Caprese Pasta Salad ~ ElephantEats.com

We’re down at my mother-in-law’s for the long holiday weekend, and her big, bright kitchen inspired me to finally do some cooking.

Making Caprese Pasta Salad ~ ElephantEats.com

I hope that I’m getting this to you with enough notice that you can make it for your big Memorial Day spread tomorrow!

Caprese Pasta Salad 2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Not sure if it’s pregnancy or the weather but I’ve been craving a tangy pasta salad, specifically one with all the flavors of summer. I combined my love of Caprese Salad with pasta into this tasty dish. It’s super easy and quick and can sit out for a decent amount of time, so it’s great for when you have a buffet at your bbq.

Caprese Pasta Salad 3 ~ ElephantEats.com

Also, figured I’d throw in my 23 week pic, although I’m at 25 weeks now ;) Getting bigger every day…

23 weeks ~ ElephantEats.com

23 wks front ~ ElephantEats.com

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves 6
A quick and easy pasta salad, full of the flavors of summer!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb farfalle pasta, dried (or any shape you prefer)
  2. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  4. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced plus 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  5. 5-6 medium tomatoes (this really depends how much tomato you like), diced with half of the juives removed
  6. 2 handfuls fresh basil, chopped
  7. 16 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
  8. 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste) and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water, then put in large bowl. Put empty pot back on stove top.
  2. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and oil plus salt and pepper.
  3. In the empty pot, add a couple Tablespoons of olive oil and add garlic. Saute a min until fragrant and lightly brown. Remove immediately and add to olive oil mixture.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to bowl of pasta.
  5. Add in oil/vinegar mixture and toss well.
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Tomato Quiche~ ElephantEats.com

As I mentioned in my last post, Nate and I have had quite a lot happening around here lately.

Some of you may have already know based on my comments on other blogs, but I officially got a new job offer! I was kind of passively looking because while my current job wasn’t horrible, it also wasn’t ideal. I’m so so excited for this new opportunity! There seems like there will be more room for growth. Althought I’m still working at my “old” job for another couple weeks, I have a new hire appt tomororw and I get my new ID badge and stuff!

Tomato Quiche ~ ElephantEats.com

This new job is the first place I’ll have worked where the people there will only know me by my married name :) At my current job they still refer to me by my old name, and it’s kind of annoying me at this point that they can’t remember. Although maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh because I was initialling a document the other day and used my old initials and totally didn’t even notice…it even took me another minute to realize after Nate said “oh, come on, Amy!”

Tomato Quiche ~ ElephantEats.com

So what does this all have to do with this recipe? Well, just that if you’re busy you shouldn’t assume because a recipe’s title contains the word “quiche” that it will be quick to make. I mistakenly went to prepare this at around 7pm the other night thinking I could whip it right up. It wasn’t until I actually read the recipe (after having already started it) that I realized you have to essentially make a homemade tomato sauce before assembling the quiche. And if I had made a homemade crust it would have been even more effort.

I will say however, that if you take into account the correct amount of time it will take, it’s TOTALLY worth it. Nate and I both thought this was outstanding. The tomato sauce, while incredibly basic, was so delicious. I kind of want to make it again to just put over pasta. What’s great about this quiche is that you can make it in the winter with canned tomatoes or in the summer with fresh and it’s delicious both ways. It’s fancy and tasty enough that you could definitely make it for company. It would be great to serve at brunch as well as dinner!

Tomato Quiche ~ ElephantEats.com

This is one of the recipes Nate sent me in the morning during his breakfast perusal of the New York Times. As I’ve mentioned before, I find their recipes highly reliable.

I thought to make this quiche because I’ve had a premade pie-crust in my freezer forever. I don’t know why I bought it. If I’m going to make a pie, I would totally make the crust from scratch, so I think I actually bought it to make a quiche. With a store-bought crust, a typical quiche is a great weeknight meal. This one requires slightly more effort but please do it!!

P.S. You can make the tomato sauce ahead of time and then it’s really not bad for a weeknight dinner :)

Tomato Quiche ~ ElephantEats.com

Winter Tomato Quiche

From NY Times with some shortcuts by me

Print this recipe!

 Serves 6-8

1 9- or 10-inch whole wheat Mediterranean pie crust, gluten-free whole grain
Mediterranean pie crust, or yeasted whole wheat olive oil pastry (*I used a regular old frozen pie crust in pan)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
1 14.5-ounce can chopped tomatoes in juice, with juice (*I used the ones with rosemary and oregano)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch of sugar
Salt to taste
1 sprig fresh basil or rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Freshly ground pepper
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup low-fat (1 or 2 percent) milk
2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (1/2 cup, tightly packed)
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup, tightly packed)

If making crust, roll out the crust and line a 9- or 10-inch tart pan. Refrigerate uncovered (place in freezer if using the yeasted crust) while you make the filling. If using a premade frozen crust in pan, defrost in fridge and don’t take it out until you’re ready to use it.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a wide, heavy saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and continue to cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile pulse the tomatoes in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in a mini-processor.

Add the garlic to the onions and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add to the canned tomatoes and turn up the heat slightly. Add the tomato paste, sugar, salt, basil or rosemary spring and thyme and simmer briskly, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell fragrant, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust salt, and add pepper. Remove from the heat. Remove the basil or rosemary sprig and, if you used rosemary, remove any rosemary needles that may have detached from the sprig. Allow to cool slightly. You should have about 1 cup of the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl. Brush the bottom of the crust with a small amount of the beaten egg and pre-bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Beat the milk into the eggs. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, freshly ground pepper to taste and beat together. Stir in the cheeses and the tomato sauce and combine well. Scrape into the crust, using a rubber spatula to scrape out every last bit from the bowl. Place the tart on a sheet pan for easier handling and place in the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until set. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Advance preparation: The tomato sauce can be made through Step 3 up to three days ahead and refrigerated uncovered. It can also be frozen. Allow to come to room temperature before making the tart. The tart will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in a low oven or serve at room temperature.

Corn and tomato salad with basil

I apologize again for the lack of blog posts. I think this past week was the first time I went an entire week without posting and while it took some stress off of me, I was sad to break my post-at-least-once-per-week streak. Oh well, hopefully things will slow down after the wedding and gvive me more time to devote to this little blog. But on to the recipe…

Before the summer’s bounty of sweet, juicy corn and bright flavorful tomatoes is gone, you MUST make this.

It’s also a good way to use up some of the basil that’s taking over your herb garden. If that’s the case, I’m really jealous…I want a garden so badly.

I would create an indoor herb garden but my cat would eat everything I grew and then probably throw it up all over my living room. Does anyone have a solution for growing things indoors when there are cats around? One of my friends suggested maybe hanging the herbs in containers on the wall. That could definitely work, I’m just trying to figure out what type of containers I could use. Also, my apartment walls don’t take screws very well, only nails, so it’d have to be lightweight. I dunno if it’s worth the effort.

Corn and tomato salad with basil

Aaaanyway…the original recipe I based this from also added mozzarella and scallions to the dish, but I don’t like scallions and I really wanted this to be a nice fresh, low-cal side dish. I thought the cheese was unecessary since I’d be serving protein with it anyway.

It resulted in the most delicious, juicy, fresh summer salad you could imagine. I LOVE basil. Honestly, I think I could sprinkle a shoe with basil and it would taste summery, although this probably tastes a bit better than that. Nate and I couldn’t stop raving about this simple little dish.

Make this alongside some fish or chicken for your next meal!

Corn and tomato salad with basil

Oh and I almost forgot to mention, you NEED this tool in your kitchen if you don’t already have it:

Kuhn Rikon Corn Zipper

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/kuhn-rikon-corn-zipper/

I used to think this was stupid because you could just use a knife to strip all the kernels off. But after making a lot of corn recipes this summer and having the kernels fly all over the kitchen (I know you know what im talking about), I sucked it up and bought one. Actually I used a gift certificate so I didn’t even feel guilty about it.

Anyway, this could be one of my all-time greatest kitchen purchases. Seriously. It makes it SO much quicker, neater, and easier to de-kernel your cobs!

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad with Basil

Adapted from the Food Network

Print this recipe!

makes about 5 cups

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ears fresh corn, husked (about 4 cups corn kernels)
2 cups red or orange grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped

Whisk the vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream, to make a smooth dressing.

Shear off the corn kernels with a sharp knife over a bowl. Toss in the tomatoes. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat. Cover and let set for 15 minutes or up to 2 hours (even good immediately!). Before serving stir in basil.

As I mentioned in my recent post, Nate needs carbs to fuel his long Sunday runs during his marathon training. Since I was kind of sick of making pasta, and you’re probably sick of seeing pasta recipes, I chose another tasty carbohydrate: rice.

I realized that I had leftover arborio rice, from when I made rissoto a while back, that was just dying to be cooked up. I wanted something different. It seems that all risotto recipes have mushrooms in them, but finally I stumbled across a Tomato, Oregano, and Feta Risotto that sounded amazing.

It called for Greek flavors and ended up being one of the most delicious meals I think I’ve ever made. The lemon zest made it really fresh tasting (luckily I didn’t have any zester accidents this time) and I loved the tomato base. It’s a completley vegetarian meal.

The only change I made to the recipe below was substituting Vermouth for the ouzo, since I didn’t have any. As with all risottos, it took over an hour to make and involved constant attention and stirring, but it was absolutely worth it!


Tomato, Oregano, and Feta Risotto

From The NY Times Diner’s Journal

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serves 4-6

Time 1 hour and 15 minutes

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup Carnarolli or Arborio rice
1/3 cup ouzo (or vermouth)
1 1/3 cups grated ripe tomato (see Note *)
2/3 cup creamy feta, such as Dodoni or Cephalonia, or a French feta
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
Finely grated zest of a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add onion and a little salt and stir until soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and stir until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Place broth in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Raise heat to medium, and add rice to skillet. Stir until well-coated with olive oil and starting to soften slightly, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of the simmering broth. Keep stirring gently until the rice absorbs all the broth. Add ouzo and stir until absorbed.

Add grated tomato and stir gently until the mixture is dense. Add remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed, until the rice is creamy but al dente, 25 to 30 minutes.

Add feta and stir until melted and risotto is creamy and thick. Stir in oregano and lemon zest, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

*Note: To grate a tomato, halve crosswise and grate the cut side with a coarse grater over a strainer set over a bowl. Grate as close to the skin as possible, but discard the skin.

So what do you do when you have basil left over even though you already made 3 batches of pesto, one of which went into your Pesto Potato Salad? You look for other basil recipes, of course! Because you just can’t have too much basil.

Now I know there are cilantro haters out there, but do basil haters exist?  That would be weird. That’s like saying you don’t like chocolate.

Basil is such a quintessentially summer herb. Whenever it’s in the kitchen, the aroma perfumes my whole apartment. I just want to bury my face in it and inhale.

I’m not sure if it’s because it smells so good or because I associate childhood memories with the smells. Don’t you love when you get a whiff of something and it immediately transports you back to another time (hopefully a good one)? Smell memories are the best kind.

Anyway, when I had that leftover basil, one recipe immediately came to mind. It’s one that my mom used to make when she did a little catering on the side. It’s an easy, fresh summer meal, and it’s SO good.

The base is a sauce that’s made from soft goat cheese that melts and coats all the pasta and veggies. It’s heavenly. Please make this for dinner this week.

The recipe is below. You’re welcome.


Farfalle with Zucchini, Tomato and Basil
Taken from Mom’s recipe box :)

Print this recipe!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
10 oz. Farfalle
2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced thin crosswise
1/4 cup olive oil
5 oz. Robiola or other mild, soft goat chesse, cut in pieces
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, diced
1.4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic

1.  Cook farfalle al dente. Drain, rserving 1/2 cup cookin water.

2. In skillet, saute zucchini in oil on med-high, stirring til golden on edges. Salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta, stir and cook 3 min.

3. Remove skillet from heat, stir in cheese and as much pasta water as necessary to form a sauce.

4. Stir in tomato and basil. Salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve immediately.

*Note: If you will be saving some for leftovers, save some of the pasta water too, as it thickens in the fridge.