Caprese Panini and HERBS at the Arboretum

MInt growing in Lorie's garden.

There is nothing like herbs fresh from the garden to bump up the flavor quotient of your summer foods. I will be celebrating all-things HERBS at the Arboretum on Saturday, July 20th from 11:00-1:00, register TODAY!

basket of herbs at the french market

Do you have a favorite herb?  Mine is basil. I thought I would share one of my most-loved herb recipes; Basil Pesto and my favorite way to eat it, Caprese Panini!

basil pesto

Pesto is typically made with pine nuts but my version uses walnuts.  I always have walnuts on hand and I think it makes the pesto really creamy.  My basil rich pesto only calls for 1 tablespoon of olive oil, you can definitely use more but I personally don’t like an oily mouthfeel so it’s perfect for us.

Lorie clipping basil

There is something so gratifying about going to the garden to pick basil for a bright green batch of goodness.  It’s not too late to plant basil and reap the rewards right up until the first frost!

caprese panini

 

Caprese Panini

1 loaf French bread sliced in about ¾ inch slices

6 slices provolone cheese or fresh mozzarella

½ cup sun dried tomatoes drained and chopped

2 large tomatoes sliced thin and drained

1/3 cup fresh basil pesto

Olive oil

Brush grill pan with olive oil and turn burner to medium heat.   Make sandwiches by spreading a generous amount of pesto on every other slice of bread. Sprinkle pesto with sun-dried tomatoes.  Add cheese and fresh tomato slices and top with additional bread slice to create a sandwich.  Place sandwiches on grill with a panini press on top; grill each side for about 2 minutes until golden brown.

Basil Pesto

1 ½ cups fresh basil compacted

2 garlic cloves

½ cup walnuts

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese grated

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

Place basil, garlic, walnuts, salt in food processor, pulse until smooth, add Parmesan, olive oil and process until mixed well.

herbs

Arboretum- Herbs Fresh From the Garden or market. Do you cultivate a garden full of fresh herbs and want to cook more with them or maybe you love picking up fresh herbs at the local farmers markets; either way this class will delight with flavors from the earth.   The tasty dishes will begin with a vibrant appetizer of freshly made Chimichurri Hummus as pretty as it is tasty.  Next up, crispy Herbed Greek Salad that will have you diving in bite after bite.  For the main course we will prepare succulent Herb and Pistachio Crusted Chicken served with fresh from-the-garden Tomato Gratin. For a decadent treat, we will make Herb and Garlic Parmesan Knots.  For a sweet finish delectable Basil Infused Berries and Cream will not disappoint!

Hope you will tell me your favorite herb!  See you at the Arboretum!

au revoir for now lorie (002)

 

 

Basil from the Market

Lorie harvesting basil from her garden.

Sweet Basil is my favorite herb.  The vibrant color and fragrant flavors of pepper, anise and mint make a delightful addition to many of my recipes. I grow plenty of this prolific herb in my garden every year to support my habit and my cooking classes.

Fresh basil, glass of water, scissors and a zip top bag on the counter.

During the winter months I crave that fresh from the garden flavor so I pick up organic containers of basil at the market. To prolong its life, you will need a few household items; a glass or vase filled with water, a pair of scissors and a zip-top bag.

Stem of basil being trimmed

Snip the tip of each basil sprig at an angle with a pair of sharp scissors and put each stem in the glass filled with water.

Zip top bag being placed over the basil.

Next, split the bottom of the zip-top bag on both sides about 2-3 inches and place it over the basil. This will create a greenhouse effect.

Basil green house.

Leave your basil greenhouse on the counter-top where it will receive plenty of bright light.  Change the water daily and you will be surprised at how long basil will keep!

Basil pesto used for Panini is my favorite Basil; recipe, what’s yours?

 

Basil Pesto

1½ cups fresh basil, compacted

2 garlic cloves

½ cup walnuts

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

Place basil, garlic, walnuts, salt in food processor, pulse until smooth, add Parmesan, olive oil and process until mixed well.

au revoir for now lorie (002)

The Basil Harvest

Lorie-Basil-2.jpg

Can I tell you how much I enjoy my herb and vegetable garden!  I have a raised bed on the side of my house, right outside the kitchen door.  When we moved into this house over 10 years ago, the bed was filled with unruly shrubbery and the soil quality was terrible.  Over the years, we have moved the shrubs out and my pretty little garden has taken over.

Lorie-Basil.jpg

My all-time favorite herb is basil.  I always plant 3-4 large plants and have more than we can possibly eat, even with cooking classes I teach!

If you are growing basil and have not harvested it, now is the time.  If the weather stays warm, it will continue to grow for a second harvest.

basil-6.jpg

 I make huge batches of pesto in my Cuisinart food processor and freeze it in individual portions to be enjoyed all through the winter months.

My pesto does not have much olive oil, so it is thick like paste.  This gives me the flexibility to use the pesto in a variety of recipes when it’s pulled from the freezer.

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My favorite way to eat pesto does not even require a recipe; just toast crusty bread and smear on plenty of pesto.

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Add lots of chewy sun dried tomatoes for a sweet tangy bite.

Basil 3

Sprinkle on plenty of cheese and toast in the oven until cheese is bubbling.

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It’s that simple!

You will find my recipe for Basil pesto below; I hope to see you soon in an upcoming cooking class!

Follow me along with my sweet travelers starting next week as we taste our way through the best of Provence 2018! The very best place to find us in on Instagram @atasteofparis OR Facebook Atasteofparistrips and for information on the last 2 seats for 2019 CLICK HERE!  

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Basil Pesto

1½ cups fresh basil compacted

2 garlic cloves

½ cup walnuts

1/3 cup parmesan cheese grated

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

Place basil, garlic, walnuts, salt in food processor and pulse until smooth, add parmesan, olive oil and process until mixed well.