Entries in basil (23)


tomato and coconut white bean cassoulet

i’m really loving dishes with rich tomato sauces at the moment – tunisian chicken and spicy chickpeas with ginger are two recent favourites. obviously, given it’s winter and fresh tomatoes are fairly flavourless, i’m relying on tinned tomatoes but that’s no now found good whole tomato and cherry tomato options.

this is another recipe from anna jones’ a modern way to eat and is one that i expect to make time and again, albeit in a tweaked format. the flavours are delicious and a nice mix of comforting and a little exotic - leeks, garlic, chilli and ginger are cooked until they sweeten, tomato and white beans are added with a little coconut milk and then baked topped with torn bread and cherry tomatoes. basil leaves should have also been tucked into the dish but i forgot this step and while i know it will be a great addition, the dish was fine without them - although it might have looked a bit less lurid with a few flashes of green!

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cauliflower & sumac linguine with hazelnuts

this dish is the result of my efforts to use a bottle of white balsamic that i bought, in something other than salad dressings. white balsamic vinegar is similar to its darker coloured sibling but has a slightly milder flavour with quite a lot of sweetness – it’s ideal for creating a subtle sweet and sour contrast.

having said i wanted to use it in something other than a salad dressing here it is actually a dressing for the pasta dish, as there is no sauce other than that created by the white balsamic along with some browned butter and a little of the pasta cooking water. the rest of the flavours – cauliflower roasted until it has softened and started to brown in places, so that the flavour intensifies, crunchy toasted hazelnuts, crispy capers (i added these after i took the photo – sorry!) plus a spice combination of sumac and fresh nutmeg – are an unusual combination but one that works really well, i think.

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lemon basil pizza

when i read about this lemon and basil pizza i knew i had to make it. i love using lemon in both sweet and savoury dishes and really enjoy the range of flavours you can create by using the whole fruit – this spicy chicken and pepper pasta is an old favourite, which is made really special by the addition of thin slices of lemon; i also like roasting chunks of lemon with vegetables or meat, so that the edges can caramelise and add an extra layer of flavour.

so, lemon and basil pizza… aka pizza sorrentina from kesté pizza & vino in new york's west village. a combination of smoked mozzarella, fresh basil and lemon slices.

i added some chopped garlic on top of my dough and then used a mix of fresh and smoked mozzarella. basil leaves added before and after cooking plus a scattering of finely sliced lemon pieces before it went in the oven.

the result was delicious – very simple, reminiscent of a cheesy garlic bread (maybe the garlic wasn’t the best idea) but with little hits of lemon or basil to punch through the richness. i will definitely be making this again, perhaps with chilli flakes instead of garlic. i think finely chopped fresh rosemary or sage would also be worth experimenting with. any other ideas?


fried courgette and burrata pasta

i’ve been catching up on my blog reading and have been particularly inspired by a few smitten kitchen recipes, including this ottolenghi pasta and fried courgette salad. it was an intriguing read – deep-fried courgette is dressed with a little red wine vinegar plus a basil and parsley pesto, the combination of which is very moreish. add capers, lemon zest and more basil plus pasta and you end up with a lovely fresh-tasting vegetable-laden dish. add torn pieces of creamy burrata and the deliciousness is amped up several notches.

the original recipe also includes edamame beans, which i didn’t have so couldn’t include. fresh peas or broad beans would also have been nice but again i was out of them so just increased the courgette, which was no real hardship given how amazing the deep-fried discs tasted, especially once they’d been marinating in the dressing. 

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wild garlic and basil oil

it’s been a while since i made pizza but it was worth the wait to enjoy this version, which used a wild garlic and basil oil as the base sauce.

wild garlic is wonderfully flexible and i enjoy using it with pasta as well as risottos and pilafs. however, i have learnt the hard way that using it in a pesto can result in something too pungent to enjoy. the key is to mix it with another flavour – rocket is nice, as are other herbs. this time i used a 50:50 mix of basil and wild garlic.

i smeared this on the pizza dough, added thin slices of courgette, salami and mozzarella. the result was wonderfully fresh and spring like.