Basil Gazpacho with Homemade Crunchy Croutons

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This is  Helen’s Basil Gazpacho and Crunchy Crouton recipe and it is worth the trouble!  I am not saying you will need to grow your veggies in a garden like Helen’s –  see below – but according to Helen “If you want something good then you have to go to a lot of trouble and that’s just the way it is.”  Helen is an extraordinary cook, gardener, knitter and friend.  Thank you for doing this post with me Helen – now I have one of my favorite Helen creations down on the books.

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The reason you want the croutons to get extra crispy is so they stay crispy once they are put in the Gazpacho. This is the best Gazpacho so get ready!  Helen says “god help you if there are any leftover croutons because you will just sit there eating them.” It is SO true.

INGREDIENTS for Crunchy Croutons

1 day old free form loaf or baguette

3 – 6 T each – butter & olive oil,  – adjust amount depending on the size of the loaf.

s/p

garlic powder

onion powder

dried parsley

OR

use Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning as an alternative to the individual seasonings

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to Bake  300°
  2. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes
  3. Bake for 1 hour
  4. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet on Medium, add toasted bread and toss until well coated in oil and butter
  5. Turn heat to low, add spices and toss
  6. Remove from heat and set aside

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INGREDIENTS for Basil Gazpacho

Serves 4 – 6

INGREDIENTS

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped

4 large or 6 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped with juice

2 garlic cloves minced

1 4 oz jar of pimento, drained

3 cup of vegetable stock

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 c white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

4 tablespoons basil, chopped

  1. Skin tomatoes: submerge tomatoes in hot water for 2 minutes, until skin cracks easily.  Cool and peel.
  2. Chop all the veggies and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add other ingredients and spices.
  4. Blend ingredients with a hand blender (or use a food processor) until you reach the right consistency.
  5. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
  6. Garnish with herbs and Crunchy Croutons and serve chilled.

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Adriana’s Beet and Pesto Appetizer

Adriana is a friend, mother of two, photographer, cook, and NYC born local. She loves good food and we always cook when we are together.  We love to float around beautiful markets, talk about yummy things to make, choose special bottles of wine and celebrate into the night.

Since the start of nu-trio, Adriana has been eager to share one of her latest creations.  I couldn’t wait to try it.  Delicious, beautiful, healthy, and seasonal – this is an amazing appetizer!  Thanks, Adriana!

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Beet and Pesto Appetizer

Recipe by Adriana Echavarria

Ingredients:

3 large red beets peeled
*Pesto sauce (homemade recipe below)
Aged goat Cheese
Balsamic Vinegar

Preparation

Boil the beets. Make sure not to over cook them. Beets cook like potatoes – the larger the beet, the longer it will need to boil.   Overcooking the beets will make them lose their flavor and their consistency. Cook until you can easily pierce with a knife. This could take between 15 – 25 minutes. Let them cool.

Once they are room temperature cut them in slices, about a little less than ½ an inch. Three beets should give you approximately 10-12 slices.

After you have cut your slices place them on a serving dish. Beets are beautiful and decorative as well as tasty! Take ¼ teaspoon (I do ½ teaspoon but this might be too much for some) of the pesto and place it in the center of your beet slice. Take a slice of the goat cheese and place it on top of the pesto. Once you have finished decorating your beets drizzle the balsamic vinegar to taste. Ground some pepper and buen provecho!

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basil

Basil Pesto

Recipe by Adriana Echavarria

Ingredients

1 cup of Basil leaves
1 clove of garlic (I use two)
1 tablespoon of pine nuts
1/4 cup of olive oil

Preparation

Place all of the above ingredients into your blender or food processor and pulse until all of the ingredients have been finely minced


Sautéed Shrimp with Basil Orzo

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This is so delicious!  Thanks to my friend, Nikki (owner and 0perator of the best sandwich shop on Lake Burton – “Take it on the Lake”), I was introduced to the best Basil and Orzo recipie from allrecipies.com.  Then… as if she had not given me enough already… she suggested adding shrimp to this simple mecca of flavors, and it is proving to be an all time favorite!  Very easy to prepare (other than the tedious job of deveining shrimp) – it is so simple.

I served this as an entrée along with a green salad (tossed with homemade bleu cheese dressing) and a homemade loaf of bread with local Spring Ridge Creamery butter. Yum!
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SAUTÉED SHRIMP WITH BASIL ORZO

INGREDIENTS

1 pound of peeled and deveined shrimp*

2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons butter (2 for orzo, 1 for shrimp)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta (I used 1/2 cup of whole wheat orzo and 1/2 cup durum wheat semolina orzo -this is not necessary but it adds color, depth, and nutrition to this dish)

14.5 ounces of vegetable broth (Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon with Sea Salt & Herbs)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

PREPARATION

  • Peel, devein, and rinse shrimp.  Marinate in lemon juice and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
  • Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and sautée until lightly browned.
  • Stir in vegetable stock and bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, 15 – 20 minutes (times may vary depending on what type of orzo you use – the mix I used required 15 minutes in order for the liquid to absorb) Set aside.
  • Season shrimp with Tony Chachere’s to taste.  Heat skillet on medium high, add 1 tablespooon butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sautee shrimp for 2 – 3 minutes per side – until golden – Do not move shrimp while they are cooking – the secret to getting them golden is leaving them be.
  • Season cooked orzo with salt and pepper. Mix in parmesan cheese and basil.  Transfer to shallow bowl. Garnish shrimp with basil sprigs
* See deveining tutorial below.
 

The deveining tutorial

My uncle Stephen taught me, not only how to devein the top of a shrimp, but also the underside.  Did you even know there was a vein there?  Anyway, some people find this totally unecessary but I thought I would show you how it is done.  I use a paper towel, folded and placed right in front of me, to wipe the vein from the knife.  After slicing the shrimp down the center of the back, with a sharp paring knife, you can grab the vein with the knife, press it onto the towel and pull it off in one motion (takes a little practice).  Then, flip the shrimp over and do the same thing; however I find this vein a little more difficult to remove and I will sometimes use the tip of the knife to scrape the vein out a bit until I can grab it- press and pull.  Hope this is clear enough.

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