Bored Cook In The Kitchen

Tried and true recipes, new twists on old favorites, and new dishes to expand my family's palate.

Tag Archives: basil

Mussels In Spicy Tomato Sauce

I’m going to share something weird about myself with you today.  There are many weird things about myself, so this is really just one of them. I hate clams.  Don’t even eat an oyster in front of me.  Blech!

But, I LOVE mussels, and this is my most favorite way to eat them.  Simmered in some butter, wine and garlic isn’t bad either, but in a spicy tomato sauce will always be my first choice.

We made a large bowl of these and sat out on the deck just picking them clean. Delish!

MUSSELS IN SPICY TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 2 lbs. Cleaned Live Mussels **See below how to clean mussels
  • 1 – 24 oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 4 Cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
  • 10 – 12 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Oregano, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt, to taste

Begin the tomato sauce in a large skillet.  Add the oil, onion and garlic and sauté until just before the garlic begins to brown.

Add the wine and mix well, scraping up the bottom of the pan. 

Add the crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, oregano and salt to taste.  Stir well, place on simmer and cover, stirring occasionally so you don’t burn the bottom of the sauce.

Go through the bag of mussels and discard any mussels that have cracked and broken shells.  If you have any mussels that are slightly open, don’t discard them right away by assuming they are dead.  Tap the mussel several times.  If it’s still alive it will close immediately.  If it doesn’t close after a few taps, discard the mussel since it’s no longer alive.

In a large bowl filled with cold water (I actually use 1/2 of my double-sided sink), cover the mussels with cold water and allow to soak for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Drain the mussels and remove the beards. The beard is a tough stringy substance stuck on the outside of some of the mussels. Grasp the edge of the beard and pull down firmly towards the hinge of the mussel and remove.

Scrub the outside of each mussel with a hard brush to remove any debris or barnacles on the outside of each shell.  Place in a colander and give them a final rinse under cold water and set to the side for a few minutes.

Add your fresh basil to the tomato sauce, stir well, and prepare to add your mussels.  Add all the mussels to the tomato sauce, stir gently and cover immediately.  Keep covered for 3 minutes.  Remove the cover, give another gentle stir, cover and allow to cook for an extra 3 to 4 minutes.  You don’t want to over cook these for any longer than a total of 7 minutes or the muscles will turn tough and chewy. 

Once done, remove any mussels that did not open and discard.  Take the remaining mussels and gently spoon them into a large dish and cover with sauce.  Serve with some sliced lemon for squeezing, sit back and enjoy.

Make sure to use that crusty Italian bread to soak up all that delicious sauce.

You could always serve these over some cooked spaghetti, but I prefer them just the way they are.

  

Fusilli Pasta With Creamy Tomato Sauce

Fusilli is my favorite shape of pasta, and I attribute that to the thickness of the stands and the way it really grabs onto whatever sauce you top it with.

I have many ways of making sauce to top pasta, and this is just one of them.  It’s quick, easy, and delicious. 

FUSILLI PASTA WITH CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 1 lb. Long Fusilli Pasta
  • 1 – 24 or 28oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream (Half & Half works in a pinch, too)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (Yes, you can use the powdery stuff)
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Oregano
  • 10 – 12 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Dried Pepper Flakes (*Optional)
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

In a large sauté pan, add the oil, onions and garlic.  Saute until translucent, and if you like it the way I do, I usually let the garlic just begin to brown a bit.  Watch the garlic since it goes from nutty and browned to burnt in mere seconds.

Once done, add the white wine and stir to scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the pan. 

Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano and parmesan cheese and stir well.  Place the burner on simmer and cover.   Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, add water that you have generously salted.  Cover and allow to come to a boil.

Once the water has reached a good rolling boil, add the pasta and stir to prevent sticking.

Uncover the sauce and add the cream, chopped parsley and basil, along with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well.  *If you are adding the pepper flakes to the sauce, add them now and stir well. 

Once the pasta has reached al dente, immediately drain it and place it in a large bowl.  Remove the sauce from the heat and add this to the pasta.  Stir well and serve immediately.  This is especially good with some garlic bread on the side.

Enjoy!

Shrimp & Feta Over Pasta (Mediterranean Shrimp Skillet)

I saw this dish in a recent issue of Taste of Home magazine and knew I had to make it.  Feta, shrimp, lemon and pasta?  Yup, I can fall in love with that combination.

Being Catholic, and it being Lent, I look for new and different meatless recipes to serve for the next few weeks.  This one was on the top of my list.  Of course, after I made it and was cleaning up I realized this recipe calls for chicken broth, and, yes, chicken broth would be considered a meat when cooking that should not be used on a meatless day during Lent.  I’m sure God forgave me for that minor mistake.  I hope. 

I only made one change to this recipe, and that change came about because I couldn’t get one major ingredient.  Fresh basil.  I see it all the time in any of our grocery stores, even during the winter, but for whatever reason, fresh basil decided to evacuate itself from all produce sections in my area last week.  I did, however, have  two bunches of fresh cilantro in my fridge.  In fact, I always have fresh cilantro in a mason jar in my fridge because I can’t live without the stuff. 

I was hesitant at first to make the switch from the basil to the cilantro, but after reviewing the ingredients again I realized cilantro would work just as well, if not better.  I do plan on making this again using basil, but if you find yourself in a pinch like me, I highly recommend the substitution of cilantro if need be.  That was the only thing I changed about this recipe. 

Mediterranean Shrimp Skillet

From Taste of Home Magazine February/March 2011 issue

  • 8 oz. uncooked angel hair pasta (I used spaghetti)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil (I used dried cilantro)
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 4 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté shrimp in oil until shrimp turn pink.  Add the garlic, salt and pepper; cook 1 minute longer.  Remove and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat 1 cup broth, lemon juice and dried basil.  In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and remaining broth until smooth; stir into the pan.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in spinach and shrimp; cook until spinach is wilted.

Drain pasta; serve with shrimp mixture.  Sprinkle with feta cheese and fresh basil.

Enjoy!

Lemon Basil Pasta

You may remember me mention on here, a few million times once or twice, how much I love lemon and lime.  I am a lemon and lime addict, and I’m not afraid to say it.  I’ve also mentioned that my two most favorite fresh herbs to cook with are basil and cilantro.  Both of which are growing in my garden at this very moment.

When I saw this recipe, and the beautiful photos that accompanied it, I knew I had to make it.  Lemon Basil Pasta.  Please, it has to be good!  But it wasn’t good, instead it was fantastic!

There is more than just the lemon and basil.  And trust me, the lemon in this dish is off the hook!  Fresh lemon juice, lemon rind, fresh basil, fresh garlic, red bell pepper, olive oil, parmesan, white wine, and some chicken broth.  Oh a dash of cream.  Delicious is what this spells out.  It’s light and full of flavor.  Perfect for a hot summer night.

And not that I would know this or anything, I’m just guessing really, but this pasta is even good cold.  I mean if you were to say have already packed up the leftovers and placed them in the fridge, and then at around 10 p.m. that night decided to steal a little for a light nosh while you were surfing the web, you would know this.  Not that I know this.  You wouldn’t catch me eating out of the fridge at 10 p.m. I’m just ummmm…guessing it would be good.  At that time of night.  Cold.

So how can you make this dish?  You can visit Karen at her blog Our Life In the Kitchen .  If you’ve never been to her blog than you must visit.  She’s a midwife, a photographer, and a fantastic cook.  Her recipes alone will blow you away, but her beautiful step by step photography for making each dish will finally do you in. 

In making this dish I did make a few changes.  I’m not going to give you the recipe here, but I will tell you what I did differently. 

First, the recipe calls for red bell pepper, which I realized I had none of.  But, I did have roasted red peppers, so I substituted them instead.   I used the juice and rind of two fresh lemons – she tells you to use two or three – and two fresh lemons were all I had on hand.  And the recipe called for snow peas, something else I realized too late I did not have on hand.  Next time.  Oh, and I used the mini bow ties instead of the regular size.  I picked up the wrong box at the store, but to be honest, they were kinda cute.

The option to add some cream at the end is up to you.  I opted to add in about 1/4 cup and it was just perfect.

This is easily one of my most favorite new pasta dishes.  I can see this being on my table several more times this summer.

Thanks, Karen!  This one gets a gold star from this lemon lover!

Grilled Pizza

My mouth has been watering for a week for this grilled pizza.  My plan was to make these last weekend, but then we got hit with cold, rainy, damp weather, so I nixed the idea.

But this weekend it’s beautiful, hot, sunny and gorgeous out.  The perfect time to grill up some pizzas.

Our favorite pizza place serves what they call a “Bruschetta Pie”.  No sauce, but lots of Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh garlic, fresh mozzarella, and oil and vinegar.  It’s delicious.  We order it every few weeks.

As you all may know by now, I’m not a dough person.  I can’t get the hang of it and keep promising myself someday I’m going to become one of those people who just has magical fingers that works dough – any kind of dough – beautifully. 

Until I get there, I buy my pizza dough.  Our store had fresh pizza dough on sale last week for $1 for a fresh made pound.  I picked up a few, and after realizing last weekend was a no go on the grilling decided instead to throw them in the freezer for another time.  This was that time. 

First things first, either make your own dough or pick up some freshly made dough.  Pizza places will sometimes sell you theirs, but there are many grocery stores that make their own now as well.  I don’t recommend the canned stuff.  It’s just not natural.

Let that dough rise and do its thing. 

Get your grill nice and hot, and before you heat it, either spray it with some grilling spray (I used Pam for Grilling), or brush it with some olive oil.

While the grill is heating, slice up the tomatoes, basil, chopped garlic, and throw it all in a bowl.  Drizzle with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.  You can add any other spices you want.  Some italian blend seasoning would be great as well, along with some grated parmesan.

Work your dough out into the shape you prefer.  I made two pizzas out of the 1 pound ball I purchased, sliced it in half and stretched it out. I’m not particular about the shape, and in fact, I kind of like it to be a little out of shape. 

Once the grill is nice and hot (mine was at around 375) I placed the dough down.  Let it grill on one side before you add your toppings and get it nice, brown and crispy.

Now, on the side you just grilled it on, top it with your tomatoes, basil, garlic and the sliced mozzarella.  Sprinkle a little of the balsamic vinegar over the top and close the top of the grill.

Check it every few minutes, and make sure to peek underneath to make sure it’s not browning too much.  If you have hot spots on your grill, you may need to move the dough around to make sure it grills evenly.

Once it’s nice and crisp on the bottom, shut off the grill, close the top and let it sit for a few minutes for the cheese to really melt.  Take off the grill, cut that puppy up and gobble it down! 

I won’t embarrass myself and tell you how many pieces I ate.  I’ll just tell you it was D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S

Grilled Pizza:

Serves 4

  • 1 lb. Pizza Dough (freshly made or store bought)
  • 2 Large Roma Tomatoes, Sliced
  • 10 Basil Leaves, Sliced
  • 1-2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
  • 8 0z. Ball Fresh Mozzarella
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil (I used light tasting)
  • 1 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Italian Seasoning (optional)

Begin by either spraying your grill with a non-stick grill spray, or brush it with some olive oil. 

Turn on the grill and get it heated to around 375/400 degrees.

While the grill is heating, add your sliced tomatoes, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and spices to a large bowl, mix it well, and set to the side.

Take your dough and cut it in half.  Work each half into the desired shape and thickness you prefer.

Position both pieces of dough on the grill and allow to get crispy and brown on one side.  Move the dough around if necessary if you have hot spots on your grill so it will brown evenly without burning.

Once the dough is done on one side, flip it over and lay out your tomato mixture, place the slice mozzarella on the top and drizzle with a little of the oil and vinegar left in the bowl.

Grill until crispy.  Once done, turn off the grill, and close the top.  Allow the pizzas to sit for a few minutes in the warm grill to get the cheese nice and melted.

Remove, slice and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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