On select Mondays, I’ll be sharing recipes for delicious vegetarian dishes.
Basil has the remarkable power of making me instantaneously happy when I am near it. I love the smell of basil, and during a particularly cold Chicago winter, my basil plant was the only thing giving me any hope that the horrible weather would eventually end.
My favorite lunch sandwich combination, especially when I have lots of leaves on my basil plant, is the caprese: tomato, mozzarella, and basil all stacked on a baguette and drizzled with just a little hint of balsamic vinegar.
For a party a few months ago, I decided I wanted to do a variety of appetizers and finger foods instead of making traditional dinner foods. This was more out of necessity than artistic choice, as I was in the middle of moving out of my apartment, and there was no furniture except for a large box that we used as a makeshift table to hold the food. In addition to some staples such as stuffed mushrooms, I decided to try making caprese stacks on pieces of garlic toast.
~20 basil leaves
2-3 fresh tomatoes
8 oz fresh mozzarella (this may vary depending on how much you like cheese)
1 head garlic
2 tbsps butter (can substitute olive oil)
Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
Dried herbs for seasoning the toast (optional)
1. Cut the top off the head of garlic and wrap in aluminum foil. Preheat oven to 400F and put the wrapped garlic in. Allow the garlic to cook in the oven for ~30 min. After garlic is cooked, it should be soft enough to squeeze out.
2. Cut the baguette into 1/2 inch thick slices and lay the slices out on a cookie sheet.
3. Melt the butter. Add the roasted garlic to the butter and brush garlic butter onto the baguette slices. Sprinkle some dried herbs (basil, oregano, parsley) and freshly ground black pepper over the bread. Add some extra olive oil if desired.
4. Put the seasoned bread slices in the oven and let crisp for 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
5. Cut the fresh mozzarella into 1/2-1 cm thick slices. Cut tomato into round slices. Wash basil leaves and dry on a paper towel.
6. When bread is toasted, remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow the toast to cool for 5-10 minutes.
7. Assemble caprese stacks: put basil leaves directly on the toast, then add mozzarella, then tomatoes. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the stacks and serve.
How do you like to use fresh basil?