Presto, Pesto

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Presto, Pesto! The garden went wild this year with an abundance of basil. I mean, you can only dry so much. Granted, I happen to like fresh basil with anything tomato, but not everyone agrees. So, this time I threw together a couple cups of basil leaves with my favorite pairing: parmesan cheese! Pesto freezes well, so it can be stored in an airtight container, or initially, ice cube trays. Once it’s frozen, transfer the cubes to airtight freezer bags for later on. Always defrost in advance. Pesto tastes best served at room temperature or only slightly warmed. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. Mix it into salad dressing or guacamole; the olive oil creates a smooth texture. Add a dollop to your evening vegetables, pasta noodles, or meat dish. Get creative and go Pesto!

PRESTO, PESTO

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup pine nuts, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a mini chopper, combine basil leaves, chopped garlic, pine nuts, sea salt, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Pulse to blend; approximately 30 seconds. Slowly pour the olive oil into the top of the lid while the blade is on the Low setting. The olive oil will drizzle through the little hole for smooth results. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Stir. Transfer pesto to a covered jar. Store in the refrigerator.

Mini Caprese Skewers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Mini Caprese Skewers! Can you tell I’m trying to squeeze as many foods in my picnic basket as possible before Summer ends? For a quick veggie burst of flavor, these off-the-vine cherry tomatoes are a match made in heaven when paired with fresh basil. It doesn’t hurt that the marinated mozzarella balls are skewered together for lovely presentation. It’s all about the finger food.

MINI CAPRESE SKEWERS

Ingredients:

12 mozzarella balls

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon Italian spice blend

24 fresh basil leaves

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

12 black olives, sliced

Olive oil for drizzling

Instructions:

In a shallow bowl, place mozzarella balls. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with Italian spices. Toss cheese to cover well. Beginning with a cherry tomato half, thread tomato on a toothpick or skewer. Then place one basil leaf, followed by a marinated mozzarella ball. Finish with the remaining cherry tomato and another basil leaf. Repeat with remaining cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella balls. Thread black olives on separate skewers. Drizzle olive oil mixture over finished caprese skewers. Transport in jars or covered containers.

Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup. Here we go again with another cold soup option. It may sound like an oxymoron, but actually if I called it a Cucumber Smoothie, would you drink it? Perhaps. Tell me this, how many times have you been served ice water with a cucumber slice in it? Or grabbed a hydrating plant-based juice beverage at the corner convenience store? Get the picture. It’s all about the perspective. If you find it challenging to eat cold soup, or just plain WRONG…by all means, pour it into a glass and slurp away. To quote William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Carry on.

YESTERDAY’S CUCUMBER SOUP

Ingredients:

4 mini seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 green onion, chopped

2-3 basil leaves

1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon lime juice

Diced apple, tomato bits, chive snips, and basil leaf for garnish

Instructions:

Reserving garnish to taste, place all remaining I ngredients in a blender. Alternate between Pulse and Liquify settings to purée until smooth. Transfer cucumber mixture into a covered container. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight until chilled. Divide into shallow bowls. Serve garnished with apple chunks, diced tomatoes, chopped chives, and basil.

Yellow Squash Bolognese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Yellow Squash Bolognese! I’m at it again. The Spiralizer has become my new best friend. This time the star attraction is yellow squash noodles in place of pasta. But first, prepare the Bolognese sauce. It not only takes a bit longer, but it will turn your kitchen into an aromatic sensation. The rich Italian Bolognese sauce is a time-honored tradition that can take up to four hours to duplicate. This version, however, requires less than an hour from start to finish. I knew you would appreciate that fact.

YELLOW SQUASH BOLOGNESE

Ingredients for Bolognese Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, diced

4 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 pound ground Sweet Italian sausage

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

8 basil leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:

In an iron skillet over medium heat, combine olive oil, Vidalia onion, and minced garlic. Add celery, carrot, and mushrooms. Sauté 5 minutes. Increase heat and add ground Italian sausage, fennel, marjoram, and oregano. Cook until meat is no longer pink and appears crumbled, approximately 10 minutes. Lower heat and add tomatoes, parsley, basil, sea salt, and pepper. Cook until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 30 minutes.

Ingredients for Noodles:

1-2 yellow squash

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

Spiralize the yellow squash into noodles. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add yellow squash noodles; toss gently. Sauté no longer than two minutes. The noodles will turn soft, but not translucent. Serve with Bolognese sauce garnished with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

X-traordinary Pesto Pepperoni Pita

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: X-traordinary Pesto Pepperoni Pita! When there’s nothing in the house for lunch, take stock of leftovers in your refrigerator. Transform that last pita pocket into a personal pizza with basil pesto, sliced pepperoni, a dollop of tomato sauce, and a handful of mozzarella cheese. That’s what I did. Suddenly, it’s an appealing alternative to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

X-TRAORDINARY PESTO PEPPERONI PITA

Ingredients:

1 pita bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

2 tablespoons basil pesto

3-5 slices pepperoni

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon black olives

1 teaspoon pimento

Instructions:

Spread olive oil evenly over one side of pita bread. Warm pita bread in an iron skillet over medium heat for one minute. Press to flatten. Next build the pizza. Spread with tomato sauce and basil pesto. Layer pepperoni over sauces. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Top with black olives and pimento. Reduce heat to low. Cover skillet to allow cheese to melt. For a crispy crust, remove lid and raise the heat back to medium. Do not burn. Serve whole with salad greens.

Quattro Formaggio Ravioli

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Quattro Formaggio Ravioli! Four different cheeses in one dish make me think I died and went to Heaven. Or at the very least, I did something right. Let me share with you a little secret. It doesn’t matter that you use store-bought ravioli because it’s the cheese sauce you practically slurp with a spoon!

QUATTRO FORMAGGIO RAVIOLI

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Bleu cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup butter

1 cup light cream

4 ounces Neufchâtel cream cheese

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

Fresh Basil

1 cup marinara sauce

Stuffed Ravioli, any variety

Instructions:

Combine Bleu, Parmesan, and Mozzarella cheeses in a bowl. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt butter. Do not scorch. Add light cream and bring to boil. Slowly add Neufchâtel cream cheese in chunks, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to medium-low. Gradually add remaining cheeses, stirring constantly until smooth. While stirring return to boil for one minute. Add herbs de Provence. Reduce to simmer. Warm marinara sauce in another pan or microwave-safe dish. Cook ravioli as directed on package. Drain ravioli and divide into portions. Spoon cheese sauce and marinara sauce over cooked ravioli. Sprinkle with extra cheese. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve with garlic bread drizzled with olive oil.

Zillions of Zoodles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Zillions of Zoodles! Anyone who owns a KitchenAid stand mixer will tell you they know all about the Spiralizer. I know it may sound like a super-hero with super-powers, but in many ways it is….for foodies, in my opinion. A Spiralizer is an attachment that can peel and slice vegetables into a uniform spiral making the vegetables look like noodles. This is a great tool for those going Paleo or living gluten-free. In mere seconds any vegetable, like zucchini, can be transformed into an abundant bowl of Zoodles. Think about the options for yellow squash, cucumbers, carrots, and potatoes! Move over, Pasta, there’s a new sheriff in town!

ZILLIONS OF ZOODLES

Ingredients:

1-2 zucchini, spiralized

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces shrimp, precooked

1/8 teaspoon dill weed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup Greek olive mix

3 tablespoons basil pesto

Fresh parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

Spiralize zucchini zoodles into a bowl. Discard spiral stems. In a large skillet, heat olive oil to sauté shrimp sprinkled with dill weed, sea salt, and red pepper flakes. Remove from pan; keep drippings. Reduce heat and toss zoodles in reserve oil to coat. Add sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Stir in basil pesto. Toss gently. Heat zoodles no longer than 3-4 minutes. Remove and serve with sautéed shrimp. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Whitewashed Egg Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Whitewashed Egg Pizza! Putting an egg on pizza? Seriously? I know this might sound a little weird, but take a baby step out of your comfort zone. The first time I saw fried egg on a pizza, I was visiting the south of France. It’s really quite common there. In fact, you’re the fortunate one if you get the egg on your slice at a takeaway stand. You really must give it a whirl. I find as long as I bake in stages, the end result is a crispy crust with an egg over easy. Just imagine how fun it will be to pop the egg yolk and spread it around so everyone gets a taste.

WHITEWASHED EGG PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 naan

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

4 tablespoons chunky pasta sauce

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

3/4 cup gruyere cheese, shredded

2 onion rings, nested

1 egg

1/3 cup mozzarella cheese

2-3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Dash of pepper

2 tablespoons fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Set oven rack on middle setting. (For the last step you will raise it up one setting.) Rub olive oil over surface of naan. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spoon chunky pasta sauce evenly over naan. Use 1 tablespoon fresh basil over sauce. Sprinkle with gruyere cheese. Bake 5 minutes until slightly melted. Remove from oven. Raise the oven rack up one setting. Place the nested onions on a flat portion of the crust. Gently crack an egg into the center of the onion rings. Distribute the mozzarella cheese over the pizza, excluding the egg area. Dollop the Greek yogurt over the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 5 minutes longer or until egg is set. If the crust becomes too brown, cover it with foil, leaving the egg portion uncovered. When cheese is gooey and egg is cooked, remove from oven. Garnish with fresh basil.

Onion Basil Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Onion Basil Bread! You have got to try this! Tasty Vidalia onions are unbelievably sweet and mild. They are grown locally in the state of Georgia, yet recognized all over the world. You begin to see them pop up in the neighborhood markets from mid-April to mid-June. Their unique fresh taste makes them an outstanding option for eating raw or cooking in recipes. Packed with nutritional value makes them a bonus. Become a believer; discover why Vidalia onions are all the buzz!

ONION BASIL BREAD

Ingredients:

Loaf of sesame artisan bread

1/3 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 large size Vidalia onion, sliced

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 cup Jarlsberg cheese, shredded

2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the bread in half, then length-wise, and quarters. Dredge the cut sides in 1/3 cup olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, marjoram, and sea salt. In a skillet on medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion slices and seasoned salt. Cover and cook one minute. Stir, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 12 minutes. Watch carefully to reduce scorching and stir if necessary. Meanwhile divide Jarlsberg cheese equally over the face of the bread. Top with caramelized onions. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil.