Recently, I bought some raw shrimp at the local market. Because of our crazy busy summer schedule, I needed to prepare the shrimp in a way that was quick and easy. Basil has been growing like mad in my garden so I thought it best to whip up a fast sauté with tomatoes, basil, shrimp and Parmesan cheese. As many of you know, I try to stay away from white flour and high carbs, so this fit the bill for a light Sunday brunch dish.
1 lb. shrimp, shelled, cleaned, and deveined
2 medium tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat; add olive oil and garlic. Sauté until garlic is lightly browned. Add shrimp and cook quickly until shrimp is pink and cooked through. Remove from pan. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients and toss in the shrimp. Season to taste. Serve as a salad or pour it over lightly toasted crusty bread for a tradition bruschetta appetizer.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend mentioned that she had enjoyed a cup of pizza soup when visiting a local restaurant. It sparked a memory of a hearty soup that I had made years ago. So I headed to my trusty files to see if I could track down the recipe. I was quite pleased when I found what I was looking for.
As I began to assemble the ingredients for the recipe, I remembered that I had an interesting ingredient in the fridge that I hoped would be a flavorful addition to my soup recipe. You see, I have grown quite fond of a new item called basil paste, that I found in the produce section of the grocery store some time ago. It’s flavor is so similar to the wonderfully unique taste of fresh basil that we pick in abundance during the summer months, here in the states. A dollop of this paste stirred into a piping hot bowl of soup just transforms the flavor into something along the lines of a pizza margherita; one of my favorite pizza recipes.
Like much of the country, we in the Midwest, are experiencing some mighty cold temperatures this winter. (I feel like I am cold all the time.). After making this soup this past weekend, I carefully packed it into serving sized containers so that I could carry it to work along with a salad for lunch. There’s something about the fresh hearty flavor and its piping hot state that just warms me to the core. I find myself counting the minutes until lunch time. When paired with a salad, and maybe a slice of crusty bread, this soup makes for a warm and comforting meal.
Hearty Pepperoni Pizza Soup
1/2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups water
15 ounces pizza sauce
8 ounces sliced pepperoni, finely chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon basil paste
In a large saucepan, sauté Italian sausage, green pepper and onion until onions are translucent and sausage is no longer pink; drain. Add water, pizza sauce, pepperoni, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; and simmer covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before serving, stir in basil paste and top with Parmesan cheese.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I found a new product in the produce section that I absolutely love…Gourmet Garden’s basil paste. It’s scrumptious! Now that I have found it, I have been mixing it in everything. Tonight, my daughter had a friend over so I made them a quick pizza margherita. Let me tell you, when you pop this baby in the oven, the house immediately takes on the enticing aroma of a great Italian restaurant. During the summer months, use fresh tomatoes and basil picked straight from the garden…during the cold winter months, use Roma or plum tomatoes with basil paste for a great tasting pizza margherita!
1 premade pizza crust
1 Tbls. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced, separated
4 medium ripe Roma tomatoes
3 Tbls. fresh basil or basil paste
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Brush pre-made pizza crust with olive oil. Sprinkle one tablespoon of minced garlic over the crust. In a medium bowl, add remaining garlic, tomatoes, basil/paste, and salt; mix well. Sprinkle evenly over the pizza crust. Spread shredded mozzarella over tomato mixture. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until crust is crispy and golden brown and toppings are bubbly. For a crispy crust, bake directly on oven rack. For a softer crust, bake on a cookie sheet.
Recently, I noticed a new item on my local grocer’s produce shelf. Gourmet Garden is now making basil paste in a 4 oz. tube. I was so excited to see this because my family loves basil and I usually only make recipes with fresh basil during the summer months when fresh basil is cheap and plentiful. I always make sure to plant plenty of varieties so that I have lots of different flavors to add to appetizers, salads, canned tomatoes, and Italian dishes. Now my family can enjoy many of these recipes year round. Bruschetta is a popular favorite in my house and I was able to surprise my family with this tasty appetizer last night. I’m so excited to have found this convenient tube of delicious basil paste. It brings a touch of summer to the cold winter days in Indiana.
3 medium tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
2 Tbls. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 baguette or thin Italian loaf, thinly sliced
2 Tbls. olive oil
½ tsp. garlic powder
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill before serving.
Line a cookie sheet with bread slices. Brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake at 325 degrees for 7-10 minutes.
Pile tomato mixture on toasted bread slices and enjoy!