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Posts Tagged ‘Basil’

Thrill of grill couscous

This is an old favourite that we make every summer. The chopped up mushrooms give it a fantastic earthy flavour and it works really well with barbecues and on picnics.

Tasty Couscous Salad – serves 4

  • 200g couscous
  • 400ml boiling vegetable stock (we still use Swiss Marigold Bouillon Powder)
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 175g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
  • half a bunch of scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 tbsp pesto
  • a handful of toasted pine nuts, almonds or rough chopped hazelnuts
  • a generous handful of basil

Put the couscous into a bowl and pour over the hot stock. Cover with cline film and leave to soak for 5 minutes.

When the 5 minutes is up, fork the couscous through to break up any lumps, then stir in the oil and pesto, then tip in all the veg and nuts and tear in the basil. Taste and season.

Simple as that!

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, August, 2002.)

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Griddled courgettes with parmesan & basil

We have used some fancy yellow courgettes for this dish but the usual green variety will be just as good. An excellent side dish for barbecues… of which we are having many at the moment. If you don’t want to light the barbecue you can also griddle the courgettes with good results.

Griddled courgettes with Parmesan & basil – serves 4 as a side dish

  • 5 medium courgettes
  • 2 tbsp salt flakes
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ lemon
  • 25g pine nuts
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated
  • a handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
  • a few mint leaves, roughly torn

Preheat the barbecue (or griddle pan). Cut the ends of the courgettes and cut a long thin slice off two opposite sides and discard. Cut each courgette into 4 long strips. Mix the courgettes with the salt and place in a colander to drain with some plates on top. Let them drip over the sink or a bowl or an hour or so.

Shake off any excess salt from the slices, then rub each side with a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Cook the courgettes on the barbecue/griddle for about 5 minutes per side or until softened and well charred. Transfer to a serving dish and squeeze over a little more lemon juice.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes or until golden.

Scatter the pine nuts, parmesan, basil & mint over the courgettes. Trickle over the rest of the olive oil and serve warm.

(Original recipe from by Valentine Warner in BBC Olive Magazine, July 2009.)

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Pesto Lasagne

A really quick and easy lasagne full of Spring flavours. You don’t have to buy fresh pesto from the fridge as this tends to be more oily and makes this dish very rich; we successfully used a jar from a shelf instead.

Wine suggestion: A grassy European styled Sauvignon Blanc which tends to have a longer, if cooler, growing season is a good match. Avoid the big flavoured Sauvignon’s with the kiwi / tinned asparagus flavours that you might typically find from NZ and Chile as these flavours clash a bit. Exceptions to this always exist like the Dog Point Marlborough Sauvignon, but a good Touraine or Sancerre would be our match.

Pesto Lasagne – serves 4 to 6

  • 190g jar of pesto
  • 500g tub mascarpone
  • 200g bag spinach, roughly chopped
  • 250g frozen peas
  • small pack of basil
  • small pack of mint
  • 12 fresh lasagne sheets
  • 85g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 50g pine nuts
  • Green salad & garlic bread to serve

Heat the oven to 180C/160 fan/gas 4.

Put the pesto, half the mascarpone and 250ml vegetable stock in a saucepan. Heat, stirring, until smooth and bubbling. Add the spinach and peas and cook for another few minutes until the spinach has wilted and the peas have defrosted. Add the herbs and season but go easy with the salt.

Put a third of this pesto mixture into the base of a baking dish (approx. 18 x 25cm). Top with 4 lasagne sheets, then repeat with 2 more layers of sauce and lasagne sheets, finishing with a layer of pasta. Mix some milk into the remaining mascarpone to make a sauce consistency, season then pour over the top of the dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and pine nuts, then bake for 35-40 minutes or until brown on the top and bubbling. Scatter over a few basil leaves before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, February 2014.)

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Pizza baked potato

The vast majority of our weeknight dinners are based on whatever happens to be left in the fridge after the weekend.  It turns out that leftover pizza toppings taste pretty good on top of a baked potato too. Also suitable for those who don’t eat pizza dough.

Wine Suggestion: If you happen to have something open already, that will do nicely.

Pizza Jacket Potatoes – serves 4

  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 60g sliced pepperoni, torn (the thin sliced stuff from a packet will do fine)
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • small handful of basil leaves, shredded
  • 100g grated mozzarella/cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/gas 6.

Prick the potatoes all over with a fork. Bake directly on the oven shelf for 1-1½ hrs, or until soft.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan and sauté the onion for 5 mins to soften. Stir in the garlic and pepperoni, and cook for a minute or two,  then add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins. Season and stir in half the basil. Spoon over the split potatoes and top each one with a good handful of cheese and the rest of the basil.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food.)

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Walnut Pesto

We first tasted walnut pesto in Florence a few years ago but it has taken us a while to get around to making it ourselves. This works equally well for a casual dinner or in smaller portions as a starter and it tastes really special. You can make this with fresh walnuts which you buy whole and shell yourself but it also works well with shelled walnuts, provided you make sure they are fresh (we buy our walnuts from Lidl which come in a sealed foil bag). You can keep the pesto in the fridge for up to a week and it freezes well too.

Wine Suggestion: we like to drink dry white wines that have texture and a certain crunchiness with walnuts, which aren’t always easy to match. Italian whites come to mind first and the nutty ones work very well, like Verdicchio, but it has been dry (sec) Jurançon that has proved a stellar match, like Cauhapé’s Chants des Vignes. A wine with a vibrancy of fruit, a fresh acidity like a crunchy green and red apple mix, some white flowers in the aromas and a texture on the palate that carries through with a long length and food friendly finish.

Pasta with creamy walnut pesto – serves 4 (with some pesto left over)

  • 400g orecchiette pasta
  • 175g walnut halves/pieces
  • handful fresh basil, roughly torn
  • 100g Parmesan, freshly grated, plus extra to serve
  • 50g butter
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50ml double cream

Cook the pasta for the recommended time on the packet.

Meanwhile, put the walnuts and garlic in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the basil, cheese, butter and oil and pulse for a few more times, then season.

Pour the cream into a pan and warm through. Add tw0-thirds of the pesto, then gently heat to loosen it.

Take 2 tbsp of water out of the pasta pan before draining, then mix the pasta and the water into the sauce. Serve immediately with some extra Parmesan and a few basil leaves.

(Original recipe by Ursula Ferringo in BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2009.)

 

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Feta, fresh & semi-dried tomato couscous

We cooked this dish while camping in France and it was a great side dish for all sorts of barbecued meat. It’s also a great idea for using up leftover sun-dried tomatoes which can easily get forgotten in the back of our fridge.

Tomato & Feta Couscous Salad – serves 4

  • 200g couscous
  • 250g piece of feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 heaped tbsp chopped basil leaves

Put the couscous into a large bowl, pour over boiling water to cover, then leave to soak for 20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.

Marinate the feta in the balsamic vinegar and olive oil for about 20 minutes.

Chop the cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes and mix together.

Crumble the marinated feta into large pieces, then fork through the couscous with the tomatoes and basil and season to taste.

(Original recipe from Eat by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2013.)

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Tomato & cheese tart

One of those easy dishes that just bursts with fresh flavours and vitality. It really sings at the end of  summer with fully ripe and juicy tomatoes just picked and wonderful. Delicious served warm or at room temperature.

Wine Suggestion: We’d serve a classic chianti where the acidity of the Sangiovese grape works really well with the tomatoes but isn’t too heavy a red for the dish (don’t bother with the Riserva).

Cheese, Tomato & Basil Tart – serves 4-6

  • 1 shortcrust pastry case, cooked ‘blind’

FOR THE FILLING: 

  • 10 ripe tomatoes, halved widthways
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml double or regular cream
  • 2 tbsp torn or sliced basil
  • 150g Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4.

Put the tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the sugar and ½ tsp salt. Bake for about 45 minutes or until completely soft and browning at the edges. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes or until golden. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk the eggs and cream together in a bowl, stir in the basil, and season with salt and pepper.

Spread out the fried onion in a layer in the tart case. Top with two-thirds of the cheese, then arrange the cooked tomatoes on top. Pour in the egg mixture and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top and just set in the centre.

(Original recipe from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, Harper Collins, 2013.)

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