C sugar
  • few sprigs fresh basil (about 20-30 leaves)
  • 1 cantaloupe, seeds and rind removed

I was lucky and happened to have the cantaloupe frozen before I started making this, which sped up the ice cream making process tremendously.  We bought the cantaloupe for a buck at the farmer’s market, so ripe it was about to burst–which necessitated it being frozen ASAP in plastic baggies for smoothies (so I thought).

Start off by making a basil-infused simple syrup.   Bring equal parts water and sugar to a simmer, until all the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and add a handful of basil leaves (I counted out 20 leaves, all sizes) and allow the syrup to cool, then remove the basil leaves.  I only used about half of this syrup in the sorbet, and poured the rest into a jar–purpose to be determined later. 

You can decide how sweet and basil-y you want your sorbet to be as you do the next step.

Blend the frozen melon and half of the simple syrup together to form a puree–if your melon isn’t frozen, that’s okay!  It’ll just take a bit longer to freeze.  My cantaloupe had started to defrost at that point, so it was pretty easy to blend.  I also added 5 or 6 fresh basil leaves to the blender to have some pretty green basil flecks in the sorbet.

Once it’s blended, taste to decide if you want to add more of the basil simple syrup. 

Pour the puree into the container of the ice cream maker, and allow it to churn according to the machine’s directions.  If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can just freeze it in a plastic container, stirring every once in a while to prevent large ice crystals from forming.

The basil taste was subtle but gorgeous with the fresh summer melon–quite refreshing.

It’s also a nice reminder that basil can be paired with sweets–it’s not just for pasta (though you may be seeing a pesto recipe in the very near future).

Moral of the story is, sometimes when things don’t go the way you planned, it works out even better.

And summer flowers!  Aren’t they nice?

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Filed under Desserts

Herbs–Garden Edition

I planted my baby tomato plants today in a last-ditch effort to save ’em after I accidentally left them outside in direct hot burning sunlight for a full day.  They got sunburned.  Badly.  After a week of TLC, they seemed to recover somewhat, so I figured it was time for them to graduate.

Luckily it was a gray, drizzly day outside, so they weren’t subjected to more intense UV rays while they settled in their new home.

Since the rest of my herb garden is springing up tremendously well, I thought I’d give you a look-see.  We planted this herb garden all from seed last year (and basil and tomatoes from seed again this year), and the ease with which it grew has really astounded me.  Why doesn’t every cook have a garden?  I know from now on I will always have these herbs in my garden–it’s so convenient and cheap!

Maybe I did inherit some of my mom’s green thumb!

We planted some catnip in the back to fuel Henry’s hysterical addiction–it hasn’t been growing well (too sandy?) and I almost gave up hope, but today I found this:

In our herb garden, our littlest baby, basil (can’t wait for some fresh pesto!):

‘Course there’s the chives, which you’ve recently witnessed starring in a vinegar recipe (which has since turned a beautiful pink color!):

Next up, lavender!  Best use of lavender so far has been in this pork chop dry rub–different, and perfect.  I’m excited because this year the lavender is much more plentiful than last year, and up way earlier, so I’m hoping for a lot more flowers.

Can’t have an herb garden without parsley–how else is a girl to garnish everything, or make pasta puttanesca?

We have a large amount of sage, which I’ve used to great success in this garlic and sage bread or in this chicken breakfast sausage:

Of course I have one of my most-used herbs, thyme, which is perfect for any and all soups, including this corn chowder, one of my first recipes on this blog! (Please don’t laugh at the quality of that post!  I was just learning!):

I didn’t plant cilantro this year, and I was kind of sad because I’ve seen a couple of recipes lately that I wanted to try that call for it.  Imagine my joy and surprise today when I discovered some seeds from last year must have regenerated!  I was weeding and just knew I smelled cilantro. Yes!  Hello, open-faced tacos!

And mint.  Ah, mint.  I planted this solely so I could make copious amounts of mojitos all summer long.  But if plenty of fresh alcoholic drinks aren’t your thing, how about some fresh minty green iced tea (recipe coming soon to a blog near you!):

Last but not least, my precious tomatoes.  I hope you live.  I really want to eat you in chili form (pumpkin bowl or not)!

In other garden news, look who bloomed today!  First one of the year!  These irises (iris? irisi?) traveled all the way from my parent’s house two years ago:

Judging by the looks of things around the house, I think it’s rapidly approaching bedtime.  Even Henry’s tuckered out:

(Thanks Mom for the box and its pre-cat contents today!)

Another full day of studying tomorrow–and some procrastinating, I’m sure.  Speaking of which, how do you like the new blog design?  I wanted something bright and summery!

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Filed under Non-food things I like

Basic Pesto

Since fall is here and therefore it will be winter in a few days, I decided it’s time to start going through the herb garden to save whatever I can.  I have plans to dry the thyme, lavender, sage, and maybe some chives, and on Sunday I made tons of pesto to freeze.  Mom gave me a little hint to freeze the pesto in ice-cube trays for individual serving sized portions for easy defrosting (thanks Mom!)

For all of you out there who either just want pesto (understandably…it’s delicious) or have a lot of basil you don’t want to go to waste, here’s an easy recipe for you to try!

Basic Pesto

  • 1-3 cloves garlic, depending on your preference (I used one)
  • 2 C packed basil
  • 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

This is super easy: put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Done!

 

Like I said, for easy freezing you can pour the pesto into ice-cube trays and when they are frozen solid, toss them into a freezer bag and use them as you need ’em!  The pesto keeps for about three months in the freezer. I made three batches, so I may have to give a few cubes away to friends and family or we’ll never finish it all!  If you don’t want to risk having your ice-cube trays smell like garlic for the next few years, you can freeze whole batches in sandwich bags and it’ll take up barely any room in your freezer.

While I was picking the basil from the garden, I stumbled across a really disgusting but weirdly awesome infestation of giant caterpillars in my parsley (which I will never, ever, be able to eat again).  I googled them and they are black swallowtail butterfly caterpillars and love to eat parsley and fennel.  While they look gross now, I’m actually willing to share my parsley with the butterflies–some people plant it solely to attract the butterflies.  So here’s a warning: close your eyes if you don’t like bugs!

 

I’ll take more pictures once I have crowds of butterflies flitting about my yard.  Hopefully they’ll be much more beautiful and a lot less nauseating.

To leave on a more appetizing note, I made some quick boiled beets the other day.  I was in a rush, because normally I’d wrap the beets in foil and roast them for a stronger and sweeter beet flavor, but I only had half an hour so boiling it was.  Regardless, I had to take a picture because my parents grew these beets and they look awesome!  I have some left so I’ll roast them the right way next week and take some more pictures, but you can feast your eyes upon these beauties for now.

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Filed under Sauces