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Monday, May 16, 2011

Freshness of Spring

Compared to other years, when I had access to a garden, this year I found a way to incorporate freshness in my dishes even while living in a 4th floor condo. With only a few essential herbs, you can add loads more flavor to any dish, all summer long. In my flower beds I planted only my favorites; Chives, Basil, Mint, Tarragon,  Rosemary and Oregano.  Even though it is still springtime, I decided to already attack the basil plant and to make the most out of eat by featuring it in light fresh summer dishes that anyone can put together very easily.

This must be the simplest dish ever to make, and often found as a side dish or salad. To make this classic side dish, follow these simple steps;
- Slices some tomatoes and fan them out on a platter of a plate.
- Lay some pieces of goat cheese on top of the tomatoes, usually for the amount of portions wanted; I had six mounds of cheese. 
- First drizzle a small amount of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) on the tomatoes and cheese, followed by a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. 
- Finish it off by sprinkling a good amount of finely sliced basil leaves over the platter. For this dish you may use any variety of basil you wish to use. Lemon basil is very good, as is Purple Ruffle Basil and Sweet Basil, but regular basil found at your grocery store will do just fine!
- Enjoy!

For a more filling dish also incorporating a popular basil product, here's how to assemble a pesto and bacon pasta dish. This dish can be served hot, or as a cold salad, which ever way you prefer, either way, very fast to make if taking certain shortcuts. To make this dish even easier to assemble, you may want to purchase pre made pesto, sometimes less expensive to make then fresh pesto because of the large amount of basil and the elevated price of pine nuts. Never the less let's start off this recipe with a simple pesto recipe.

In a food processor, pulse;
- 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup of pine nuts
- 2 large sized garlic cloves, diced
Slowly add 1/2 cup "EVOO" in a constant stream into the food processor while it is on.
Turn your food processor off and clean the side of the container with a spatula. Then add;
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese and pulse to combine.

This simple pesto recipe can be used for this dish or any other pasta dishes, on top of baked potatoes or even on crostini. Now to assemble the rest of my pasta dish I needed;
- 1 box of FUSILLI noodles, cooked al dente and cooled down in the fridge until cold
- 2 medium sized fresh tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup bacon bits or freshly cooked bacon strips crushed in small pieces
- Enough pesto to coat the pasta about 2 Tablespoons worked for me
Toss everything to combine and decorate with fresh basil leaves.

These recipe are perfect for a summer picnic or simply to eat on a hot afternoon as a fresh meal at the end of the day. Enjoy!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!


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