Posts Tagged ‘basil’

Unrecipe of the Week: Fresh Pasta with Zucchini and Roasted Tomatoes

June 1, 2015

Isn’t it funny how once the weather changes, my palatte changes with it? I suddenly can’t get enough tomatoes, corn, basil and zucchini. My spiralizer becomes my best friend, allowing me to morph a zucchini into noodles with the quick turn of a handle. Two minutes in a pan and I have a tasty base that gets me past my pasta craving most days. Except yesterday.

Home Made Pasta

Home Made Pasta

I made homemade fettuccine in the late afternoon, and tucked it away until dinner time. The dough gave me a run for my money…it was too dry, so I added a little olive oil and water and kneaded it into submission. When I started to put it through the pasta machine (the old fashioned hand crank type is all I use,) I felt like something magical had happened. The dough reacted perfectly, and didn’t require untangling or adding flour to prevent the cut pasta from sticking together. After 2 or 3 minutes in boiling salty water, I had a big bowl of the lightest, most delicate fettuccine I had ever made. It easily held its own against the fresh pastas I have had in fine restaurants here or in Italy. I had to give in and taste it.

Don’t let people trick you into believing that fresh pasta is always superior to the dried varieties. Fresh pasta is more delicate, and takes to simpler, oil based sauces. The dried types do the heavy lifting, and should be used for tomato sauces, especially those with meat, which could overpower many freshly made pastas. I tossed ours in a garlic and basil puree with lots of parmesan cheese and topped it off with my latest obsession, oven roasted cherry tomatoes. They become so sweet they are like eating candy.

This dinner is so simple to make that you can prepare the components and go sit around and relax until dinner time. At least that is what I did.

If you can’t get fresh pasta (many stores carry it in the refrigerator case ) and don’t feel like making your own, it will still be good with the boxed kind. If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a vegetable peeler to shave your zucchinni into ribbons. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender, or buy a bottle of pesto sauce. The beauty of an unrecipe is keeping it simple and making it your own. Do roast the tomatoes though. Its totally worth the minimal effort.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

For the tomatoes:

Rinse and dry a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes.  Toss them in a little olive oil, sprinkle them with sea salt and pepper, and spread them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Pop them into a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until they are starting to caramelize, but not burnt or dehydrated. Turn the pan about half way through and give it a shake to ensure more even cooking. You can also sprinkle some dried or fresh herbs, such as basil or oregano on them before roasting.

For the basil oil: 

Place the leaves of one bunch of basil and a clove or two of garlic into the food processor, and process until finely minced. (Traditional pesto has pine nuts in it. If you would like to use nuts, add them now and mince thoroughly.)Drizzle olive oil through the feed tube with the machine running, until it forms a loose paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Put into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap that lays right on the surface of the food to avoid it turning brown. (* Traditional pesto has the parmesan integrated into the sauce. You can add it now if you prefer. I like the consistency of the basil puree without the cheese for this purpose, but it is your choice. If using jarred pesto, it will already be in there.)

Spiralized Zucchini Noodles aka Zoodles!

Spiralized Zucchini Noodles aka Zoodles!

For the zucchini:
Saute the zucchini noodles in a little olive oil until starting to soften, about 1 or 2 minutes. Add the pureed basil oil and mix well. If it is a little thick, add a few spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water to thin it down.

Fresh Pasta with Zucchini, Basil Oil, Parmesan Cheese and Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Fresh Pasta with Zucchini, Basil Oil, Parmesan Cheese and Oven Roasted Tomatoes

To assemble:
Cook the pasta according to directions, or about 2-3 minutes if homemade, and drain.

Place the pasta in a bowl. Spoon the zucchini on top, and sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese. Place the oven roasted tomatoes on top, and enjoy!!!

Pasta photo: Spencer Jones for Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Lemon Basil Pasta

January 26, 2015

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This lemony pasta is perfect on its own, or as a side dish for fish or chicken. We served it last night with sauteed shrimp, and a tomato, arugula and burratta salad. It’s easy enough to whip up at a moment’s notice, and the sauce can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator until needed.

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Lemon Basil Pasta:

Whisk together the juice of 3 lemons and about 2/3 cup of olive oil.

Cook pasta reserving a little of the cooking liquid. We prefer a short pasta like rigatoni or calamaretti but any shape will do.

Toss pasta with the lemon dressing, about 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese and a couple of handfuls of chopped basil leaves. If the mixture seems dry, add a little of the pasta water to moisten.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

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Unrecipe of the Week: Oops Soup

October 17, 2014

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry . Today’s dish really is an unrecipe: in fact, not only did I use the “little of this and a bit of that” method, I didn’t even intend it to be soup!

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It all began in the vegetable market, when I had a taste for something hearty, yet vegetarian. Autumnal flavors were on my mind, and zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and mushrooms sounded like a good start.

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I sautéed an onion and some garlic with the mushrooms, and added some italian herbs. Sounds good, right? Well, it all went astray from there. As I tossed chunks of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes on top of it in the slow cooker , I had some second thoughts. I wondered if 5 hours in the slow cooker might make them soft. I wondered if they might give off too much liquid. I added a can of beans to make the stew heartier, and hopefully thicken up what I realized was going to be a pot of mushy vegetables. I turned on the cooker and went about my business. When I came back a few hours later, I had just that: a pot of bland, starting to get quite mushy vegetables. They had given off quite a bit of liquid, but not enough to make soup. I added some stock and some canned tomatoes to the pot and let it cook it’s little heart out. When it was done, I pureed it into a rich, flavorful soup. It’s sort of a riff on a classic minestrone, and a little drizzle of olive oil and some grated Parmesan cheese provided the perfect finishing touch. All’s well that ends well!

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Winter Vegetable Stew Soup:

Dice one medium onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, and sauté them in olive oil until soft. Add some sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to brown. Add a healthy amount of dried oregano, basil and a bay leaf, and place in the slow cooker. Pile on chunks of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes. ( I used 2 zucchini, 1 medium eggplant and 3 large tomatoes.) Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add 1 can of beans, rinsed, ( I used chickpeas ) and set the slow cooker for about 5 hours. Check it a few hours in, give it a stir and realize this is going to be mediocre at best. Add a little vegetable stock, if necessary, and a can of diced San Marzano tomatoes. Let it cook until the timer goes off.

Puree the mixture, and taste to correct seasonings. If it is too thick, add a little more stock.  To serve, place in soup bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a dollop of grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy, knowing that good cooks can salvage almost anything!

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Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Zucchini Noodles With Deconstructed Pesto and Tomatoes

September 3, 2014

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It’s the end of the season, and perhaps (no promises) the end of my posts about spiralized zucchini.  I admit it; I’m obsessed! It’s easy, it’s healthy, it tastes great and it is the perfect substitute for pasta.

I also love deconstructing pesto. In a classic pesto, the basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese are all minced and mixed together. In this version, only the basil and garlic are emulsified, and the pinenuts and shaved parmesan are added separately, to give the dish a more interesting texture.

Zucchini Noodles With Deconstructed Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes:

Spiralize the zucchini. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you really need to get one, but in the meantime you can use a vegetable peeler, or the julienne blade on a mandolin or food processor to prepare the zucchini.

Now do you want one? Moving along….

Place the leaves from one head of basil into the work bowl of the food processor with a few garlic cloves and pulverize. With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil until it forms a smooth paste. Set aside.

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Heat a little olive oil in a pan. Add zucchini noodles and quickly sauté them for a couple of minutes until they are heated through and barely softened. Stir in the basil oil mixture until the noodles are fully coated. Add several handfuls of toasted pine nuts, a quart of cherry tomatoes cut in half, and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, toss with shaved parmesan cheese and enjoy!

photos: indigo jones instagram and hyperlapse video

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Unrecipe of the Week: Tomato Tart

August 30, 2013

This delicious tart is a great way to feature the last tomatoes of the season. Served as a main dish with a salad, or as an appetizer, this savory tart features heirloom tomatoes, basil and soft goat cheese.

Tomato Tart with Basil and Goat Cheese:

Roll out pate brisee and place it in a tart pan with a removable bottom. Find our basic pastry recipe here.

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Make a basil puree out of fresh basil leaves, and clove of garlic. Pulse them in the food processor until they are finely diced. With the machine running, add olive oil until it makes a loose, spreadable paste. Spread this on the bottom of the tart crust.

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Place heirloom cherry tomatoes cut in half in concentric circles on top of the basil mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and brush lightly with olive oil.
Bake in a hot (425 degree) oven for about 40 minutes or so. At this point, the crust will start to turn golden, and the tomatoes will begin to shrivel a bit.

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Sprinkle soft goat cheese on the tart and continue to bake until the cheese melts and the crust reaches the desired shade of golden brown; about 10 more minutes.

Allow to cool slightly and cut into wedges. Serve with a side of mixed greens and enjoy!!

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Unrecipe of the Week: Cod in Spicy Tomato Broth with Calamari

May 13, 2013

I haven’t been posting many (un) recipes lately. I have been busy with work and other commitments, and  I have been falling back on my old standbys rather than creating new ones. This weekend, I was committed to trying something different.

We had a violent storm rip through the city on Saturday afternoon, and when the thunder, lightening and torrential rains subsided, I headed out pick up some ingredients for dinner. I ran into a friend along the way, who decided to accompany me on a trip through Chelsea Market, making the journey much more fun.

Inspired by a recipe from Andrew Carmellini, I began foraging through the market.

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First stop, the newly renovated Lobster Place. Oh how I missed my fabulous seafood market during the several months they were closed! It has finally reopened, with an expanded space, immense selection and an attached restaurant.

It was there that I picked up fresh cod filets, cleaned squid and a small bottle of clam juice.

Next stop: The Manhattan Fruit Exchange for fresh produce. I added a red bell pepper, a bunch of basil and some baby arugula to my stash, and moved on.

My final stop was Rana, where I bought some homemade fettuccini to use as a base for my concoction.

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The result?

Oven Braised Cod in Spicy Tomato Broth with Calamari

In a large sauté pan, (with a lid) sauté some thinly sliced garlic in olive oil. Add a red bell pepper sliced into thin strips. Toss in some hot red pepper flakes, and add about a ½ cup of dry white wine. Bring it to a boil and add about a cup of clam juice and 2 cups of marinara sauce. At this point, it’s ok to use a simple marinara sauce from a jar if you don’t want to take the time to prepare your own.

Simmer on the stove for about 15 minutes, until the red pepper softens. If the sauce starts to get too thick, add a little more wine or clam juice. Pour it into the blender, and puree until smooth. *

Season the cod filets with salt and pepper and place them in the sauté pan. Pour the tomato broth over the fish, cover it, and cook it in a 375-degree oven for about 12 minutes or so.

When the fish is done, carefully remove it from the pan, and set aside, covering it to keep warm.

Return the pan to the stove, and add the calamari (squid) cut into rings.. Simmer lightly for 2 or 3 minutes until they are fully cooked. Avoid boiling them, as they will get rubbery. Add some chopped basil and arugula to the pan and mix thoroughly.

To serve: Place the cooked fettuccini into pasta bowls. Place a fish filet on top of the pasta, and pour a generous amount of the sauce and calamari over the fish.

Make sure you have a spoon, or a big piece of crusty bread on hand, because you will want to lap up every last bit of that rich, spicy sauce!

Remember, this is an unrecipe. If you can’t find fresh calamari, try rock shrimp, bay scallops or clams instead. Or be adventurous, and use a little of each!
Even simpler, just cook the fish and use the flavorful sauce on it’s own, without the added seafood. It will still be delicious! If you choose to use a bottled sauce, you may need to adjust your seasonings a bit. If the sauce already has a lot of garlic, you may not want to add anymore at all.

Enjoy!

* Be careful when blending hot liquids! Place a kitchen towel over the top of the blender, and use a few cautious pulses to get started. You only need to experience the explosion of scalding hot liquids when the top blows off the blender once, to learn to practice caution.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Socca Pizza

March 25, 2013
The finished product

The finished product

I have already posted our recipe for Socca, a chickpea flour flatbread that is gluten free, high in protein and delicious. Tonight, I was looking for something low in carbs, crispy and full of vegetables. After a little thinking, I decided to use the Socca as a pizza crust, and top it with a hearty blend of tomatoes, artichokes and mushrooms. The result was a beautiful flatbread, brimming with flavor and surprisingly filling. As with any unrecipe, top it with whatever you are craving. Consider adding goat cheese, parmesan or a little shredded mozzarella. Toss on some finely sliced pepperoni or bacon if you are a meat lover. Use zucchini instead of artichokes, or even both. The possibilities are endless!

For the crust:

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Whisk together 1 cup of garbanzo flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups water. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or up to a few hours.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 12″ skillet with olive oil. Add a chopped shallot, and place in the hot oven until sizzling. You can also add the herbs of your choice at this stage.

Pour the batter over the shallots, and bake until the flatbread is crisp and brown, about 40 minutes. The flatbread will easily lift out of the pan when it is fully baked.

For the topping:

The topping

The topping

Saute 1 clove of garlic and about 6-8 sliced mushrooms until brown. Add a few chopped artichoke hearts ( canned or frozen) and lightly saute them. Season with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Add 2 chopped plum tomatoes (or some crushed canned tomatoes) and cook until the tomatoes start to soften. If the mixture gets too dry, drizzle in a little more olive oil.

When the crust is done, spread the the mixture over it, leaving a rim all around. Sprinkle with chopped arugula, and enjoy!

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Unrecipe of the Week: Winter Comfort

February 15, 2013

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The weather in New York has been cold and miserable. Last night’s blizzard left us thankfully unscathed, but we are in the mood for hunkering down at home. What is more soothing on a lazy winter night than the all-American classic, tomato soup and grilled cheese?
This simple soup has few ingredients and lots of taste. The grilled cheese croutons offer an unexpected twist. It is quick enough for a weeknight meal tomorrow’s lunch, with a little Parmesan cheese, instead of the croutons.

For the Tomato Soup:

Saute a diced onion and a few diced cloves of garlic in olive oil until soft and transparent. Add about 52 oz. (2 tetra packs or large cans ) chopped tomatoes and about 36 oz.vegetable or chicken stock. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and herbs. I added a bay leaf, and some cayenne pepper for a little heat. Oregano and basil are also nice touches. It’s an unrecipe…use whatever flavors you like to season the soup. Simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Puree the soup at return it to the pot. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add a little cream to the soup if desired. Enjoy with grilled cheese croutons.

Grilled Cheese Croutons:

Butter the bread of your choice. Fill sandwiches with cheese. Gruyere adds a sophisticated jolt of flavor, but good old cheddar is fine too. A used a shredded 4 cheese blend that I had on hand. Grill the sandwiches on both sides until they are golden brown, and the cheese is melted inside. Cut into 6 or 8 squares and serve in the soup.

Enjoy!

Unrecipe of the Week: Ratatouille

October 22, 2012

My family was hankering for pasta with Bolognese sauce, and the meat and pasta part of the dish just wasn’t doing it for me. However,the idea of a slow cooked flavorful dish held some appeal.  I had an eggplant laying around waiting to be converted into something, and I realized I hadn’t made ratatouille in many years.

Ratatouille is an ultimate “unrecipe” since the ingredients and flavors are flexible, as is the cooking time.

Indigo Jones’ Ratatouille

Sauté diced garlic and onions in olive oil until transparent.

Working in batches, sauté sliced mushrooms, diced red and/ or green peppers, cubed eggplant, and zucchini until browned. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and basil to taste.

Add diced tomatoes and pitted Calamata olives.

Transfer to an ovenproof casserole and bake for about an hour, until the vegetables are cooked through, and the flavors meld together. Sprinkle with Parmesan

cheese and enjoy!

Eat Your Vegetables

July 20, 2012

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the Union Square Greenmarket.

I tend to go on Saturday mornings, after a particularly grueling cycling class down the street, and pick up whatever strikes my fancy.

While the greenmarket goodies tend to last longer than their supermarket purchased counterparts, fresh produce only lasts so long.

I was thrilled to stumble upon some tips in the New York Times Dining section this week, on how to prolong the freshness of summer’s vegetable bounty.

Here are a few key tricks to preserving the produce of the season:

Greens, like lettuce, are best washed in advance, dried and stored.

Soft herbs such as basil and soft produce such as mushrooms and berries should be washed when used, as the water will speed spoilage. I find that putting basil in a glass of filtered water that comes a few inches up the stems, keeps it fresh for several days. Frequent readers will note that I am also a big proponent of making pesto, and basil oil while it’s still green and “perky”.

Anything that comes in bunches, should be released from it’s binding, as the closer the vegetables are packed, the faster they will rot.

Leafy tops of root vegetables, such as carrots and beets should be trimmed to 1” long to prolong freshness but prevent them from drying out.

Fruits and vegetables should be stored separately, as the ripening fruit emits ethylene, which damages vegetables.

Some produce will continue to ripen on the counter: stone fruits, melons, mangoes, apples, pears, tomatoes and avocados.  Bell peppers, citrus fruits, and berries will only deteriorate.

Bananas ripen quickly, and will speed the ripening of anything they are stored with.

If you can, cut and simply cook vegetables, as they will last longer in the refrigerator that way. Prepare them separately, to allow more flexibility in their use.

Intimidated by the skills needed to slice and dice vegetables? Have no fear.

The specialty market Eataly, just north of Union Square employs a fulltime vegetable butcher who will peel and cut your produce to order.

Photo: Glasshouse Images


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