Last weekend, John and I came back to b-ville to spend time with my Mom and brother who just returned from Alaska. We didn’t have any big plans for the weekend, but we all usually try to get together for dinner with family. Luckily both my grandparents, my cousin Johnny and his girlfriend Val were able to make it over. Of course I think of this as a great excuse to make a fancy meal I wouldn’t normally make for just the 2 of us and to have 8 guinea pigs to try it. It happens to help that my brother returned from Alaska with over 12 pounds of halibut for me to put to use!
While it got kind of late in the evening to try to photograph the whole meal, this appetizer was one of the first things we enjoyed on Saturday (of course this came after my grandparent’s favorite – Manhattans). I have to admit I overdid it on the garlic in this recipe – you would’ve thought we were trying to keep vampires away. Sometimes more is not better, so I would recommend sticking to the 1-2 cloves of garlic indicated in the recipe. I think my favorite thing about this dish was the presentation. It looks like art but truthfully takes less than 10 minutes to put together. In order to save time (and because I mis-read the recipe :-)), I skipped the step in which you blanch the basil. It still turned out beautifully but if you want a truly stunning green color, blanching would be the way to go. I also left the basil leaves in the oil but for a smoother texture you can strain them out with a fine mesh sieve. Pulsing the basil in the food processor should’ve flavored the oil sufficiently that they are not necessary in the final dish.
Parmesean Encrusted Goat Cheese with Basil Oil
- Makes a 4 or 8 oz goat cheese ball depending on your preference
For the goat cheese:
1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese
¼ cup panko
Freshly ground pepper
4 -8 oz. semi-firm plain goat cheese
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp. coarse salt, plus more to taste
For the basil oil:
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. In the bowl of a food processor add the block of parmesan cheese and pulse until finely grated. Add the panko and pulse to combine. Season with pepper. Transfer mixture to a separate bowl and wipe out the bowl of the food processor.
2. With a fork, smash the garlic and salt together. Add garlic/salt to the goat cheese and sir to combine. Form the goat cheese into a ball and roll in the parmesean-panko mixture. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. If blanching the basil: Bring a few cups of water to a boil. Add the basil leaves to the saucepan and boil for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water. Blot the basil leaves with a towel to remove all of the excess water.
4. Add basil and garlic to the food processor and pulse. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the food processor running add oil until texture is liquidly (you may need slightly more than 1/4 cup).
5. To serve, pour the bail oil onto a plate and top with goat cheese ball. Serve with baguette slices.
Source: Annie’s Eats
Usually I’m one of those people who remembers the 4th of July on the 3rd of July, but this year was different. Since we have some organized and adventurous friends, we had a camping trip planned about month in advance of the holiday weekend. This was a good lesson for me in the fact that “anticipation is half the fun”, because it really was exciting having something to look forward to. I even bought some red and blue marshmallow roasting sticks as well as color coordinating paper plates to take with us. And of course, I was excited to plan some of the menu. When I saw this smoked gouda pasta salad, I immediately bookmarked it as a must try, and I thought camping would be the perfect opportunity.
I’m very familiar with the Caprese type pasta salad, and while the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella are tasty, I often feel that they are not strong enough flavors to create an interesting pasta salad. I’ve made that type of salad many times, and usually end up picking out everything but the pasta. That’s what I think is so great about this recipe – the pasta itself has some great flavor. It’s also really easy to make and requires pretty basic ingredients. While you might not regularly buy chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, they add a lot of great flavor for a small cost. The thing that used to annoy me about them is that most recipes only call for 1-2 peppers and I would inevitably let the leftovers sit in the fridge until they looked so gross that I didn’t feel guilty throwing them away- but I have found the solution. Well, actually I should say that Sara over at Our Best Bites has found the solution: freeze the peppers in individual cubes of how much you might need. See her post here to see what I’m talking about. But seriously, don’t skip the chipotles- the adobo has very little spice but adds a smokey flavor that complements the gouda nicely. Then you can make this pasta salad and eat it out of individual ziplocs like we did on our picnic (classy I know). Or don’t do that, and eat it like a normal person, out of a bowl – I’m pretty sure it will taste good either way.
By the way, we went to Mackinac Island. You should totally make the trip if you live anywhere near Michigan, or even if you don’t. I did not remember such cool places existing in Michigan – it’s kind of making me change my view of the Midwest (at least until winter comes :-)).
Smoked Gouda Pasta Salad
Serves 10-12 as a side
- 1 lb (16 oz) Mostaccioli pasta
- 1/2 cup light Mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup Milk (I used part skim, part cream)
- 5 Tablespoons White Vinegar
- 1 T. Adobo Sauce From Chipotle Peppers
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper To Taste
- 2 pints Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
- 1/2 pound Smoked Gouda Cheese, Cut Into Small Cubes
- 30 whole Basil Leaves, sliced thin (chiffonade)
1. Cook pasta according to pasta directions. Drain and rinse in cold water to prevent pasta from sticking.
2. In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, salt, pepper, and adobo sauce.
3. Add the pasta, halved tomatoes, cubed gouda and basil to the sauce in the large bowl. Stir to incorporate, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving (or keep on ice in your camping cooler).
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman