Week Six: Basil Four Ways

This week we received a half pound of basil. That’s quite the load of basil, even for the most ardent pesto-lover (there remains some in my freezer from last year). And I, unlike my uber-generous family member, Jeff, refuse to give away any of my daily pick-up, most especially, items like basil. So….we have basil four ways.

1. Traditional Pesto: Pretty basic, basil, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, salt.


Easily stored for later use by freezing in ice cube trays.

2. Greens Pesto: My recipe is any green mixed with any herb, garlic and olive oil (nuts are optional). This week I had kale (two ways, to be precise. haha)



With which I mixed green onion, a jalapeno, basil, olive oil, garlic and salt.


And then added it to scrambled eggs…making one of my favorite breakfasts….green eggs on (gf ) toast.


3. Caprese Salad: This is certainly an iconic summer taste for me. This weekend I had to find a way to transport it to be eaten poolside. It worked-ish.



4. White bean- Quinoa Salad: This was a “throw all of the leftovers in your refrigerator together” sort of dish that turned out well!  It’s simply cannellini beans, red quinoa, basil, parsley, peppadew peppers, green onion, carrot, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. A vegan, gf, summery salad that can sit poolside for hours without turning! (An essential requirement for our weekend.) Today I re-purposed the leftovers into lunch by placing them on a bed of lettuce and tossing some toasted nuts on top.



And that’s basil four ways. There are so many little beauties found in summer, if only we have eyes ready to see them.




Week Five: Go-to Stir-Fry

I’ve been given a wok. Which means that everything appears as though it has potential to become something asian. This week I had a gluten-free, grain-free friend coming to visit, and our pick up included these lovely items…..

IMG_2840[1]So stir-fry was the obvious choice. A few notes about the go-to stir-fry: 1. Just throw in whatever you have! This time I tried garlic scapes, and they were delicious! A great alternative to green beans, with more flavor. 2. Be sure to cook each vegetable separately in a little bit of oil…it will take a few minutes more, but is well worth it considering each vegetable has it’s own cooking time. (Unless you’re a huge fan of mushy peapods and raw carrots in the same dish.)



3. After the veggies are cooked, add your choice of protein (I scrambled eggs) and then pour on your sauce (I picked up on this order of operations by watching the culinary wizards at Mongolian BBQ. In all seriousness, though, adding liquid while stir-frying creates a steamed product, instead of a flash-cooked one, learned that lesson several times over.) My sauce was pretty basic: tamari (soy), sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic and sriracha.



And then I garnished with some sauteed shrimp and cashews….we tripled up the protein sources since she isn’t able to do rice.

IMG_2849[1] That’s it for this week, friends! Perhaps next week will bring less culinary laziness. 🙂




Week Four: Minted Chimichurri

As I drove home from the CSA truck this week, I noticed cilantro, green onions and garlic scapes peeking out of my City Feed and Supply bag. (A gift from one of my best friends who has allowed Brookline, Mass. to become a second home to me these past two years). I realized I had leftover parsley and mint from dinner with my grandmother at home…and wondered if I could pull all of these herbs together in some way.


Chimichurri came to mind, and was exciting for two reasons….1. It’s rare to find an accompaniment for grilled meat that doesn’t include gallons of high fructose corn syrup. 2. We (Orthodox folks) had been fasting from meat for about two weeks, and the prospect of breaking the fast with a big hunk of animal and a delicious sauce sounded great.

First, I sauteed the green onions and garlic scapes in olive oil, with salt.


Then I tossed the mint, parsley and cilantro in the food processor with the scapes and the green onions, drizzling in more olive oil and lemon juice as it blended.


And added red pepper flakes after it emerged.


Because of the mint in the sauce, I wanted to maintain a Middle Eastern theme with the rest of the dish, so I marinated the meat in red wine, lemon juice and garlic, and braised the bok choy and radishes (also from this week’s pick-up) in a pomegranate juice-sumac combination (which made a yummy drizzle later as well)…and served them with pine nuts and olives, of course.


Then a friend arrived, with homemade sangria, and we broke the fast together, outside, held by the warm summer evening. As we ate, I recalled something I had read recently, written by Saint Augustine, “My will was perverse and lust had grown from it, and when I gave into lust, habit was formed and when I did not resist the habit, it became a necessity.” I realized, after considering this passage, that I want as few “necessities” in life as possible. I also realized that I love my church…for giving us opportunities many times throughout the year, to discipline ourselves, to break habits and redefine that which is essential.