Linguine with Fresh Grape Tomatoes and Basil

By:  Julie

Serves: 6

Time:  20 min

My favourite smell on earth, next to my freshly-bathed baby’s hair, is basil.  It’s floral and sweet and divine.  I really could eat a plate of linguine with some basil and olive oil and call it a day, but my family would look at me funny, so to appease them, I will add something tomatoey.  This dish is super fast, fresh and delicious.  I like to use pretty multi-coloured tomatoes but whatever you have is just fine.

You Will Need

  • 1.5 lb of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lb of linguine
  • 3/4 cup of basil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp chile flakes (optional)

Cook the linguine according to package directions, and reserve 1/2 a cup of the pasta water.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in an extra large saucepan or pot over medium heat.  Add the tomatoes and cook for 4 minutes.  Add garlic, chile flakes, salt, pepper and basil and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the pasta water and the linguine and toss to combine.  Top with additional basil if desired.

 

 

 

Caprese Bites

By Corinne

This is one of my favourite apps in the summer when basil is readily available, but if you can find fresh basil and some good looking cherry tomatoes in the winter it makes a pretty, seasonal coloured appetizer for a Christmas party.

Mini San Marzano tomatoes are my favourite variety of cherry tomato. If you happen to come across them, you must buy them. They are SO full of incredible, rich tomato flavour, much like their namesake, the San Marzano tomato.

You can generally find balsamic reduction in most grocery stores these days. I actually didn’t use a reduction for the photo, as I happen to have a good quality balsamic that is fairly thick, though not quite as viscous as a proper balsamic reduction, but it did the trick.

Bocconcini is a mild unripened mozzarella cheese. They come in a variety of sizes, and sometimes you can find them in slices as well. For this recipe, use the mini ones so they don’t overwhelm the tomatoes.

Time: 10 min

Makes: 20-22

You will need:

  • about 20-22 mini bocconcini  (this is usually about how many come in the container)
  • 10-11 cherry tomatoes, preferably mini San Marzano’s if you can find them
  • fresh basil, about 15-20 leaves
  • balsamic reduction
  • fresh ground pepper
  • toothpicks -make sure you use plain and not mint or cinnamon!

Drain mini bocconcini and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. If your basil leaves are particularly large, you can halve those as well.

Assemble your caprese bites! Slide one bonconcini onto the toothpick, follow with a leaf of basil, folded in half if desired, and then slide the halved cherry tomato on last, cut side down so they will sit nicely on a plate.

Drizzle with balsamic reduction and a grind of fresh pepper to finish.

One Pot Chicken Rigatoni with Rosé Sauce

By Corinne

I happen to be all into a gardening adventure this year, and as some of my cayenne peppers are ripening up, I’ve been itching to use them!

Upon tasting my peppers they are SO good! Now this is one of the things about fresh produce, peppers are going to vary a lot in heat. I used two whole peppers in this pasta, and it was only maybe a medium heat. But taste your sauce and your peppers. It’s always easy to add more for additional heat than it is to try and reduce it if you’ve added too much.

If you are looking to up the veggie count, this pasta and sauce is delicious with the addition of snap peas, asparagus, or broccoli- simply cut and add to pot for the last 5 or so minutes of cooking time.

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Aside from gardening,  I’ve been reading “Consider the Fork- A History of How We Eat and Cook” by Bee Wilson.  Interestingly, “…  most domestic cooks from the Bronze Age until the eighteenth century had to make do with a single big pot: the cauldron (often called a kettle or kittle).”Another historical tidbit, Hitler took advantage of the nostalgia that many people in Germany had for the “Eintopf”, the one-pot meal in his propaganda, encouraging people to put aside one Sunday to eat this frugal meal and save their money to donate to the war effort.

Today, the one pot meal is generally lauded because of our poverty of time rather than a poverty of pots. It doesn’t have to be a matter of, “Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old”. While we generally have the utensils available to us, there is a lot to be said for a lovely one-pot meal.

Serves: 4-5

Time: 5-10 min prep, 30 minute cook

You Will Need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp oil- canola or olive oil
  • 1 28oz can of tomatoes, diced or whole
  • 2 fresh cayenne peppers finely minced
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed and chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 lb rigatoni noodles **gluten free if you use gluten free noodles – I find the corn ones have the best texture, especially for being cooked in the sauce and still holding their shape
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp dry basil
  • 3 tbsp fresh snipped basil, + some for garnish
  • 1 cup asiago, parmesan or romano cheese + more for garnish

In a large pot heat oil and add chicken pieces. Cook over medium high heat until browned, but they don’t have to be fully cooked. Add garlic and cayenne and stir around a bit, a minute or two until fragrant, but don’t let the garlic brown. Add wine, scrapping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let reduce about 5 minutes.

Add can of tomatoes, dry basil, 1 1/2 cup of water and noodles. Cover pot and bring to a simmer, stirring every 3-5 minutes. You may need to add more water, I did, but again, it’s one of those things where it’s easier to add a bit more than to try and deal with too much liquid.

When noodles are al dente and the liquid is mostly absorbed, add 4 tbsp of butter, and stir until melted. Add 1/3 cup of heavy cream,  fresh snipped basil, and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and cook for another 5-7 minutes until sauce has reduced to desired thickness.

Serve garnished with additional cheese and basil.

 

BBQ Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Prosciutto, Basil and Provolone

By Corinne

Firstly, let me say that while I feel this is one of those meals that looks impressive, it’s truly not difficult to put together. I love having basil available to me at hand all summer, and tend to put it in everything 🙂 The prep time varies a lot depending on whether you happened to purchase your chicken pre flattened and whether or not you make your own marinara. I tend to be a bit lazy with this, as the local butcher shop will flatten your chicken at no extra cost, and since I’m getting the prosciutto and provolone at the same place, it is a time saver. The drunken red sauce I make to go with panzerotti goes marvellously well with these.

I’ve made this in the oven as well, 350F, cook seam side down on a baking sheet for 15, then flip them for another 15. They don’t turn out quite as pretty, but are just as tasty!

Serves: 4

Time: Prep time 10 min*, grill time 15-20 min * longer if you are making your own marinara and have to flatten your chicken breasts!

You will need:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 8 ounces each
  • 4 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 4 thin slices of provolone cheese
  • 8-12 basil leaves + more for garnish
  • 2 cups good quality tomato sauce – either homemade or purchased
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • toothpicks

If you are making your own tomato sauce, start it before you prep your chicken. If you are using prepared marinara, heat it when your chicken goes on the BBQ.

If you did not purchase your breasts already flattened-then place each piece of chicken, smooth side down, on about 12 inches of plastic wrap about 2 inches from the edge. Fold the rest of the plastic wrap over the chicken, leaving about an inch from the folded edge. Starting from the thickest side, gently pound the chicken with the flat side of a tenderizer, moving to different areas until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Don’t pound too hard or you can break the chicken apart.

After all breasts are flattened, season each on both sides with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. Arrange the chicken with the smooth side down on a work surface.

Lay a slice of prosciutto on each piece of chicken. Then lay a slice of  provolone. Depending on the shape of your chicken, you may want to break the provolone in half and lay them that way. Then lay 2-3 basil leaves on the provolone.

Carefully roll up the chicken keeping it snug. Use tooth picks to tuck in the ends and keep it together. Remember how many toothpicks you used in each so you can make sure you take them out before serving! I usually need 4 to keep them together.

After all chickens are rolled, lightly brush with canola oil. Place seam side down on a preheated grill over medium direct heat. Cook with the lid closed as much as possible. Grill until golden on all sides, about 3-5 min on each side. This part is where it depends a bit on how well you know your BBQ :). It took 15 minutes on ours, but if your temp is a little lower, it may take 20. If there is cheese oozing it’s way out, they are almost certainly done. Starting on the seam side down helps you avoid losing cheese in the grilling process.

Remove from grill and let rest a few moments. Remove toothpicks before serving. Plate a few spoonfuls of sauce and then lay the chicken on top. You can either cut it into slices to serve, or cut each one in half to plate. Garnish with additional basil and enjoy!

 

 

Chickpea Caprese Salad

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By Corinne

Little tastes more like summer to me than basil. I grow a large pot of it on my deck every year, and add it to everything.

This is a twist on the classic mozza, basil, and tomato salad. The addition of chickpeas makes it perfect for a light summer meal, or a lovely side at a BBQ potluck.

You will need:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • about 20 bocconcini halved (about 7 oz)
  • 2 cups of delicious tomatoes – if you are using ‘juicy’ ones, seed them first. I halved mini san marzano tomatoes because I’m a bit obsessed with them
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp to 1/4 cup of finely minced red onion- depending on the ‘power’ of your onion
  • generous handful of fresh chopped basil. If you don’t have fresh basil- make another recipe!
  • about 1/4 cup of a good balsamic or possibly a balsamic reduction
  • generous grind of black pepper
  • salt if desired, I tend not to use any when using the canned chickpeas

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Taste your red onion. Sometimes they are VERY strong, in which case, less is more so to speak. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix! Will need a quick stir up before serving.

If you are using a “regular” balsamic, you may want to add a tbsp or two of oil in order for the ‘dressing’ to be thick enough and not too vinegary. The one I used was a rather sweet and thick balsamic and I didn’t need that addition.

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