Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ingredient Tip: Hydroponic Basil

Basil is one of my favorite herbs, and I love to use it throughout the year.

Fortunately, I can find it at my local supermarket whenever I need it, even when it's not in season.

I like to buy the hydroponic variety, which comes in medium-size bunches. Take it home and transfer it to a vase or large drinking glass with enough water to cover the roots, and it will keep for several days.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

White Bean Hummus

This recipe is a nice change of pace from the classic hummus made from chickpeas.

Canned cannellini beans typically contain more moisture than canned chickpeas, so less liquid is added to the hummus. Less olive oil makes this version naturally low in fat.

Serve with Pan-Grilled Pita Wedges, pita chips, and/or fresh veggies for dipping.


1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, drained
1 small clove garlic, crushed through a press or finely minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree until fairly smooth. If too thick, add a bit more olive oil, one teaspoon at a time.

Serve at room temperature or lightly chilled.

-- 8 appetizer servings

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Penne with Broccoli and Capers

This recipe was inspired by a dish I enjoyed when I was in Italy many years ago.

The family who served me this meal had taken me earlier that day to a gorgeous beach on the banks of the deep-blue Mediterranean Sea. It was a day that I will never forget - especially since I prepare this dish often, and relive that experience in my mind each time.


8 ounces penne pasta
2 cups bite-size fresh broccoli florets (approx. 8 ounces)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brine-packed capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes (optional; more or less to taste)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Blanch the broccoli by boiling for one minute (or microwaving for 1 or 2 minutes with 2 tablespoons of water) until crisp-tender. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, and drain.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium to medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, just until the aroma starts to emerge. Do not let the garlic get brown.

Add the capers to the garlic, along with the red pepper flakes, if using. Saute for about 30 seconds.

Add the broccoli to the skillet, and saute for a minute or two, stirring occasionally.

Add the drained pasta, along with salt and pepper to taste. (Go easy on the salt, as the capers are somewhat salty.)

Saute over medium heat for 3-4 minutes to blend all the flavors.

-- Serves 3-4