I have written about my friend Maria Elena before—in a previous blog she graciously shared her recipe for seco, a traditional Peruvian stew made with lots of cilantro (a personal favorite). She has also been a patient knitting mentor for me—it is a wonder that as of the writing of this blog, she hasn’t pierced me with the knitting needles. She and her husband have a lovely home in New London, New Hampshire and I was recently up there with friends (each great cooks in their own right) under the pretense of a knitting weekend. I did not knit nor purl a stitch, but I ate and drank like a sailor on leave.
I’d had a tough Friday. I was tired physically and emotionally and the drive knocked the starch out of me. After an outfit adjustment, I slid myself into an Adirondack chair and took in the view of the surrounding mountains, pond, and the happy faces of my good friends, and things felt much better. We made a bonfire and our laughter echoed in the valley. Ah, restoration.
Our friend Kelly made her eggplant parmesan. We beg her for the recipe, but she just waves her hand, grinning and saying, “C’mon. It’s so easy. Just thinly-sliced eggplant, flour, eggs, and bread crumbs. Lots of layers. Red sauce. Ricotta. Parmesan.” I think she is hiding some sort of ancient Italian wizardry up her sleeve, but as long as she makes big pans of it (she always makes extras and sends us home with containers), I’ll let up for the time being. What almost ruined my appetite for Kelly’s ethereal eggplant, was Amy’s dip. I must have eaten 2 cups (roughly 8 1/2 million calories) of basil dip. All their children (and my godson) went to St. Joseph’s School in Needham and the recipe comes from the school cookbook, Loaves and Dishes, A Collection of Recipes by St. Joseph Parish & Schools.
If you have a great recipe you’d like to share, please let me know by commenting at the bottom of the page.
Someday, Kelly might share her eggplant recipe with me and I will pay it forward to you. Until then, this basil dip recipe will hold you over.
Fresh Basil Dip
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed tightly
4 scallions, chopped with some green
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 container garlic and herb cream cheese (I use Boursin)
1 (8-ounce) block plain cream cheese, softened
1 heaping cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
This is easy with a food processor. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 7 minutes at 350. Chop the basil in the processor. Add all other ingredients and pulse to mix. Continue to process until well blended. Spread onto a large plate. Serve at room temperature with crostini or toasted pita wedges. This dip can be frozen. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator.