Posts tagged ‘Basil’

September 8, 2015

Caprese Pasta Salad

Caprese Pasta Salad

If you’ve been reading this blog for much time, you probably know that I’m a big fan of culinary challenges. Unusual ingredients, strange kitchen set ups – you name it. Recently though, I completed a trial like no other.

I spent two weeks as a vegetarian.

Yes, it’s true. Your humble blogger and avowed carnivore went fourteen days without a single bite of meat. It was part of a deal that my girlfriend and I made to “eat healthier,” because meat is “bad for you.” In exchange she agreed to give up sweets for two weeks. I think I got the raw end of the deal.

(For the record, there is ample evidence to suggest that eating less meat contributes to better overall health. There, I admitted it.)

So what did I learn from the experience?

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February 25, 2014

Bruschetta Diabla


It’s my 100th post on Rosemary Renaissance!

When I first started this blog I never expected it would be anything more than an idle side project, but seeing readership rise steadily and hearing from you all about the recipes I put up here is what has pushed me to be a more adventurous chef. So whether this is the first post you’ve seen or you’ve been following my (mis)adventures in the kitchen since my first post back in 2011, I’d like to thank you all so much for reading.

Since good cooking should always be a labor of love, it’s fitting that my 100th post is one of the dishes that I made as part of a four-course Valentine’s Day dinner for my wonderful girlfriend, Maggie. It’s the second year I’ve cooked on Valentine’s Day and she hasn’t complained yet, so I must be doing something right!

The Bruschetta Diabla is a twist on the classic tomato-and-basil Italian appetizer. The tomatoes are burst using direct heat and then reduced into a sweet, tangy and spicy compote with garlic and red pepper flakes. They are paired with buttery, meaty mushrooms and aromatic basil atop crunchy baguette slices for a compact burst of flavor.

Whether you’re looking for an appetizer for a fancy dinner or want to host a swanky cocktail party, these little bite are the perfect fit!

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August 5, 2013

“The Pizza”


It’s been months since I first made this pizza (I’ve made it several times since since then too), but I’ve held off on posting it for two simple reasons: it is too damn good to describe and too delicious to name.

I just can’t wait any longer to share this little miracle with you all though, so I’m simply going to refer to it as The Pizza.

How does it taste, you ask? Let me paint you a word picture.

Every ingredient, every part, every bite in The Pizza is positively bursting with delicious flavor. The sauce alone is something to marvel at; with some bread, it would be a noteworthy appetizer in its own right. It’s full of finely diced sauteed mushrooms that melt into the tomato sauce as it simmers, creating a whole new meaty depth of flavor. The shallots and sun-dried tomatoes add another layer of zest and complexity.

But The Pizza hardly ends at the sauce. The cheese trifecta of mozzarella, parmesan and mascarpone brings creamy, sharp, and nutty notes together over each slice. That richness is punctuated by earthy fresh basil, spicy arugula and tart balsamic vinegar. And there’s extra sliced mushrooms as well – because why not?

So the next time you have a free evening go ahead and dim the lights, light some candles, crank up the smooth jazz and make yourself The Pizza. It’s a culinary imperative.

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February 11, 2013

Green Pea and Mushroom Risotto with Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil


I’m generally of the mind that when it comes to cooking, form follows function. Substance over style. The bite is more important than the bark. You get the idea.

Sometimes, though, it’s fun to cook something that just looks awesome.

This dish gives your the opportunity to do just that. The sticky, adhesive risotto can be made into a variety of shapes using everyday kitchen items. Further, the bold flavors are mirrored by bold colors that make for great presentation options.

This recipe is delicious in its own right – blending together a number of classic Italian flavors – but it’s also a great opportunity to practice your plating skills or impress a special someone with a bit of dramatic flair.

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September 3, 2012

Italian Broccoli Fritter Stack

Every once in a while I cook something really, truly, supremely delicious.

It happens about once a year. In 2011 it was the Benedicto Italiano, which to this day is still probably the best thing I’ve ever made. In 2012, it’s this Broccoli Fritter Stack.

I have to give credit where it is due. This dish was inspired by the innovative broccoli fritter recipe over at rock star food blog Smitten Kitchen. Typical fritters are chalk-full of starchy goodness (potatoes, flour, rice, etc.) but these ones are made almost entirely of broccoli, with just enough parmesan and flour to hold them together. It’s the essence of broccoli, with just the right amount of frill.

The ensemble cast is just as important for this recipe, however. The portabello mushroom is simple – seasoned with just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper – but flavorful, filling and tender. The sausage-infused sauce is slightly sweet, spicy and, most importantly, ruggedly filling. All you really need is something to sop up all the leftover goodies. Ciabatta? Done.

Presentation is always a secondary concern – substance before style – but this dish knocks it out of the park on that count as well. Each layer is vibrant and unique, with basil ribbons on top sealing the deal.

Cook this. Now. You won’t be disappointed.

Italian Broccoli Fritter Stack

  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage (I prefer spicy, but mild is fine)
  • 16 oz marinara sauce
  • 4 portabello mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • Broccoli Parmesan Fritters
  • 2 ciabatta rolls
  • 3-4 large basil leaves
  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium high. Saute the Italian sausage until crispy and lightly browned, approximately 7-10 minutes. Add the marinara and reduce heat to low. Continue to stir periodically.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the stems from the portabello mushrooms. Divide the olive oil, salt and pepper evenly and apply to the mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in the oven and cook until lightly tender, approximately 12-15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the broccoli parmesan fritters per Smitten Kitchen instructions.
  4. Cut the ciabatta rolls in half and toast lightly in the oven. Lay down a ciabatta roll, portabello mushroom, broccoli fritter and a dollop of sausage-marinara sauce. Top with a handful of basil ribbons and serve.
February 26, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil and Chèvre Macaroni and Cheese

We’re drawing close to the end of Winter, and I’m going to take every opportunity possible to make comfort food while it’s still seasonally appropriate.

So a few weeks back I trekked through the snow to meet up with a couple friends and whip up this zesty version of a classic comfort food dish: Mac and Cheese.

Gourmet macaroni and cheese is all the rage these days amongst upscale restaurants. You can’t hardly look at a menu without seeing gruyère-and-lobster, blue-and-fig-and-rosemary, green chili, or countless other variations of the dish. Some people are tired of the trend, but to me it exemplifies one of the greatest techniques in cooking: the ability to separate the flavors from the vehicle – in this case, macaroni – and apply new ones to the dish.

I chose to use a handful of Italian ingredients to liven up the profile of the macaroni and cheese. Although normally somewhat aggressive flavors, the sun-dried tomato, basil and chèvre are all mellowed by each others presence. The tartness of the sun-dried tomato is balanced by the creaminess of the sauce, while the herbal notes of basil cut through the sharp, salty chèvre. The combination creates a distinctive, but deceptively tempered, dish.

This is a hearty meal with Italian flair is perfect for any dark, rainy evening. To serve, I recommend red wine and roaring fire.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil and Chèvre Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 cups macaroni
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomato, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chèvre
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 10 basil leaves, roughly shredded
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Cook the macaroni al dente according to instructions. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a large saucepan to medium-high. Add the butter, onion, garlic and sun-dried tomato and saute for 6-8 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent.
  3. Reduce the heat to low. Add the heavy cream, chèvre, mozzarella, black pepper and oregano and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Combine the macaroni, shredded basil and chèvre sauce in a large casserole dish and mix together until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese over the top and place the casserole dish in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
December 8, 2011

Deconstructed Margherita Pizza with Mushrooms

Patrick and I are still working on our full write up of SliderPalooza. But I would never leave you, my dear readers, hanging.

So to keep your mind, eyes and stomach amused while we furiously try to fabricate recipes (which we never wrote down) and craft clever prose to bring them to life (we’re cooks, not poets!) I bring you a brief intermezzo: Deconstructed Margherita Pizza with Mushrooms.

This recipe is the perfect example of the right reason to deconstruction something. Although the technique always make for a phenomenal presentation, the real benefit of deconstructing a dish is allowing each component of the dish to shine individually.

Margherita pizza is composed of a handful of bold ingredients. And though I could have made this with simply those ingredients, I decided to bring mushrooms into the dish as well to add another dimension to both the flavor and texture. When baked together in a pizza the ingredients create a classic, flavorful dish. Separate, each component becomes the star of its own act in a play.

First, the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes bursts forth as the roasted exterior gives way. Then you get the crunchy, rustic flavor of the toasted foccacia. After that come the buttery, meaty seared mushrooms followed by the salty, creamy goat cheese mozzarella. Finally everything comes to a close with a hit of basil that lingers on your tongue.

These deconstructed bites make wonderful appetizers, and can also serve as the perfect amuse-bouche for an full course Italian meal. No matter how you’re serving them, they’re bound to impress!

Deconstructed Margherita Pizza with Mushrooms

  • 1 carton cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf focaccia bread
  • 5 medium-sized mushrooms, cut into 1/8 inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, torn into 1 inch x 1 inch squares
  • 1/4 cup of goat cheese mozzarella, crumbled into pieces approximately 1/2 inch in diameter
  • toothpicks

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil and empty the cherry tomatoes onto it. Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss until the tomatoes are evenly coated. Add the fresh ground pepper and place in the oven. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the skins of the tomatoes just begin to crack. Remove from the oven.
  2. Switch the oven to broil on high. Place the focaccia loaf in the oven and toast for four minutes, or until golden brown on top. Flip the loaf and toast for another 2 minutes, then remove.
  3. Heat a skillet to high heat. Add the butter and allow it to cook until it just begins to brown. Add the mushrooms and toss until evenly coated. Cook until one side of the mushrooms are seared, approximately 4 minutes, then toss and repeat for the other side. Mushrooms should be golden brown on both sides when done.
  4. Cut the focaccia into 1 inch x 1 inch squares. Place a mushroom (or two) on each square.
  5. To assemble, use a toothpick to skewer a piece of basil, a tomato and a chunk of mozzarella. Carefully push the skewer into a focaccia and mushroom square. To serve, assemble the skewers on a platter of your choosing.
October 8, 2011

Truffle French Fries with Basil and Parmesan

Everyone gets cravings for junky, greasy food every once in a while, nothing wrong than that. It doesn’t mean it can’t make something tasty and classy as well.

For those of you who haven’t made your own french fries before I definitely recommend it. It is a bit of work – you have to cut all the potatoes, towel them dry, deep fry them and then towel them off again – but the benefits are well worth it. You can cut them to any shape you want, cook them as crisp or well done as you like and, most importantly, top them with whatever you like.

These french fries use one of the most singularly spectacular ingredients in the culinary field: truffles. If you haven’t had anything that incorporates truffle before, then there is really no way to explain it. It’s as delicious as difficult to describe. The only way to get a real sense of the rich, lingering, umami flavor is to try it.

This recipe pairs the flavors of truffle with earthy, nutty Parmesan and crisp basil for a dish that will satisfy your junk food cravings in a deliciously upscale fashion.

Truffle French Fries with Basil and Parmesan

  • Enough vegetable oil to fill a medium-sized pot (approximately 3-5 cups)
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 packed cup of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup truffle oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Cut the potatoes into desired size (personally them somewhere between normal and steak fries, about 1/2 inch on either side)
  2. Pour the vegetable oil into the pot and heat to medium hot. You can tell the oil is ready by dropping a breadcrumb in and seeing if it sizzles.
  3. Begin cooking the fries in as large of batches as you are comfortable managing. Place them in the pot and allow them to fry for several minutes after they begin to float to the top of the oil.
  4. Once each batch is done cooking, place it on a paper towel and allow it to drain briefly. After a few minutes toss the fries into a large bowl and toss with a small layer of Parmesan. Repeat this process until all the potatoes are fried.
  5. Drizzle the truffle oil over the top of the french fries. Add the basil, salt and pepper and toss gentle. Plate the french fries and serve.
August 6, 2011

Benedicto Italiano

Simply put, this dish is magnificent.

It starts with a toasty, chewy English muffin that soaks up all the extra sauce and yolk to make sure nothing slips away. The prosciutto on top of that is crisp, crunchy and salty. After that, the poached eggs are rich and creamy and the yolks run out onto the plate the minute a fork pierces them. Atop it all is a robust hollandaise with classic Italian flavors of fresh basil and sun-dried tomato.

Traditional Eggs Benedict is a great dish, but it often leans too strongly towards richness and decadence.  This Benedicto Italiano uses lighter prosciutto and cuts through the heaviness with tart sun-dried tomato and refreshing, aromatic basil. It’ll definitely leave you feeling full, but the flavors are explosive and perfectly balanced

In the end though, any attempt at describe this dish will fall short of the real deal.  The only way to know what I mean is to make it yourself!

Benedicto Italiano

  • 5 eggs
  • 5/8 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of cayenne
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated and diced
  • 2 slices of prosciutto
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 English muffin


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°.  Fill two pots with water and bring to a steady simmer.
  2. Place the prosciutto on a foil covered baking sheet and slide into the oven to cook while making the sauce and poaching the eggs. The prosciutto should cook for approximately 10 minutes, so be sure to remove it on time if you don’t finish the next steps in time.
  3. Take three eggs and separate the yolks from the whites.  Combine the yolks and melted butter in a stainless steel bowl and whisk together until thickened.
  4. Add the lemon juice and cayenne to the egg mixture.  Place the stainless steel bowl on top of the first pot, making sure the bottom doesn’t touch the water, and continue to whisk vigorously until the volume has increased by half. Remove from the heat and add the basil and sun dried tomato, mixing thoroughly.
  5. To the second pot add the vinegar and bring to a very light boil. Poach the two remaining eggs so the yolks are still slightly runny (If you don’t know how to poach an egg, Smitten Kitchen has an excellent how-to here).
  6. Lightly toast the English muffin. To assemble the dish, place a prosciutto slice atop each English muffin half followed by a poached egg. Top with a couple spoonfuls of the tomato-basil hollandaise and garnish with a few basil ribbons.
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