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Entries in basil (2)


Tomato Basil Sauce - the easy way



The other day I looked at my basil plant and thought OH NO!  I better make something fast.  I’m a pesto traditionalist and not into the variations that have cropped up through the years.  I like the basic centuries old Genoa recipe – basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano, Pecorino and olive oil.  But didn’t I have any pine nuts. So no pesto – this time.

I did however have canned whole tomatoes from Michael Anthony’s market and, uhm, basil.

No recipe needed - Here’s what I did…

     I got out my machete, hacked my way through the basil container forest and ended up with about half the basil leaves from my voracious plant. 


Basil plant post hacking - still huge

I pulled out a large saucepan and began crushing those tomatoes with my hands, which caused a huge mess all over the kitchen counter and me.  I chucked in the basil leaves – don’t ask me how many, just lots!


I used way more than this but I wanted to show the tomatoes

Added a little white wine, lots of olive oil, and let the sauce simmer all day.  The result was a really fresh, simple tasting sauce that was perfect since I didn’t have any pine nuts.  But I will next time and guess what?  That basil plant is right back to where it was pre- hacking. I swear the thing is on steroids!


Tomato and Pesto Lasagna - A Light Lunch

This is a light, lovely, colorful, tasty dish!. 

 Using the pre-made pasta sheets makes it easy since there’s no pre cooking required and they add to the light part. Homemade pesto and homemade tomato sauce hits the tasty button and colorful? Well, just look at the pictures. This is a great lunch dish when the girls come over like they did last Wednesday. Just add a salad, chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio (or two) and you have a recipe for a fun afternoon!

Pesto sauce is as easy as can be to make, the only problem I sometimes run into around here is trying to find enough basil leaves (no I haven’t grown my own this’s a long story which I’ll save for a Friday Routine). Also, I like more Parmesan cheese in my pesto so I would probably use closer to a ½ cup. Use the below as a guideline and adjust it to suit your taste accordingly. It’s a classic and you really can’t go wrong.

The tomato sauce is another quick easy staple around here. I kept this recipe simple and didn’t add a whole bunch of other herbs or wine (but you could). I wanted this sauce to be fresh tasting and add to the dish rather than overwhelm it with a too hearty taste.


Serves 6-8


Special Equipment: 9x12x3 ovenproof baking dish or lasagna dish

2-½ cups pesto sauce (recipe below)

5-6 cups tomato sauce (recipe below)

8 oz grated Italian cheese combination (like Asiago, Parmesan, Romano, Fontina)

8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, diced into 1-inch pieces

1-package fresh pasta sheets (a.k.a egg roll skins)

Preheat oven to 450°F

Spread a little tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish. Place 4 pasta sheets on top of the sauce. They will over lap in the center. Spread the pasta with tomato sauce then pesto. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

Continue layering pasta, sauces and cheese until the final layer pressing down as you go. You will end up with 4 layers. For the final layer distribute the mozzarella cheese over the top of the sauces.

Bake covered for 30-35 minutes until bubbling and hot. Remove foil for the last 5-7 minutes to let the mozzarella brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

It's All Delicious Notes:  Adapted from the June 2009 issue of La Cucina Italiana


Pesto Sauce

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1 large garlic clove

¼ cup pine nuts

¼ cup grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Place the basil, garlic, pine nuts, cheese and oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with cling film to prevent discoloring. Chill until ready to use.


Tomato Sauce

3 28oz cans of chopped tomatoes

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2-3 tablespoons garlic powder

2-3 tablespoons dried oregano

Simmer all the above ingredients in a large saucepan until slightly thickened. About 1 hour. Can be made a few days ahead and covered in the fridge.