Tag Archives: basil

Can You Make a Drink from Watermelon Juice?

31 Aug
by Deanne

Each week we share our successes and failures in our FarmerChef project.  This is a challenging little project we started last spring. We take whatever is growing in our garden, or available from our local farmers, and create something in the kitchen.  Our goal is to get through a whole year making something that is or was grown locally. 

This week I took a watermelon from last Saturday’s farmers market and pressed all of the juice out of it.  I was a able to get about 3 quarts of juice from one big watermelon.  Photo of Watermelon Drink

I was inspired to come up with a watermelon drink from this blog post from Putney Farm.  They suggested a lovely watermelon drop cocktail. 

While I like cocktails from time to time, I prefer non-alcoholic drinks and since I didn’t have all the ingredients, I tried adding seltzer water and lemons.  My drink didn’t really work.  Luke, my son came to the rescue by by adding limes instead of lemon and he also added basil.  It was a nice touch and he captured for us to share with his digital camera.  Thanks again, Luke!

Have you ever made a drink from watermelon?


Solar’s Sunny Watermelon Basil Salad

16 Aug
by Deanne

We purchased some yellow seedless watermelon from Tomschin Produce and couldn’t wait to share its sweet flavor and surprising  color with our customers. It was the first time we’d ever had such a treat! 

As we sampled our first few slices, we pondered…..how did the watermelon get to be both yellow and seedless?  Was it genetically modified or bred in the normal manner of hybrid plant breeding?  Curious? Read this post to find out.

As you can see from the picture, we chose to create a sunny salad for a bittersweet day.  Our hint of sadness comes from the fact that this was our last day of serving FarmerChef recipes to our restaurant customers. Creating FarmerChef Specials has been challenging yet invigorating experience because each Wednesday we make something that is from either our garden, farmer’s market or other local producer.

Photo of Watermelon Basil Salad

We are closing our restaurant on Sunday, and we are excited about lots of new ideas.  One plan is to keep creating and sharing ideas for healthy eating though our blog and our cooking classes.

Solar’s Yellow Watermelon Basil Salad

makes 8 servings
  • 1 small yellow seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 3 tbsp canola or another vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash pepper
  • a few basil leaves, diced

First wash and cut the melon into bite sized cubes.  Place in a serving bowl.  Use a smaller bowl to make a dressing with the rest of the ingredients. Mix together and pour over cubed watermelon before serving.

Have you ever had yellow seedless watermelon? 

What do you think, would this be good with regular watermelon?

Easy as 1, 2, 3: Basil Mayo

27 Jun
by Deanne

For one of our recent FarmerChef specials we paired cute little sourdough wheat slider buns with an interesting Italian sausage made of locally sourced lamb and spices. It might be a bit of a challenge to duplicate this lamb sausage slider at home, but you can easily whip up what we put on the sliders.

A photo of the sliders with Basil MayoWe blended together mayo, basil, and red wine vinegar…a perfect and easy way to kick up a salad or sandwich.  And since this recipe is mix as you go, you won’t have to worry about what to do with a jar full of leftovers. It works really well if you have your own basil plant close by.

1.  Select one basil leaf:  mince with knife on cutting board.
2.  Measure 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise into it a small bowl.
3.  Add 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar.  Mix all ingredients together and spread on any sandwich you choose!

This simple recipe makes enough for two sandwiches.

Do you use herbs to amp up the flavor of simple foods like sandwiches?

Chicken Cacciatore: Don’t Let This Dish Pass You By

15 Jan
by Deanne

If you are not from an Italian family, you might have missed this dish. Steve and I prepared it for the family, and I was the only one who’d had it before.  I made it once as a teenager…that must have been back when I was fairly certain I’d marry an Italian. ;)

It’s a hearty, but not heavy, meal for a cold winter’s night.  It’s a great way to use some of the summer veggies you stored from your garden or the farmer’s market: tomatoes, green or red peppers, carrots, and garlic.  We used the tomatoes that we put in the freezer at the end  summer.A photo of summer tomatoesWe adapted several recipes, but below is the basic recipe from my 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking

Our adaptations:

  • We added green peppers and roasted the mushrooms. 
  • We used red wine instead of white wine.
  • We seasoned with fresh oregano and basil instead of the spices listed in the recipe.

Chicken Cacciatore is a versatile dish because even with our recipe adaptations and changes it was still very satisfying.

Chicken Cacciatore or Hunter’s Chicken

from the Joy of Cooking

Cut a 4lb. chicken into individual pieces

Dredge with 2-3 tablespoons flour

Sauté until golden in 1/4 cup olive oil with

  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1 minced garlic


  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3/4 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon sweet marjoram
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or 1/4 cup Muscatel

Simmer the chicken covered with vegetables and spices for 1 hour or until tender.  Serve with boiled pasta or sautéed new potatoes.

We’d love to hear if you have our own version of Chicken Cacciatore or enjoy this dish as a family tradition.