I decided to do something a little lighter this week for dessert and I made a simple syrup that you can drizzle over fresh fruit. It’s light and refreshing, especially when it’s so hot outside. I also tried incorporating the syrup into a fruit dip with a little mascarpone cheese and whipped cream. Both are easy and delicious. Enjoy!
(You can also make one out of MINT!! --Jenny)
BASIL SIMPLE SYRUP
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh basil leaves
Peel of 1 lemon, thinly sliced in strips (avoid getting the white pith)
Juice of ½ a lemon
Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is at a simmer, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a jar and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to one week. Drizzle over fresh fruit.
NOTE: I was trying to make lemon basil syrup, but I didn’t add enough lemon…in the end, it was just basil, which is still delicious. Next time, I’ll add more lemon peel, and maybe I’ll grate it first. This syrup would also be great drizzled over pound cake.
¼ cup mascarpone cheese, softened
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons basil simple syrup
With a mixer, whip the mascarpone cheese for about a minute, then add the heavy cream and syrup.
Whip until soft peaks form. Serve with fresh fruit.
This is another of my "on the fly" inventions. Instead of stuffing the chicken, I opted to butterfly it and flatten it with my rolling pin.
MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN ROLLATINI
2 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded
2 slices bacon
8-10 basil leaves
thin slices of zucchini
Kalamata olives, thinly sliced
Feta cheese, crumbled
Look at the photo below and copy it!! Then roll it up and bake at 400 for about 30-40 minutes.
You may want some sort of creamy sauce or gravy with this. I made a gravy of chicken broth, a little flour, butter, bacon and sage. Mmmm!
The first thing I think of when I think of basil is pesto, and I did make pesto this week. I have tons of basil in my garden, and it’s a good thing to have on hand. But, I didn’t want to share yet another pesto recipe with you. Instead, I decided to use the pesto in my main dish and I came up with a pesto cream sauce to
spoon over baked chicken. I am always, always, always looking for ways to jazz up chicken, so I decided to wrap the chicken with prosciutto before baking it. The resulting combination of the chicken, salty, crisp prosciutto, and pesto cream sauce was fabulous. It’s a dish that’s easy enough to make it a week-night staple, but also something that you could serve to impress dinner guests.
PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED CHICKEN WITH PESTO CREAM SAUCE
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
6 slices prosciutto
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup pesto
Generously salt and pepper the chicken then brush with olive oil. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each piece of chicken. Put the chicken on a cooling rack (sprayed with cooking spray) that’s been placed on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. When the chicken has about 5 minutes left, make the sauce. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a small saucepan and whisk in 1 tablespoon flour to make a roux.
Whisk and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the cream and let it simmer for a minute or two, then whisk in the wine and pesto. Let it come to a bubble, then turn down the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Serve over prosciutto wrapped chicken.
NOTE: As always, use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken is done. Also, if you don’t like chicken thighs, use boneless, skinless breasts.
It's really stinkin' hot outside. Here in Texas, we've had 100-degree heat since I can't remember. So what better than something out of the freezer to cool that gullet!
Granitas are the en vogue thing these days, and they're fool-proof to do. A simple syrup, a fruit or herb, freeze, and you're done!
I had apricots in the house, so after I made the first one of basil, I made an Apricot Basil, too.
1 cup sugar
Some time ago, I saw a recipe for a dish that was “Deconstructed Guacamole” something or other. The idea was to use the separate ingredients that made guacamole without actually making guacamole and using it in the recipe. I liked the idea and immediately started thinking of other things could be “deconstructed” in a recipe. This is a recipe that I came up with a few years ago…one that uses pesto ingredients along with a few other things to make a really nice pasta salad.
DECONSTRUCTED PESTO PASTA SALAD
1 lb. bowtie pasta, cooked, drained, and rinsed
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup diced white or yellow onion
¾ cup chopped Kalamata olives
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the pasta, chicken, basil, pine nuts, cheese, onion, and olives in a large bowl and stir to mix.
In a separate bowl or large mixing cup, combine the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper and whisk well to combine. Pour dressing over salad and mix well to coat.
NOTE: I took a shortcut here and used rotisserie chicken, but feel free to substitute whatever you have.
Hmmm... Quick! You have mushroooms, ricotta and monterrey jack cheese in the fridge. WHAT DO YOU DO??
Well, the baby portabellas were about a day from inedibleness before I was able to salvage them. And it IS "Basil Week", so why not make it a Side Dish or Appetizer?? This one I made on-the-fly, and like many of my on-the-fly dishes, these were AWESOME, and I probably won't be able to duplicate it, but here goes...
Basil and Ricotta-Stuffed Portabellas
About 6 big baby portabella mushrooms
1/2 cup ricotta
1/3 cup grated monterrey jack cheese
palmful minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 teaspoons Panko bread crumbs
Rinse mushrooms, de-stem them, and scoop out gills with a spoon. Set in small baking dish. In a bowl, mix the rest well and scoop into mushroom caps. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and broil on low for approximately 15 minutes, until tops brown.
"Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, & who we want to be." -- Molly Wizenberg