Basil Yogurt Smoothie

February 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

We have been having a very hot winter here in Los Angeles, so I decided it was time to cool down with a smoothie.  But not the super sugary kind that gives you a sugar high and causes you to crash by 4pm.  This smoothie is as good for you as it is good!  With yogurt, basil, and honey it is a fabulous mid-day snack for relaxing on a weekend or even to serve with a sweet breakfast — AND you can’t beat the color!  It is simply beautiful!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I love to use Greek)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey, dissolved in 3 tablespoons of warm water)

Directions:

This smoothie could not be easier to make – so simple!  Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into tall glass, garnish with basil leaf, and serve!  Yum!

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Summer Margarita Pasta

August 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

It is summer and luscious ripe tomatoes are piled up everywhere I turn.  Something about the ripe red tomatoes reminds me of a trip to Italy my husband and I took back when we were still dating and studying abroad.  On our gallop (literally) through Europe, we found ourselves in Naples.  Our time there was short and we were merely passing through, but we found ourselves starving and in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere in particular in the foreign city.

Let me rephrase: we were STARVING!!!! We had just taken a train in and had not seen food in at least 4 hours — I know, the horror!

If this were an ordinary day, I would insist on us walking around and finding a few restaurant options before descending on a chosen eatery.  However, in this hungry moment, we did not care where we were: the first place that would serve us would be the lucky winner of our patronage.

This was the best mistake of my life because the very first place we saw was a tiny hole-in-the-wall half restaurant / half residence with one table and two chairs in the front yard (for lack of a better word).  We ran to those two chairs like our lives depended on it.  There ended up being a legitimate waiter who gave us real menus.

The first thing we saw was “Margarita Pizza” which obviously needs no translation from the Italian.  We pointed at it and within what seemed to be the longest 20 minutes later, we were served the most AMAZING thing I have eaten to date.  I don’t care what five star restaurant you want to compare this to, but we were in heaven.

This dish always reminds me of that trip and that miraculous Napolitan Pizza Margarita.  It is my personal 15 minute homage to that experience.

You will need:

– pasta (I typically use whole wheat, but regular is great too)

– 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

– 1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped

– small fresh mozzarella balls

– garlic

– olive oil

– salt and pepper to taste

Begin to prepare the pasta.  While it is boiling, combine the tomatoes, basil, and garlic in a heated and oiled skillet.  Add salt and pepper to taste and saute until the tomatoes get happy (I leave it to you to exactly determine what this means, but for me it usually happens when the skins start to gently separate from the rest of the tomatoes).

When the pasta is done, plate it and pour the tomato mixture over it.  While the tomatoes are still hot, throw on a few fresh mozarella balls – they will start to get a little soft and melty, which is divine.  Garnish with basil.

Greek Orzo Salad

August 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

I had a great greek orzo salad at the Whole Foods ready-made counter about two years ago. I loved the flavors in the pasta salad so much that I started to dissect the salad (to figure out what was in it and how I could make it).  I first tried to make the salad for my husband, and he gave me the nod of approval.  The second time I made this pasta salad was for one of my bridal showers, and it was a hit.  I really knew it was a good recipe when my aunt asked for it and started making it for her friends and for family BBQs.

It is a great cold pasta salad that has so many flavors working at once, that it is both an awesome side dish and a great stand alone dish.   It’s easy to make and can be made ahead of time too.  If you have a BBQ to go to or a luncheon and need to bring a dish, this one is perfect.  It is also great on top of some fresh spinach, for a light lunch.  Is it better than the Whole Foods version?  Make it, taste it, and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 medium purple onion
  • 1 cup pitted whole kalamata olives
  • 1 1/2 cups whole sun dried tomatoes that have been packed in olive oil
  • 2 oz. of fresh basil (about 1/2 of a container of Trader Joe’s organic basil does the trick)
  • 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 box orzo
  • 1/4 cup of the olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes.

Directions:

1.  Start of with cooking the orzo according to the directions of the box of the pasta.  Remember to generously salt the water, so you can flavor the pasta.

2.  Once you have started the pasta, cut up the yellow and orange bell peppers into large chunks.  Put all of the bell pepper into a food processor and pulse until you reach your desired size of bell pepper.  Be careful not to pulse the bell peppers too much, or you will get a bell pepper paste and not pieces of bell peppers.  When you have pulsed the bell peppers to the desired size, out them in a large bowl.

3.  Next, cut a whole purple onion into large chucks.  Put the onion into the food processor ad pulse until the onion has been chopped.  Add the chopped onion into the bowl with the bell peppers.

4.  Add the kalamata olives to the food processor and pulse until they are chopped.  Add the olives to the bowl with the bell peppers and purple onion.

5.  Add the sun-dried tomatoes to the food processor and pulse until they are chopped up.  Pulsing the sun dried tomatoes may take longer than the other ingredients because they are tougher.  When the tomatoes have been chopped, add them to the bowl.

6.  Pull the basil leaves off of their steams and put the leaves into the food processor.  Pulse the basil leaves into small pieces.  When the basil has been chopped, add it to the bowl.

7.  When the pasta is done, cool it off by pouring the pasta into a colander and draining it.  Next, run cold water over the pasta in the colander until the pasta is cold.  When the pasta is cool, add it to the large bowl that has all of the chopped ingredients.

8.  Add 1/4 cup of the sun-dried tomato olive oil to the pasta and the chopped veggies.  Toss the ingredients in the bowl to combine and coat with the oil.

9.  Add the feta cheese and pepper to taste.  Toss the pasta to evenly distribute the cheese.  Refrigerate the pasta until it is cold, and then serve.

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