Sunday, October 11, 2009

Basil Preservation

I held out as long as I could, but the last few days of cold weather has taken its toll on our basil. Fall is officially here and I need to face the music!

Typically I just make pesto in the food processor and freeze it. Super easy. However after getting the basil cleaned and dried I realized I didn't have enough pine nuts. I decided to forge ahead anyway using salt, garlic olive oil and of course basil. (Marcella Hazan recommends adding the cheese and butter in right before using.) I spooned the mixture into a clean ice tray and popped it in the freezer. The ice tray trick is from my sister in law, Penny. It makes serving sizes which will come in handy this winter when I want to add a little summer brightness to sauces and soups.

I plan on using a bit of pesto as the filling for tonight's dinner of crespelle.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Easy Oven-dried Tomatoes

I am in serious denial that summer is over! This year I planted my first real garden and have really enjoyed having so much yumminess in my backyard. My favorite thing so far has definitely has been fresh tomatoes. Cannot be beat! I planted 5 varietals: chocolate cherry, sungold, beefsteak, plum, and one other I can't remember. Delicious so many ways.

Some day I would like to learn how can, but for this year I've been preserving tomatoes by making sauce or peeling whole tomatoes and storing in the freezer. And let's just say our freezer is getting mighty full! So I was excited to come across a more space friendly method...oven drying.

We use sun dried tomatoes a lot but they can be expensive. I had no idea how easy they are to make especially if you have a convection oven. Here are the steps (I used plum tomatoes):
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  2. Quarter washed tomatoes
  3. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper
  4. Place in one layer on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  5. Cook for 12 hours (or until tomatoes have dried to desired consistency)

You can either freeze or store in a jar with some olive oil. So easy and so yummy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

30 minute, yummy veggie meal

This month's Cooking Light has some great recipes, and the one I picked tonight was a real winner: eggplant and goat cheese sandwiches. It is a great opportunity to use those lingering veggies from your gardens or CSA, as well as some of that pesto you've got stocked up in the freezer. :) The recipe is not yet online, so I will share it here:

Serves 2:
  • One medium eggplant, cut into 6 slices (about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into quarters, seeds and membranes removed
  • Pesto
  • Goat cheese
  • 4 slices crusty white bread, like ciabatta
  • Handful of baby arugula or mix of greens
  • Olive oil

1. Preheat broiler

2. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheeting. Brush both sides with olive oil. Arrange bell pepper quarters, skin sides up on baking sheet as well, flatten with hand. Broil about 4 minutes until eggplant is browned, and then turn eggplant over. Broil additional 4 minutes or so and then remove eggplant from oven. Leave peppers in until blackened, then place in a ziplock bag, seal and let stand for 15 min. Peel and discard skin.

3. Broil bread slices until lightly browned on one side. Spread pesto on one side and goat cheese on the other. Layer eggplant, peppers and arugula between the slices.

4. Serve with pre-made creamy tomato soup.

Delish and so quick!