Pesto Please! What to do with all that basil

Basil is in season and if you have recently planted it in your garden the fragrant herb is probably trying to take over! I have a planter of it on my balcony and I still have plenty of it to make lots of yummy things.

Number one thing to make with basil? Pesto of course!

Classic Pesto Recipe from Food Network:

Ingredients

Directions

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.

Now, what to do with all of that pesto?

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Gazpacho Recipes

We picked up our CSA box yesterday; it was full of an assortment of vegetables and fruit and even a very tasty watermelon. The weekly newsletter included two recipes for gazpacho. I’ve never made gazpacho before, but it seemed like a great way to use several different vegetables at once.

There was a recipe for Watermelon Gazpacho from All Recipes, and a recipe for Gazpacho Soup from Raw Foods Diet Center.

The Watermelon Gazpacho had a lot more ingredients so I decided to try the Gazpacho Soup.

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Summer Garden Recipes

Just a small portion of this week's CSA veggies

Yesterday I attended a class at a local nursery and garden shop about how to cook with your summer bounty. While I don’t really have a garden (just a couple containers), our CSA box is full of lots of summer garden goodies.

The nursery staff showed us how they make a few of their favorite dishes using items they grow themselves. We even got a little mini-cookbook and were able to sample the goods. I didn’t try the banana and apricot or blueberry muffins, but I imagine they were pretty tasty. I had spearmint ice tea which wasn’t overpowering but still refreshing and I enjoyed the basil and Parmesan rounds as well as the bruschetta topping. They also served a cowboy caviar with blueberries instead of beans, which made it light and perfect for hot days.

Here are few recipes from the class:

Chavelle’s Bruschetta

Heirloom tomatoes
1/2 Walla sweet onion
Fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
Grey or sea salt
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (the more aged the better)
Olive Oil
Baguette

Chop tomatoes and onions. In a small bowl, add the vinegar then whisk in olive oil and garlic. Add the tomatoes and onions. Stir gently. Stir in basil and salt and pepper to taste. Bruschetta is best served after a few hours, at room temperature. If not serving immediately, omit the basil until right before you serve. Spoon on grilled or toasted baguette slices.

Rounds of Pesto (from the cookbook California Sizzles)
Makes 36

3/4 cup slivered basil leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (grate yourself or buy a good quality cheese already grated)
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
French baguette

Stir together basil, cheese, garlic and mayonnaise until blended. Spread each piece of bread with a generous amount of mixture. Broil bread approx. 3-4 minutes on a cooking sheet, until bubbly and lightly browned.

These were pretty tasty but I try and avoid too much bread. This mixture might be tasty on squash rounds or other veggies.

Teresa’s Mixed Berries with Marscarpone-Limoncello Creme
Serves 8

3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
4 oz container marscarpone cheese
3/4 c sugar
3 tbsp limoncello
8 cups assorted fresh berries
3/4 c raspberry preserves
1 tbsp grated lemon peel

Combine cream, marscarpone, 3 tbsp sugar, and limoncello in a large bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. In another bowl, combine 1/2 sugar, berries, preserves, and lemon peel. Toss gently. Divide berry mixture into 8 dishes and top with cream mixture.

Quick and Easy Garden Pizza

Use leftovers and extra veggies for a simple meal

I’m a fan of Food Renegade, and as part of their Fight Back Friday, here is simple recipe for a healthy meal with lots of vegetables.

Sometimes we have trouble eating all the vegetables we get in out CSA Box or sometimes we just don’t feel like cooking. The solution?

Easy Garden Pizza

Ingredients:
Premade or precooked crust – I use organic gluten-free or sprouted-wheat crust
Olive Oil
Seasonings (basil, pepper, garlic, etc)
Vegetables (we use organic vegetables from our CSA Box or garden)
Cheese (we use raw cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan, or goat cheese)

The winning combo for us this vegetable season?
Yellow squash
Eggplant (a great way to use this veggie if it’s not your favorite)
Leeks
Red onions
Peppers
Tomatoes
Garlic

I brush the crust with olive oil and 2 spoonfuls of fresh organic salsa. I sprinkle minced garlic throughout.
I top with sliced and chopped vegetables, then sprinkle with cheese. (if using leftover meat, place on the pizza before the cheese).
I then sprinkle basil and sun dried tomato flakes all over the pizza.

Place on a pizza stone after following crust directions for temperature. Should be ready in 8-12 minutes. We find the pizza pairs perfectly with a fresh salad with oil and balsamic vinegar.

This recipe can easily be changed to be gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian.
A friend of mine uses veganaise as a dip to serve with pizza.

Don’t be afraid to use whatever vegetables you have on had. You can put anything on pizza and it can be healthy!

Summer Berry Goodness Part 2

Blackberry Season!

I went over to a friends house yesterday and helped garden and pick blackberries. Blackberries are very protective of themselves – they like to grow large thorns and try to persuade you not to pick them. But you have to tell yourself the the blood, sweat, and tears is all worth it. And usually it is.

Because I loved the blueberry compote so much, I decided to make some blueberry-blackberry compote and some lemony shortbread tart crust. My husband thought there was too much lemon – but I thought it was perfect.

The crust is made with almond and coconut flour and gluten-free like the muffins I made a couple of days ago, but the crust is crisp and tart and not sweet and soft.

I made half the crust recipe and just broke the crust into pieces and covered them in compote. Here is the recipe to make a full tart:

Blueberry Blackberry Lemon Tart

Makes about 8-10 servings

Blueberry-blackberry compote

2-2 ½ Cups of berries (any mixture of the two will do)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp stevia
1 tsp honey
(or sweeten to taste)

Combine ingredients in saucepan and simmer over low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally and smashing berries to release juice. While berries are simmering, prepare the tart crust.

Lemon Tart Crust:

1 cup almond flour
1 cup coconut flour
1 stick of butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3-6 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a tart pan

Combine flours, then add in chunks of butter and blend with a fork, to make crumbs.  Add vanilla and lemon, and continue to stir. Add 1 tbsp of water at a time until your dough reaches a consistency where you can roll it into a ball and it does not crumble. Press into a tart pan. Take a fork and poke holes around the crust before you put it in the oven, to prevent crust from rising. Bake 8-12 minutes or until it starts to brown and is firm to touch.

Let crust cool. Pour berry mixture over tart and serve warm or refrigerate and serve chilled.

My "deconstructed tart" with yogurt drizzled on the top

*This dessert is quite tart. It would probably be best served with something sweeter – vanilla yogurt or ice cream. I prefer the muffin top cookie things with the compote than the lemon tart and compote combo.

Summer Berry Goodness Part 1

Over the next few weeks I am sure that I will be posting lots of blueberry recipes. We usually get about a container of blueberries every week from our CSA box and although I love blueberry things, I’m not a huge fan of just plain blueberries.

Yesterday I had an amazing urge to eat berry pie; blackberry, huckleberry, blueberry, or any combination of dark tangy berries. Flour and sugar filled desserts I am trying to stay away from, so I created something to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Easy Mini Almond Banana Muffin Tops with Blueberry Compote

Muffins covered in yummy blueberry compote

I didn’t mean for them to turn out like muffins (I was aiming more for a crisp cookie), but these tasted yummy just the same.

Makes 4 small servings or two large desserts

Ingredients:
Blueberry Compote
1- 1 ½ Blueberries
2 TBSP lemon Juice
1 tsp Stevia Powder
1 tsp honey
(Or sweeten to taste)

Put all ingredients into small sauce pan and toss to coat. Set burner to medium low heat. Crush berries and stir occasionally. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until berries have popped and mixture is mostly liquid.

Almond Banana Muffin Tops:
1 egg
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp honey
½ Banana
¾ Cup Almond Flour
¼ Cup Coconut Flour
¼ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a bowl, mix together egg, butter, vanilla, honey, and banana. Add flours and baking soda and mix until blended smooth. Split between 4 greased muffin cups or spoon onto baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until they start to brown and are firm to touch

Spoon blueberry compote over muffins. Drizzle plain yogurt (I love the Strauss plain whole milk yogurt with no sugar added), or if you can’t resist; your favorite vanilla ice cream.

My husband might tell you that I licked my bowl clean. I will then tell you that there is no proof.

The next morning for breakfast I had a bowl of yogurt with some of the blueberry compote on top and a piece of muffin. So delicious.

a piece of muffin with lots of yogurt and blueberry compote on top