Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Basil pesto

The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on the habits of those who live in countries bordering the Mediterranean sea, like, Spain, France, Greece, and Italy. Here is a good example of a dinner based on this type of diet. It is a very healthy way of eating.

Parmesan-Crusted Flounder

4 servings

Ingredients

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Olive oil mayonnaise
4 flounder fillets (about 1 pound total)
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a shallow dish, combine the Parmesan cheese with the paprika and parsley.  Season the fish with salt and pepper. Brush the fish lightly with mayonnaise and dredge in the cheese mixture. Place on an oiled baking sheet or dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake until the fish is cooked through and beginning to brown along the edges 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the fish with the lemon wedges.

Whole Grain Pasta With Zucchini And Tomatoes

4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt
1 medium zucchini (about 8 oz) quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 tablespoon of prepared basil pesto
1 cup fresh mini San Marzano or grape tomatoes, halved
8 oz whole-grain linguine pasta
Pasta water

Directions

Combine 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl; set aside.

Heat the 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add zucchini and ¼ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.

Push zucchini to the sides of the skillet to create a clearing; add the oil-garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine the garlic tomato mixture with the zucchini and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove skillet from the heat and stir in pine nuts and pesto.

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large Dutch oven. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water; cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, drain pasta and return pasta to the Dutch oven. Turn the heat on to low.

Add sauce and reserved cooking water to the pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl.


Serve with a green vegetable or a mixed green salad.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 (6-oz) salmon fillets, skin removed and patted dry with paper towels
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes (seeds removed)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon prepared basil pesto
Thin Spaghetti, cooked

Directions

In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Season salmon all over with salt and pepper.

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the salmon skin-side up and cook until deeply golden, about 6 minutes.

Turn over and cook 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to low and add the butter. When the butter melts, stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the shallot and cook until tender.

Add the chopped tomato and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes soften.

Stir in the heavy cream, parmesan, and pesto and bring mixture to a simmer.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Return the salmon back to the skillet and spoon the sauce over the fish. Simmer until the salmon is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes more.

Place some cooked spaghetti on each serving plate and place the salmon on top. Pour the sauce in the skillet over the fish and spaghetti.


Cauliflower Antipasto Salad

Ingredients

For the salad
1 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
8 ounces fresh small mozzarella balls
1-16 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into small cubes
4 ounces salami slices
4 ounces pepperoni slices
1 small red onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
8 oz pepperoncini, drained and sliced into rings
4-5 oz oil cured olives

For the dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 clove garlic minced

Directions

Place the cauliflower florets in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 3-4 minutes or until as tender as you’d like. Drain and dry on paper towels.

Cut the pepperoni and salami slices into quarters.

Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl with the cauliflower.

To make the dressing:

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, oregano, basil, rosemary, and garlic until well combined. Taste and add additional lemon, herbs, or salt as desired.

Pour the dressing over the cauliflower salad and toss to coat.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop before serving.

Pesto & Fresh Tomato Pizza

Pizza Dough
Make the dough one day ahead.
2 1’2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup warm water

Topping
1/2 cup good quality store-bought or homemade pesto (Link to my recipe)
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
2 vine-ripened tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Place all the ingredients in an electric mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients until they come to a ball around the paddle. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Coat the inside of a plastic ziplock bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag, seal, and place in the refrigerator until the next day.
Remove the bag from the refrigerator an hour before you want to make the pizza.

Cut the tomatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the juices. Sprinkle lightly with the salt and cover with more paper towels.
Cut the mozzarella into thin slices and place on paper towels to drain, This will prevent a soggy crust.

Set an oven rack in the bottom position and preheat the oven to 500°F.
Oil a large pizza pan and spread the dough in the pan so that it touches the edges of the pan. Spread the pesto evenly over the pizza dough
Bake on the bottom rack for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven; and then top the pizzas with the mozzarella cheese, followed by the tomato slices and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season with a few grinds fresh black pepper. Place the pizzas back in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden, about 10 minutes more. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Mini Cheesecakes

Makes 12 mini cheesecakes

Crust
1 cup almond flour
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar or brown sugar substitute (I use monk fruit)
1/4 cup salted butter, melted

Cake
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granular sugar or granular sugar substitute (monk fruit)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
Sugar-free fruit jelly or jam (I used cherry)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F
Line a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the almond flour and the brown sugar. Add the melted butter to the bowl and mix until the almond flour is coated and the mixture is the texture of wet sand. Place about 1 tablespoon of the crust mixture in the bottom of each muffin cup,. Use a spoon to press the mixture down into the bottom of each muffin liner.
Bake the crusts for 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.
Add eggs, lemon extract, vanilla extract and sweetener and mix until all ingredients are well combined and smooth. Divide the cheesecake mixture evenly between all 12 wells in the muffin pan. I use an ice cream scoop to measure equally. If using a silicone muffin pan, place it on top of a baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheesecakes are set. They will still be a little jiggly in the center.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pan on the counter for 20 minutes. Place a teaspoon of jam on top of each mini cake.
Chill for up to 24 hours before serving.


Zoodles With Basil Pesto

If you are not a fan of zucchini noodles, by all means, use cooked pasta.

2 servings

Ingredients

2 zucchini
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup basil pesto, see recipe below
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cut the base end off the zucchini and use the other end to hold while the zucchini turns in the gadget.

Place the zoodles on a double thick layer of paper towels to dry.

In a large skillet, heat the butter and, then, add the zucchini noodles; toss for 2-3 minutes. Add the cheese and pesto sauce; toss the zoodles until completely covered in pesto.

Basil Pesto

Ingredients

4 packed cups washed basil leaves
½ cup shelled pistachio nuts, pignoli or walnuts
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place the pistachios, garlic, salt, and pepper in a processor bowl. Process until the nuts and garlic are chopped.

Add the basil leaves and process for a minute or two. In the opening spout at the top, pour the olive oil as you process.

Keep processing until the mixture is smooth. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Caprese Salad

2-3 servings

Ingredients

2 large vine ripe tomatoes
4 oz fresh mozzarella
Black Olives
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, sliced thin

Directions

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese into 1/4″ slices.

Assemble the salad by layering slices of tomato, mozzarella, and basil leaves on a serving plate.

Season with salt, pepper, and drizzle with the olive oil.

Scatter a few olives around the serving plate and serve.

Grilled Ribeye Steak

2 servings

Ingredients

1 ¼ lb bone-in Ribeye steak
2 teaspoons steak seasoning (I use Pensey’s)
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Press the steak seasoning onto the steak and let it sit at room temperature for one hour before grilling.

Preheat an outdoor grill or a stovetop grill pan. Oil the grill.

Place the steak on the grill and cook for 4 minutes. Turn the steak over and grill for 3 minutes for medium-rare or 4-5 minutes for medium.

Remove to a plate and place the butter on top of the steak. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.


Grilled Swordfish

According to Seafood Watch.org, Swordfish caught in the Atlantic with harpoons or handlines and hand-operated pole-and-lines and Western and Central Pacific with handlines and hand-operated pole-and-lines, or by U.S. fleets in the Atlantic with buoys, is a “Best Choice.” Swordfish populations are healthy, and there are no major bycatch concerns in these fisheries. This is the type of swordfish that I purchase.

4-6 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
4 Swordfish Steaks, 1/2 inch thick, (about 1 1/2 Pounds Total Weight)
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian Flavored Panko Crumbs
Lemon Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Place the swordfish in a glass dish, scatter garlic over fish and then pour the olive oil over all.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready to grill:
Remove the fish from the marinade and place on a plate. Pour the marinade into a measuring cup. Reserve.
Place a sheet of heavy foil on a baking sheet and poke a few holes in the foil.
Place the swordfish on the foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each lightly with panko crumb. Turn the fish over and sprinkle with panko.
Heat an outdoor grill to high. Slide the foil with the fish still on it onto the grill grates. Lower heat to medium. Cook about 15 minutes until the crumbs begin to brown the and the fish is cooked through. Do not turn fish.

Remove fish to a plate and pour the lemon sauce over the fish or serve on the side.

Lemon Sauce

Add more olive oil to the oil in the measuring cup that was used for the swordfish marinade to equal 1/2 cup.
Add
1/4 hot water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
Whisk and warm in the microwave when ready to serve.

Linguine with Pesto Cream Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb linguine
1 cup pistachio basil pesto sauce, see recipe
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Directions

Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander.
In the same pot add the pesto, cream, and Parmesan cheese. Warm over low heat and then add the cooked linguine. Cook for a minute or two. Pour into a serving bowl and top with freshly ground black pepper.

Cucumber Orange Salad

Ingredients

2 celery stalks, sliced
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded & sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 orange, cut into segments
1 jalapeno; ribs & seeds removed, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup Italian Vinaigrette

Directions

Combine the salad ingredients in a serving bowl. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Serve immediately.

 


Pistachio-Basil Pesto

Ingredients

4 cups washed basil leaves
½ cup shelled pistachio nuts
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place the pistachios, garlic, salt, and pepper in a processor bowl. Process until the nuts and garlic are chopped.

Add the basil leaves and process for a minute or two. In the opening spout at the top, pour the olive oil as you process.

Keep processing until the mixture is smooth.

Fresh Tomato Pesto Tart

Press in the Pan Pastry Dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups All-purpose, Low-Carb or Gluten-free flour
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour the flour, cheddar cheese, and salt into a 9-inch pie pan. Stir with a fork to mix the ingredients together. Pour in the melted butter and mix with the fork until the dry ingredients are completely moistened. Press the dough, using the fork, across the bottom of the pan and up the sides.


Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes until lightly brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Filling
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
6 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ cup pistachio basil pesto, recipe above

Directions

Spread the bottom of the baked crust with the pesto. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Arrange the tomatoes in an overlapping single layer over the crust and sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top.

Bake until the tart is deep golden brown and crispy, about 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before cutting.

Bell Peppers Stuffed With Shrimp Salad

When using shrimp for salads, I prefer to grill or oven roast them. Boiling tends to make them soft and they do not stand up to the dressing.

Ingredients

Shrimp
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoons seafood seasoning
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salad
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 chopped green onions
1 stalk celery, chopped
Zest and juice of half an orange
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
4 green bell peppers, halved and seeded

Directions

Heat a grill pan over medium-high.
Place the peeled and deveined the shrimp in a ziplock plastic bag with 1 tablespoon olive oil, seafood seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and shake the bag. Spread the shrimp in one layer on the heated grill pan. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, just until pink, firm and cooked through. Let cool for 25 minutes.

To make the dressing. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, orange zest, orange juice, dill, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

When the shrimp are cool, cut them into ½ inch dice and add them to the dressing and toss. Chill in the refrigerator until serving time. Fill bell pepper halves with shrimp salad and serve.

Summer Green Bean Salad

Ingredients

1 pound green beans trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 finely chopped shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Coarsely chopped basil for garnish

Directions

Several hours before serving:
Place green beans in a pan of salted boiling water to cover. Cook until crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes according to the size of the beans. Do not overcook. Drain.
In a salad bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, shallots, garlic, oil, chopped tomato, salt, and pepper. Add hot, drained green beans and toss well. Sprinkle with basil. Let the dish sit at room temperature for several hours before serving. Toss a few times during the marinating time.


Nothing says summer like a pizza made with fresh tomatoes and basil. It is one of our favorites and we look forward to this time of year when these ingredients are at their best.

I also have come up with an easy to make pizza dough that doesn’t require a lot of attention. It works perfectly every time. You just have to remember to make it a day ahead.

Putting the pizza together and baking it are a breeze, which is just what you want for this time of year. Make a green salad to go with the pizza and dinner is complete,

Easy Pizza Dough

Makes one 15 – 16 inch round pizza. Prepare the dough one day ahead.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/2 cups Italian flour or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Topping

3 medium fresh, ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
½ cup homemade or store-bought pesto
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
7 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in the large bowl of an electric mixer and with the paddle attachment mix until the ingredients come together around the paddle.

Attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.

Spray a ziplock plastic bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag and close the top. Place the bag in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to make the pizza, remove the bag from the refrigerator 30 minutes before making the pizza.

Place the sliced tomatoes on paper towels to drain.

Turn the oven to 500 degrees F and let the oven heat for 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto an oiled pizza pan and push the dough to the edges with your fingers.

Spread the pesto over the dough and cover the pesto layer with the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the tomatoes.

Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and place slices of fresh mozzarella over the tomatoes.

Return the pizza to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more.

 



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