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Monday, July 27, 2009

Thai Basil, Gazpacho, and Peaches with Amaretti

Thai Basil Curry
Thai basil has stronger and spicier flavor than the common sweet basil, which makes it perfect to use for Thai curry dishes and soups. The purple flowers are edible as well. You can make this dish as a simple vegetable curry or add tofu or chicken to make a one dish meal. I like to serve it with brown rice. Feel free to vary the types of vegetables used in this dish.

2 garlic cloves
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 small red chili, minced (optional)
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 red pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/2 c. chopped green onion
1/2 c. coconut milk
1/2-1 tsp green curry paste (add to taste)
2 Tbsp, chopped cilantro
juice of 1 small lime
1/4 c. chopped Thai basil
1/2 lb. tofu** or chicken strips, cooked
Salt and pepper, to taste
Brown or white rice

Saute the garlic, ginger, and chili in the canola oil for ~2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the red pepper, onion, and zucchini; saute until tender ~5-7 minutes. Add the green onion and saute for another minute. Add the coconut milk, green curry paste, cilantro, lime juice, Thai basil, and cooked tofu or chicken; simmer for a few minutes and then season with salt and pepper. Serve over steamed rice.

** To cook the tofu (extra firm tofu recommended), drain off the liquid and slice into strips. Dust the strips with cornstarch and saute in canola oil until lightly browned on each side.

Here is another recipe idea for using Thai Basil from Epicurious.com
Spicy Sesame Noodles with Chopped Peanuts and Thai Basil

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
This is great cool soup for hot summer days and is especially wonderful to make with fresh heirloom tomatoes. The skins of heirloom tomatoes are usually very thin, so I don't bother to peel them. The smoked paprika is a common ingredient in Spanish cooking and gives the soup a special taste.

~2 lbs. Heirloom Tomatoes, chopped
1 small cucumber; peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 yellow or red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 c. chopped red onions, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp. Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. Pimenton, smoked paprika (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

To make a garnish for the soup: finely chop a combination of the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, and red onion into small dice; set aside. Blend all of the ingredients until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate the soup for about 2 hours to let the flavors blend and serve with the garnish.

Roasted Veggie Mix

I often like to roast of combination of vegetables to use dishes throughout the week. One of my favorites is a combination of garlic, onions, eggplant, zucchini/yellow squash, Sungold tomatoes, and bell peppers. I like to use the roasted vegetables for wrap or pita sandwiches, a filling for crepes with herb goat cheese, vegetable lasagna, and omelettes.

I simply chopped all of the vegetables and mix them together with ~2 Tbsp olive oil. I spread them out on a large sheet pan lined with Aluminum foil and roast in a 400F oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring the mixture every ~10-15 minutes to ensure even browning. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Peaches with Mascarpone and Amaretti
This recipe is very easy to make and delicious. It pairs fresh peaches with Italian mascarpone cheese and crushed Amaretti cookies. Gingersnap cookies could be substituted for the Amaretti.

Brown Sugar
Mascarpone Cheese
Amaretti Cookies

Preheat broiler. Slice the peaches in half and remove the pit. Sprinkle the top of each peach half with brown sugar and top with a pat of butter. Broil until the brown sugar is melted. Top with Mascarpone cheere and crushed Amaretti cookies.