Tag Archives: basil

Spectacular, Spectacular: Grilled Bruschetta with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil, and Shrimp

This past weekend my Uncle Daniel took us on a boating adventure up to the San Juan Islands. It is truly breathtakingly beautiful up there, with vistas you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the States. We boated, we kayaked, we laughed, and of course, we ate. Happily bobbing along on the Moon Dance II, a handmade wooden craft by the renowned Sam Devlin, we enjoyed cooking up feasts in the boat’s galley, aptly named the Moon Dance Diner for all the impressive creations Daniel whipped up there.

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

A little pre-trip prep…slow roasting the tomatoes.

Day 17 of no buying groceries, coupled with boat friendly cuisine made this one a little tricky, but no less spectacular. The robust and bright flavors of the slow roasted tomatoes come to life when paired against the sizzling buffalo mozzarella. Basil freshly picked from the garden just the day before provides a welcome depth, and when topped with one impeccable grilled shrimp helps elevate an otherwise generally standard antipasto to an elite affair.

Mt. Baker in the distance.

The gents determining where the afternoon kayak should go.

Sunset at Sucia Island up in the San Juans.

We may have briefly lost a kayak, but it resulted in a midnight paddle where the phosphorescent were absolutely extraordinary, lighting up the water as we paddled through its stillness.

A cup of coffee, a morning kayak ride, and returning to Daniel cooking up omelets in the Moon Dance Diner. Doesn’t get better than this.

Grilled Bruschetta Topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Chopped Basil, and Grilled Shrimp

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course.

Grilled Bruschetta Topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Chopped Basil, and Grilled Shrimp

  • 2 Ciabatta loaves, cut in half
  • 1 TB butter
  • 4 slices buffalo mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup slow-roasted-tomatoes, room temperature (I’m loving the Smitten Kitchen recipe, right now)
  • 8 jumbo shrimp, raw and tail on, tossed in 1 TB Olive Oil
  1. Preheat grill.
  2. Using either a grill pan or skewers, cook the shrimp until pink and cooked through. About 2 minutes a side. Once done, set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, butter ciabatta loaves and grill until nicely marked, buttered side down, about 5 minutes
  4. Remove ciabatta and top with mozzarella over grill marks. Return to grill and cook until mozzarella melted, about 5 minutes.
  5. Cut loaves in half and top with basil, slow roasted tomatoes, and shrimp.
  6. Enjoy!
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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Appetizers, Entertaining, Seafood, Uncategorized

Fit for a King: Summer Caprese Salad

You’ve probably noticed that things have been a little quiet at Shut Up & Cook this past month. But I have a good excuse…I’ve had royalty in town. And I’m not talking Will and Kate.

No…I’m talking about His Royal Highness…the Duke of Tacoma. Or just Duke for short.

His Royal Highness...the Duke of Tacoma

His Royal Highness...the Duke of Tacoma

Last September, we had to put our best friend Lucky the Dog down. He left a hole in our lives that Matt and I did our best to ignore with over-rationalizing and good ‘ol fashioned New England denial, but the truth was our little family was missing something. So this Spring we (okay I) started to make lists. “Pros and Cons of Getting a Puppy”. The cons list is long and easy…the pros list is longer and easier. Enter Mr. Duke. He was abandoned on the streets outside Tacoma, near death with parvo and severely stunted by rickets. Turned into the Tacoma Humane Society, they got him healthier and then given his breed (the ferocious Pit bull) gave him a short sentence to euthanasia unless someone adopted him. Enter, The Pit Stop, a terrific small rescue group that was started to be a voice and a safe haven for the very misunderstood, neglected and abused American Pit Bull dog breed.

Duke was a lucky one. He was picked up by a great rescue group and then placed in an amazing foster home that understands the breed and delivered to us a 4 1/2 month old dog that was already more trained than most people’s children.

The last month has been one of such fun and discovery. Onca is a brilliant older sister and I am an undeniably overly proud (read bragging and obnoxious) Mom. Duke has proven to be a sterling representation of the breed: friendly, smart, funny, inquisitive, utterly devoted, and goofy. We do have to deal with some people picking up their little dogs to walk by us at the park due to their ignorance, but it’s a small price to pay. I wouldn’t want a chihuahua anyway.

And such is my long-winded excuse of why I haven’t been cooking. I’ve been too busy gushing about Duke to anyone who will listen. But this sunny Fourth of July weekend I decided to get back into it. First step…the ultimate summer salad: Mozzarella, Basil, Tomato with Olive Oil and Balsamic. This is so easy it hardly requires a recipe, but it’s guaranteed to impress.

Serve it when you’ve got His Royal Highness in town…just don’t let him beg.

Summer Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.  Extra yummy paired with grilled crostini and Prosecco.

2 vine-ripened tomatoes

8 oz fresh mozzarella

1 bundle fresh basil

2 TB Good Olive Oil (the best you can afford)

1 TB Balsamic

Coarse Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Slice the tomatoes and set aside.
  2. Slice the mozzarella in circles and then cut in half so that they resemble half moons
  3. Thinly slice the basil.
  4. Alternating back and forth, put the tomatoes and mozzarella in a round on a plate.
  5. Sprinkle with the fine basil and then coarsely grate salt and pepper.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with balsamic.
  7. Allow to come to room temperature before serving so the flavors are really bright and fresh.

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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Entertaining, Make ahead, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Panzanella Salad with Kalamata Olives, Garbanzo Beans, and Basil

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

A dear friend, and fellow blogger, recently described her great accomplishments of the past month as:

  • “I did not cry in the past four days even though sometimes I was really drunk.”
  • “I went to the beach everyday in August and did not get burned.”
  • “Yesterday, at the grocery store there were free samples of cake and I did not eat one.”

Because of how my life has been going, I’ve been measuring my triumphs in a similar scale. Take today for instance:

  • Upon waking, my hair only moderately resembled a rogue bonsai.
  • I did not once sign one of the 200 work emails I fast and furiously sent out with ‘xoxo’. (this is a deep seeded fear of mine, even though it has only happened once).
  • I successfully managed to wear one of those chunky chic necklaces that are so popular right now without anyone openly mistaking me for a kindergarten teacher.

Yes…today was a good day.

The real triumph of the day however, undoubtedly, and per usual, came in the kitchen.

My tomato plants, having been seriously stunted by our lame summer, finally kicked into gear and produced a whole slew of beautiful, tomatoes. Add to that a bit of stale bread in my freezer, and a shameless desire to recreate the oh-so-delicious panzanella salad I recently had at Rowhouse and we were in action.

This is very easy and quick to make, and is beautiful when presented. A perfect way to use the last of summer’s bounty.

Panzanella Salad with Kalamata Olives, Garbanzo Beans, and Basil

Serves 4-6

1/2 pound (about 5 cups)  stale bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes.  You want the bread to be substantial; think french bread or sour dough.

1 lb ripe tomatoes (about 3-4 cups), cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 can garbanzo beans

1/4 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella (optional)

1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced

1/2 cup olive oil, + 3-4 TB

3 TB Balsamic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1. In a large bowl, toss the bread with 3 TB olive oil. Add the remaining 1 TB to a cast iron skillet, bring to medium heat, and brown the bread as if making croutons. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In the same serving bowl, add the olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper and whisk to make a dressing.

3. Add to the bowl the tomatoes, the garbanzo, the red onions, the kalamata olives, the mozzarella (optional), the basil, and the bread.

   
   

4. Toss to thoroughly combine.

5. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed the tomato juices without losing its texture.

Enjoy!

15 Comments

Filed under Lactose Free, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

New Beginnings: Quinoa with Feta, Tomatoes, and Basil, tossed with a lemon vinaigrette

Quinoa with Feta, Tomatoes, and Basil, tossed with a Lemon Vinaigrette

Quinoa with Feta, Tomatoes, and Basil, tossed with a Lemon Vinaigrette

Friends of ours, Liz and Daniel, recently had a baby. She is darling, and perfect, and oh-so-tiny. When you haven’t seen a newborn for a while you forget just how little they are. In typical Columbia City fashion the neighborhood has circled around them to provide support in the way of dog walking, plant watering, and, you guessed it, food delivery. 

Since I’ve got two of my own dogs to walk, and have been known to kill weeds, I signed up for option 3. 

Liz and Daniel are both vegetarians, so this dish required a bit more thought, as I am an unabashed meat-eater. I wanted to create something that would travel well, require zero effort on their part, and provide enough for a few meals. Quinoa is my current magical grain of choice, but with summer having finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest, I wanted to dress things up a bit. 

The result was a sort of Greek Inspired Caprese, tossed with quinoa. It was quite delicious (if I do say so myself), and even better the second day. This recipe can easily be halved or doubled, pending how many you’re cooking for and is a beautiful dish for a BBQ potluck. 

Quinoa with Feta, Tomatoes, and Basil, tossed with a lemon vinaigrette
Serves 8
 

2 cups quinoa – rinsed 

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock 

2 medium tomatoes 

1 cup basil, lightly packed, and sliced into ¼ inch strips 

1 1/2 cups feta 

4 TB Olive Oil 

3 TB Lemon Juice 

Salt/Pepper to taste (go easy on this, because feta can be quite salty!) 

  1. Add 1 TB olive oil to a heavy, lidded sauce pan and bring to medium heat. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly toasted. Add the stock and stir constantly, being careful not to get splattered. Bring the stock to a boil, stir once more, reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and leave lid on for 5 more minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork to allow to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl add the remaining 3 TB olive oil and 3 TB lemon juice and whisk to make the dressing.
    Feta, tomatoes, basil   

  3. Dice the tomatoes and add to the mixing bowl. Allowing them to mingle with the dressing for a few minutes. Dice the feta and add to the tomato/dressing mixture. Tossing until evenly coated.
  4. Once the quinoa is slightly cooled, add to the serving bowl and toss with the feta, tomatoes, and dressing.
  5. Add the sliced basil just before serving and toss.

12 Comments

Filed under Health Conscious, Salads, Seasonal Cooking, Vegetarian