Sunday, September 03, 2006

Green Blog Project - Caprese-style Salad -

Mozzarella & Tomato Salad with Pan-fried Gnocchi and Basil Pesto

Ever since I read the post about Green Blog Project by L.G. of Ginger and Mango, I had been looking forward to posting an entry for it. It's such a lovely project of growing something in your own garden, making a dish using it as a main ingredient, and posting about it on your blog with the recipe. And finally, the day has come. Here is my entry – Mozzarella and Tomato Salad with Pan-fried Gnocchi and Basil Pesto!! And this basil pesto was, of course, made with the basil from my balcony garden. :D

This morning I picked almost all the leaves on my little basil plants. Actually my original plan was making basil pesto and slathering it on fish fillet to grill… well, until I stumbled upon this Japanese site last night. Looking at this beautiful color combination of red, white and green, I just HAD TO jump on this idea and try it out myself.

To make basil pesto, I chose this Fresh Basil Pesto recipe on Simply Recipes. But my basil harvest was much less than 2 cups, and the amount of pine nuts and grated cheese left in my kitchen was very limited, so I ended up making my pesto with these:

Fresh Basil Pesto (obachan's version)
-- Ingredients --
Apx. 1C fresh basil leaves
20 g grated cheese
1/4 C olive oil
15 g pine nuts
2 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and black pepper to taste

Unfortunately my cheap electric blender could not handle such a small amount of ingredients... I had to rely on my good old mortar and pestle again. :O Making pesto with these old-fashioned tools was some work, let me tell you.

Now, for the gnocchi, I was going to follow the pan-fried gnocchi recipe on the above-mentioned Japanese site. But since the dough turned out too mushy and sticky (I wonder why), I needed to add much more flour than the original recipe called for. So what I did was more like this:

Pan-fried Gnocchi (obachan's version)
-- Ingredients --
2 potatoes (150 g)
4 to 5 Tbsp flour
1/2 egg, beaten
2 tsp basil pesto
Salt and black pepper to taste

I boiled and mashed potatoes, and added basil pesto, salt, pepper, egg and flour. Then I rolled out the gnocchi dough, cut out small round pieces using a cookie cutter, and pan-fried them with olive oil.

After all the gnocchi were done, I placed them on a white plate with mozzarella cheese and cherry tomato slices and topped them with my home-made basil pesto. It was such a shame that I was too hungry to be more artistic. Now looking at these photos, I think I should have shown more olive oil on this white plate. But such a thought didn’t come to my mind then. As soon as I took these two shots of the salad, I just dug in.

Oh, this salad was soooooooo good! Today’s lunch with this Caprese-style salad was definitely one of my best Sunday lunches. What I had read was right. The combination of tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil and garlic is simply divine! And the basil-pesto-mixed gnocchi were really delicious!

So after lunch, I happily started working on this entry for the GBP. Then, when I tried to upload the photos, I realized for the first time that I forgot something important: I forgot to take a photo of my basil before making the pesto!! :O AHHHHH!!! There was nothing else I could do but to take this shot of my naked basil plants. I hope this photo meets the criteria of the GBP. Is this OK, LG?



Karen said...

Wow! What a beautiful dish!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and delicious looking and, once again, using your own "harvest". How satisfying!

Obachan, I love your blog. It's so entertaining and your personality comes through so clearly. That's why I keep you on my "favorites" list.

Anonymous said...

well, as an italian i can say that pesto MUST be done with mortar and pestle! :-)
the old pesto rule is that basil never has to meet metal, so modern "blender made" pesto is snubbed by the elderly :-)

moorl said...

"It was such a shame that I was too hungry to be more artistic."

ROFL! you're so funny obachan.

ghanima said...

I ended up using walnuts instead of pine nuts, the last time I made basil. I don't know if that's a traditional ingredient or not, but it was yummy. :)

I've also found that, when making fresh pasta from a recipe, the dough is too damp and sticky after added all of the flour called for, I usually end up having to add an extra cup!

obachan said...

Thank you :)

Hahaha… I guess I can’t hide my personality like I hide the mess in my apartment when I take food photos… ;)

OH, thank you! Your comment made my day :D
I googled and found out what Italian mortar and pestle look like. They are so beautiful and the inside looked so smooth. (Must be easier to wash.)

I tell you what. Heaven gave me blogs to entertain the world with my personality and funny “Engrish.”

I know very little about Italian tradition, but I’ve seen many pesto recipes calling for “pine nuts or walnuts,” so I guess using walnuts is a popular idea.

About the flour-- here in Japan, we have to be careful with European recipes because our 1 cup is 200 mL, so when we add flour using our measuring cup, it is usually much less than what is necessary. But other than that, I assume that there is a difference in the flour itself, because I sometimes end up with damp and sticky dough or runny batter even when the amount of the flour in the foreign recipe is in grams.

Evangeline said...

Hi obachan!
oooh that looks sooooo good!! Basil is my FAVOURITE herb. Anything with basil is good!
I agree that making pesto with a mortar and pestle is the best - because you're crushing the leaves, not chopping them, more flavour is released.

I loved pesto so much that I started planting my own basil as it was cheaper than buying basil to make pesto everytime XDD.

But what I learnt is that you have to be brutal to your basil to make it grow better and bushier. Simply plucking off the leaves won't do - it'll end up looking thin and skinny - have to keep cutting the stems. I also like to use the flowers to decorate my dishes - and off course it prevents seeding thus prolonging the life of the plant ...whee!

obachan said...

Thank you for your support for the mortar-and-pestle method. Now I don’t feel like I’m a caveperson any more. ;) Talking about basil flowers -- my basil didn’t have a chance to bloom this year. Poor thing.
Next year I’m going to use a bigger planter for basil... and be more brutal to them.

Anonymous said...

nice pesto!

Anonymous said...

Your blog is right near the top of my favorites ... if I have time for only two "reads", your's is one of the two.
Now ... I think I'm older than you, so I'll adopt you, and you can come live in Los Angeles, and feed me these lovely meals ... if they taste half a good as they look, I'll be out-of-my-mind with glee.
Please keep tending your 'mini-farm', cooking, taking beautiful photos, and blogging the results.
God bless, Christine in Los Angeles

Anonymous said...

Sounds delicious! Wow, I really want to make gnocchi myself.

P. S. Your long-running omuraisu comments thread reminded me of what I'm going to make for dinner tonight:
I wonder if I could put red enchilada sauce on omuraisu too!

obachan said...

Thanks! : )

Christine in LA
Thank you for frequenting my blog and always leaving nice comments. Boy, the adoption idea sounds awfully tempting. I have to warn you that I’m not a very tidy person, though. If you would help me with that part, you would have a daughter who is a foodblogger and a professional dishwasher ;) (Do you really think you are older than I am?)

This was my first time trying pan-fried gnocchi, and I might say I like them better than boiled ones.
I’m very surprised with my omuraisu post… It’s a pretty old post but I still keep receiving comments there once in a while.
Your huevos rancheros sounds really yummy. If you used enchilada sauce on omuraisu, it would be a Mexican omuraisu. ;)

Anonymous said...

The picture of your naked basil plants made me laugh out loud! I'm pretty new to this blogging thing and have found myself in a similar predicament many times... next time I'll be more brave about sharing my lapses.

What a beautiful site. And I agree with another comment, that your personality comes through so beautifully. So many blogs, even very informational and substantial ones leave me so flat. This one is alive and vibrant, funny and informative, and full of good stuff!

Thank you, thank you! I'll be back.


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