Category Archives: Basil

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese


In an effort to eat a little healthier, I started making a few recipes from Cooking Light. But I didn’t want to sacrifice taste for low fat and calories. So I decided that I would like to fix some recipes with a little zip and when I saw the hot turkey sausage in the ingredients, this was the winner. The tomato and basil really give this recipe a fresh taste. This simple and delicious recipe is purely a comfort food. And a bonus is that it makes a ton!

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese

1 (1-pound) package uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta)
1 pound hot turkey Italian sausage links
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Repeat layers. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
CALORIES 413 (26% from fat); FAT 11.8g (sat 6.1g,mono 2.2g,poly 1g); IRON 7.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 265mg; CARBOHYDRATE 53g; SODIUM 941mg; PROTEIN 24.1g; FIBER 4.5g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2003


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Filed under Basil, Cheese, Cooking Light, Dinner, Entrees, Garlic, Herbs, Hot Italian Sausage, Mozzarella, Onions, Parmesan, Pasta, Pork

French-Style Shrimp Salad

French-Style Shrimp Salad
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

The day I made this salad I had been thinking about a shrimp salad all day. I decided to start looking through some old  Cooking Light magazines and this was the recipe that I came up with. And boy oh boy did I make the right choice – it was fantastic. The salad dressing is very refreshing and garlic-y. I did leave out the olives because I’m not really a fan of olives. I also substituted asparagus for the haricots verts because I had asparagus left over from the night before.

This recipe makes a HUGE salad! It would be great for a brunch, lunch, or dinner…yummy anytime!

French-Style Shrimp Salad

Assemble this salad in individual servings, or arrange it on a platter and serve family style. Niçoise olives are a small purplish-black variety; you can substitute kalamata. Serve with crusty French bread. This dish is a twist on the classic salade niçoise with tuna.

6 garlic cloves, halved
2/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
12 small red potatoes (about 3/4 pound)
1/2 pound haricots verts
Cooking spray
5 cups gourmet salad greens
4 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
3 medium tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
3 hard-cooked large eggs, each sliced into quarters
1/2 cup niçoise olives
2 tablespoons capers

To prepare vinaigrette, drop garlic through food chute with food processor on; process until minced. Add broth and next 7 ingredients (through black pepper); process until well blended.

To prepare salad, combine 2 tablespoons vinaigrette and shrimp in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator for 20 minutes, turning bag occasionally to coat shrimp. Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 8 minutes. Add haricots verts to pan; cook 2 additional minutes or until haricots verts are crisp-tender and potatoes are tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Set aside.

Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove the shrimp from bag, and discard marinade. Add shrimp to pan. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until the shrimp are done.

Combine potatoes, haricots verts, greens, lettuce, bell pepper, tomatoes, and artichokes in a large bowl. Add remaining vinaigrette, tossing gently to coat. Place lettuce mixture on a serving platter. Arrange shrimp and eggs over lettuce mixture; sprinkle with olives and capers. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 2 1/2 cups salad mixture, 5 ounces shrimp, 2 pieces egg, 4 teaspoons olives, and 1 teaspoon capers)
CALORIES 366 (30% from fat); FAT 12g (sat 2.2g,mono 6g,poly 2.2g); IRON 6.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 336mg; CALCIUM 179mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.1g; SODIUM 798mg; PROTEIN 39.3g; FIBER 6.4g
Cooking Light, JULY 2006

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Filed under Artichoke hearts, Basil, Cooking Light, Dinner, Dressing, Entrees, Garlic, Haricots verts, Herbs, Italian parsley, Lemons, Lettuce, Potato, Salad, Shrimp, Tarragon, Tomatoes

Tomato Napoleon

Caprese salad is one of my favorite summer salads. It are very light and refreshing, yet simple and delicious. Perfect for a summer dinner out on the back porch. Tomato Napolean takes the classic Caprese and gives it a little twist – fresh tomato dressing. I know it sounds silly to dress a tomato salad with a tomato dressing, but it is to die for. The first time I made this recipe was one of my cooking classes I did with Andrew, Pierce, and Charlotte. The kids did a great job making the dressing and they loved the presentation.

Please note the dressing needs to made about 8 hours before you are going to serve it. (We only let it sit for a couple of hours and it turned out just fine.)

Tomato Napoleon

8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into slices
3/4 C Fresh Tomato Dressing
3 large tomatoes, each cut into 4 slices
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
24 basil leaves, shredded

Place cheese in a shallow dish. Pour Fresh Tomato Dressing over cheese; cover and chill 1 hour. Remove cheese slices, reserving Tomato Dressing marinade.

Sprinkle tomato slices evenly with salt and pepper.

Place 1 tomato slice on each of 4 salad plates; top each with 1 cheese slice and 2 shredded basil leaves. Repeat with remaining tomato slices, cheese, and basil. Drizzle evenly with reserved tomato dressing.

Yield: 4 servings
Prep: 30 mins
Chill: 1 hr

Fresh Tomato Dressing

1 C olive oil
1/2 C balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 Tbl sugar
1 Tbl salt
1 tsp pepper
4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 Tbl fresh thyme leaves or 2 thyme sprigs

Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a large glass bowl. Stir in tomato and fresh thyme. Cover and let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Yield: 4 Cups
Prep: 20 mins
Stand: 1 hr
Chill: 8 hrs

Note: Dressing may be stored in refrigerator up to 1 month. Stir additional fresh chopped tomatoes into dressing after each use.

Southern Living, August 2000


Filed under Appetizers, Balsamic, Basil, Cheese, Herbs, Mozzarella, Salad, Thyme, Tomatoes, Vinegar

Basil Parmesan Vinaigrette

Tossed salad
Basil Parmesan vinaigrette
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

I have been making my own salad dressings for a couple years now. There are a couple of reason: I really enjoy flavor; I can control what ingredients I use; and I like the basics of making a dressing or vinaigrette. I try to stay on the lighter side for dressing, but this one is a smidge bad because of the Parmesan cheese. One good thing is you don’t have to drown your salad to get a lot of flavor. This vinaigrette is loaded with flavor. I have been working on this most of the summer because I grew a bunch of basil on the back porch and I love fresh vegetables in the summer. I serve this with a basic chopped salad topped with shredded Parmesan cheese. I hope you all enjoy it!

Basil Parmesan Vinaigrette

½ C fresh basil leaves
1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
¼ – ½ C extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper

In a blender, add basil, Parmesan cheese, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Process at low speed for 30 seconds to one minute. While the blender is running, begin to stream in olive oil. Switch the speed to high and blend until smooth and serve.

If you are not serving this immediately, keep refrigerated and before serving whisk the vinaigrette to incorporate any oil that may have separated.

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Filed under Basil, Cheese, Dressing, Garlic, Parmesan, Salad, Veggies

Chicken Quesadillas with blue cheese

Chicken Quesadillas with blue cheese

Caramelized onions are one of my new favorite foods. It doesn’t matter what kind of onion it is, it always taste better caramelized. These quesadillas were very easy to make and fully of flavor. I did make one with sharp cheddar cheese just in case the blue cheese was too over powering, but the blue cheese was wonderful. (Honestly the cheddar one was very bland.) I also was able to use fresh rosemary and thyme out of my back porch herb garden (and basil of for the caprese salad on the side). Yum!

The only change I made was I used boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of thighs.

Chicken Quesadillas with Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onions

One picky taster—a self-described onion hater—said she never realized how rich and sweet onions could taste when they are caramelized.

8 skinless chicken thighs on the bone (about 4 pounds)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Pinch of sugar
Freshly ground pepper
Twelve 6-inch flour tortillas
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)

In a bowl, toss the chicken thighs with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the rosemary, garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Cover and let the chicken stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sliced onions, thyme, vinegar, sugar and a generous pinch of pepper. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 30 minutes; add a few tablespoons of water from time to time to keep the onions moist.

Light a grill and preheat the oven to 500°. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and grill over moderately high heat, turning, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Let the chicken cool, then pull the meat from the bones and tear into shreds.

Arrange 6 tortillas on 2 large baking sheets. Spoon the onions onto the tortillas and top with the shredded chicken and blue cheese. Cover with the remaining tortillas, pressing to flatten slightly. Bake for about 6 minutes, until the quesadillas are golden and toasted. Transfer the quesadillas to plates and serve right away.

MAKE AHEAD The unbaked quesadillas can be tightly wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight.

WINE Zinfandel’s rich fruitiness makes it a go-to wine for much of Mexican cuisine, since it can balance spiciness as well as stand up to bold flavors. (This holds true even when an interloper ingredient like blue cheese is in the picture.) One great region for Zinfandel is Sonoma’s warm Dry Creek Valley, as evidenced by wines like the plummy 2004 Ferrari-Carano and the chocolate-inflected 2005 Dashe Dry Creek Valley.


Food and Wine , August 2007

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Filed under Appetizers, Basil, Blue Cheese, Chicken, Entrees, Food & Wine, Grilling, Herbs, Rosemary, Sandwiches, Thyme

Chicken and bacon roll-up

chicken and bacon roll-up – unrolled

Chicken and bacon roll-up
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

Talk about a great Saturday afternoon lunch sandwich – this is it! It was so incredibly easy to make. The only thing that took any time was cooking the bacon.

I did make a few changes to the recipe. I used fresh basil instead of tarragon for two reasons – 1. I love the flavor that basil gives food; it’s cool, clean, and refreshing. And 2. I grow tons of it on my back porch. I also added about 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the mayonnaise mixture.

Chicken and Bacon Roll-ups
Cooking Light, July 07
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 (2.8-ounce) whole wheat flatbreads (such as Flatout)
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped tomato (about 2 medium)
4 center-cut bacon slices, cooked and drained
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast

Combine reduced-fat mayonnaise, minced tarragon, and fresh lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread 2 tablespoons mayonnaise mixture over each flatbread. Top each with 1/2 cup shredded romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup chopped tomato, 1 bacon slice, crumbled, and 1/2 cup chicken. Roll up.

Yield 4 servings (serving size: 1 wrap)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 433(27% from fat); FAT 13g (sat 2.6g,mono 2g,poly 0.9g); PROTEIN 34.8g; CHOLESTEROL 66mg; CALCIUM 49mg; SODIUM 925mg; FIBER 5.5g; IRON 3.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 44.2g

Barbara Lauterbach , Cooking Light, JULY 2007

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Filed under Bacon, Basil, Chicken, Cooking Light, Lettuce, Sandwiches, Tarragon, Tomatoes

Farmer’s Pasta

Farmer’s Pasta
Originally uploaded by jenianddean.

I fell in love with recipe about a year ago. It is the prefect dish to take to a covered dish dinner, or to a friend who just had a baby. It is a very comforting dish – warm and gooey.

One change I made was I didn’t use whole milk. I used half skim and half 2% milk. You can find pancetta at most deli counter now, but if you can you can always use bacon.

Farmer’s Pasta
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Butter, for greasing pan
2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, chopped
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups whole milk
8 ounces Fontina cheese, grated
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
6 ounces provolone cheese, grated
1 pound rigatoni pasta
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh coarse bread crumbs
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a small bowl. Pour off all but 1/4 cup of the pan drippings (if necessary, add more oil to the pan drippings to equal 1/4 cup total). Reduce the heat to medium. Add 3 teaspoons of garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in all the Fontina, mozzarella, Parmesan, and provolone cheeses.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook until almost al dente, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. (The pasta will continue cooking in the oven.) Drain pasta and add directly into the cheese. Add the parsley, basil, and pancetta and toss to coat. Season the pasta mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared dish.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Add the bread crumbs and toss to coat. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the pasta mixture. Drizzle the top with extra-virgin olive oil and bake until the sauce bubbles and the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

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Filed under Basil, Entrees, Fontina, Garlic, Giada De Laurentiis, Italian parsley, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pasta, Provolone