April 11, 2010

Creamy Sweet Basil Smoothie

Hello, summer! That's what this smoothie tastes like, summer.  The weather in St. Louis is getting to be in the 80's nearly every day and while I do love my sun (hah, I wrote "son" at first... now that's scary), I could do without the humidity.  I really hate humidity but, this smoothie makes it tolerable; it's light and refreshing enough to cure the worst heat-induced discontent.  It's also a great way to use up extra fresh herbs.  I don't like buying fresh herbs because, for one thing, they're expensive, and for another, I usually only need a tablespoon or so, which means that a fair amount ends up going to waste.  Now, while I don't think a parsley or chive smoothie would be nearly as enjoyable (or even palatable), summer means basil and lots of it.  Don't let it go to waste!

Creamy Sweet Basil Smoothie
You can definitely tailor the amounts and ingredients of this to your taste.  Smoothies are flexible and the flavor of basil is strong enough to come through the fruit.  You can even add a little spinach for more green power! 
Serves 1

1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt or skyr [I used Siggi's Orange Ginger skyr]
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 large bunch fresh basil (about 15-20 leaves)
1/2 a frozen banana
4 chunks of frozen honeydew or mango [this time I used honeydew]
1/4 of an avocado [I actually have avocado chunks, which I've frozen, so I used those, but I realize that not everyone does this...]
3 ice cubes
juice of half an orange or lemon (optional)
extra basil to garnish (optional)

Toss all ingredients into your blender and blend on high until the mixture is uniform. If you're blender isn't top-notch (and mine definitely isn't) you'll probably have to stop and take the top off a few times to mix around the ingredients yourself and scrape the sides. If it still doesn't blend up nicely try adding extra liquid (either more coconut milk or water, your choice) a tablespoon at a time.

April 6, 2010

Salad Niçoise

Just as the weather was starting to get nicer, I started to crave a fresh niçoise salad.  Niçoise salad could be thought of as the French equivalent to an American cobb salad but, instead of chicken and bacon, the French use tuna.  There are a few other differences as well, such as the absence of cheese, the presence of green beans, and of course the niçoise olives from which the salad gets it's name. 

My salad niçoise wasn't exactly traditional (what exactly is traditional is arguable anyway) but I can assure you that it didn't fall short.  I love love love haricot verts but don't buy them that often since they're more expensive than regular green beans.  I splurged for this occasion though and I advise you to do the same.  The dressing is also wonderful and very classic.  I made some slight alterations in order to use less oil and it still tasted great (I am a vinegar lover though...)

Since I absolutely abhor canned tuna, mostly because I can't get over it's pungent aroma, I tried out these frozen yellowfin burgers that I found at Whole Foods.  I've seen similar frozen salmon burgers on other blogs and they looked pretty tasty, so I thought these would be a perfect substitute.  Unfortunately, the burger didn't live up to my expectations.  It was a little fishy for my liking and the texture was off.  I'm still kind of bummed about these because not only were they $6.99 (a good price for 4 patties if you actually enjoy them) but I'd like to add more fish to my diet since it's a good source of protein, omega-3's (blah blah blah), and usually, it's something I enjoy.  I'm not going to totally give up on these burgers yet though; I still have three more left.  Maybe a nice grilled bun and some ketchup could remedy the situation.  I'm sure the French would be appalled.

Salad Niçoise
No exact measurements here because I didn't use them and you don't really need them.  Since I had such a bad experience with the tuna burger, I added avocado instead on the two days I had the salad as leftovers- I thought it made a great addition.

haricot verts (french green beans), steamed, cooled and halved
niçoise olives, sliced
artichoke hearts, chopped
butter lettuce
tomatoes, chopped
hard-boiled egg, peeled and sliced
some sort of tuna
avocado (optional)

Arrange all ingredients neatly over a bed of lettuce.

Basic Vinegarette

1 tablespoon dijon mustard [I used Grey Poupon 'Country Dijon']
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
a sprinkle of salt, pepper, dried oregano, basil, and thyme to taste

Pour all ingredients into a small clean jar and shake vigorously until the mixture is uniform.