Cilantro Basil Pesto

An easy to make pesto with cilantro and basil that has a fresh summery taste. It is delicious served with fresh pasta and seared shrimp or diver seallops with a dusting of fresh grated parmesan.

Ingredients

2 C cilantro leaves and stems rough chopped

1 C packed basil leaves

3 garlic cloves

1/2 C cashews unsalted

1/2 to 2/3 C olive oil

1/3 C Parmesan cheese shredded

1/4 to 1/2 t salt

Directions

Makes about 2 cups

Place cilantro, basil, garlic, and cashews in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Scrape down sides of bowl then add Parmesan.

Turn on processor and slowly add in olive oil until pesto is smooth.

Add salt and pulse to combine.

Ready to serve or freeze¹.

Note:

¹You can freeze the pesto in ice cream trays and transfer to air tight plastic bags or  freeze it small plastic containers that have air tight lids.

 

Greek Salad Dressing

A traditional Greek dressing made with fresh herbs. Serve on a Greek salad or any salad, pasta, or dress a cold vegetable plate.

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves minced

2 t basil minced

1 T oregano minced

2 t Dijon mustard

3 T lemon juice

5 T red wine vinegar

1 t salt

1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Tools and ingredients

In a small bowl, combine together the garlic, herbs, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Then slowly add the olive oil whisking until the dressing is emulsified. Transfer to salad dressing container.

Note:

I used fresh herbs and lemon from my garden for the dressing. I used about three more times fresh herbs than I would dried herbs.

 

White Balsamic Vinegairette

An easy to make balsamic vinegairette that is light but sweet.

Ingredients

2 T white balsamic vinegar

1 t honey

1 T dijon mustard

1 T shallot chopped or 2 cloves garlic minced

1/2 t salt

2 t  lemon juice

Pinch of black pepper

1/3 C olive oil

Directions

Tools and ingredients

In small bowl add all ingredients except olive oil and mix. Add oil in steady stream while whisking vigorously to emulsify dressing.  Transfer to salad dressing container.

 

 

Champagne Vinaigrette

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A light, delicate salad dressing that lets the salad ingredients shine.

Ingredients

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, good quality

2 T champagne vinegar, good quality

1 T honey

1 1/2 T shallot minced

1/2 t Dijon mustard

1/2 t salt

Pich of pepper

Directions

Tools and Ingredients

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, shallot, honey, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified.

The dressing will have a consistent appearance, and the oil will not be seaprated and floating on top.

Serve over beet and feta salad (my favorite) or a green salad.

Note

I order a beet feta salad at my favorite Italian restaurant, and it is dressed in a champagne vinaigrette.  I have had this salad a couple of times and based on what I tasted,  this recipe is my attempt to recreate what I was served.  We also use this dressing on our fruit salads and spring green salads.

Black Bean Corn Salsa

An easy to make salsa that is big in flavor and colorful. Fresh tomatoes, corn, and chilis add crunch  Great served with Mexican favorites.  We also make a fresh-mex pizza with this salsa.

Ingredients

3/4 C black beans drained and washed

3/4 C corn*

1 roma tomato deseeded and diced

1 shallot diced

2 serrano chilis diced*

1/2 C cilantro chopped

1/2 lime juiced

1/8 t cumin

Salt

Directions

Mix all ingredients in small bowl and season to taste with salt. Can be used immdeiately but tastes better if marinated 4 hours to overnight. Serve as side, a dip, or use in burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and Southwest Pizza.

Note

*I use fresh roasted corn. Canned or frozen corn can be substituted. I also use fresh tomatoes and chilis.

*I am finding that sometimes the chilis I buy have no heat, that includes poblanos, jalapeños, and serranos. They taste like a green pepper, disappointing. I add cayenne when this happens.

Marjoram Compound Butter

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Compound Butter

Compound butters mix herbs, seasonings, butter and perhaps olive oil to create a flavor-packed finishing butter.  We use compound butter as a way to use up extra herbs from cooking.

Most compound butters appear to call for ratios of 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs to 8 ounces of butter.  In some cooking, the higher fat content works. But as a finishing butter, the extra fat can feel heavy.

We use a much smaller ratio of herbs to butter to get stronger flavors–in the recipe below, a ratio of nearly 1-to-1.  We use this compound butter to finish many dishes such as pan roasted prawns.  The only watchout with the recipe below is to not leave the butter in too long or the herbs will burn.

Ingredients

2-3 T marjoram leaves

2 1/2 T butter

Directions

Remove leaves from stems and rough chop. Cube butter into 1/4 inch squares.  This pre-work yields better distribution of hearbs across the compound butter after mixing.

Place leaves in food processor and pulse 3 to 4 times.  The leaves should be finely chopped.

Add butter and blend for about 30 seconds. Using spatula, scrape butter herb mixture from sides of food proessor bowl and mix for another 20-30 seconds.

Remove compound butter from bowl and place onto plastic sheet.  Role butter into a log. Use or refrigerate for further use.  The pictures below display the final mixing and forming of compound butter into a log.  The picuter is shiny due to the plastic and not strangly colored butter.

Roasted Salsa Verde

Tomatillos are an incredibly veratile ingredient that really stand out in a simple salsa verde.  In this recipe, the tomatillos are roasted anf then pureed into a wonderful tangy sauce.  This recipe can also be made without the roasting, but the sauce should be eaten same day.  This salsa can be combined with avocado for a wonderful salad dressing or dip.

 

What is a tomatillo?

Tomatillo is a tart fruit that is native to Mexico.  It is bright green in colot and grows within a husk. When I was growing up, we had a gooseberry plant with produced tangy (mouth-puckering) berries.  The gooseberry plant is related the tomatillo.

Ingredients

6 tomatillos

3 garlic cloves

2 Serrano chilis

3 T cilantro

1 shallot diced

Directions

Husk, wash, and slice tomatillos.  Fresh tomatillos can feel sticky to the touch, but the stickiness washes off.

Remove skin from garlic cloves. No need to chop.

Place cut tomatillos and garlic cloves in non stick skillet over medium high heat. Cook about 7-9 minutes until browned and then turn them over and repeat step.

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Once browned and softened put ingredients into a food processor. Add diced serranos (or other peppers) and blend.

If using immediately, add cilantro and onion. If storing, add cilantro and onion when ready to use.  Cilantro or onion can be fresh choped and added or pureed in a belnder.

Notes

We add serrano peppers for some extra heat, but other peppers can be used for more heat, or peppers can be avoided for no heat.

Peppers such as poblanos can also be roasted and added to the sauce.  This changes the sauce flavor to a more earthy, savory and less fruity sauce.

Garlic Flavored Croutons

An easy way to use leftover bread and enjoy croutons packed with flavor. Use them on salads or a replacement for panko or bread crumbs. Delightful as a snack.

See our Familia Recipes Garlic Croutons Lesson on making this simple recipe with amazing flavor.

Ingredients

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Left Over Bread*

Olive Oil

Garlic cloves

Directions 

Peel the garlic clove with a knife. Cut bread into cubes.(If bread is not dry, place in oven for 4 minutes, remove and cool.)

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Apply garlic to all surfaces by rubbing it on the surfaces. Make take more than one clove. Using pastry brush, paint the sides lightly with olive oil. Place in oven and bake for about 4 minutes per side.Remove and cool on baking rack.

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Note:

*I had leftover olive bread this week.

We prefer rustic or artisan breads. They make flavorful croutons for salads. When I need panko or bread crumbs, I place my croutons in a plastic bag and easily crush them to desired fineness.

Balsamic & Walnut Oil Dressing

Balsamic & Walnut Oil Dressing is great for salads with blue cheese.  Walnut oil is very distinctive and can be blended with other oils to reduce its intensity.

Ingredients

1/4 C balsamic vinegar

1/2 C walnut oil

2 t sweet mustard *

1 t garlic minced

Salt and pepper

1/4 t red pepper flakes (optional) **

Directions

Mince garlic or use a garlic press.

Add ingredients to a salad dressing shaker and shake until emulsified. Taste to adjust seasoning.  Oil can also be whisked in a deep bowl.

Note

* If sweet mustard is not available, mix 2 tsp of Dijon mustard and 2 t sugar together,

** I like a little heat in my dressings, so I add pepper flakes.

Finding a Good Balsamic

Balsamic vinegars vary in degree of acidity and sweetness.  Real balsamic is always barrel-aged.  Authentic balsamic comes from the Modena region of Italy and may be very expensive..  However, it is possible to find affordable and great tasting balsamic.

I chose a moderate-priced balsamic for use in this salad dressing.  I either select my balsamic dressings by tasting before buying or by using a resource such as Consumer Reports or Cooks Illustrated.  Italian groceries and stores such as Williams Sonoma often have tastings, and it’s worth seeking out tastings to build the palate for different types of balsamic.  Using the Internet for recent reviews such as New York Times, Bon Appetit, Americas Test Kitchen, or Amazon also works.  If you are in California one country, many   wineries also feature balsamics.  Coscto also has a good balsamic under their Kirkland label.

Finally, there are traditional and white balsamic vinegars.  White balsamic is lighter and has a slight sweetness.  Happy hunting for your favorites.

Lemon Garlic Dressing

Garlic-infused lemon salad dressing is robust and excellent for any bold salad.  The strong flavor balances nicely against the light texture of this dressing.

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil

5 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/8 cup or 2 Tbsp Parmesan Reggiani, finely grated

1/3 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed from 1 -3 lemons

Salt and pepper

Directions

Finely mince garlic.  The garlic should be fine enough it blends into the dressing.  If desired, use a garlic press to crush garlic prior to mincing to achieve a fine texture.

Squeeze juice from lemons to get 1/3 cup.  The amount of juice and acidity will vary.  Taste the lemon juice to determine if slightly more or less lemon juice will be needed.  For highly acidic lemons, add part of the lemon juice at the beginning to make dressing.  Add the remainder to get desired lemon flavor.

Place oil and lemon juice in a salad dressing shaker or bowl where dressing can be whisked.

Add minced garlic and cheese.

Add pinch of salt and ground black pepper.  Shake or whisk dressing until well mixed — if not, the garlic and cheese may settle as seen in the picture below.

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Notes

Use the best olive oil available for salad dressings. An extra virgin olive oil that is fruity and peppery is my favorite for salad dressings and dipping.

I buy a Parmesan-Reggiano that is cut from a wheel. I bought pre-packaged Parmesan that was expensive and was disappointed. It made a big difference in the flavor balance of the salad dressing and the taste of the finished dressed salad.