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3 Simple dishes with fresh basil

Quinoa, tossed with a simple homemade pesto and

Quinoa, tossed with a simple homemade pesto and chopped tomatoes, is served in hollowed-out fresh tomatoes. (July 2012) Credit: Marge Perry

TIP: Store basil in a glass of water (as you would flowers in a vase) and keep refrigerated. Wash just before using.


The tomato cups may be made a day in advance; the filling may also be served as a simple side dish.

1 cup quinoa

3 tablespoons slivered almonds

2 cups basil leaves

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan, divided

1 pound tomatoes, cut in 1/4-inch dice, plus 12 tomatoes (about 2 inches in diameter)

1. Combine the quinoa and 2 cups water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and simmer until water is fully absorbed. Place a lid on the pot, remove from heat and let stand until the grains are somewhat translucent (no longer white), about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place the almonds in the food processor and pulse the machine until the nuts are in 1/8-inch bits. Add the basil, olive oil and salt; pulse, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides, until the mixture is a thick paste. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and pulse until just combined. Toss with the diced tomato and quinoa.

3. Make the tomato cups: Cut off the top 1/4-inch from each tomato and hollow out the center with a melon-baller, leaving a 1/4-inch thick wall. Fill the tomatoes with the quinoa mixture and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the top.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving 247 calories, 9 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 12 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 186 mg sodium



1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce

1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon chili paste with garlic

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon canola oil

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup basil, cut in thin strips

1/3 cup cashew pieces

1. Whisk the fish sauce, soy sauce, honey and chili paste in a small bowl. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1 teaspoon of water and whisk into the fish sauce mixture. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and chicken and cook, stirring 7 to 9 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Add the sauce; cook, stirring, 1 minute until the liquid is a thick and shiny glaze. Stir in the basil and cashews, remove from heat and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving 252 calories, 27 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 12 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 691 mg sodium



8 ounces sourdough or rustic bread, torn in 1-inch pieces

1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium Northern beans, drained and rinsed

3 peaches, cut in 1/2-inch dice

3 tomatoes, about 1 pound, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup basil leaves, cut in thin strips

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine the bread, beans, peaches, tomato, onion, olives and basil in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Toss with the bread mixture and let sit at least 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving 420 calories, 11 g protein, 59 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 16 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 758 mg sodium

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