Fresh Basil Pesto

Every year we plant basil and every year the plants do so well that we can't use it up fast enough. What to do? Basil pesto, of course! Here is a simple recipe. Note that pesto is always made to taste, based on the ingredients at hand. So adjust the ingredients to your taste. Most pesto recipes call for Parmesan cheese, we often use Romano which has a stronger flavor. Most basil pesto recipes call for pine nuts but you can easily substitute walnuts.

If you want to freeze the pesto you make, omit the cheese (it doesn't freeze well). Line an ice cube tray with plastic wrap, and fill each pocket with the pesto. Freeze and then remove from the ice tray and store in a freezer bag. When you want to use, defrost and add in grated Parmesan or Romano.

- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2) Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.

Yield: Makes 1 cup.

Beet and Beet Green Gratin

This gratin is good hot or cold.

- 2 bunches (6 to 8) beets (preferably one red and one golden or chioggia), with the greens (about 2 pounds beets and 3/4 pound greens)
- Salt to taste
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup chopped chives (1 bunch)
- 2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
- Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Roast the beets. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then cut the ends off, slip off the skins and slice across the equator.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you stem and wash the greens in two changes of water. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the pot of water comes to a boil, salt generously and blanch the greens for about one minute. (You can also steam the greens until they wilt, one to two minutes). Transfer the greens to the ice water, then drain and squeeze out the water. Chop coarsely.
3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet, and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring, until fragrant. Stir in the greens. Stir together for a minute, season the greens with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish with olive oil. Beat together eggs, salt (about 1/2 teaspoon), pepper, milk, chives and the Gruyère. Gently stir in the greens and beets. Scrape into the gratin dish. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until set and lightly browned on the top. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: I usually roast the beets and blanch the greens as soon as I get them home from the market. They will keep in covered bowls in the refrigerator for three or four days. The gratin is then quickly assembled. The baked gratin can be made a day ahead and reheated. Leftovers keep for four or five days and can be cut into small squares or diamonds for terrific hors d’oeuvres or snacks.

Nutritional information per serving: 167 calories; 8 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 118 milligrams cholesterol; 14 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 290 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during cooking); 10 grams protein

Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at

Lime Coleslaw

1/3 cup prepared ranch dressing
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (10-ounce) package coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage with carrots, if desired)
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, whisk together ranch dressing, sour cream, sugar, zest, lime juice, and salt. Add coleslaw mix and remaining ingredients to bowl; tossing to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cabbage Sloppy Joes

2T olive oil
2T apple cider vinegar
2T yellow mustard
1 cup ketchup
1 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 medium onion
1 each red and yellow bell pepper thinly sliced
bag of coleslaw mix (or half head med. cabbage shredded)

Mix liquids and set aside. Heat oil in large skillet. Add onions and peppers and saute. Stir in cabbage and cook until slightly wilted. Mix in liquids and stir to combine well. Serve on a bun.

Grandma Mildred's Salad Dressing
from Mildred La Verne Kraner Dennison Wyrick

2 eggs or 4 yolks
3 Tablespoons flour
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/3 C. vinegar
2/3 C. water
2 T. lemon juice

Beat eggs, flour, sugar and seasonings. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook slowly and stir constantly until thick and creamy mixture forms.
Beat well.
Pour into a glass jar rinsed of cold water.

Zucchini Pancakes

Easy to make and very low in calories, these vegetable pancakes make a fine lunch or brunch dish.
6 medium zucchini
3/4 tsp. salt
1 T lemon juice
2 scallions, finely chopped
4 T fresh basil, finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T butter
2 T Canola or mild vegetable oil

Shred zucchini, sprinkle with salt and let stand for 5 - 10 minutes to draw off moisture. Squeeze or wring the shredded zucchini in a clean kitchen towel to remove all the moisture you can. Combine the squeezed-out zucchini with the rest of the ingredients except the butter and oil, mixing well. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy skillet. Spoon the zucchini mixture into the heated skillet, shaping into pancakes. Cook over medium heat until set and light brown underneath. Flip pancakes and finish cooking the other side.

Serve whole or cut into wedges. Sour cream or very fresh plain yoghurt makes a nice accompaniment

Corn, Tomato and Basil Salad

Yield: Makes 6 servings
Fresh, colorful and simple, this salad is the essence of summer. Even better the second day, by all reports.
6 large ears white corn, husked
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup (packed) thinly sliced fresh basil
5 plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Using large knife, cut corn kernels from cob. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add corn; sauté until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add half of basil.
Transfer corn mixture to large bowl. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, vinegar, 3 tablespoons oil and remaining basil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover; chill 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

Wayve's comment: I might add some fresh chopped peppers and red onion.

Zucchini-Scallion Fritters

3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), coarsely grated
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large egg
2 scallions, finely chopped
½ cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
½ cup vegetable oil
Sour cream, for serving

Place zucchini in a colander set in the sink and toss with 1 teaspoon salt, let sit 10 minutes, then press out as much liquid as possible.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, lightly beat egg, then add zucchini, scallions, flour, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and stir to combine.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium.  In two batches, drop batter in 2 tablespoonful mounds into oil.  With a small spatula or butter knife, gently flatten each mound and fry until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to paper towels to drain; sprinkle with salt.  Serve with sour cream.

Seared Rainbow Chard with Leeks

2 (1 lb) bunches rainbow chard or red and green Swiss chard
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into ¼ inch-thick slices
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Cut stems from chard (if leaves are large, cut out coarse portions of rib), then cut stems crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices.
Stack chard leaves and roll into cylinders.  Cut cylinders crosswise to make 1-inch-thick stripes of leaves.
Heat butter and oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, sauté bacon and garlic for 2 minutes, then sauté chard stems and leeks with sea salt and pepper to taste, stirring occasionally, until slightly soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add chard leaves and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until wilted – top with lemon juice and stir.
(If greens begin to brown before they wilt, sprinkle with a few drops of water.

Creamy Swiss Chard Pasta

1 lb Swiss chard (green, red or rainbow chard is fine)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed then chopped
1 pinch of dried, hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
¼ cup onion, diced
1 can (14.5 oz.) Italian style diced tomatoes. Well drained.
½ cup fresh Ricotta cheese brought to room temp.
½ cup milk
1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, at room temp.
8 ounces Fettuccine or favorite pasta, cooked according to package directions
Salt and pepper

1. Wash chard, cut into small pieces. Use stems too, unless very tough.
2. Heat oil in large sauté or frying pan over medium heat, 1–2 minutes.
3. Add chard, garlic, onion and pepper flakes; sauté 1-2 minutes. JUST until softened. (Overcooking makes chard clump)
4. Add tomatoes, cooked pasta, salt and pepper to taste; stir well until heated through.
5. Reduce heat to medium low. Add milk, when warmed, add Parmesan slowly, stirring as you add to evenly melt cheese, increase heat a little if need to melt.
6. Remove pan from heat. Thoroughly stir in Ricotta until warm and creamy.
7. Serve warm.

Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Fritters

1 medium head cauliflower
5 slices crispy cooked and crumbled bacon
3 scallions sliced thin and diced
1 + 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 jalapeno pepper, diced, seeds removed, optional
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
vegetable oil, for pan-frying
sour cream and chopped chives or scallions, for garnish

Steam the cauliflower until fork tender. Rinse with cold water or place them in a large bowl of ice water. Drain well then lightly mash with a potato masher or fork. Add the mashed cauliflower to a wire strainer or colander placed over a bowl to drain excess water 10 - 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small bowl whisk together the eggs, bacon, scallions, jalapeno, 2 tablespoons of the flour and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

Add the drained cauliflower into a large bowl and whisk in the egg mixture, stir in the cheese and the remaining cup of flour, baking powder and season again lightly with salt and pepper.
Cover the bottom of a large nonstick skillet generously with oil and heat over medium heat. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of batter into the skillet, flatten slightly and cook until golden brown, flip and cook until golden brown on the other side. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Add oil as needed to the pan and repeat until all the fritters are cooked. Serve with sour cream and fresh chopped chives or scallions for garnish.

Creamy Pappardelle with Leeks and Bacon

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise
Kosher salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 pound pappardelle or fettuccine
1 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add leeks and season with salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until leeks begin to brown, 5-8 minutes. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta, Parmesan, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta.