Tag Archives: basil

Raw Tomato Sauce with Kalamata Olives

Raw Tomato Sauce

Do you watch Girls?

I just caught up on season 1 in time for the season 2 premiere last Sunday night, and gosh, I really like that show. I’ll admit it took me a few episodes to get into it, but on or about episode 3 I really started enjoying the storylines. It could be because I am a 20-something in NYC, but I have to say I think Lena Dunham is onto something with this story of 4 girls trying to make it in a crazy hipster world.

There is a scene in season 1 where Shoshanna (albeit in a very, very altered state) goes on a rant about how she’s going to move to the front of her Pilates class from now on, because dang it she’s GOOD at Pilates and she doesn’t want to be stuck in the middle anymore! Why hide in the middle when you can excel in the front of the class?!

I think we all need a bit of Shoshanna’s confidence in our lives. Minus the crack.

That is my life lesson for the day! Now onto the noms.

Raw Tomato Sauce

So I told you last week that I started a cleanse.

I’m now Day 6 into my cleanse, and I gotta tell you- things are going great! Lots of energy, solid sleeping, and yeah, I’m losing a bit of weight too!

I think the secret for me was doing a lot of preparation beforehand, including cutting back on coffee big time (ie, one cup this entire year so far!), eating a ton more vegetables, and getting into a groove at the gym. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten this many vegetables in my entire life, and honestly I really feel great. If I can be honest with you, I do miss a nice piece of crusty bread, though. I’m having fun deciding what my “first meal” is going to be once I’m done… cookies? A slice of apple pie? A sandwich? Who knows.

Anyways, this “sauce” is fantastic as a dip, a dressing, or over pasta. It’s got a lot of flavors reminiscent of puttanesca sauce from the olives and garlic, and is super refreshing and tasty. I enjoyed it over cooked lentils and arugula this week, and I’m definitely am going to make it again even when I am off the cleanse.

The best part? This baby takes all of 3 minutes to make!

Raw Tomato Sauce with Kalamata Olives
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  • 1 pint fresh cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse 4-6 times, until chopped up, but not pureed. Serve with your favorite pasta, with crackers, or over lentils.

Raw Tomato Sauce

Anyone got any awesome vegetarian recipes to share with me?

Happy Eating 🙂

Note:  I am currently on the Standard Process Cleanse, under the guidance of my nutritionist and friend, Rebecca Meyerson of Simply Healthy Living. If you’re interested in the cleanse, definitely talk to Rebecca! However, none of what I post here should be considered medical advice. Please talk to your doctor/health professional before changing your diet.

Caprese Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes

Caprese Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes

Last week, I hit up a local farmer’s market here in Jersey City. Well, OK. I didn’t exactly go on purpose… My original plan was to get tacos nearby and go home. OK, fine, my original original plan was to go to the gym, but who’s judging?

Anyways, I got out of the train station after leaving work, and emerged to find there was a bustling farmer’s market going on right around the plaza where the station lets you out. And yeah, there turned out to be a taco truck there (I indulged, obviously, going through some serious #tacolife right now). But there were so many other yummy things, I had to look around while waiting for my tacos to be made for me. In the 5 minutes I had to scout around, I picked up an eggplant and a nice handful of locally grown Jersey plum tomatoes.

It took me a little while to figure out what to do with the tomatoes (I ended up just frying the eggplant in a bout of weekend hunger) but I finally settled on making a twist on the classic caprese salad, this time in a creamy, decadent risotto. I roasted the tomatoes to get as much flavor from them as possible, used fresh mozzarella, and beautiful fresh basil. I have to say this came out even better than I expected- I never have used fresh mozzarella in risotto before, and it added a nice creamy and melty texture to the whole dish that made it really something special.

I think that’s the magic of a caprese salad any way you make it- it always ends up being a dish that is more than the sum of its parts. Using the best ingredients you can find will definitely improve the quality of the dish, and I’ll be surprised if you can keep yourself from having seconds! 🙂

Roasted Tomatoes

Caprese Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes
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Serves: 4

For the Roasted Tomatoes:
  • 4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise with cores and seeds removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt
For the risotto:
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 shallot, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3½-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, warmed over low heat
  • ½ cup fresh mozzarella
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil for garnish

  1. Make the roasted tomatoes and garlic: Preheat oven to 450° F. Arrange halved, cored tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over each tomato. Rub the garlic cloves in olive oil and place on the pan with the tomatoes. Roast for 30 minutes, rotating the pan once in between. When tomatoes have shrunk and are cooked through, remove them and the garlic cloves from the oven and allow to cool while you make the rest of the risotto.
  2. Make the risotto: In a large pan, heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, shallot, and thyme, and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until the shallots start to become translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  3. Add the rice, and stir to coat in the oil. Season with salt, and allow the rice to “toast” for 2 minutes- this is adding a lot of flavor directly into the rice itself. Add the wine, and stir to loosen up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook until wine is almost fully absorbed. Add ½ cup of the warmed broth and stir again. Continue to add broth, ½ cup at a time, once the previous addition is almost fully absorbed. Make sure you are stirring every few minutes or so as well.
  4. While the rice is cooking, carefully chop up your roasted tomatoes into ¼ inch pieces, and peel the roasted garlic and chop that up too.
  5. Once you feel the rice is cooked to the desired consistency (not crunchy, but somewhat creamy with a bite), add the roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic and stir. Add your mozzarella and parmesan, and stir again. The mozzarella will start to get stringy, but just keep stirring until everything is incorporated and it’s a lovely mess.
  6. Garnish with fresh basil, stir once more, and serve!

Happy Eating 🙂

Blueberry Pierogi with Mango Basil Puree


Here’s a blanket statement for you: Dumplings are the world’s perfect food group. I mean, think about it. Any food stuffed in an edible wrapper is really just unbeatable. Empanadas, spring rolls, ravioli, soup dumplings, turnovers… the list goes on. Pierogi are no exception. Stuffed with potatoes, sausages, or even fruit- they are the ultimate comfort food given the often very simple ingredients involved.

I owe this recipe for pierogi to my pal Iza and her mom. We were lucky enough to be given a tupperware full of Iza’s mom’s blueberry pierogi in a deliciously sweet and tangy cream sauce when Iza and her husband John came by to watch the Olympics at our place a few weeks back, and I will not tell you how quickly I finished them afterward. Let’s just say… very. Very quickly. Needless to say, I had to ask Iza for the recipe right away, and she and her mom were very generous to share it with me!

While I loved the cream sauce that had been served with them, I wanted to see if I could make an accompanying condiment with a nice ripe mango I had in my fruit bowl. Leave it to me to take a classic Polish dish and turn it into some kind of fiesta. But that’s what this is, really- a fiesta of colors and flavors for your eyes and your mouth!


I used fresh blueberries with sugar and a bit of lemon zest as my filling here- but you could easily substitute any other sweet (or savory!) filling you’d like with the basic wrapper recipe.

Blueberry Pierogi with Mango Basil Puree
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Serves: 15-18 pierogi

For the pierogi wrappers:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup hot (almost boiling) water
For the filling:
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • zest of one lemon
For the mango puree:
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp fresh basil (4-6 leaves)

  1. Make the pierogi wrappers: Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the hot water, while using a fork to mix it in at first. As the mixture cools down, carefully use your hands to mix together the water and flour as it starts to come together in a doughy ball. Lightly dust your work surface with flour, and using a rolling pin, start to roll the dough out. You want the dough to be about ⅛” thick- not too thin that it breaks, but not too thick that it is chewy when cooked. Continue to dust on small amounts of flour if the dough gets too tacky. Using a circular cutter (or an upside-down large mug, or any other glass with a circular top), cut the dough into circles and set aside.
  2. Make the filling: Put blueberries, sugar and lemon zest in another bowl. Stir to combine. I placed about 6-8 blueberries in the middle of my prepared pierogi wrappers, but you may find you need to put more or less depending on the size of your wrappers. Once your blueberries are placed, fold over one side of the wrapper, and press down with your fingers to seal. Be careful not to tear the wrapper as you fold. These should look like little empanadas or dumplings. You could make a fancy fold-over or crimp edge if you’d like, but I just pressed them together.
  3. Make the mango-basil puree: In a food processor or mini-chopper, add the diced mango, 1 tbsp water, lime juice, and basil. Pulse for about 20 seconds, or until the puree is to the consistency you’d like.
  4. Cook the pierogi: Boil about 3 cups of water over high heat. Once boiling, carefully add 4-6 pierogi at a time. Cook for 7 minutes, then carefully remove with a slotted spoon. Serve alongside the mango puree, and enjoy!



Thank you so much to Iza and her mom for sharing their recipe with me!

Happy Eating 🙂

Pizzette with Herbed Goat Cheese & Heirloom Tomatoes

pizzette with herbed goat cheese, heirloom tomatoes and mushrooms

When I moved to Jersey City from Hoboken in October of last year, one of the things I knew I’d miss the most was the Garden of Eden gourmet food store on Washington Street, right in the heart of Hoboken. You simply can’t walk out of that shop without some inspiration to create culinary magic (or at least attempt to).That place is a heaven of fresh vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meats, and other foodie delights, and there just really isn’t anything like it within walking distance in our new neighborhood that I’ve been able to find.

Thankfully, though, Hoboken is only the town over from Jersey City so I’m only one Light Rail stop away from my old stomping grounds. This weekend, I decided to stop by Garden of Eden on a lark before heading home from a volunteer meeting that I was attending in Hoboken, hoping to get inspired to make something nom-tastic. As usual, the Garden didn’t fail me. Continue reading

Gemelli with Pistachio Pesto and Crispy Prosciutto

Gemelli with Pistachio Pesto and Prosciutto

For some reason, whenever I think of pistachios, I am instantly brought back to my childhood, sitting in my parents’ lap, trying my hardest to pry open those smooth, beige shells to get at the salty-yet-somewhat-sweet greenish-violet nuts inside. A very distinct memory I have is from when I was around 6 or 7 years old, sitting at the kitchen counter at my parents’ friends’ house, chomping on pistachios and watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although I can’t stomach pistachio ice cream and rarely snack on them anymore, they’ve always held a spot in my heart (along with Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge).

shelled pistachios

I recently had the urge to make some pesto, but when I was looking for the ingredients, the package of pignoli, or pine nuts, struck me as wildly expensive and probably not worth it for this one recipe. So I decided to turn to my old pal, the green machine, the shelled assassin, the Persian palate pleaser, the… wait what? Oh yes. The pistachio. Continue reading