necessity is the mother of invention {& that's why we're here, friends} we dance to the music, we play in the kitchen & sometimes that means one of us breaks the wine glasses {we're not saying who} the cook is a cubicle-warmer/learning & development specialist by day, & a writer/photographer/kitchen goddess by night who has fun inventing healthy things she can actually eat we seriously both need capes & a kick-ass theme song & the baker is a catering delivery superhero; no job too big or too early or too floral not to come home & make magic with a mixer & an oven we are always gluten-free, dairy-free, & magically delicious now, somebody turn up the music! we're about to get our dance on!

09 March 2008

basil inspiration

If I had eyes in the back of my head,
I'd tell you that you looked good as I walked away ...

Jack Johnson, If I Had Eyes

I love fresh basil.

Seriously, I love it. When I brought home today's featured ingredient, I planted my nose in its leaves and inhaled deeply. Repeatedly. I was in heaven.

I think our baker was a bit worried.

If I were getting married and if newspapers still wrote those high society-type wedding announcements that described the color of the ribbon on the flowergirl dresses and the scalloped lace used to make the bride's veil {those are two big "ifs", but work with me here, people}, mine might read: the bride carried a bouquet of fresh basil.

Aside from the unmistakable fragrant aroma of fresh basil, there's something that's so beautifully relaxed about those big leaves, all relaxed and hanging about, laden with their own green goodness. Chill. As if to say, dude whenever you're ready, I'm here. Until then, I'm just going to kick back, hang, and let people catch a whiff of all my basil-y goodness. So I'm cooking to Jack Johnson tonight, the ultimate in relaxed/kicked back/chill tunes.

Speaking of basil-y goodness, you probably want to know what else makes this stuff so good. I'm so glad you asked.

Basil is rich in flavonoids which provide protection for your body at a cellular and chromosomal level from radiation and oxygen-based damage. The volatile oils in basil also have anti-bacterial properties and helps prevent nasty, unwanted bacteria from multiplying. Not only this, but this little leaf is packed with anti-inflammatory properties, good for folks with rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions. Rich in vitamins A {good stuff for promoting cardiovascular health}, C, K {also known as potassium}, magnesium {good for your heart}, iron, and calcium. In other words, this chill little leaf packs a lot of defensive properties.

A Word From the Cook:

  • This dish doesn't have a name. So if you think of a fitting one, be my guest.
  • I rarely measure anything. This is terribly annoying for people who want to duplicate, I know. But the cook is playful, the kitchen a playground, and she likes every dish to be a true original. Have fun making it your own! And let me know what you come up with; I've already got a few ideas for modifying this one ...
  • It should go without saying here, but all the ingredients are organic & when possible, locally grown. Both those things are muy important to me.
  • You can click on the links below in the ingredients list to find out more healthful properties for ingredients in this dish.


2+ lbs. red potatoes, cubed
1 large bunch fresh basil
6 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced/chopped {however you like it, really}
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 package firm tofu, cubed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt
Fresh ground pepper

Meat Option:
Try with a white fish such as rockfish, cod, or halibut. Scallops anyone?
Meat-eaters at my house last night had salt & pepper chicken tenders

What Else You'll Need:
Baking dish
2 skillets
Cutting board/chopping mats
Kitchen knife

What To Do:
Heat oven to 450 degrees F
Place cubed red potatoes in a baking dish
Pour olive oil and stir potatoes until well-coated
Sprinkle with sea salt & pepper
Check potatoes & stir every 10 minutes or so
Potatoes are done when they brown at the edges & are tender when poked with a fork

In a skillet, heat up a good pour of olive oil on med-high heat
Sautee onions and garlic until onions are translucent
Add roma tomatoes, reduce to low-medium heat
After tomatoes soften, reduce heat to low
Add fresh basil and a generous pour of balsamic vinegar
Stir mixture occasionally

In another skillet, heat up olive oil & balsamic vinegar on medium-high heat
Add cubed tofu, and sprinkle with salt & pepper
Cook until any liquid is mostly gone

Putting It Together:
Place potatoes on a plate or in a pasta bowl
Top with onion/tomato/basil mixture
Top with tofu or protein of choice
Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste

Makes about 4 helpings without leftovers.

Since my parents just happened to be in my neck of the woods for this particular experiment, I invited them over to partake. Dad was raised in the midwest & is very much the quintessential meat & potatoes man who is still genuinely shocked that something can taste good and be satisfying without meat, gluten, or dairy products, let alone be vegan {no butter? no cheese? no eggs?}. I'm just saying that he liked it. A lot. And has already asked me to make it again.

Now, I'll let Kaari talk about dessert ...

all photos by kirsten.michelle
check out more saturday evening dining fun here.


Christianne said...

basil is an herb i've only recently discovered the yumminess of. good to know all its magical healing properties. and now my nose wants to breathe in the smell of that leafy green bunch you're holding there. :)

Seen by Mercy said...

I tried this one last week too and again - YUM. Two nights in a row, we were playful cook fans, and again I was surprised that Daniel loved it! We loved it (again added chicken in), and I was reminded of how much I love basil too. The name for it should be something italian... but my creativity is at a low right now, since my hunger is at a high (which is of course why I'm at this site! :) )