Tag Archives: basil

Lamb Meatballs and Napoli Sauce

30 May

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I acquired these traditional Italian recipes, passed down through generations, from a chef in LA. As per usual, I added my own touches to make this dish sing. The simplicity of the sauce highlights the succulent, herbaceous lamb and everything is in harmony – the pleasant tune of spring.

Time: 30 minutes + simmer Serves: 5

Ingredients


  • Meatballs


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cubed bread (I used Udi’s Gluten Free White)
  • milk, enough to cover bread cubes
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sea salt and black pepper – to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large leek, white and light green part only – carefully cleaned and cut into thin half moons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sauce


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 a medium-large onion)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • sea salt and black pepper – to taste
  • 8 basil leaves, roughly chopped or chiffonade

How to make it


  • Meatballs


  • Combine bread cubes and milk in a small bowl to soak.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Once hot, add leeks and cook for about 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Transfer soaked bread to a large mixing bowl. Discard excess milk any remains. Add lamb, parsley, rosemary, thyme, beaten egg, salt, pepper, and cooled leeks & garlic. Mix just to incorporate.
  • Form mixture into 2-inch balls and set on a lined baking sheet.
  • At this point you can bake them in a preheated oven at 400F for 20 minutes. Or you can braise them in the sauce by allowing them to cook for 25 minutes. Finally, you can pan fry them in batches with a bit of olive oil over medium-high until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  • I always cook my meatballs, let them cool, then put them on a baking sheet and into the freeze. Once frozen, pop them into a freezer bag or container and you’ll have homemade meatballs waiting for you anytime.
  • Sauce


  • In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, some salt & pepper and stir. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Add basil during last 30 minutes of simmer.
  • Serve meatballs tossed in sauce and spaghetti. Top with shaved Parmesan Reggiano Asiago blend and garnish with small basil leaves.
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Over The Top Shrimp Scampi

5 Jan

A decadent spin on a familiar favorite.

Time: 45 minutes            Serves: 2

Ingredients


  • ½ lb shrimp, cleaned, deveined, & butterflied
  • ½ lb angel hair pasta
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, whole or halved
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • ½ pint heavy cream (half & half also works)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp+ olive oil
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated finely
  • milk
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnish

How to make it


  • Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Be sure there is enough to cover the bottom of the pan, add more if needed.
  • Soak the shrimp in milk.
  • Combine flour, 1 tbsp cheese, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a bowl. Mix well.
  • Coat shrimp in mixture and fry in oil for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. When cooked, transfer to paper towel lined plate. Tent tin foil around plate and pierce vents with fork. Keep plate on range top.
  • Add garlic to oil. Stir for a few minutes, scraping up the flour mixture left in pan. Turn heat to medium low.
  • Add wine SLOWLY (as it might spray out if pan is still very hot). Bring to a boil, and then turn heat to medium low. Cover and let reduce for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Cook pasta according to instructions.
  • Add cream to wine reduction and turn temperature back to medium high until it comes to a boil. Then, turn heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add tomato, shallots, basil, and remaining cheese. Mix well. Add shrimp to sauce and remove pan from heat. If sauce is not thick enough (for your liking), let cool for a few moments and it will thicken.
  • Serve shrimp & sauce over pasta. Garnish with parsley. Enjoy with the rest of the bottle of wine 🙂

Faux Pho Noodle Bowl

26 Nov

I purchased a package of Vietnamese chicken sausage from the local Corridor Sausage Co. here in Detroit and was inspired to make this dish. You can purchase the sausages through their website and they are well worth it!

Time: 30 minutes               Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 1 quart Vegetarian Pho soup base (Pacific brand Organic soup starters)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 red onion, halved and sliced thinly – divided
  • 3 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • about 2 inches fresh ginger, grated
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 8 oz. thick rice noodles (pad thai noodles)
  • 1 pound Vietnamese chicken sausage
  • For Garnish


  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • Sriracha
  • fish sauce/soy sauce
  • 2 fresh serrano or jalapenos, thinly sliced

How to make it


  • Pour soup base and stock into a medium stock pot. Bring to a boil. Add half of sliced red onion, garlic, ginger and lemon juice. Reduce to simmer.
  • Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Once cooked, drop in an ice bath to stop cooking process. Set aside.
  • While noodles cook, heat broiling pan under broiler at 425F.
  • Place sausages on broiler pan about 4 inches from heating element. Cook for 4 minutes. Pierce each in several places with a sharp knife. Cook an additional 2 minutes, then turn, pierce other side and cook for an additional 6 minutes.
  • Transfer sausage to cutting board and slice in diagonal pieces once cool enough to handle.
  • To serve, divide noodles between 4 large bowls. Divide broth between bowls. Top each with sausage slices.
  • Put remaining sliced red onion in a small bowl (ramekins are perfect). Place mung beans in a small bowl. Place each herb in its own small bowl, as well as green onions, and peppers. Place garnish bowls/ ramekins on a large plate or serving tray and encourage diners to customize their Pho as desired.
  • Serve with chopsticks, fork, and large soup spoon.

Broccoli And Sausage Pasta In Creamy Tomato Sauce

12 Oct

Another quick, versatile pasta recipe that may be mixed & matched to suit your tastes and what you have on hand.

Time: 20 minutes             Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 1/2 pound pasta (I used penne), cooked al dente
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 specialty chicken sausage, sliced or diced (I used spinach & Asiago)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about one medium)
  • 4 oz baby bella mushrooms (or more if you’d like, that’s all I had)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes – with liquid
  • 1/2 large head broccoli cut into florets – lightly steamed
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • sea salt & black pepper, freshly ground – to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes – to taste
  • fresh basil to garnish
  • grated Parmesan to garnish

How to make it


  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, stir, cook for 5 more minutes. Add broccoli, tomatoes with liquid, and cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well to incorporate. Add pasta and toss well. Serve garnished with basil and Parmesan.

Heirloom Tomato and Feta Salad

17 Aug

Simple and elegant. Another summer great!

Time: 5 minutes             Serves 2

Ingredients


  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced about 1/4-inch thick (about 6 big stackable slices, reserve other parts for another use)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tsp basil oil (I used Kenzoil. If you don’t have it, whisk together olive oil with basil chiffonade and minced garlic.)
  • black pepper, to taste

How to make it


  • Place one slice of tomato on a plate. Top with some feta. Repeat and overlap slightly as you go. Drizzle with basil oil and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Thai Basil Chicken Fried Rice

7 Aug

One of my favorite dishes to order at a local Thai place is Thai Basil Fried Rice, so I decided to try my hand at making it at home. It was very tasty! I don’t know if it is truly authentic, but certainly hit all the flavor notes I was looking for: spicy, salty, savory, and a touch of sweet.

Time: 30 minutes              Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 tsp crushed red pepper (-/+ to taste)
  • 4 green onions, white & light green parts sliced thinly, dark greens cut in 2-inch diagonal pieces
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into about 1-inch chunks
  • 8 oz. snow peas, trimmed & halved diagonally
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups cooked Basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped Thai/holy basil or sweet basil
  • 2 small limes, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium seedless cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch slices

How to make it


  • Pour about 1 tbsp of olive oil into a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add shallot and sliced green onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and red pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Move to one part of the pan or wok.
  • Add more oil as needed. Add chicken pieces. Cook on each side for about 4-5 minutes, or until cooked through and juices run clear.
  • Add snow peas and dark green parts of green onion. Stir well and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.
  • Combine soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar in a small dish. Whisk to combine. Add to skillet. Stir well.
  • Add cooked rice and basil. Stir well to incorporate. Remove from heat.
  • Serve with lime wedges and sliced cucumbers.

Zucchini Risotto

1 Aug

Another great use for those fresh, abundant summer zucchini.

Time: 30 minutes                 Serves: 2-3

Ingredients


  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped basil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

How to make it


  • Bring broth to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce heat to low & keep warm.
  • Squeeze excess moisture out of shredded zucchini using a clean dish towel or paper towels.
  • Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan/skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute 2-3 minutes – until softened – stirring occasionally.
  • Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Saute for another minute.
  • Add rice. Stir to coat & toast for 1-3 minutes.
  • Carefully add vermouth/wine and cook, stirring, until no liquid remains, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Begin adding stock 1/4 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding more.*
  • Fold in zucchini with last 1/4 cup of stock.
  • Stir in basil and Parmesan, mix well and remove from heat.
  • *This process takes about 20 minutes in total. Rice should be creamy (not mushy) and slightly firm in the center. If your rice hasn’t become tender enough by this point, add more liquid by 1/4 cup measures using same technique – may use more stock or water.