My mother grows both green and purple basil every year. This year she gave me a purple basil plant. Mine grew to about 6 inches tall, enough to snip off a couple leaves or sprigs here and there to season a dish. Her basil plant grew to the size of a bush.
If you don’t trim basil plants, they will go to seed and die, having finished their purpose in life. If you trim them, they grow bigger. I went out to trim Mom’s basil plants for her and came in with quite enough basil to make pesto. So I put it in a bag, stuck it in my cooler, brought it home and decided to make purple pesto.
In my box of goodies from the garden, I also had some of these pretty purple Fairy tale eggplant, and since it IS purple, I thought that would be lovely in the pesto. As I was blending up the pesto, it was a bit too thick, so I was looking for a liquid to thin it so that I didn’t have to add too much oil (I want my pesto to be lower in fat too!) and wouldn’t ruin the color. It just so happens I had a bottle of red wine sitting there, so I added a bit of wine too.
I’m freezing my purple pesto for safe keeping. I have plans in my mind to make purple pizzas and purple pasta, purple pesto salad dressings and purple pesto potatoes.
Have I mentioned that my favorite color is purple?
- 6 cups of purple basil leaves
- 1/3 cup pinons (pine nuts)
- 1/3 cup almonds
- 1 cup shredded asiago cheese
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 small fairy tale eggplant, roasted (or 1/2 cup of a larger eggplant)
- 1/3 cup dry red wine
Slice the eggplant lengthwise, set it on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven (or toaster oven) at 350 for about 10 minutes or until it’s tender. Cut it up into chunks and measure it. You should have about 1/2 cup of eggplant.
In a blender or food processor, blend up all the ingredients until you have a fine puree. Whatever you are not going to use immediately, freeze in small containers or ice cube trays.
Use this purple pesto just like you would any other pesto: mix with some pasta water and toss with pasta, spread it on pizza or sandwiches or little toasts.
with Gorgonzola, Mozzarella & Havarti Cheeses
My friends told me about this Peach Pizza they’ve been making that they just LOVE … so of course I had to try it. Last night the crazy wind we’ve been having finally died down enough to light up the grill so my daughter and I decided we should grill up some pizza.
Peach Berry Prosciutto Pesto Pizza
Adapted from Eating Well
- Pizza dough (I included my recipe below)
Toppings (per individual-sized pizza)
- 1/4 cup of Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
- 1/4 cup of shredded Havarti cheese
- 1/3 cup Mozzarella cheese
- 1 fresh peach (or nectarine), sliced
- Thinly sliced sweet onion
- A couple tablespoons of pesto (store-bought or homemade … my recipe for pesto is here)
- 1 thin slice of prosciutto, torn into pieces
- A small handful of berries (I used mulberries, but I think blueberries would be beautiful with this too)
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons pinons (pine nuts)
For garnish/topping after cooking:
- Balsamic vinegar
- Fresh basil leaves
- Prepare the pizza dough and light up the grill.
- Mix the cheeses together in a bowl and prepare/gather the rest of the toppings and place them close to the grill so you’re ready to top the pizza crust as soon as the first side is cooked.
- If you’re using a charcoal grill, arrange the coals and make a hot spot for the pizza crusts to cook. I piled the coals up on one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty to make a cooler spot for the toppings to melt. (On a gas grill, turn one area up to high and another on low.)
- Slide one of the prepared crusts onto the hot side of the grill, cover and let cook for 5-10 minutes, checking it periodically. (I was busy with other stuff and charred the bottom a little … oops! Shhh … don’t tell anyone, maybe they won’t notice …)
- Once the crust is browned on the bottom, using a spatula, flip the crust over onto the cool side of the grill so the “raw” side is down. Spread the crust with pesto, sprinkle with most of the cheese, arrange the other toppings on there, then add a bit more cheese on top.
- Cover and let cook another 5 – 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the grill (slide it onto a pizza pan or cutting board), sprinkle with some fresh basil leaves and a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar (if you like), cut into slices and enjoy!
Italian Tomato Pizza Crust
Using tomato juice as the liquid gives the crusts a beautiful orange color.
- 1 cup tomato juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Put all ingredients into the bread machine and put it on the dough setting. When the dough is done, divide it into four balls. Shape each ball into a disc shape, cover with a towel and let rest about 5 – 10 minutes. On a clean, flat surface sprinkled with cornmeal, roll out the dough for your crust with a rolling pin. Cover the crusts with a towel until you’re ready to cook them.
The idea of a chopped cucumber salad with rosemary popped into my head the other day. I had some cucumber I bought for my daughter, but she hasn’t shown much interest in eating them lately, so I decided to go ahead and use them up. I cooked up some barley and red lentils to go with it and they took over and outnumbered the cucumbers, but all in all, I was very pleased with the results. Barley is something I usually think of putting in soups, but I thought it would be fun to try it in a salad. It’s a very healthy grain, full of fiber.
Dressed with lemon juice and olive oil and seasoned with a little Moroccan seasoning and some cumin, it turned out to be quite a nice salad. Great for lunch or as a nice side dish to serve with fish or meat.
Rosemary Cucumber Barley Lentil Salad
- 1/2 cup dry barley
- 1/2 cup dry lentils (you can use any color: I chose red ones)
- 1 1/2 cups sliced and chopped cucumber
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (like a Vidalia)
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Moroccan seasoning (I used some I purchased from Mystic Blue Spice Company, but if you are in a pinch, there is a recipe for making your own here)
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- For garnish: About 2 Tablespoons toasted pinons (pine nuts), lemon slice(s) & fresh parsley leaves
- Cook the barley and lentils (in separate pots) according to package directions.
- While they are cooking, chop the cucumber and onion and gather the herbs.
- Zest and juice the lemon into a small bowl. Add the garlic, rosemary, cumin and Moroccan seasoning, then whisk in the olive oil.
- In a larger bowl, mix the cooked barley and lentils, the cucumber, onion, parsley and green onion, then drizzle on the dressing and stir to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh lemon slice(s), toasted pine nuts and some fresh parsley leaves. Serve hot or cold. It’s good both ways.
So of course I had to make some pasta with my new love: Asparagus White Bean Pesto! I tossed in some fresh shelf mushrooms my dad gave me, but you can use any mushrooms of your choosing. I chose Rotini because the ridges in the little swirly pasta will “catch” the pesto nicely, so it won’t all slide off of the noodles. It is a tasty, healthy meal that is fancy enough to serve to company, but quick enough to have any weeknight.
Asparagus Pesto Rotini with Shrimp & ‘Shrooms
If you have the pesto pre-made, this meal takes about 15-20 minutes to put together. If you don’t, it might take another 15 minutes to make the pesto. This makes two servings.
- 2 servings (about 7 oz.) rotini pasta (I recommend using whole grain or high fiber pasta of some kind … it will keep you energized longer.)
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped asparagus
- 1/2 – 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 heaping cup of shrimp (I used frozen pre-cooked shrimp, but fresh is even better)
- 1/2 cup Asparagus White Bean Pesto (recipe here)
- For the top: Freshly shredded parmesan, toasted Pine nuts, and fresh basil
- Boil the water and cook the pasta. While the water is heating, chop the asparagus, mushrooms, and garlic.
- When the water begins to boil, add the pasta and heat a frying pan up for sauteeing the shrimp & vegies. Spray the pan with cooking spray, and when it’s hot, put in the asparagus, mushrooms, and garlic and sautee just a couple minutes, then add 1/4 cup of the wine. Cook a few minutes or until the asparagus is starting to look a little cooked (but still bright green), then add the shrimp and the rest of the wine and cook a few minutes longer or until the shrimp is cooked and the asparagus is crisp-tender. (It only takes a few minutes.)
- By now the pasta should be about done. Test it to see if it is. If it’s not, remove the shrimp/asparagus mixture from heat, and wait a minute or two. When the pasta is done, strain out the water, then return the pasta to the pan. Add the pesto and asparagus/shrimp mixture and stir until everything is mixed up well.
- Serve topped with a few toasted pine nuts, a bit of freshly shredded parmesan, and basil leaves for garnish.
This is a #pastalove post!
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with Tequila Lime Vinaigrette
Usually I have a lot to say about a recipe, but today I’m rushing through lunch and need to get back to work. I just have a whole lot of sweet corn from my mom and dad I need to use up and a black bean and corn salad seemed like the right thing to do. I did it backwards and threw the salad together last night and just whipped up the dressing for lunch today.
This salad is so amazingly tasty, colorful, and very, very good for you! And i t’s a great way to use up some of those abundant summer vegies.
- Fresh sweet corn, cooked & cut from the cob: about 3 cobs. (You could also use canned or frozen corn–probably about 1 15-oz. can would be equivalent)
- Black beans, cooked and drained — I cooked my own, but probably used about the equivalent of 1 can of black beans
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped fine
- 1/2 an onion, chopped fine
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
- 1/2 to 1 cucumber, chopped (I used half a cucumber, but it was a VERY large cucumber!)
- 1/2 a green bell pepper, chopped (or for even more color use part red/part green)
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Cherry tomatoes, halved — toss in as many as you want to add color and flavor!
- Toasted pine nuts
- Goat cheese crumbles
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons tequila
- 2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
- Dash of salt
- Prepare the vinaigrette: Toss all ingredients into a food processor and whir till blended. Or you can just whisk them all together in a bowl. I used watermelon-infused tequila (made by soaking watermelon cubes in tequila for several days). Cover and chill until ready to use.
- Prepare the salad: Mix together all ingredients except the pinons and goat cheese in a bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to cover–save the rest for another salad!
- Garnish with fresh cilantro, pinons and goat cheese. The soft flavors of the goat cheese and the pine nuts with the sweet tangy vinaigrette, the spice of the jalapeno, along with the corn and beans and tomato is such a good combination!