Tag Archives: basil

summer abundance

8 Aug

Along with the abundance of sunshine, long days, summer storms, blinking fireflies and brilliant sunsets, summer is a bountiful time for growing and consuming fresh, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.

Take advantage of this time to stock up on ripe summer tomatoes, sharp and sweet onions, colorful cilantro, and fragrant basil, among many other delicious foods.

What to do with all of those tomatoes, onions, cilantro and basil? Chop yourself up some fresh pico de gallo or bruschetta, and bask in the glory of summer-time food.

Pico de gallo:

Ingredients:

  • 3 summer tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Rinse tomatoes and cilantro. Chop the tomatoes and red onion, then add to a mixing bowl. Pluck off the leaves of your cilantro, stack them and finely chop, or give them a good rough chop. Sprinkle the cilantro all over your chopped ingredients, then squeeze fresh lime or lemon juice into your bowl (depending on how citrus-y you like it). Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, toss and enjoy them with tacos, burgers, eggs, rice, tortilla chips etc…

Another option is a simple sauté of tomatoes, onions, chopped garlic and olive oil to use as a base for a tomato sauce, which also makes for a great addition to soups or to season beans.

Bruschetta:

Ingredients:

  • 3 summer tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Directions:

Rinse tomatoes and basil. Chop the tomatoes, red onion and finely chop the garlic, then add to a mixing bowl. Pluck off the leaves of your bunch of basil, stack them and finely chop for a chiffonade, or rip them into smaller pieces. Add the basil to your bowl, then pour the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over your chopped ingredients. Toss and enjoy them atop fresh crusty bread, add to pasta, pizza, salad, eggs, pita chips or just enjoy with a fork!

Flora’s seasonal recipe: Italian potato salad

23 Jul

557268_404383529620588_1275511543_nAn Italian recipe from my kitchen? Shocking right?!

This one is one of my favorites, especially during summer, when it’s hot out and cooking over a stove is just not as fun as it is when it’s 11 degrees outside and gets dark at 4pm! I keep reminding myself to enjoy every minute of these slow summer months, to take advantage of the long days, cool mornings, and magical evenings, even in the face of week-long heat waves.

As part of my summer celebration, I absolutely love making this salad. It brings back many memories of childhood, and tastes similar to panzanella, another fresh and fantastic Italian summer salad, with the addition of old bread, cucumbers, garlic and capers. Welcome to my world of summer!

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 handful basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of salt + crack of pepper

Directions:

Boil potatoes (or take the easy way out and score, wrap in paper towel, and microwave). Once cooled, dice potatoes into cubes. Cut tomatoes into medium wedges, julienne your onion, chiffonade your basil. Place basil to the side. Add tomatoes and onions into a medium-large bowl. Then add olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Let them mingle. Finally, add potatoes, and mix it all up. Finish with a gorgeous garnish of basil. Serve and smile…

homage to herbs

18 Jun

1224527043_e132d2f026Herbs are a delicious and nutritious way to add flavor to lots of dishes. They taste magical in various outlets; omelets, spritzers, on all sorts of meats, seafood, tofu, in ice cream, vegetables, pasta sauce, salad dressings, marinades and rubs, and in creative desserts.

As wonderful as they are as accompaniments to many dishes, have you considered using them to make an herb salad, containing only herbs?  Yes, it can be done, and the results will leave your taste buds as happy as ever!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of the following herbs: parsley, basil, chives, taragon, dill
  • 1/4 cup white wine or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Wash all herbs in cold water and pat dry. Tear off the leaves and combine in a large bowl. Cut chives into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the rest of the herbs. To make the vinaigrette, mix the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper together, then slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture gets thick. Toss the salad with enough dressing to lightly coat each leaf. It is also fun, and pretty to add edible flowers (like nasturtiums) as a garnish, or serve as is.

Herbs not only taste great, but are also packed with important nutrients. We used the following herbs in our salad:

  • Parsley: Derives its name from the greek word for “rock celery,” parsley is packed with vitamins B, A, C, K, E, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium.
  • Basil: Prized in many cultures as the “holy herb,” basil is a great source of vitamins A + C, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium.
  • Chives: Containing the most vitamin A of all of their allium family members, chives are rich in vitamins K, C, B and minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, zinc and calcium.
  • Tarragon: Used to treat toothaches in Ancient Greece, tarragon is full of vitamins A, B, C, potassium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc.
  • Dill: Native to Southern Russia, this fernlike herb is a great source of calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin A.
Photo courtesy of Denise Defreyne

fresh ricotta cheese at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum Gala

14 May

6283567937_c86f775779We had the honor of participating in the Brooklyn Children’s Museum Gala last Tuesday, May 8th alongside other Brooklyn based food vendors and Children’s Museum friends and supporters. At the gala we put on ricotta cooking demo which turned out to be a huge hit! Those that stopped by our table were surprised at how tasty and easy it was to cook up a batch. We placed a dollop of ricotta on top of our raw garlic crostini and garnished them with fresh basil. Many folks that tried our cheese made sure not to talk while chewing so that they could experience the sheer joy of tasting the ricotta.

Here’s how you can be your very own rockstar-ricotta cheese maker:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of cream
  • Juice of 4 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon + a pinch of salt

Directions:

Place whole milk, cream, and 1 tablespoon of salt in a pot, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove the mixture from the heat and add lemon juice. Leave this mixture to stand for about 20 minutes, then pour the liquid over a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Allow the mixture to drain for about 1 hour, then place in a bowl or jar. Add a pinch of salt and enjoy in your favorite pastas, topped on homemade pizza, spread on crostini, mixed into pancakes, drizzled with honey or just eat it with a spoon!

Since ricotta is made fresh, it should be eaten right away. However, if you end up with too much ricotta you can also place it in a container in your fridge. This fresh cheese takes on a whole new flavor when baked in the oven for a few minutes. Once baked, add a drizzle of olive oil and rosemary, then spread it on toast. Buon appetito!

Photo courtesy of amberdegrace

Herbs: the secret ingredient

13 Jan

3herb-roasted-potatoes-kfcOne of our favorite ingredients are colorful and delicious herbs.

From cilantro in our pico de gallo to basil in our penne bolognese, and thyme in our meatballs (and in too many other dishes to list!), we can always count on herbs to add extra flavor to our school lunches.

Here is one of our favorite winter recipes, and a perfect side dish! This is a great one to try with kids of any age. Having your children measure out the herbs is a practical way to learn basic math skills, and chopping them up helps teach them knife skills (we love OXO and Zyliss lettuce knives). Also, all of the herbs in this recipe add a soothing aroma to your kitchen space, sure to get your taste buds watering!

Ingredients:

  • 6 large potatoes, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Over medium heat add olive oil to pan. Place cubed potatoes into a large skillet, add the remaining ingredients. Toss together so that potatoes are evenly coated. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown. Garnish with even more chopped fresh herbs.

Photo courtesy of karma free cooking