basil

Salads

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Chopping Watermelon | www.hungryinlove.com
Chopping Cucumber | www.hungryinlove.com
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad Mise En Place | www.hungryinlove.com
Feta | www.hungryinlove.com
Basil | www.hungryinlove.com
Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

My heart is so happy right now I could squeal! We've just returned from our family's 29th annual reunion in South Carolina. Back when I was a wee lass my grandparents had the good sense to institute a summer tradition of gathering their five children plus families for a week at the beach. God bless them, they stuck with it. I've always cherished this trip but have grown to appreciate it more with each passing year. With a new crop of itty-bitty babies our head count this summer totaled 33. Besides the good company, I adore that this week is a true vacation. There's nowhere to go, nothing to see. Upon arrival it takes but minutes to fall into the familiar routine we've perfected over nearly three decades. Tennis/jogging/straight up lounging in the morning; lunches of build-your-own honey baked ham sandwiches and pimento cheese (while it lasts); afternoons on the beach, stocked coolers in tow; cocktails and hor d'oeuvres on the porch; dinner together at the big long table (actually three pushed together to make one); party and card games in the evenings. Sleep and repeat. It's magic. Scroll on for a few snaps.

Every night a different family takes a turn cooking dinner for the crowd. Some version of this watermelon salad usually makes an appearance, and for good reason. It's simple, brilliantly pretty, and a surefire crowdpleaser.

The beach house...

The beach house...

...and 180 degrees.

...and 180 degrees.

South Carolina surf.

South Carolina surf.

My adorable grandparents with their five children. Props to my mom for holding her own with four brothers!

My adorable grandparents with their five children. Props to my mom for holding her own with four brothers!

Watermelon, Cucumber, + Feta Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 small watermelon, cubed (if you have a large melon, use 1/2)
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced into thin rounds (if you don't like heat, omit!)
  • 8 oz. feta*, cubed 
  • 12-16 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 12-16 mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Juice of one half lime
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil

Prep

  • Toss watermelon, cucumber, serrano, feta, basil and lime juice in serving bowl
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil
  • Serve immediately (If allowed to sit the watermelon and cucumber will release water. Toss ingredients as close to serving as possible.)

*A few notes on feta from our resident cheesemonger. High quality feta will make this salad sing. Feta can be made from cow's milk, goat's milk, sheep's milk, or some combination of these. In the States cow's milk is the most ubiquitous, found in those little vacuum sealed squares at the grocery store. Those will do in a pinch but you're better off seeking out a feta packed in brine. 100% sheep's milk is my favorite. French, Greek, or Bulgarian are all excellent bets but never rule out the feta you find at your local farmer's market. 

Sweets

Strawberry Crostata + Basil Whipped Cream

Strawberry Crostata | www.hungryinlove.com
Basil Whipped Cream | www.hungryinlove.com

Before this here pie, the last time I enjoyed strawberry and basil together was in a vodka drink. They're splendid companions whether the accompanying vice is booze or butter (as in this case). Do you ever draw recipe inspiration from cocktails? It's a great place to go hunting. Cocktail lists these days are chock full of cryptic, trendy-sounding mash-ups like 'Balsamic, Sassafras + Peat' or 'Cocoa, Orange Blossom, + Smoke'. Eh? It's pretty much impossible to forecast what the drink will taste like but there's entertainment value in the puzzle. Strawberry + basil on the other hand is a more down-home combo. I know exactly the flavors they'll deliver: summer weekend. Since Memorial Day graced New England with one of those I was reminded of the note-to-self I'd filed after that cocktail: 'strawberry season - subtract vodka - add whipped cream'. The strawberries haven't quite arrived yet here but I couldn't wait that long.

Strawberry Crostata | www.hungryinlove.com
Strawberry Crostata | www.hungryinlove.com
Strawberry Crostata | www.hungryinlove.com
Strawberry Crostata | www.hungryinlove.com
Strawberry Crostata + Basil Whipped Cream | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

Strawberry Crostata

For the Crust

This is a killer crostata dough from Bon Appetit's May 2011 issue. The original recipe features a filling of raspberry and rhubarb. I've enjoyed it many times and also dabbled with other berry combos. They all shine with this crust as the foundation. I heart it. You will too.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 12 Tbs. chilled unsalted butter (1.5 sticks), cut into small cubes (cold butter is key; after cutting place in a bowl and pop in the freezer until ready to use)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. whole milk or half-and-half

For the Filling

  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and cut in halves or quarters
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tbs.)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Sea salt and granulated sugar

Basil whipped Cream

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh basil
  • 2 Tbs. confectioner's sugar

 

Prep

Infuse the Cream

  • In small saucepan heat cream over medium-high heat just until bubbles begin to appear around the edge of the pan
  • Remove from heat
  • Add basil and allow to steep for ~20 minutes
  • Move the saucepan to the fridge and continue to steep until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours

Make the Dough

  • Whisk egg and milk (or half and half) together in a small bowl, set aside
  • In a food processor pulse flours, sugar, and salt until blended; about five seconds
  • Add cubed butter and pulse until mixture is gravely and butter is the size of peas, about 6-8 pulses
  • Add egg mixture and pulse until dough begins to come together into moist clumps
  • Turn dough onto a floured surface and gather into a ball
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and put in fridge to chill, at least 90 minutes

Prep the Strawberries

  • About 30 minutes before you're ready to assemble the crostata, prep the strawberries
  • Cut into halves (or quarters if very large) and measure 4 cups
  • Stir together strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a bowl and let sit for ~20 minutes

Assemble the Crostata

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Whisk egg in a small bowl and set aside
  • Tear a sheet of parchment paper (roughly the size of your baking sheet) and place on your work surface; dust with flour
  • Use a rolling pin to roll dough into a 12 inch round on the parchment paper
  • Lift parchment paper and place on baking sheet before adding the filling
  • Brush dough with beaten egg
  • Scoop strawberry filling into the center of the dough and carefully spread, leaving a 1.5 inch border
  • Fold edges of dough over strawberries
  • Brush dough edges with beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with sugar and sea salt
  • Bake until the crust is browned and filling bubbly, about 45 minutes
  • Let cool before cutting and serving

Make the Whipped Cream

  • Remove cream from fridge
  • Discard basil sprigs
  • Place cream and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (chill the bowl and attachment first for best results)
  • Beat cream on medium-high speed until firm peaks form, about 6-8 minutes (don't over beat or you'll end up with butter)

Serve crostata slices dolloped with whipped cream and basil chiffonade.

 

 

 

Vegetables

Acorn Squash + Creamy Herb Farro

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Creamy Herb Farro | www.hungryinlove.com
Creamy Herb Farro | www.hungryinlove.com

Spring has sprung and brought with her today  a high of 28 degrees. Good grief. We're weary here in New England but I know, I know, old news.  I'd probably be numb to our situation if we hadn't just returned from a jaunt to Florida. There's nothing like a four day Vitamin-D binge to bring your state of deprivation into sharp focus. Well that and the fact that while I'm sporting flip flops and a maxi dress, the snowbird one seat over at brunch is cloaked in a turtleneck and a fleece. No lie.

But enough of that. In the spirit of the sunshine state, I'll turn to the bright side. March in New England has its charms and one is kitchen projects that involve cream sauce and melted cheese. Think of our poor neighbors to the south. Floridians have no business turning their ovens on in 80 degree weather. I'll bet there's but six weeks a year where roasted squash sounds like a good idea. The rest of the time they're left to get along on coconuts, strawberries, and rum runners. It's a pity, really, to not know the joys of hunkering.

This mish-mash was dreamed up one of those nights where the dinner selections looked positively drab. Wilty parsley = not inspiring. But you know what is? Mac + cheese. This farro will take you there. Except 'there', with all those whole grains and green speckles, will feel delightfully virtuous.

Hello sunshine, my old friend. 

Hello sunshine, my old friend. 

Farro | www.hungyinlove.com
Acorn Squash | www.hungryinlove.com
Roasted Acorn Squash | www.hungryinlove.com
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Creamy Herb Farro | www.hungryinlove.com

Roasted Acorn Squash + Creamy Herb Farro

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 Acorn squash
  • Olive oli, salt, + pepper
  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 Tbs. butter 
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1 Cup whole milk
  • 1 Cup grated Gruyere cheese + extra for sprinkling
  • 1 Cup chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and basil)

Prep

  • Roast the Squash
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    • Cut squash in half lengthwise (be careful, this part's a tad scary)
    • Scoop out seeds and discard (or save to roast)
    • Place halves on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt + pepper
    • Bake for one hour or until the flesh easily gives when pierced with a fork; remove from oven
  • Cook the Farro
    • Bring 6 cups of salted water to a rolling boil
    • Rinse farro and add to boiling water (You can cook farro like rice or like pasta; I prefer the pasta method so you eliminate the guessing game of getting the right grain to liquid ratio)
    • Cook farro at a boil for 20 minutes or until grains are tender
    • Drain
  • Make Cheese Sauce
    • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan melt butter over medium heat
    • Whisk in flour
    • Whisking regularly, cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until roux takes on a light brown color and becomes completely smooth; take care not to burn
    • Add milk whisking constantly until sauce begins to thicken
    • Turn heat to low and continue cooking, whisking regularly, for about 10 minutes until sauce is smooth and no longer tastes of flour
    • Add grated cheese and stir until melted and incorporated
    • Remove from heat
  • Assemble
    • Add cooked farro and fresh herbs to the cheese sauce and stir until well blended (you will have more of this mixture than you need to fill the squash, and that's is a good thing! It's awesome on its own and makes great leftovers)
    • Scoop farro into squash halves and garnish with grated Gruyere
    • Return squash to a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until cheese on top has melted and just browned
    • Serve hot