Easy Caprese Panini

I’ve decided that I’m officially obsessed with the garlic scape pesto I made. We’ve eaten it  (together and on our own) atop of fresh bread, tortellini, and in sandwiches. It’s so fresh-tasting, less garlicky than typical pesto, and, well, is just awesome.

Another flavor combination that really screams summer to me is the ‘caprese’ salad, a basic combination of tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella. I had the tomatoes laying around, as well as the mozzarella; both were probably going to go bad in the coming days, and needed to used up. I figured, why not use them with the pesto?

Easy Caprese Panini – The Spicy Simmer

  • 4 slices good bread (I used pepper parmesan & rosemary olive breads from work, lucky me!)
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced
  • several slices of fresh mozzarella
  • 4 tbsp garlic scape pesto
  • balsamic vinegar, for dipping
  1. Spread 1 tbsp pesto on a slice of bread. Add tomatoes, then mozzarella. 
  2. Spread 1 tbsp onto the piece of bread that completes the sandwich. Form sandwich 😉
  3. On a heated panini press or grill pan, sprayed with cooking spray, grill the sandwich until the mozzarella melts.
  4. Makes two sandwiches.

The panini, atop rosemary-olive bread. Divine.

This was a really easy lunch to prepare, and was also very quick, which was helpful since my husband needed to head off to work in the afternoon. I simply made the panini, cut it in half, and sent him on his way. He’s not much of a fresh tomato fan, but agreed that the panini was pretty good. Definitely one to make again, once I make my next batch of pesto 🙂
Today is another blessed day off from the bakery, and instead of writing drill for marching band, I’m going to play around in my kitchen some more. I’m going to try dabbling in the art of refrigerator canning…look out!
 
Question of the Day: Are you a fan of pickles, let alone pickled vegetables?

Italian Potato Salad

This recipe is one that I grew up with (thanks, Mom!). It’s simple, really, and is one of those dishes that reminds me of summer. I served this the other night with some baked chicken, though it goes with pretty much anything.

For this, I used the red potatoes that came with this week’s CSA.

Italian Potato Salad – adapted from my mom 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-2 lbs small red potatoes
  • 2-4 scallions
  • 2-4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano

* Please note: my measurements are a little vague, simply because up until blogging I never really measured when making this dish. Rather, I relied on my own personal taste. This time around, I measured a bit and included what I thought would be the best crowd-pleaser.

  1. Cut potatoes into halves, if needed. Boil in a large saucepan until cooked. Drain & put into large bowl.
  2. Slice scallions & add to bowl. Add remaining ingredients & mix to combine.
  3. Do a taste test to determine if you need anymore vinegar, oil or spices.
  4. Chill for at least a 1/2 hour.

I almost forgot to snap a picture before eating it! There’s a few spoonfuls on my dinner plate, set aside.

This salad is good warm, or chilled (I prefer a slight chill to it). Enjoy!

Garlic Scape & Basil Pesto

When it comes to pasta, I typically enjoy eating it with homemade meat or marinara sauce. You can blame that on the fact that I’m half Italian and that’s how my mom made it for us when I was growing up. I rarely make anything with white/alfredo sauce (much to the chagrin of my husband, I’m sure!). Pesto, I do enjoy, but save for only certain pastas because of its consistency and garlicyness (is that even a word?). I feel that I could keep away any vampire after eating it.

While doing research on garlic scape recipes, pesto kept popping up as a ‘must-try’ by magazines and food bloggers alike. A combination of scapes, olive oil, and some type of nut. I knew that I had to try this out.  Most of the recipes that I found only used scapes, and no basil. However, I wanted to use the basil in this week’s CSA (as the other went bad before I could finish it), so this was the perfect way to do so. I plan on eating this in another day or so, atop of some tortellini that I bought this week at the store.

Garlic Scape & Basil Pesto (adapted from Soup Addict)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup basil
  • 3-5 garlic scapes
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese
  • salt, to taste
  • olive oil, to consistency
  1. In a saucepan, toast the pin nuts until they start to lightly brown. Remove from heat.
  2. In a food processor (or blender), add basil & scapes. Mix, and add oil to emulsify. Once mixed, add nuts and salt. Process until the mixture forms a paste, adding olive oil if needed.
  3. Add parmesan cheese (and again, more olive oil if needed) and pulse until combined, to the consistency that you wish.
  4. Store in a sealable container, for 3-5 days.

I was very pleased by the flavor of the pesto. It had all aspects of a ‘typical’ good pesto, but wasn’t nearly as garlicky. The flavor was really nice as well; the spiciness of the garlic hits you right away, but is mellowed out quickly by the oil and parmesan. I would definitely prefer this recipe any day, over the jar of mass-produced, store bought pesto sitting in my refrigerator. Homemade is the way to go!

Question of the Day: On your pasta, which do you prefer the most – red sauce, white sauce, or pesto?

Garlic Scape & Basil Pesto. I especially love how bright, fresh & green it looks!

Welcome to Summer: Baby Pasta Shells with Asparagus & Marinara

Ah, summer break. The mental health break that teachers get from June through August.

It’s finally starting to feel like summer break in northern Michigan, as opposed to spring break. Our last day of school we had a high of 50* and rain. Today, it was sunny and 68*. I’ll take it! 🙂

This recipe was on last week’s menu, but wasn’t actually made until today. I’ve had all the ingredients on hand for that period of time, but it just happened to get overlooked. Today, after a busy afternoon in the garden, I wanted to eat something quick and filling. I had a taste for pasta, but wasn’t in the mood to make lasagna (originally on this week’s list).  A perfect dish for someone who is too lazy looking to make something quick, tasty, and filling. Not to mention, I only used one pot!

Baby Pasta Shells with Asparagus and Marinara – adapted from Gina’s Skinny Recipes (aka ‘Skinnytaste’)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box small pasta shells
  • 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed, chopped into small pieces. 
  • 1 can Hunt’s spaghetti sauce – the Garlic & Herb variety was on hand
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  1. Boil about 4-5 inches of water in a large pot. When it is boiling, add pasta.
  2. About 5 minutes into the boil, add asparagus. Boil two additional minutes, then drain, saving a bit of liquid in the bottom of the pot.
  3.  Add sauce, cheese, and salt & pepper. Mix well until all is combined. EAT!
My methods for making this dish varied from the original recipe, in that I honestly didn’t want to use several pots. In another dish on Gina’s site, she boiled pasta and broccoli in the same pot. I figured, what was the difference? The results were exactly what I wanted and I saved myself another pot to wash (washing pots and pans is my #2 most hated chore. After mopping. But I digress).
As for the sauce…DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated with Hunts in any way, nor am I paid to use their product. When it came to quick spaghetti sauces, it’s what my mom always used (and she’s Italian, so don’t argue!). You use Hunts spaghetti sauce, and add any herbs/garlic/spices that you have a taste for. Today I added some Pasta Sprinkle (shown another day), and garlic powder.

You may notice from the above photo that my asparagus is icy. A few weeks ago, Mike purchased 5 10 pounds of fresh asparagus from a friend of a friend/coworker. I blanched most of it (the rest we ate!) and froze it in 1-lb batches. Now, I can pull fresh asparagus out of the next freezer for the next, oh, 7-8 dishes that we will use asparagus for. It especially comes in handy once it is out of season, and the price goes up. So thus, icy asparagus, which I cut using a pair of kitchen scissors. Nothing says spring/summer like FRESH asparagus.

Last, I topped my dish with a blend of mozzerella and provolone cheese, which I found at the grocery store. Yum.

Baby Pasta Shells with Asparagus & Marinara Topped with mozzarella & provolone.

I made twice the amount of the original recipe, since my husband takes plenty for lunch/dinner at work. And trust me, this dish makes a lot of leftovers.

Quick, easy, filling, and relatively healthy 🙂 Enjoy!