Tag Archives: basil

Recipes containing basil

Pizza Española With Chorizo and Manchego Cheese

Pizza Española
Pizza Española

I’ll be honest with you. There’s no Spanish pizza in Spain. Really. This recipe is stolen from a Latin American pizza restaurant I visited years ago, but it was so good that we still do it every now and then.

We’ve learned that it really doesn’t matter what you’ll have on your pizza as long as your dough and sauce are perfect. Not just perfect, the best! You can serve a used kitchen towel with a pizza sauce as long as the pizza sauce works. Making your own sauce is not that big a thing. It’s basically a tomato sauce which you can use for

  • pasta (add basil)
  • pizza (add oregano)
  • to make ketchup (add vinegar and a bit more sugar)

Since we were making pizza, our choice of spice was oregano. We would have preferred fresh oregano, but it wasn’t available. So we settled for dried oregano.

When you’re making a tomato sauce there are only four ingredients that are needed for the base: onion, garlic, tomato and sugar. Yes, sugar. When you’re dealing with tomatoes you’ll need some sugar (or honey) to cut the bitterness of tomatoes. When the balance is right between bitterness and sweetness, season the sauce with proper sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You’ll get it right by adding little by little more salt and pepper, stirring and tasting. When everything is about right, add the oregano to the taste (or vinegar or basil depending what you using the sauce for).

Even though (as your might have already noticed) we are not fond of canned ingredients a canned tomato paste works quite nicely for this sauce. At least here in Spain it’s quite simple: it’s only tomato sauce without any seasoning which is heavily reduced. It brings nice flavor and color to the sauce. But it’s not necessary. The flavor of the sauce is works, but color might be a bit pale without it.

Ingredients for The Pizza Dough

  • 700 g (25 oz) of all-purporse flour – harina de trigo
  • 3,5 dl (1.5 cups) of hand-warm water – agua
  • 1 pack of dried yeast – levadura
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt – sal marina
  • 0,5 dl (1/4 cups) of olive oil – aceite de oliva

Mix the handö-warm water with dried yeast. Add olive oil and salt. Put the mixture into kitchen robot (or do it by hand, it doesn’t matter) and start adding flour little by little. Kneed for about 10 minutes. Cover the pot with kitchen towel and let it rest at least for 20 minutes.

Ingredients for Pizza Española

  • 1 onion – cebolla
  • 4 cloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
  • 3 big tomatoes (or 4 small ones) – tomates
  • 1 dl (0.5 cups) of tomato paste – tomate doble concentrado
  •  1 tablespoon of sugar (or honey) – azucar
  • sea salt – sal marina
  • ground black pepper – pimienta negra
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano – orégano
  • splash of olive oil – aceite olive
  • 3 chorizo sausages – chorizo
  • Grated Manchego cheese – queso manchego rallado
  • Green olives – aceitunas verdes
  • 1/2 of green paprika – pimientas verdes

Soften the diced onions and garlic in olive olive oil. Add cubed tomatoes. Remove the skin from the tomatoes, if you will. Leave one tomato for the slicing on top of the pi5 zza. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes while stirring every now and then. The liquid from the tomatoes separates making the sauce. Add the tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper and oregano. Cook for additional 20 minutes more while preparing the dough and frying chorizo (if needed).

If the chorizo is fresh and uncooked, slice it into 5 mm (1/5″) slices and fry from both sides until golden brown. This removes the excess grease from the sausage. Grate some Manchego cheese ready and slice the green paprika into sticks.

Preheat the oven to 225 ºC (450 ºF).

Flatten the dough to a baking tray which is covered with baking paper. Spread the tomato sauce on top. Place the toppings in the following order (refer to the pictures below):

  1. Tomato sauce
  2. Manchego cheese
  3. Tomato slices
  4. Chorizo
  5. Olives

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the edges of the pizza begin to brown.

¡Buen provecho!

Rao’s Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

Rao's meatballs in marinara sauce
Rao’s meatballs in marinara sauce

Rao’s Restaurant in Manhattan, New York, is one the famous Italian restaurants in the world. It’s so small (about 10 tables) and popular that it’s virtually impossible to get a table there. So what’s so special about this place? Their food. Honest, Italian food. The place was established 1896 so you can imagine they are doing something right.

Italian food at its best is very simple and made of fresh ingredients. That’s what this recipe is all about. Original Rao’s meatball recipe is public knowledge since they have it even on their website. The marinara sauce recipe, however, is secret. This is our version of Rao’s Marinara which we have tested and fine tuned over the years. And like the meatballs, the marinara sauce doesn’t contain any readymade ingredients except Italian canned tomatoes. Sometimes we replace those with fresh ones, but the canned tomato brings its special flavor to the sauce.

Ingredients for Rao’s Marinara Sauce for 4 Servings

  • 800 g (28 ounces) of Italian canned tomatoes – lata de tomate entero pelado
  • 3-5 fresh tomatoes – tomates
  • 0,5 dl (1/4 cup) of olive oil – aceite de oliva
  • 1 minced onion – cebolla
  • 4 cloves garlic – dientes de ajo
  • Sea salt – sal marina
  • Ground black pepper – pimienta negra
  • 2 tablespoons of honey – miel
  • bunch of fresh basil – albahaca

Place a sauce pan on medium heat and add olive oil. When the oil is hot soften minced onions and garlics for 2-3 minutes. Add canned tomatoes to the pan. Remove the skins of fresh tomatoes and add them as well. Bring to boil and lower the heat so that the mixture slowly simmers. Let it simmer without a lid for 45 minutes and stir every 10 minutes so that the tomatoes begin to break and about half of the liquid is vaporized. Add honey and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add torn basil leaves just before serving.

Ingredients for Rao’s Frankie’s Meatballs for 4 Servings

  • 1 kg (2 lbs) of ground beef – vacuno pidaco
    (or as the original recipe says 500 g (1 lbs) of ground beef, 250 g (0.5 lbs) of ground veal and 250 g (0.5 lbs) of ground pork)
  • 2 cloves garlic – dientes de ajo
  • 2 large eggs – huevos
  • 2 dl (1 cup) freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese – queso Pecorino Romano
  • Bunch of chopped fresh parsley – perejil
  • Sea salt – sal marina
  • Ground black pepper – pimienta negra
  • 4 dl (2 cups) of plain dry bread crumbs – pan rallado
  • 4 dl (2 cups) of water – agua
  • 2 dl (1 cup) of olive or sunflower oil for frying – aceite para fréier

Mix all the ingredients except the oil with the ground meat. Make the meatball mixture nice and even with your hands. If you are using only beef (as we did) you can safely check the seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed. The mixture should be fluffy and very moist. Roll 8 large meatballs with wet hands.

Pour the oil into a large sauce pan and bring it to 150 ºC (300 ºC). Put the meatballs in the oil. The oil level should go to the middle of the meatballs. Fry the meatballs from one side for about 10 minutes (the reason why the oil is not very hot is that the interior of the big meatballs cook properly without burning them). Turn the other side and cook for another 10 minutes.

Make some pasta (check out our previous post for instructions how to make fresh pasta from scratch) and serve the meatballs with the marinara sauce.

¡Buen provecho!

Mediterranean Bruschettas

Mediterranean Ingredients for bruschettas
Mediterranean bruschettas make a great snack for surprise guests.

One day some friends dropped by without prior notice and we didn’t have anything prepared for a snack. Usually we have some Spanish cured ham, jamón or Manchego cheese, but not this day. We had some old bread, cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese in the fridge, but that’s basically all you need for making Mediterranean bruschettas. There’s no strict recipe for them: use what you have on hand. We also had some fresh basil growing on our terrace and it always fits nicely with tomato. And garlic, of course. There has to be some garlic.

This variation is hot bruschetta where the cheese is melted on top. The other way of doing bruschettas is that only the bread is toasted in the oven, garlic in rubbed on the bread, then the bread is oiled and rest of the ingredients are placed cold on top. But we’re making hot ones today.

Ingredients for Mediterranean Bruchettas

  • Sliced bread – pan
  • Extra virgin olive oil – aceite oliva extra virgen
  • Fresh tomatoes – tomates
  • Fresh basil – albahaca
  • Garlic – ajo
  • Olives without stones – aceitunas sin hueso
  • Sea salt – sal marina
  • Ground black pepper – pimienta negra
  • (Parmesan) cheese – queso parmesano

Preheat the oven to 225 ºC (450 ºF). Place the breads on the baking tray and drizzle some good quality extra virgin olive oil on top. It has good taste which goes well with tomato and rest of the ingredients. But regular olive oil will do, too. Chop the tomatoes, garlic, basil and olives and scoop on the breads. Season with salt and pepper. Grate some cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

¡Buen provecho!