From wine spritzers to cabernet caipirinhas, this Summer, I've been all about sipping wine-based cocktails. The one I'm most infatuated with is sangria. I've experimented with tropical fruit sangria and floral liquor sangria. However, before I made this version, I had never enjoyed a sangria with fresh herbs. The star of this sangria is basil. It infuses the wine with an aromatic earthiness. Fresh-squeezed orange juice further flavors the sangria and club soda provides a subtle effervescence. To enjoy this refreshing drink, that's perfect for sipping on the deck, get the recipe and read more
Fontina is a creamy Italian cow's milk cheese with a texture that varies depending on the age. Typically young fontina is soft and extremely good for melting, while mature fontina is hard. Originally native to Italy's Aosta Valley, fontina is now produced in Denmark, France, and the United States. However, Italian fontina has a stronger, richer, more pungent flavor than those created in other areas. Fontina has a pale-yellow color and mild, nutty flavor that's wonderful for almost any use, whether it's eating out of hand or smashed in a sandwich. To find out how fontina made these grilled pizza bites incredibly delectable, read more
Here on the West Coast, we haven't been hard-hit by the year's devastating tomato blight, so I've been taking advantage of my good fortune by supporting growers of heirloom tomatoes (perhaps a little too much; the other day I bought $21 worth of them!). As a salad fanatic, I had to make my favorite type of tomato salad.
The insalata Caprese, which literally translates to "salad from Capri," is composed of three main ingredients: fresh mozzarella, vine-ripened tomatoes, and basil leaves. It's a no-brainer to prepare, and takes five seconds to make, so the key is to use top-notch components.
In addition to enjoying the basic Caprese, it's also fun to play around with the recipe. On this day, I chopped up an extra pound of heirlooms, let them sit in a fine sieve until the juice strained through, and whisked the juice with olive oil and seasonings to make a punchy vinaigrette that brought out the savory herbaceousness of tomatoes. Start experimenting when you read more
When basil is in season, I can't make enough pesto. The classic Italian sauce native to Genoa tastes delicious on everything from pasta to pizza to grilled fish. It's excellent stirred into salads or slathered on sandwich bread. Although store-made pesto is widely available, it's easy to make. Pesto is simply an uncooked paste consisting of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. It can be made with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. Once you have mastered the basic recipe, you can get creative with other herb, nut, and cheese combinations. To learn the basic technique, read more
Earlier today I teased your tastebuds with a goat cheese quiz, so it's only fair to share my current favorite goat cheese recipe: tomato and goat cheese tarts. Goat's milk has a high amount of fatty acids (much more than cow's milk) that provide the cheese with its characteristic tart flavor.
Goat cheese most commonly comes in a soft, spreadable, crumbly form, although there are hard aged varieties that have a consistency more like feta. Since goats are hardy animals that can survive in areas where cows cannot — parts of the Middle East, Africa, and the Mediterranean — goat cheese is the world's most widely consumed cheese.
I love the salty and creamy flavor of goat cheese and almost always have it in my refrigerator. To see how I paired the tangy cheese with ripe tomatoes to make this easy tart, read more
I've had bruschetta on the brain lately, as I take advantage of tomato season while it lasts. So rather than limit my tomato and basil toppings to crusty bread, I'm adding this marinated chicken recipe to my dinner repertoire — it's perfect for a warm evening when you're short on time. This dish is cooked on the grill, then topped with caprese-inspired ingredients for a delicious, melty meal. Make this seasonal specialty.
Nothing gets the conversation rolling at a party like flowing drinks. For a Bastille Day lunch, serve a refreshingly light apéritif-based cocktail, such as the Lillet-basil concoction seen here. Lillet is a French alcoholic drink made from a blend of wine, brandy, fruits, and herbs.
Traditionally it's served over ice, but this recipe makes it more festive by combining it with fresh orange juice, basil, and cucumber spears. When you sit down to eat the Niçoise salad, pour a crisp classic French white. To check out the Lillet cocktail recipe, please read more
You can do pretty much anything with the succulent, summery caprese salad concept, from caprese skewers to caprese nachos. So when heirloom tomatoes started showing up at my farmers market, I whipped up a sandwich featuring the classic combination of fresh basil and mozzarella cheese.
I'm almost embarrassed by how easy it is to make, but that's why this sandwich is perfect for the season. At just five minutes in the oven, it doesn't require slaving over a hot stove. Be sure the tomatoes are perfectly ripe; if you really love them, add an extra layer of tomatoes and cheese. Find out how to make it.
When the Summer's in full swing, I pretty much live on tomatoes. I eat them out of hand and in salads, drink them in gazpacho — and now, thanks to Michael Chiarello, I can swim in them! In addition to making fresh mozzarella on the spot and singing the virtues of sustainable agriculture, chef Chiarello also introduced the audience to a savory martini made from tomato water, a clear liquid with a delicate, acidic flavor that's produced when tomatoes are strained of their juices. When paired with bocconcini and a chiffonade of basil, this genius non-alcoholic martini resembles a caprese salad in a glass.
If you love the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes, you'll enjoy this fuss-free vegetarian meal. Three (fresh, sun-dried, and paste) types of tomatoes are combined in the blender to create a quick, no-cook sauce. Tossed with piping hot pasta, the sauce coats each and every cranny.
For extra decadence, grate on some Parmesan cheese. Pair it with a simple green salad, crusty garlic bread, and glass of white wine, and you've got an ultimate Italian meal. Check out the recipe when you read more