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Posts Tagged ‘basil’

Here’s a (sad as shit) true story: when I first moved to Japan in 2008, I was unbelievably lonely. Not because I was far from “home,” but because I let my vagina make decisions without consulting my brain and ultimately alienated all the people I thought were my friends through sheer limerance/fucking stupidity (in other words, I boinked someone that the alpha femme already had her eye on…) Instead of using my balls and making amends, I decided to hide in my room and be a fucking coward instead.

Whatever, like all the choices you’ve made were good? Please, bitch.

Unfortunately, my self-imposed exile made it hard for me to go into the communal kitchen and cook shit like a noral person. I had a refrigerator and an electric kettle in my room, so I often cooked in there. You’d be surprised at how decent a meal you can make in a kettle, provided you don’t mind timidly washing it in a communal shower at 4 AM so you don’t run into anyone.

The following recipe is one of the few things I managed to make in my room when I was being antisocial. Even after I (a) stopped giving a flying shit about the emotionally-stunted numbnuts I lived with, and (b) moved into my own place, this was one of my go-to meals. And it persisted even after my future husband moved in with me, when we moved to England, and when we moved everywhere else. Oh, and I made it pretty much every day in college.

It is absolutely a household staple. No, like most of my recipes, it fails to be stupendously low-carb, BUT: you can totally adjust it to reflect your personal dietary needs. It has a decent wallop of protein, it’s filling, it’s fairly unruffling for those who aren’t very adventurous, and it’s not horribly expensive.

Although I find CostCo produce to be rather craptastic, this is one of those dishes where not-amazing ingredients get smoothed over with a little basil and lemon juice. If you like this and are one of those people who can eat the same thing for a few days without going BLEEEERGH, I suggest you stock up on the three main ingredients at Costco.

INSALATA TRICOLORE (Caprese salad with avocado)

Serves: 2

1 large tomato or two small tomatoes

1 avocado

Fresh mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil

Olive oil

1 lemon

Balsamic or apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

 

1. Slice all vegetables and cheese

2. Add to plate in fancy fashion (or just cram it on there)

3. For the dressing, use: juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, vinegar. Quantities of the latter two to taste.

4. Season. If not using fresh basil, dried is okay.

 

DIETARY HACKS:

Vegan: use smoked or flavoured tofu in place of the cheese.

I NEED MORE PROTEIN, DAMMIT: Use smoked or flavoured tofu WITH the cheese.

I NEED FEWER CARBS: Eliminate the avocado OR the tomato, but not both. Add bacon.

THIS IS TOO WEIRD BECAUSE I AM DUMB: It’s tomato with the whiter kind of pizza cheese! Avocados are the thing in guacamole, so if you like guacamole, avocados are okay.

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Disclaimer: Not low-carb, don’t know how to make it low-carb, don’t rightly give a damn! It’s delicious.

From Serious Eats:

INGREDIENTS:

Makes 2-4 servings

2  cups arborio rice

6-7 tomatoes, cut into chunks

olive oil

salt

pepper

Fresh mozzarella (adjust this based on how much you’d like. We used roughly 100 grams.)

garlic

1 onion

Basil

Thyme

1 bay leaf

Oregano

About 2 pounds vegetable stock (EDIT 10/28/12: I have no idea why I wrote “pounds” here. It is a liquid. The amount of stock you need actually seems to vary; the original recipe called for tow cups, but I ended up needing much more, for some reason. Just have two or three cups heated and ready to go, then supplement with hot water or more stock if necessary.)

2 tbs butter

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Toss tomatoes and chopped garlic with olive oil and a dash of salt. Put in oven, preheated to 350 F, and roast for roughly 30 minutes, turning the tomatoes every 10 minutes or so.

2. Put roasted tomatoes and all juices into a strainer or like-minded piece of kitchen equipment, and strain until you have a puree. Save the remaining skins and seeds; you can use them as a pasta or salad topping- or for my Beans and Green Casserole.

3. Simmer the vegetable stock and spices.

4. Melt butter over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until translucent.

5. Add 1 cup of rice to the onions and stir until coated in fat. Wait until the rice turns translucent, then add 1 cup of vegetable stock. Cook until absorbed. Add the second cup, and subsequent broth.

6. Here’s where it gets tricky: although I only used two cups of dry rice, I ended up needing more than my two pounds if stock. Stretch things with water if necessary, and season if you feel the dish’s flavour is being watered down too much.

7. Once all the stock and water is added, taste constantly. The rice should be soft, but with a little bite to it.

8. Stir in the tomato puree, and cook a few minutes longer.

9. Add cubed mozzarella cheese. Stir in, then serve immediately. Top with greens if desired.

This was so good that my husband actually ate two servings’ worth. I consider that a freakin’ achievement.

UNRELATED PICTURE:

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I have no idea what’s going on here.

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I have no choice. I’m from Upstate NY; I MUST eat a combination of beans and greens at every opportunity.

Our Bountiful Basket this week included a whole whack of collard greens, as well as carrots, celery, and a load of other goodies. To be honest, I thought the collard greens were kale- except I hate kale, so I was pleasantly surprised, after resigning myself to a prickly mouthful of utter shit, to see that I had some real edible greens to work with! (Sorry, kale lovers. I know there are many of you, but I just can’t join your numbers.)

This dish is awesome, if for no other reason than it’s totally customizable. If you haven’t noticed, most of the stuff I post has that quality. I do this on purpose- my husband hates 85% of vegetables, although he’s getting better, I don’t eat meat, he doesn’t eat carbs (and I try to limit my own intake, although not hugely.)

I’ll post my suggestions for customizing this dish after the recipe. By the by, I should say this is based on a recipe from Bistro Katie for a white bean and kale casserole. Enjoy!

(By the way, if you’re a displaced Upstate New York-er like myself, you might enjoy this blog about Upstate cuisine. You would not, however, enjoy my least favourite aunt’s recipe for chicken riggies.)

BEANS AND GREENS CASSEROLE

Serves 2, maybe 4

You need the following:

1 bunch collard greens, kale, or spinach (you could use frozen or canned, if you want, but whyever would one?)

1 carrot

2 ribs of celery

1 diced tomato

Broth of your choice (roughly 1 cup or less)

1 ear of corn, kernels cut off (use frozen or canned here if you like, it’s just corn!)

1 can beans (the original recipe called for white beans, and I did buy some, but the noodlebrain at Albertson’s forgot to put them in my bag! No matter, I used a can of kidney beans and they turned out great. Stick to beans in the “seems legit for something European-tasting” family and you’ll do fine.)

1/2 onion

Garlic (as usual, I insist you use as much garlic as you want. I am Greek and therefore refuse to limit anyone’s garlic consumption.)

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Thyme

Rosemary

Paprika

Basil

Dill

Cayenne Pepper

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup grated, shredded, or “shaky” Parmesan cheese (Because I am a ridiculously huge fan of Home Movies [and anything that Brendon Small does], I refer to the kind of Parmesan you buy that resembles sawdust as “shaky cheese.” I buy it at all because my husband insists, even though I normally frown on that sort of thing.)

INSTRUCTIONIFICATION:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Chop the onions, carrot, celery, and garlic, and cook in a bit of olive oil. Get it to the point where things begin to soften, but not to the point where things are fully cooked.

3. In a separate saucepan (if you want to heat it up) or bowl (if you don’t care), combine the broth with the tomato and get to the simmering point (or don’t if you don’t care. This ain’t Nazi Germany, y’all, it’s shizz on a stove.) Add this mixture to the other veggies, and simmer.

4. After veggies are fairly cookified, add the greens. Cook down. This will obviously take longer depending on the age and toughness of the greens involved, but once everything looks bright, wet, and a bit smaller, you’re good.

5. Add beans and spices, then bring to a simmer again.

6. In a separate receptacle, combine the almond flour and parmesan with a couple teaspoons of olive oil.

7. Pour the delightful veggie mixture into an oven-safe casserole dish.

8. Top with almond flour-Parmesan mixture.

9. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

SUBSTITUTIONS:

For normal humans: use breadcrumbs instead of almond flour, and leave off the Parm if you like.

For serious low-carbers: Use soybeans or a meat instead of the other beans. Top solely with cheese if you don’t want to mess around with flour at all. You also can use any oil you prefer to olive oil.

For vegans: Leave the Parm off, and you’ll be just fine.

For Jedi: Use the Force to heat everything to the desired temperature.

As usual, my food pictures suck, so here is a shot of a handsome gentleman:

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If you don’t think Gul Dukat is weirdly attractive, you got problems, son.

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I love gazpacho so much. If it were a person, I would marry it (if I weren’t already married, of course) (well, you know what, taste this first and get back to me).

When I was doing fieldwork in Spain for a summer, vegetarian options were pretty thin on the ground. I did manage to find one veggie restaurant in Madrid, which was decent-but-uninspiring, but mostly what I ate was…

1. Bread (usually baked in someone’s fireplace and harder than holy fuck)

2. Salad (If you can get it without tuna…iceberg lettuce, black olives, raw onions, maybe some tomato, canned corn, and oil ‘n vinegar dressing…a bit boring in bulk)

3. Carne vegetale (if you can find this, it’s actually fucking wicked when fried like a cutlet. No idea what it is, all they ever told me was “carne vegetale” and showed me the can so I could vet it for myself)

4. Gummy worms they sold at the bar/grocery store/family home that was the only business in our tiny town.

5. Egga. At the time, eggs made me vomit. I actually only learned to eat eggs because of my time in Spain! (and tortilla espanol is amazing)

So, I was pretty fucking grateful when gazpacho started showing up, and even when I got out of nowheresville for Madrid and Barcelona, I kept eating it in restaurants. It’s just so goddamn good- filling, low in fat, calories, and pretty low in carbs, totally vegetarian (and can be made vegan!), and really cools you off. Oh, yeah, it’s a cold soup, if you didn’t already know- there’s a part in Jaws (the book) where Chief Brody’s wife throws a dinner party in an attempt to reconnect with her former status as a wealthy “summer person,” and she makes gazpacho. Brody sees it on the stove, thinks it’s something gross that’s gone off and tries to throw it out, then chucks a pee-pee baby tantrum when it’s cold. God, that movie scared the shit out of me as a kid. Ugh.

ANYWAYS. This recipe is adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Nothing was wrong with the old one, if you ask me, but Moosewood is one of the few really all-encompassing veggie restaurants in the world, and since I grew up spitting distance from Ithaca anyways, it’s one of my favorites.

A few notes on tweaking this recipe: I added the bread, since Katzen’s recipe didn’t call for any, but gazpacho in its earliest form was likely a sort of pudding made of stale bread and olive oil. Plus, I wanted it to be a bit more filling, since it was meant as a meal. If you eliminate the bread, of course, the carb content lowers. It’s also a good option for vegans who don’t have any vegan bread on hand.

If you want to add that little bit of extra mouthfeel without the carbs of bread, try popping in a tablespoon or two of almond meal. I haven’t tried this, but it sounds tasty.

GAZ-FREAKIN’-PACHO: (Makes two large bowls or four small ones)

3 medium-sized tomatoes

Roughly 6 inches of cucumbers, peeled

1 medium-sized green pepper, chopped

2-3 sundried tomatoes, chopped/broken up

2 tbsp olive oil (or oil from the sundried tomatoes!)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1/4 cup of chopped onion

1 clove of garlic

Roughly 1/2-1 cup of tomato juice or V8 (if you use V8 and are watching your sodium, then you might not want to add any more salt.)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup basil

2 scallions, chopped

2 pieces of stale bread, chopped

1 tsp sumac

To taste:

Salt

Pepper

Paprika

Cayenne

1. Chop every damn thing.

2. Blenderize

3. Season to taste

4. Chill and snarf, or just eat it right away.

Nutritional info: (for 1 out of 4 servings)

Calories 165.4
  Total Fat 9.8 g
  Saturated Fat 1.5 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 5.0 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 169.3 mg
  Potassium 337.0 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 16.6 g
  Dietary Fiber 2.3 g
  Sugars 3.1 g
  Protein 3.0 g
  Vitamin A 25.6 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
  Vitamin B-6 7.0 %
  Vitamin C 64.1 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 6.9 %
  Calcium 2.7 %
  Copper 4.8 %
  Folate 6.2 %
  Iron 7.1 %
  Magnesium 4.0 %
  Manganese 8.3 %
  Niacin 3.7 %
  Pantothenic Acid     2.7 %
  Phosphorus     3.3 %
  Riboflavin 3.3 %
  Selenium 0.8 %
  Thiamin 4.9 %
  Zinc 1.2 %

Gazpacho isn’t very pretty, so here’s a picture of someone who is:

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EDIT: As usual, I am dumb at word[ress and can’t get the link to stick: http://www.amazon.com/Moosewood-Cookbook-Katzens-Classic-Cooking/dp/1580081304

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