Basil Chive Vinaigrette

Nothing smells like fresh basil – definitely my favourite herb.  Summer is the only time of year I make this vinaigrette, when the basil is plentiful and salads grace every meal.

Basil Vinaigrette 1

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 oz (45 g) fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Blend all ingredients, except for the olive oil.  Give it a good whiz, until all the herbs are bright flecks of green, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until creamy and smooth.

Basil Vinaigrette 2

I really think this needs either an immersion blender or food processor to get the consistency.  If you don’t have either, chop herbs very fine and whisk it all up.

This will yield about 1 pint jar, and I’d suggest trying it in a variety of ways …

Basil Vinaigrette 3

salad dressing   ~   vegetable dip   ~   blend with cream cheese for a spreadable bread topping   ~   toss with zucchini ribbons   ~   brush over grilled chicken or seafood

 

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

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At this time of year the tomatoes are plentiful, and I do not like to see any go to waste …. also don’t have quite enough time to can it all!  This is my go to, for whatever amount of tomatoes I have ripe at the time.

Fill a roasting dish with tomatoes, (roughly chopped, skin on), garlic, onion, sweet peppers and entire stalks of fresh herbs.  (I also sneak a few carrots in there) Drizzle over some good quality olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast at 350 for 2-4 hours, very flexible.  This also works in the crockpot.

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Allow to roast until reduced by about half.  Remove the stalks of fresh herbs, they have done their job …..

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Puree with immersion blender or food processor (if you use processor make SURE you have left room for steam to escape or this can be a nasty experience).  Stir in 1 small tin of tomato paste and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Depending on the acidity of your tomatoes, you might like to stir in a bit of sugar, but taste first.img_9396

It is easy to just put the cooled sauce in a marked freezer bag, and put it in the freezer to enjoy all winter long.

Panzanella Salad

When tomatoes and basil are this fresh you can’t go wrong with a Panzanella salad, so simple, few ingredients and yet the flavours are just bursting with freshness.

Juicy tomatoes, bursting with flavour, basil out of the garden and naturally, a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio while preparing it all.

Juicy tomatoes, bursting with flavour, basil out of the garden and naturally, a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio while preparing it all.

These amounts are rough, use whatever you have on hand that is fresh:

Grilled bread, cut into bite size pieces (or use home made croutons – well seasoned)
fresh tomatoes, cut into about the same size piece as the bread
1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/4 cup roasted red pepper slices, diced
fresh basil, torn

Dressing:
1 tbsp capers
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In serving bowl mix dressing ingredients together, taste and adjust seasonings ….

Stir in all the other ingredients, mix well and allow to sit for 30-45 minutes to allow flavours to blend.

The combination of olives, capers, and fresh tomatoes along with the texture of crispy crunchy bread is absolute summer perfection.

The combination of olives, capers, and fresh tomatoes along with the texture of crispy crunchy bread is absolute summer perfection.

Halibut with Caper Beurre Blanc

Probably one of the simplest and most delicious ways to enjoy halibut – in season right now. Start with halibut from a great fishmonger – well worth it.

Moist, flaky and delicious halibut served with Caper Beurre Blanc.

Moist, flaky and delicious halibut served with Caper Beurre Blanc.

Caper Beurre Blanc

2 finely diced shallots
3/4 cup white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc work well)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup cold butter, in small pieces

1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1-2 tbsp capers, to taste

In small saucepan simmer the shallots, wine and vinegar until reduced by about half. Add butter one piece at time, whisking well until smooth and creamy looking.

Keep warm until you are ready to serve halibut, adding capers and dill right before serving – just until capers are heated through.

Halibut

6 serving size pieces of halibut fillet

1/2 cup mayonnaise
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 tbsp assorted fresh herbs, finely chopped (I like basil, parsley and tarragon)
2 tbsp finely chopped chives or green onions
1 tsp black pepper

Blend the mayonnaise well with all the ingredients. Spread over the tops and sides of the halibut.

This can be done earlier in the day, and allowed to rest in the fridge. I’m not a huge fan of recipes that have fish or chicken slathered in mayonnaise – this allows the flavours of the halibut to work beautifully with the herbs and is enough to keep the fish moist. Feel free to add more mayo though if you like.

Bake halibut in 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on how thick the fillet is. Watch carefully after 15 minutes. The minute your fish starts to flake easily it is done, so remove it from the oven.

Serve with Beurre Blanc sauce – simple white rice is a great carrier for the sauce. We served it tonight with some of the first of the seasons carrots and asparagus, along with fresh garden greens – but I wasn’t fast enough to get a photo of the completed plate!

Summer Ratatouille

I always think of a ratatouille as a long stewed vegetable dish. When the summer vegetables are at their peak, or even just starting to wane -that flavour is fresh and delicious.

Summer Ratatouille

Summer Ratatouille

Tonight’s version included;

olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 garlic cloves
1 cup each chopped zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant and tomato
2 tbsp tomato paste
fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in olive oil until well softened and starting to turn a golden colour. Add zucchini, cauliflower, and eggplant. Saute until vegetables are starting to soften – move vegetables over to the side and in a little hot spot add a wee bit more oil, along with the garlic and tomato paste. Allow tomato paste and garlic to cook a bit, then stir into the vegetables. Add basil, salt and pepper.

Corn Season! Summer Salad with fresh Basil Vinaigrette

I love fresh corn, and at this time of year it ends up in so many meals, even a bright summer salad.

Fresh Corn Summer Salad with Basil Dressing

Fresh Corn Summer Salad with Basil Dressing


Right now fresh corn, sweet peppers, cucumbers and green beans are all in season along with delicate greens.

Dress your favourite greens with:

Basil Dressing
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 rounded tsp grainy mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp chile flakes (to your families taste)

Blend in food processor until smooth, and then gradually add in 1/3 – 1/2 cup very good quality extra virgin olive oil.

I usually start with the 1/4 tsp chile flakes, and 1/3 cup olive oil. Taste once it is all smoothly blended. Add a little more chile flakes if you think you can handle it, and add olive oil as needed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.

Sweet Basil Pesto

I think one of my favorite herbs is basil – always makes me think of summer and freshness – drinking Holy Basil Tea right now in fact!!

Basil Pesto

3 cloves garlic

4 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1/3 cup finely grated best quality parmesan cheese

2 tbsp lemon juice

2/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

drop garlic cloves into food processor while it is running, continuing with basil, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice and salt.  Pulse after it is finely chopped, and with motor still running slowly add oil – scrape down the side of the bowl a few times. Do another couple pulses just to make sure it is all finely blended.

This keeps easily in the fridge for up to a week, and will store well in freezer also.  Either freeze in small containers, or in ice cube trays.  Once they have frozen in the trays, pop them out and store in a ziplock bag.

This makes an amazing pasta dish – toss it with freshly cooked pasta, adding either a bit of the pasta cooking water or heavy cream, whichever is your preference that night!  

Other suggestions:

Pizza topping, with prawns and carmelized red onions – sprinkle with fresh spinach

Blend with butter and spread on french bread for an alternative to garlic bread

Top a grilled steak with a tbsp of pesto

blend 1 tbsp with 2 tbsp red wine vinegar & 5 tbsp olive oil for a salad dressing