Category: basil

A Summer Toast (Tomato Basil Canapes)

Hats off (or, if you’re fair skinned like me, hats on) to my very favorite friend, Summertime. This summer, I’ve got my health in mind more than ever. So far, I’ve begun the season on a good foot. I’m on my way to achieving some fitness goals (I’m now able to run almost 2k without stopping!) Also, seeing as the (typical Montreal) bipolar weather hasn’t allowed me to obtain much of a tan, I’ve decided to embrace my paleness and accept that it’s healthier, and that I’m avoiding skin cancer. I say that as I type this in the sunshine. With SPF… 8… Moving on!

Most importantly, I’ve been cooking and eating healthier (minus the almost nightly trips to the ice cream shop… what? It’s summer, I’m allowed. Stop judging. You’re jealous.)  I’ve always found that eating light in the summer is easy, because of the abundance of fresh produce, and the absence of the desire to cook anything that involves a hot oven. Goodbye are the days of heavy potato stews, creamy casseroles and hefty roasts. Hello to the days of garden salads, fresh corn and fruit parfaits.

Now that I’ve embraced cooking for one, I actually enjoy making myself something fancy looking from time to time. For instance, on this lovely sunny afternoon, I was inspired by the basil plant growing wildly in my garden. Today is the perfect day for a basil toast, I thought to myself. While at first I had the intention of chopping the fresh basil and sprinkling it over some cold tomato sauce, I decided it would be even more ‘summery’ of me to chop up some fresh cherry tomatoes.
And well, toast just isn’t toast without a little bit of cheese now is it?

3 minutes later, I had this masterpiece.
20 minutes later, I ate it. (Taking pictures is a process!)

Tomato Basil Toasts with Cheese 
& Grenadine Lemonade  
an original recipe by allison sklar 

what you’ll need 
note: multiply quantities by the number of people you’ll be serving.

toasts:
1 medium slice rye bread
4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 slice Jarlsberg (or swiss) cheese
(would also work nicely with goat’s cheese
1 large basil leaf, chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp light olive oil

lemonade:
1 cup club soda or sparkling water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grenadine
ice cubes

how to do it

Toasts: Place cheese on bread, top with tomatoes. Place in toaster oven for 3 minutes, or until cheese melts and tomatoes begin to wilt. Remove, and sprinkle basil leaves on top. Drizzle with oil & vinegar. Would also work well in conventional oven, on broiler setting for 1 to 2 minutes.
Note: this recipe is not intended for use in the microwave.

Lemonade: Mix all ingredients and enjoy immediately. Preferably under the sun.

Superfood, Superfast.

However you pronounce it, Quinoa is one little superfood that packs a nutritious punch.

If you’re a foodie, you’re probably familiar with the grain-like substance, often served warm in place of rice, or tossed into a chilled side salad. A little bit fluffier than couscous and slightly larger than millet, quinoa is surprisingly not considered a grain. Quinoa is in the spinach family, which might explain it’s nutritional power: quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all ten essential amino acids – and, it is the only known plant source that does so. This makes it an excellent choice for those of us who follow a meatless diet. Quinoa is gluten-free, low in calories and is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, manganese, riboflavin (vitamin B2), folate, zinc and dietary fibre.

Quinoa can be found in most supermarkets either in the organic/health food section or alongside the grains and rice (usually next to the couscous.) If you’re not in a prime grocery location, you can always buy quinoa online. 

What I like most about quinoa is the pseudograin’s versatility: quinoa has a rather neutral flavor on it’s own, which offers up the opportuntiy to toss it with whatever your tastebuds are craving, or whatever you have lying around in your fridge! You can serve it sweetned topped with cinnamon and raisins (think rice pudding), spiced up with chili or curry, robust with pesto, or refreshing and light with lemon, rosemary and dill. I made a slightly creamy version using some leftover sour cream and goat cheese and I added some extra colour and crunch with steamed broccoli and chopped fresh basil. So, what are you waiting for? Get it onto your plate today!


Quinoa with Goat Cheese, Basil & Broccoli

What you’ll need:
1 cup uncooked white quinoa
1½ cups water
1 tsp butter
1 cup broccoli florets
½ cup crumbled goat cheese (or more, to taste)
1/3 cup sour cream (low fat or 5% will do the trick)
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

How to do it:
In a fine sieve, rinse quinoa well under cool water (this step is unnecessary if you’ve purchased already-rinsed quinoa). Combine quinoa, water and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med/low and cover saucepan until quinoa expands and water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). While quinoa is cooking, steam broccoli on the stovetop or in the microwave. (To steam broccoi in microwave, place in a shallow dish with 1/4 cup water and heat on high for 1 minute.)
Toss quinoa with sour cream, cheese, basil and broccoli. Garnish with extra basil and cracked black peppercorns. Serve and enjoy!