We've been getting busy this summer! We've been workin' (bye bye, ugly drop ceiling; hello, light-filled future home of Botanica)...
We've been designing (we made fruit and vegetable prints and the lovely and talented Jessica Comingore worked her magic with 'em)...
We've been catering (for baby showers and work gatherings and dinner parties and more)...
And, of course, we've been COOKING (recipe-testing up a storm for the opening menu and for BotanicaMag.com)...
Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette
Makes 1 cup
It's not an exaggeration to say that we use this on everything. (Everything except pancakes. But oh! It would be good on savory zucchini pancakes...) Here are a few ways to try it: grill cobs of corn, cut off kernels, toss them with scallions, cucumber, cannellini beans and this vinaigrette; grill peach halves, put them on a plate with hunks of fresh mozzarella or manouri cheese and drizzle this over top; grill cabbage wedges (see pic above!) or little gem lettuces and spoon this over 'em... You can't go wrong!
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon pimentón dulce (Spanish sweet smoked paprika)
1/4 cup lemon juice (zest the lemons first and throw that in there, too!)
2 tablespoons minced cilantro stems*
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, combine garlic, pimentón, lemon juice and zest and cilantro stems and season with a good sprinkle of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil, stirring vigorously to emulsify. Taste and adjust salt and lemon as needed. Spoon over grilled vegetables (or grilled shrimp, fish or chicken) and garnish with cilantro leaves.
*Omit cilantro if you're not feeling it! This is also great with basil or parsley (but don't use the stems).
Tomato Peach Gazpacho
Makes 1 blender-full (approximately 8 cups)
This cold, summery soup is the easiest dinner party stunner (or quick, lovely lunch). To play up the sweetness of the tomatoes, we like to throw in a few white peaches or nectarines. A drizzle of basil oil takes the soup from good to grand. Serve cold or room temp with a sprinkle of minced cukes, peppers and peaches and some edible flowers, if you happen to have any on hand (and a glass of rosé, naturally).
2 large peaches, preferably white, pitted and roughly chopped*
A bit over 2 pounds of multicolored tomatoes, roughly chopped* (we use a combo of sungolds and heirloom)
2 red (or yellow or orange) bell peppers, de-seeded and roughly chopped
2 Persian cucumbers, roughly chopped
1 white onion, roughly chopped
1-2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper
*Ask for seconds (aka super super ripe fruit) at the market. They are cheap as can be and it doesn’t matter if your tomatoes/peaches are a bit mushy! It’s all going in the blender.
Set a bit of peach, bell pepper and cucumber aside to use as garnish; give it a finer chop to make it garnish-ready. Throw everything else, except the olive oil and salt/pepper, into a blender and blend until smooth. Drizzle in olive oil and salt and blend again until creamy. Taste and adjust salt and acid as needed. (If your blender isn't super powerful, combine the chopped veg, olive oil, vinegar and lime in a big bowl, give it a good sprinkle of salt and pepper, and let it sit for 15-30 minutes to let juices accumulate...this liquid will help your blender pulverize it all.) Serve the gazpacho with a sprinkle of cucumber, bell pepper and peach and a generous drizzle of basil oil (if you have a green chile on hand, that's nice on there, sliced paper thin, too!).
Makes 1 cup
1 large bunch basil, leaves picked
1 cup olive oil
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Toss in the basil leaves, blanch for 10 seconds, and then immediately drain and shock the leaves in ice water for 5 seconds (the blanching ensures the leaves stay bright green). Squeeze the water from the leaves, put the basil in a blender, add the oil and a good pinch of sea salt, and puree until smooth. Taste and add salt as needed (the salt helps the flavor really pop). The oil doubles as a dressing for salad, roasted veg, steak, fish, pasta, tomatoes, you name it. And it is dreamy over beans with some shaved pecorino! Keeps in the fridge for two weeks.