Top Five O...M...G...part 4

This next Top Five is a little like trying to pick your favorite kids.  They are all different and equally as lovable. I have decided I cannot be shackled by picking one so they are both going on here as fraternal twins.  Our next installment of Top Five Desert Island Foods brings us to

Arugula and Basil

It is known as rocket greens, rugula, colewart, or roquette.  It is peppery and subtly exotic.  It loves the heat (originating in the Mediterranean) and will continue to grow for you all season long even if every other thing is withering on the vine.  The moths flock to the little white flowers and I am generally smitten with it as well.  Arugula is about the only salad green I buy throughout the year and is my very favorite salad green we grow.  I could eat it on any and everything.  It is delectable on hamburgers instead of lettuce, heavenly on pizza hot out of the oven, and just deeply satisfying as a salad- as simple or complicated as you desire.  The following is a simple recipe and one that is a go-to frequently.  It is an elegant salad and very filling with the poached egg.

Arugula Salad with Sautéed Asparagus and Poached Egg

1 large bunch arugula
1/4 pound asparagus (the smaller the better), ends trimmed.
1 Tbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 Egg
Shaved Parmesan
Champagne Vinaigrette

Clean and dry arugula.  Place greens in a bowl and toss with just enough dressing to lightly coat all of the greens.  Plate greens.

Place 1" of water in the bottom of a lidded sauté pan.  Add pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  Drop asparagus in and blanch until color deepens, about 1 minute.  Plunge asparagus in ice water to stop cooking.  Drain water from pan and pat asparagus dry.  Add olive oil to pan and heat over medium high heat.  Add asparagus and saute hot and fast until it just starts to caramelize, about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat, salt and pepper to taste.  Poach egg to desired doneness.   Place asparagus on top of greens.  Place poached egg on top of asparagus.  Salt and pepper egg.  Shave Parmesan over salad.

Champagne Vinaigrette
adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home

1/2 cup champagne vinegar
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbs minced shallot
1 1/2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp whole grain mustard

Whisk vinegar, Dijon mustard, and shallot together in a small bowl.  Add olive oil in a slow stream, constantly whisking (this also can be done quite successfully with an immersion blender).  Whisk in whole grain mustard.  This will keep in the fridge for up to three weeks.

The next recipe is for our favorite burgers.  I cannot stress enough the importance of good sustainable food.  The beef is no exception here.  I am able to get grass fed local ground beef for under $5 a pound.  Source good food, folks.  It will make or break the burger.

Burger with Caramelized Onions, Portobella Mushrooms, and Arugula

1 pound local, grass fed ground beef
Salt and Pepper
3 Quality buns (we like Ciabatta rolls from our local Lotsa Pasta folks)
1 onion
1 Tbs Olive oil
3 slices Fontina Cheese
1 Portobella mushroom, sliced very thin
3 Tbs Olive oil
1 bunch arugula
Fresh slices of tomato (only in tomato season please.  Winter tomatoes hurt my feelings)
Homemade Mayo
Whole Grain Mustard

Form ground beef into 3 patties.  Generously salt and pepper each on both sides.  Slice onion and place into a skillet with the olive oil on medium heat.  Salt onions.  Cook onions, stirring occasionally until they have deepened in color and caramelized.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Place mushrooms and 3 Tbs olive oil in a medium high skillet and salt and pepper them.  Cook until the liquid has evaporated and their color deepens, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  

Cook burgers to desired doneness either on a grill or a griddle.  Place mushrooms and onions on each burger and then top with fontina cheese for the last 2 minutes of cooking.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for about 5 minutes, or until you are able to assemble everything else.

Build burgers with mayo and mustard and heap of arugula.  Eat yourself into nirvana.

Know what this is?  It's the queen of all herbs (for me).  It is the foundation of one of the best sauces to ever be made in the history of all of mankind.   It comes in more than 30 varieties, is very forgiving, and can grow in just about any climate as long as there isn't any frost during growing season.  My girl, my home herb, my herbaceous hottie


I can remember the first time I decided to grow basil.  I was doing some container herbs and when it was ready to cut, I remember rubbing the tender leaves between my fingers and smelling that lusciousness that is earth and licorice and just green goodness all wrapped up in a gorgeous dead sexy leaf.

The first recipe is, of course, Pesto.  I make up things to eat with it.  I have a container in my freezer 80% of the time and can eat it any way at all.  I have added some vinegar and made salad dressings out if it even.  Such goodness.


3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated high quality Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper

Place basil, garlic, and pine nuts into the food processor or blender.  Pulse until ingredients are combined.  With the food processor on, add oil and process until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Of course, feel free to eat it on pasta, but I have two easy recipes that are HOME RUNS with pesto.

The first is with Poached Eggs with Pesto and Shaved Parmesan.  Toast some good bread from a baguette or artisan loaf, spread a thin layer of pesto on each toast.  Poach 2 eggs and top toast.  Add one teaspoon pesto to each, shaved Parmesan and enjoy.  We eat it at least once a week in the summer.  Great dinner when you are tired from working in the yard/garden and need a 5 minute meal.  It is great with champagne or white wine also.

The second is pesto pizza.  I love some traditional pizza, but the pesto will be my first choice every time.  

Pesto Pizza

1 Pizza Dough
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup roasted garlic
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Salt and Fresh ground pepper
1 cup arugula leaves

Roll out dough to desired width.  Spread pesto all around the dough.  Scatter olives, goat cheese, garlic, and mozzarella evenly around the pizza.  Bake at 425 degrees until edges are beginning to brown and center is bubbly.  After removing from oven, top with fresh arugula leaves.

We have one last installment of the Top Five before we bid adieu and move on to all sorts of fun stuff.  I have FOUR EVENTS coming up in the next 2 months.  FOUR OF THEM PEOPLE.  I am giddy thinking about them.  All of them are birthday celebrations and all of them are drastically different and equally special and I CAN'T WAIT to show you all of the goodness.

Until then, go get some arugula and make a pizza.  And open a bottle of something.  That will help with the winter that is endless right now.

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  1. Freaking yummity! Your blog always makes me hungry!! XOXO