Tag Archives: basil

Summer Panzanella Salad

My Mom and I first had a Panzanella salad a few years ago. It was at an event that took place in the middle of the summer, on a ranch, outside. It was hot and fairly miserable. The thought of eating anything hot was not appetizing at all. This beautiful salad was served before the main course, it was cool, flavorful and downright pretty. We quickly ran home, lurked up a recipe and this has been a staple in our world since. I noticed some recipes don’t include the mozzarella balls, and that is a big mistake. Those little marinaded cheese balls make this salad. It’s my favorite part. And using good balsamic is a must too, something about the sweetness of it really compliments this dish. If you don’t have zucchini, a cucumber can be used instead and you don’t have to grill it.

Sigh, it's so good.

Sigh, it’s so good.

Panzanella Salad

  • 1/2 loaf’s worth of good crusty bread made into croutons (recipe here)
  • 1.5 pounds cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini, treated for moisture and lightly grilled (I’ll cover this later)
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 container (who am I kidding? Use two, it’s the best part!) marinaded mozzarella balls
  • 20 to 25 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1/3 cup oil reserved from marinaded mozzarella (or you can use olive oil)
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
See the moisture on the top of the zucchini? This step really does make a difference.

See the moisture on the top of the zucchini? This step really does make a difference.

Slice zucchini into rounds and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes, the salt will draw out some of the moisture. Do that for each side of your sliced zucchini. Blotting with towels remove excess salt. I like to grill my zucchini for about 3 minutes on each side or until I get nice grill marks. Cool, and cut into bite sized pieces.

I love this salad because I get to use almost everything from my yarden!

I love this salad because I get to use almost everything from my yarden!

Combine the first 6 ingredients in large mixing bowl. Toss to mix. In a separate bowl mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and mustard. Mix well. Pour the vinaigrette over the rest of the salad.

Let chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Pre-dressing

Pre-dressing

Enjoy!!

 

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Fun Ag Facts XII

Fun ag fact of the day: Georgia is the top-producing state, breaking the record for highest average yield with 4,555 pounds of peanuts per acre in 2012.

Fun ag fact of the day: Peanuts are grown in 15 states, with 55 percent being produced in the Southeastern states. The United States produced 6.7 billion pounds of peanuts in 2012 and ranks third in the world for peanut production behind China and India.

Fun ag fact of the day: The average American will consume more than six pounds of peanut products per year in the form of peanut butter, candy, roasted, salted, boiled and more. Despite not technically qualifying as a nut, peanuts are the most popular snack nut in the U.S., accounting for 67 percent of “nut” consumption.

Fun ag fact of the day: With edible kernels encased in a shell, the peanut is classified as a legume, along with beans and peas.

fun ag fact of the day: Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California are the top pumpkin producing states. In 2008, these states alone produced 1.1 billion pounds, or $141 million.

Fun ag fact of the day: Pumpkins are a source of potassium and vitamin A.

Fun ag fact of the day: Pumpkins are 90 percent water and part of the Cucurbitaceae family. They are related to squash and gourds.

Fun ag fact of the day:The largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed over 350 pounds. This record breaking pastry required 80 pounds of pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and baked for six hours.

Fun ag fact of the day: most pumpkins are grown to be processed, while a small percentage are grown for decoration and sold at you-pick farms or farmer’s markets.

Fun ag fact of the day: The four varieties of peppermint are Black Mitcham, the original selection from the wild, and three variations: Todd’s Mitcham, Murray Mitcham and Robert’s Mitcham.

Fun ag fact of the day: Mint is shallow-rooted and requires loose-textured soils for good root penetration and growth. It requires 60 inches of rainfall for optimum growth and fertility.

Fun ag fact of the day: In 2010, the U.S. harvested 71,300 acres of peppermint.

Fun ag fact of the day: Native spearmint is used to flavor toothpaste and dental hygiene products, whereas Scotch spearmint has a milder, more pleasant taste and is used in chewing gum and candies.

Fun ag fact of the day: In 2010, the U.S. harvested 18,600 acres of spearmint.

Fun ag fact of the day: The Romans believed eating mint would increase intelligence. The scent of mint was also thought to stop a person from losing his or her temper, and royal ambassadors carried mint sprigs in their pockets.

Fun ag fact of the day: One ounce of pecans has as much protein as two servings of meat or beans.

Fun ag fact of the day: Pecans contain more than 19 various vitamins and minerals.

Fun ag fact of the day: According to the USDA Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, pecans contain the most antioxidant capacity of any other nut.

Fun ag fact of the day: Pecans are naturally sodium free and a healthy snack alternative to chips.

Fun ag fact of the day: Pecans are grown on trees and often harvested by machine.

Fun ag fact of the day: The United States produces 80 percent of the world’s pecans.

Fun ag fact of the day: Georgia, the leading pecan-producing state since the 1800s, produced 100 million pounds in 2012.

Fun ag fact of the day: Peaches are grown commercially in 28 states. The top four peach-producing states are California, South Carolina, Georgia and New Jersey. California produces both fresh and processed peaches, whereas South Carolina and Georgia produce mainly fresh peaches.

Fun ag fact of the day: The two basic types of peaches are clingstone and freestone. In clingstone peaches, the flesh “clings” to the “stone” of the peach, making it difficult to separate. This type is more suitable for processing. The pit of freestone peaches “freely” separates from the flesh, making it ideal for fresh consumption.

Fun ag fact of the day: According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, in 2010, roughly 80 percent of processed peaches were canned and 16 percent were frozen.

Fun ag fact of the day: The peach is a member of the rose family, and there are over 700 varieties of the fruit.

fun ag fact of the day: One-half cup of basil provides 97.7 percent of your daily vitamin K, and has only 5 calories.

fun ag fact of the day: originally found in India, Asia and Africa, basil was introduced to Europe through international trade.

fun ag fact of the day: Basil is a warm weather annual that requires six to eight hours of sun.

fun ag fact of the day: Harvest frequently by pinching leaves from the stems to encourage continued growth.

fun ag fact of the day: As the weather warms, basil will bloom, causing the plant to stop growing. To prevent this, pinch off bloom stems.

fun ag fact of the day: Basil is best added to dishes within the last five to ten minutes of cooking.

fun ag fact of the day: Basil can be used dried or fresh in a variety of soups, salads, sauces and dishes.

 

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Balsamic Tomato Basil Jam

As you recall I made a tomato jam earlier in the summer. It was glorious, I mean, honestly, on a sandwich, it almost made me cry. I also made a port-balsamic jelly which was pretty good. Naturally this got me to thinking about more balsamic recipes and more tomato recipes.

Then my Mom found and made this recipe. It tasted amazing. But I thought it could be more vinegar-y and more basil-y. So I played around and came up with this version. It’s a whisper more savory than the other recipe I posted before. I like this one better, simply because of the vinegar taste. I love vinegar.

The summer of glorious tomatoes. My inner canner is so stoked.

The summer of glorious tomatoes. My inner canner is so stoked.

Balsamic Tomato Basil Jam

  • 3 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes (I leave the skins and seeds in, I worked hard to grow my tomatoes and I like the texture)
  • 1/2 cups good balsamic vinegar (I recommend Lucero brand)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 teaspoons finely minced garlic (I used fresh, but the stuff in the jar works great too)
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onion (we’ve made it with and without, both are good)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons Ball classic pectin
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
One of my favorite smells. Fresh basil.

One of my favorite smells. Fresh basil.

Put the first 9 ingredients in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, and stir well.

Place over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Mix in the sugar. When the full rolling boil takes place again, start timing and cook jam for 6 minutes.

Yum.

Yum.

Remove from heat, stir in basil and fill jars. Process jars in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

This is fabulous on sandwiches, over cream cheese, on toast, straight from the jar. I’m probably going to make a few more batches to give as gifts, it’s that good.

Probably my second favorite jam of this season (the first is jalapeno).

Probably my second favorite jam of this season (the first is jalapeno).

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Recipe, Uncategorized

Tomato Basil Jam

My little garden is kicking some serious garden butt. Now that the deer leave it alone, my green thumb finally has a chance to be green, and it feels good man. Even though I cannot stand fresh tomatoes (go here to read why), I still feel a sense of duty to plant them. I mean, come on, what kind of summer garden doesn’t have a couple tomato plants? Plus they remind me of my Papa.

Anyway, I have so many tomatoes I had to find something to do with them other than make salsa and feed them to Silly pig. Since I am in the middle of my canning obsession, it’s only natural I canned them. I found a recipe that I would actually eat – and out to the garden I went (I love having a garden)!

Fresh tomatoes and basil.  The smell of summer.

Fresh tomatoes and basil. The smell of summer.

Tomato-Basil Jam

from Better Homes and Gardens

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled  (I didn’t peel mine because, well, why? I wanted the texture.)

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 package powdered fruit pectin or 6 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin

Seed, core and finely chop the tomatoes. They should equal 3 1/2 cups. Place in heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Measure 3 1/3 cups tomatoes, return to the pot. Stir in lemon juice and basil.

My seeded, chopped, tomatoes, with the skins on, oops.

My seeded, chopped, tomatoes, with the skins on. And chop your tomatoes a whisper finer than this.

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the pectin; stir into the tomato mixture. Bring to a full roiling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar. Return to a full boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim any foam off.

I wish we could share smell via the Internets, because this smelled like a big cup of summer, yum.

I wish we could share smell via the Internets, because this smelled like a big cup of summer, yum.

Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust lids.

Process jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.

I was trying to think ahead with this recipe. I was thinking about the winter, and the rain and how yummy this jam would be on grilled cheese with some soup. It was pretty yummy on regular toast too.

I was trying to think ahead with this recipe. I was thinking about the winter, and the rain and how yummy this jam would be on grilled cheese with some soup. It was pretty yummy on regular toast too.

A few more resources for you:

Tomato Jam (it has apple!) – http://userealbutter.com/2012/09/09/jennies-tomato-jam-recipe/

More information about breeding tomatoes – http://monsantoblog.com/2012/08/10/an-afternoon-with-meg-doug-the-tomato-dude/

An old family recipe – http://www.gratefulprayerthankfulheart.com/2013/04/grandmom-gaskills-tomato-jam.html

More about Monsanto – http://www.lenejohansen.com/?p=863

Food in Jars! – http://foodinjars.com/2010/09/tomato-jam/

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