Tag: basil

Shrub Two Ways

Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

It’s inevitable. This time of year especially. You go to the farmers market and drool over the rainbows of produce. The rhubarb has that perfect blush that begs you to bag up more than you could ever use at once and cart it home. The ruby strawberries glimmer, covering tables, overflowing from their containers. You can just imagine how red they are on the inside, and you take one from the little sample bowl to confirm your suspicion. They taste almost as much like candy as they do like fruit, they are so sweet and perfect in every way.

So you haul it all to your car and then to your kitchen. And then reality strikes. It’s Monday again and no, you’re not going to get around to making that strawberry pistachio pie you’ve been pining after, or pickling that rhubarb to go with the pâté you brought home from the market. You feel guilty, seeing those sad fruits softening by the day every time you open the fridge.

When it comes to fruit that is beginning to turn, I used to turn to compote (the rhubarb) or freeze them smoothies (the strawberries), but this summer that all changes. I started making shrubs, aka drinking vinegars. It’s painfully simple, goes perfectly well with just sparkling water on those long warm days when you want something fruity and tangy and refreshing, and can welcome a taste of your favorite gin or tequila when those long summer days turn into warm evenings and you want a cocktail to sip while you light up the grill.

It seems shrubs are the fancier version of my dad’s old “it’s-too-hot-out” beverage: a Perrier with an entire lemon juiced in. Tart and bubbly and immediately cooling. They take a little forethought, yes, but in all they take about 15 minutes to make and your friends or guests or whomever is lucky enough to partake will be impressed and thankful. I promise.

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Soba Noodles with Summer Squash and Mango

Soba Noodles with Summer Squash and Mango // Serious Crust
Soba Noodles with Summer Squash and Mango // Serious Crust
Soba Noodles with Summer Squash and Mango // Serious Crust
Soba Noodles with Summer Squash and Mango // Serious Crust

Soba noodles have become a staple in my kitchen. I have always liked them, but as the weather has been slowly getting warmer, and there’s lovely produce all around, they have been appearing more often in my kitchen. I love them with a light sauce made of rice vinegar and lime juice. But the true beauty of soba noodles, to me, is that they are delicious cold. The day after you make them, and they’ve been sitting in whatever sauce you’ve tossed them with, they become ultra flavorful and refreshing. I am a big fan. And I think you should be too.

Jonah came home this week, on Monday actually, and I had a feeling that cooking might not be exactly what he wanted to do the moment he stepped of the plane. So on Sunday night I made a big batch of soba noodles tossed with roasted zucchini, fresh mango, and a light citrus-y sauce. I ate a small bowl, and threw the rest in the fridge, knowing that it would be delicious the next day for dinner with some roasted green beens (also in the fridge).

I love how colorful this dish is, how summery it is, and how packed with flavor. I think it’d make a great cold side dish for a summer party (4th of July, anyone?), and it makes great leftovers to take to the office for lunch. You can add some seared tofu, or maybe even some grilled chicken.

Soba Noodles with Summer Squash and Mango

Ingredients

2 zucchini, julienned
2 summer squash, julienned
olive oil
salt
1 9-oz package buckwheat soba noodles
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, finely chopped (and seeded, if you’re not feeling the heat)
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 Tbl sesame oil
1 ripe mango, peeled and julienned
~1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
~1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
optional but recommended: chopped peanuts to top (I used about 1/4 cup), lime wedges

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss the julienned zucchini and squash with olive oil and salt. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned, tossing halfway through. Set aside to cool.

Cook the soba noodles as instructed on the package. Usually, this means boil them for about 4 minutes, drain them, rinse them with cold water, drain them, and spread them out on a dish towel to try.

While boiling the water for the noodles, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small pot over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add garlic and jalapeño. Allow to cool, then add the lime juice and zest as well as the sesame oil. Whisk to combine. Put the soba noodles in a bowl, and toss with the dressing. Add the squash, mango, herbs, and nuts to the noodles, tossing to combine. Garnish with a sprinkle more of chopped peanuts and a lime wedge. Enjoy with a light beer on a hot day.

All-In Pesto

All-in Pesto by Serious Crust

A few weeks ago, my dad and Darla came down to Portland for my cousin Lia’s oral thesis defense. I really wanted to go to the farmer’s market before brunch, and Dad came along. My dad is a lover of produce. I cannot tell you how excited he got about the range of items available at our market (and how decently priced everything was compared to his fancy Seattle market). I’ve never seen someone so excited over nettles before.

Anyway, between the two of us, we bought 3 bunches of radishes. My dad, needing to drive back to Seattle with a large dog in the car, was trying to minimize his load as much as possible, ripped the radishes from the greens, and left the greens to me. A la Tamar, I knew I could use them, I just had to figure out how. And then it hit me: pesto.

I have since made 2 batches of the stuff, and people LOVE it. And you can use greens other than radish tops: kale, kohlrabi greens… anything green and leafy. The other beautiful thing about this recipe is that it’s not really a recipe – it’s more like guidelines. Use whatever you’ve got around (ergo the all-in title: you can put it all in), and put it on anything and everything. We started with pasta and went from there: we used it as a rub for a whole chicken and potatoes that we roasted, ate it with cheese and crackers and charcuterie, and (my favorite) topped some crusty bread with fromage blanc, the pesto, and a soft boiled egg.

All-In Pesto

Ingredients

Radish tops, stems picked off, and rinsed
Basil, rinsed
A hard salty cheese, like pecorino romano or parmesan
Pine nuts or shelled pistachios (or any combination of the two)
Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Olive oil
Salt

Instructions

In a food processor combine all ingredients. It’s best to start with all of your greens, but about half of everything else, so that you can adjust flavor and texture to your liking. Pulse until smooth, and enjoy!

Candy for Grown Ups (or Roasted Tomatoes)

roasted tomatoes

Every summer, I get excited about the produce that will soon be available and all the delicious things I can make with it. I’ve already started with the rhubarb. I am waiting impatiently to go to Sauvie Island and pick strawberries. Soon there will be peaches and nectarines aplenty for me to use for things like salsa, smoothies, pies, etc. The other thing I love? Tomatoes. My little sister worked at a tomato stand at various farmer’s markets in Seattle last summer, and is slowly teaching me the joys of all these different weirdly colored tomatoes. But my favorite thing to do with tomatoes is to season them a little and roast them in the oven forever. And last week I got antsy. I couldn’t wait for the perfectly ripe, soft tomatoes to arrive at the markets. So I went to New Seasons and bought a bag of not-the-ripest roma tomatoes. I left them in our fruit bowl for a few days to soften up, and then I made roasted tomatoes.

Simple Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients

Tomatoes (any kind will do – I usually go for just regular old vine tomatoes or romas or whatever is prettiest looking)
Olive Oil
Garlic
Salt
Dried basil and/or oregano

Instructions

All of the amounts of the ingredients above are based on your personal taste. If you like garlic, use a bunch. If you are trying to cut back on salt, don’t use it. They’re also great without the basil or oregano.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. If you have more time to cook, you can heat your oven to 250 degrees. Drizzle some olive oil into a large baking dish. Slice your tomatoes in half and, if you want, cut out the little stem bit. Rub the tomatoes sliced-side down in the olive oil, then flip them so the sliced-side faces up. Mince the garlic and sprinkle it over the tomatoes. Now sprinkle on some salt and whatever other seasoning you want (this is the time for the basil or oregano if you’re using it). Now here’s the fun part: set it and forget it. Throw the suckers in the oven and let them cook for 3-4 hours. I took these ones out at 4 hours because we were leaving the apartment, but they probably could have gone another 30 minutes. You’ll want to check on them after the 3.5-4 hour mark, as the way they cook will depend on the kind of tomatoes and the temperature of your oven. When they’re caramelized and cooked to your liking, remove them from the oven.

I suggest letting them cool enough to eat one before using them for anything else, just so you can taste heaven. After enjoying one all by itself, the rest is up to you: cut them up and put them on a pizza or in a salad, throw them in your food processor or blender for soup (I suggest looking up a recipe so you know what else to add) or pasta sauce. Also, the oil that is still at the bottom of the pan is delicious, so scrape this into whatever container you’re saving them in so you can use it too. These things are amazing. The kids I nanny for didn’t like tomatoes until I made these; I made a giant dish of roasted tomatoes, and they were almost gone by the time their mom got home from work. That’s how hard it is not to eat these all up.