Tag Archives: basil

Storms and Sunshine

 

I’m alive!

Well, sort of. I have been so freaking busy with work it’s ridiculous. I started a lead role (hooray!) at work, but I have been so busy (phew :-[) but I love it (hooray!). REB has been busy with work too being the big shot network admin guy on campus and that has meant we've either come home from work super late, or we've had other things going on after work.

I hate having off weeks with the hubs. We try to do a date night once a week, but it doesn't always happen. Truth be told, one of my favorite things is being able to just sit and have a meal with him. At least we still work out together at night! Hooray weights! Hooray cardio! Hooray hooray!

Anyway most of our dinners have been quick things like veggie burgers on salad, savory stuffed sweet potatoes (one guess who those were for :)), or fending for ourselves in general. Awful. I should be a good Indian wife and have dinner on the table for my man every night! [pause for jokes]. OK I take that back. I did make baked samosas a few nights ago. But really, my sister made the filling and had brought me the extras. I merely put it into poked puff pastry and baked it off. HEY. That took time! And they were tasty.

Where was I? Oh yeah. We’ve been so busy that I was determined to cook my man (and me!) a meal that would be satisfying and not too heavy.

Enter sunshine and summer in a bowl.

Or in layman’s terms: Caprese Israeli couscous with heirloom tomatoes.

It’s seriously the one thing I needed after these past few weeks! And let’s not forget how depressing the weather has been. If it isn’t 90 or 100 degrees outside, it’s storming. I decided to change all that today. It was the first night we both got home at a reasonable time, I had enough time to replenish our fridge and pantry thanks to Trader Joes, and I even had enough time to be one of those people who buys flowers at the store “just because.”

I also managed to pick up those little beauties you see in the bottom right. Just call me super woman. I told REB I wanted to make something fresh and light for dinner and that’s exactly what I did. Nothing screams fresh to me more than heirloom tomatoes, a light vinaigrette and a grain I haven’t had in ages.

I expressed interest in making couscous, but also wanted caprese. BOOM. This was born.
What we ended up with was a caprese couscous with a deconstructed pesto….lemon…dressing…thing. It was good. And you should make it. Because I said so.

Did I mention I started a lead role and I’m now more assertive than ever?

No? Oh Ok. I started lead role at work! Hooray!

Caprese Israeli Couscous
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: entree, side dish, vegetarian, heirloom tomatoes, couscous, pearled couscous, basil, pine nuts
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • COUSCOUS:
  • 1⅓ cups Dry Israeli (pearled) couscous
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes, halved, quartered, whatever
  • 4 ounces (1/2 container) bocconcini (baby) mozzarella, halved
  • 10 whole basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • DRESSING:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole lemon, juiced
Instructions
  1. Start by bringing the water to a boil.
  2. In a separate pot or sauce pan add the couscous and olive oil and cook over medium heat until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally.
  3. When the water is boiling, slowly add it to the couscous.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and let it simmer for 12 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. While the couscous is simmering away, wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. The small ones you can leave whole. Set aside. Do the same with the mozzarella. Stack the basil, roll tightly and slice thinly to create ribbons.
  6. In a small dry pan, add the pine nuts and cook over low heat until toasted. Remove from heat. Keep your eye on them so they don’t burn!
  7. Once the couscous is cooked, transfer to a bowl. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and toss lightly. The heat from the couscous should melt the mozzarella a little.
  8. For the dressing, combine balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over couscous, add the tablespoon of olive oil, give it one good toss. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top and enjoy!

 

The best thing is having leftover to take to work tomorrow. I think once I get into the groove of things, I’ll be back to my old self. At least I have the weekend to look forward to. I hope to have some culinary adventures! Stay tuned :)

Do you ever get into cooking slumps and do “fend-for-yourself” nights?

Tomato Bread Salad

I’m hanging on to every ounce of summer. I love fall, don’t get me wrong. It’s my favorite season, but there is one thing I absolutely love about the summer. I love eating fresh fruit and vegetables, but I especially love it in the summer time when you know it was grown fresh near you. So delicious.

REB and I went to one of our favorite restaurants in town, Zingerman’s Roadhouse and I had the most amazing salad there. They feature it on their summer menu each year, and each year we’ve gone, they’ve been sold out of it! So when I found out it wasn’t sold out, I had to have it! It was just as delicious as it sounded and was described to me. And it was light!

I recreated the dish after figuring out what ingredients they used (and what I could taste). I can in no way take credit for this dish, and I know it isn’t exact, but this variation was just as delicious. And the secret? Heirloom tomatoes!!

What you’ll need:
•3-4 heirloom tomatoes (I bought some orange, a huge red one, some green), cut into bite-size pieces
•1 Roma tomato, cut into bite-size pieces
•1/2 loaf sourdough bread (day or 2-day old is best), cut into 1-inch cubes
•1 cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (leave the skin on!)
•10-12 cherry mozzarella balls, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
•1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed (don’t get the kind in oil)
•10 basil leaves, chiffonade
•2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
•2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•S&P to taste

Preheat your oven to 300ºF.

What I found best was to let the bread sit for a day or two, then cut them into 1-inch pieces (you’ll only need about half the loaf). Place on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, toss and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and toasted. I’m not sure if this is what Zingerman’s did, but I figured if it was fresh bread, it would just fall apart with the dressing. By toasting it lightly, it kept its shape and still sopped up the delicious dressing.

In a large salad bowl, add tomatoes, mozzarella and cucumber together. Add the capers, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, basil, and toss well. Add the bread in last, toss lightly. The heirloom tomatoes do it all for me. No, scratch that. The capers. I love capers. I could eat capers all day long, I love them so much. But the tomatoes are the star and they are so juicy and delicious.

Drizzle olive oil on top before serving and enjoy!

Caprese Salad

The colors of Italy never looked so good! This super simple, and very popular salad is one I love anytime of year. However, having this salad in the summer with fresh ingredients is how I like it best.

What you’ll need:
•1 tomato, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
•Fresh mozzarella, sliced in to 1/4-thick slices
•9 fresh basil leaves
•Balsamic vinegar
•Olive oil
•Sea salt
•Freshly ground black pepper

You’ll need three slices of tomato and three slices of the fresh mozzarella. Layer tomato, mozzarella, two basil leaves until you have a little stack.
Take the remaining basil leaves, roll them up, and slice them (chiffonade) into ribbons. Sprinkle that on top, along with a splash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. It’s as simple as that!