Travel Eats

Entries in basil (3)


Pasta Pomodoro

Fellow Texans, when you are suffering in the midst of week of triple digit temperatures take comfort in the fact that we can plant tomatoes in February.  And when you want a nice fresh pasta dish that won't require you to sweat over a hot stove like an Italian grandmother, try this recipe:

  • 3 large ripe red tomatoes, roughly chopped--since the beauty of this recipe is it's ease of preparation I don't peel or seed them.  Don't use canned, this is a summer recipe so you really need nice ripe tomatoes.
  • Arugula--as much or as little as you like, maybe none...that's up to you.  I used it because I think my arugula's days are numbered with the heat wave.  Inevitably I will forget to water it.
  • Basil--as much as you like, keep the leaves whole
  • Garlic--3 large cloves sliced thinly
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • Parmesan cheese--grate ~1/2 cup + more for sprinkling
  • Toasted bread crumbs--see this post for directions on toasting your own

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook penne until just shy of al dente.  Drain pasta, reserving ~1 cup cooking water.  Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped tomatoes, garlic, large pinch of kosher salt and several grinds of pepper.  Cook until the tomatoes soften slightly and release their juices.  I add the garlic with the tomatoes because it prevents the thinly sliced garlic from burning.  Add the basil leaves and arugula and cook til just wilted. Add the pasta, reserved cooking water and 1/2 cup grated parmesan.  Add just enough cooking water to make enough sauce to coat the pasta, cooking until the pasta is the desired doneness and the sauce thickens slightly.

To serve, sprinkle with reserved parmesan, bread crumbs and garnish with some uncooked tomatoes.  A perfect pasta dish for a hot night.


Salad Days

With all the homemade pastry in our house it was time for some lighter fare.  We used some of our farmer's market bounty to create a couple of salads to round out our leftover BBQ.  Pictured above are some locally grown tomatoes with a basil/pistachio pesto, and below a composed salad of roasted beets and sunflower sprouts with goat cheese and pecans.  Sophie was quite disappointed as she has always hated tomatoes unless they are a tomato sauce (preferably on a pizza) and has not even tried beets.  She said they tasted "like soil," but conceded that she would rather eat them than tomatoes.

Basil/Pistachio Pesto

1 cup basil leaves

1/2 cup shelled,roasted pistachios 

salt and pepper to taste

extra virgin olive oil

Put basil, salt/pepper and ~1/2 cup olive oil in blender or food processor and blend.  Add pistachios and more olive oil to thin.  I actually added a little water to get things moving.  I purposely didn't add garlic or cheese as I wanted the tomato flavor to shine.


Roasted Beet Salad

3 beets, scrubbed and greens cut off--do not peel

extra virgin olive oil


4 oz. goat cheese

1/2 pint sunflower sprouts (they taste like sunflower seeds--crazy, I know!) or other micro-greens

1/2 cup chopped pecans

sherry wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place beets in roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast 45-60 min (depending on size) until tender.  Allow to cool.  At this point the skin should come off easily.  Slice into 1/8'' thick rounds and cool completely.

To serve, arrange beet slices on plate, drizzle with sherry wine vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Top with crumbled goat cheese, pecans and sprouts. 


Hibiscus Tea with Basil Syrup

If you haven't noticed, refreshing beverages are becoming a theme here in Ginny's Kitchen.  The humidity has been unbearable here this week, and everyone knows--it's not the heat, it's the humidity.  After draining my 1.5 L camelback on my long run today, I was not in the mood for more water.  I like the idea of making a beverage that I can control the sweetness and strength to suit my mood and hydration status.  You can probably find the dried hibiscus flowers in a Latin market.  Since I live in San Antonio, I found them in my local grocery store.

Viva HEB!


Hibiscus Tea

1 cup of hibiscus blossoms, rinsed

2 cups water

Bring water to boil, add hibiscus blossoms and simmer for 5 minutes.  Strain.  This is the base of the tea, you can add water to your preferred dilution but this typically makes ~2 quarts.

Basil Simple Syrup

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup water

Dissolve sugar and water over medium heat in small saucepan.  Add 3-4 large sprigs of basil.  I used purple ruffle basil this time.

Add syrup to taste and serve over lots of ice.  The hibiscus flowers are naturally tart so you may need more syrup than you anticipate.  Sometimes we add agave nectar if we are in a hurry and don't have any syrup on hand.