Archive for ‘Basil’

August 9, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stacks with Pesto and Feta

This is a delicious Greek-Mediterranean fusion recipe that features the beautiful produce of summer. Since there are so few ingredients in this recipe, make sure that each ingredient is the freshest and best quality you can find! Be careful not to over-season, since the feta is naturally salty. Although this is best eaten right away, you can make a big batch and store in the fridge for about a week. This would be great in a sandwich or wrap for a weekday lunch or as a quick snack.

 

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Adapted from Gluten-Free Veggie Gourmet

  • Olive oil
  • Basil Pesto
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 3 oz feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup), more if you desire
  • Garnish: finely shredded fresh basil leaves

 

1. Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking pan with foil.

2. Cut off bottoms of eggplants, then cut 1/4″ thick crosswise rounds. Cut 1/3” thick rounds from the tomatoes.

Gorgeous heirloom tomatoes from DC’s Eastern Market

3. On baking pan, arrange the eggplant rounds side by side. Lightly brush eggplant rounds on both sides with olive oil to keep the eggplant moist and to prevent it from sticking to the foil. Season with a little salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 8 minutes.


4. Spread each eggplant round with pesto, then top each with the largest tomato rounds. Top the tomato rounds with feta. Make another layer with eggplant rounds, pesto, tomato rounds, and feta, then top with remaining eggplant and feta.

Roasted eggplant

Stacks on stacks on stacks!

5. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, until heated through and cheese on top is softened. Transfer stacks to 4 plates and drizzle plates with olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Happy Eating!

 

Love,

Yang

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August 9, 2012

Basil Pesto

Basil pesto is a staple everyone should know how to make: it’s versatile (put it on eggs, pasta, risotto, fresh vegetables, chicken, sandwiches, wraps, stir it in a soup, etc.), it’s delicious, and it’s EASY!

Tip: Fresh pesto will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two. You can also make a big batch and freeze it for several months in ice cube trays. Use the pesto “cubes” as needed. If freezing, don’t stir in the cheese; stir in the cheese by hand just before serving.

Time: 5-15 minutes

Makes about 1 cup

Adapted from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything

  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, big stems discarded, rinsed and dried
  • ½ to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese (optional)
  • salt, to taste

1. Combine the basil, salt, garlic, nuts and about half the oil in a food processor or blender (or mortar and pestle).

Pine nuts

Toasted pine nuts

Quality extra virgin olive oil

2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container occasionally, and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add additional oil if you prefer a thinner mixture.

Pesto!

3. Stir in the parmesan by hand just before serving.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 2, 2012

White Peach and Basil Salad with Orange Honey Champagne Vinaigrette

This is another quick summer salad recipe. White peaches are my favorite: they’re sweeter than regular peaches and have a firmer texture.  You can substitute the delicate champagne vinegar with a little bit of white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, raspberry vinegar, or apple cider vinegar (all of which are not as mild as champagne vinegar, so use less).

 

Time: 10 minutes

Serves 1

 

Salad

  • 1 white peach, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 bunch of salad greens

 ORANGE HONEY CHAMPAGNE VINAIGRETTE

  • Juice of ½ orange
  • 1 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

1. Whisk the vinaigrette.

2. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 2, 2012

Peach and Basil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

This is a beautiful summer salad, showcasing the fragrant sweet peaches and herbaceous basil in peak season at this time of year. Lemon brightens up the flavors. Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil, as well. Enjoy!

Time: 10 minutes

Serves 4

Salad

  • 4 peaches, diced
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 4 tbsp good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
1. Whisk the lemon vinaigrette
2. Toss peaches with basil and lemon vinaigrette.
Happy Eating!
Love, Yang
August 2, 2012

Crispy Tofu and Vegetables with Peanut Sauce

This is a delicious and comforting weeknight recipe. You can use any vegetables you have on hand (I used sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, and carrots). The measurements for the sauce are approximate and feel free to add more sugar, soy sauce, or vinegar, depending on how salty, sweet, or acidic you like it. The water is important to add because the sauce will thicken as it cooks, and it can become gummy if the water isn’t added in the beginning. As the tofu turns golden brown, you might feel tempted to stir, but don’t. Just let it sit and crisp up in the pan for 5 minutes, and check every few minutes to see if it’s golden brown. This is a simple stir-fry, but tastes phenomenal!

Hint: To peel ginger, place your thumb on the back of a spoon and apply downward pressure; the skin will come off easily!

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

SAUCE

  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter (Organics Old-Fashioned Creamy brand is my favorite!)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, (or white vinegar, or lime juice)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar (or honey)
  • dash of crushed red pepper or cayenne (optional, to add some spice)

TOFU & VEGETABLES

  • 14 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 cups of vegetables (any kind!)
  • 2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • fresh basil (optional garnish)

1. To prepare tofu: Drain and rinse tofu; pat dry. Cut the tofu into ½ inch cubes.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add tofu and cook in a single layer, without stirring, until the pieces begin to turn golden brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Then gently stir and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until all sides are golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes more.

3. While the tofu is crisping, prepare the sauce: Whisk water, peanut butter, rice vinegar (or white vinegar), soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Taste it, to make sure it’s the way you like it.

4. When the tofu is golden brown on all sides, transfer to a separate plate.

5. Saute onions, ginger, and garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vegetables, tofu and the peanut sauce and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just cooked, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate, garnish with fresh basil, and serve.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

Panang Curry with Tofu, Eggplant, Potatoes, Sweet Red Bell Pepper, and Fresh Basil

I’m a fiend for curry and Thai curry is one of my favorites. There are many different Thai curries (Massaman, Panang, Red, Green, Yellow, Karee, Kaeng Kua, Khing, etc.), each with a unique flavor that stems from the different ingredients in their pastes. If I was an authentic Thai chef, I’d grind my spices in a pestle and mortar and crack a coconut and strain its milk. Let’s just say I’ve tried to make authentic curry before in just this manner and ended up with multiple bruises on my forehead and a chipped countertop. Since I’m a college a student with no time, the following recipe is one that I’ve made up over the years and is as convenient as can be without sacrificing taste. You can use any protein you want (chicken, pork, beef, seafood, duck, etc.) and any vegetables or fruits you want (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, green beans, etc).

Again, this recipe is a simple concept where you can mix and match to find your favorite combination:

Concept: curry paste + coconut milk + protein + vegetables = delicious curry.

This is a great recipe for making a huge batch and reheating the leftovers throughout the week. Curry will taste even better the next day when all of the flavors have had time to mingle. A batch of curry will last for about a week in the fridge.

If you’re watching your fat and calorie intake, you could use light coconut milk (best deal is at Trader Joe’s, $0.99/can). However, this will make your curry runnier (since light coconut milk is essentially diluted coconut milk) and, in my opinion, less delicious. You could do 1 light can, 1 full-fat can to compromise, but from my own experience, just use the unadulterated coconut milk and eat less of it. Trust me, the taste and texture of your curry will be absolutely amazing and it will be worth it.

Chao Koh is the best authentic brand of canned coconut milk for foodies and Thai home cooks alike, and is available at Safeway. The next best brand is Thai Kitchen’s Coconut Milk, which is available at Whole Foods.

I always use Maesri brand curry paste, which I get from Asian grocery stores, but Thai Kitchen curry pastes are good, too. You can find those at Safeway and Whole Foods.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp of neutral oil such as canola, peanut, safflower, or vegetable

2 13 oz cans of coconut milk

1 can (4 oz, or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste (or any curry paste)

1 medium eggplant

3 medium-sized potatoes (or 6 small potatoes)

1 14 oz box of firm or extra firm tofu (spongy tofu, tofu gan, or any form of tofu will work, but firm will hold up better in the curry)

1 red bell pepper

1 small handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded

1. Heat up a medium to large pot to medium heat.

2. Stir fry 4 oz (or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste with 2 tbsp of oil.

3. Add 1 can of coconut milk and stir to integrate the curry paste with the coconut milk. While you’re waiting for the mixture to boil, chop the tofu into small 1/2 inch chunks.

4. When the mixture boils, add the tofu and stir thoroughly.5. While the tofu is cooking, chop the eggplant and potatoes into small 1/2 inch chunks.

6. Add another can of coconut milk and add the chopped eggplant and potatoes. If the liquid doesn’t cover the newly added eggplant and potatoes, add some water, but not too much, since the eggplant and potatoes will reduce down as they cook.

7. While the eggplant and potatoes are cooking, remove the seeds from the red bell pepper and slice the pepper into strips.

8. After 20 minutes, check to see if the eggplant and potatoes are tender by sticking a fork or chopstick in it. The potatoes should not be too hard or too mushy. If they’re too hard, let them cook for 5-10 more minutes.

9. Once the potatoes are tender, add in the chopped red bell pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, and then serve immediately over jasmine rice or by itself. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. If you like it spicy, you can also garnish with fresh red chilies.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

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