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Canteloupe, shrimp, and mozzarella pears skweres topped with bail sauce.
Skewers of cantaloupe, shrimp, and fresh mozzarella pearls sit on a puddle of summery basil sauce, with a dollop on top.

Summer Basil Sauce has me stunned by its magical simplicity, and I'll be making it at least one a week until basil season ends. Five everyday ingredients and a one-minute whirl in a food processor (this is the one I've used and loved for decades) produces a versatile sauce that will make you want to dance into the summer moonlight.

The recipe for basil sauce began in the mind of David Lebovitz, the famous American-in-Paris cookbook author. The Perfect Scoop is my favorite of his books, loaded with recipes for the very best ice creams, sorbets, and sherbets. But I digress-- we were talking about basil.

You know what I really love about summer basil sauce? It is the fastest, easiest way to improve so many seasonal foods with hardly any work. More time for summer fun and yummier eating? I'm in. If you grow basil in your garden, I feel you giving me a big kiss for sharing this way of putting it to great use.

A jar and bowlful of summery green basil sauce.
This is NOT pesto!

What Makes this Sauce Different Than Pesto?

This spot-of-glory sauce is less specific and more versatile than pesto. Its compatibility with the wide slate of summer ingredients lets other flavors shine through in such a friendly way. It is 100 percent swoon-worthy. I view this as a kitchen essential-- one of those things every cook should know how to make.

It is slightly thinner, silkier, and gets its piquancy from a spot of Dijon mustard rather than Parmesan and pine nuts. There are two differences between my version and David's. I add slightly more Dijon for a subtle complexity bump. The mustard remains undetectable as an ingredient but adds a little certain something. And, because basil is often sold by weight instead of giving you a measurement by the cup I offer it by weight. Approximately one very large farmers market bunch or big Trader Joe's clamshell worth. And, wow, is it ever a bright green! My favorite color.

David Lebovitz calls it Basil Vinaigrette which I think undersells its super powers as an all-around sauce. Yes, it has a tablespoon or two of vinegar as an ingredient, but it serves as much more than a dressing for salads or marinade for meats.

Let Basil Sauce Jazz Up Your Summer

Since discovering this sauce a few weeks ago, I've used it like this:

  • on grilled fish
  • on grilled and thinly sliced steak, much like a chimichurri sauce
  • as a schmear on toast, topped with slices of avocado
  • as a sauce for cantaloupe/shrimp/fresh mozzarella appetizers (yumm-o, and great served with a glass of Viognier. This one from the Virginia is over the moon!)
  • as the sauce to a delicious 10-minute shrimp pasta, recipe available to the 101-Mile Kitchen Community in our next newsletter.
  • on grilled summer vegetables
  • on pan-fried breakfast potatoes
  • as a dip for grilled garlic bread
  • drizzled on sliced ripe tomatoes

I've got it queued up to use in bean salads, stirred into scrambled eggs, drizzled over a caprese salad, as a glaze for grilled chicken thighs, splashed onto any pizza before or after baking (especially a Margarita-style one,) and perhaps a spoonful added to a typical classic vinaigrette for leafy salads.

Share Your Success!

How will you use this amazing green goodness? I invite you to join me in using this to amp up our easy-going summer eating all season long. When you find yourself using this simple basil sauce in ways of your inventing, please share with our 101-Mile Kitchen community! Tell us in the comments, or on Facebook or Instagram, @101milekitchen. Have you joined the community? If not, we'd love to have you. You can take care of that right here.

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission at no cost to you. Product affiliation allows me to keep this site ad-free while providing you with the content you enjoy. I only promote items that I use, like, and trust, or would invest in myself.

plate with the ingredients for basil sauce on it.
Basil, white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard, salt, shallot, and olive oil. That's all it takes!
A jar and a bowl of summery green basil sauce.

Summer Basil Sauce

Course: Condiments
Cuisine: American, Pacific Northwest
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1.5 cups
Author: Adapted from David Lebovitz
Long on versatile summery flavor, short on ingredients, this simple sauce will jazz up your summer meals.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces roughly chopped fresh basil leaves and thin stems, woody stems removed, one very large farmer's market bunch worth, or one Trader Joe's clamshell package

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients except the basil to the food processor and whirl for a few seconds. Add the basil, and whirl for 45 seconds to 1 minute, scraping down the sides once or twice, until the vinaigrette is smooth. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add a little more water or olive oil to thin it out.
  • Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to a week. The sauce is best served at room temperature.
jar of roasted vegetable stock

One of the graces of home cooking is that there are no paying customers demanding a dish to be exactly the same visit after visit. Each time you make roasted vegetable stock you use any variety of vegetables, bones, meats, herbs, and spices you happen to have. Each time the stock will have a subtly unique flavor. This may not work well in a restaurant, but is terrific at home.

This post is dedicated to my 1970's junior high school home economics teacher, Mrs. Waetje, who taught that reducing waste is a tenet of home economics-- a wise use of family finances. It is a great feeling to rummage through the fridge for vegetables that may otherwise go to waste and turn them into liquid gold. Thank you, Mrs. Waetje, and if you are still out there, I was paying attention despite my wiggles and perpetual chatter.

Wake up Your Cooking with Aromatic and Delectable Stock

Your roasted vegetable stock will add layers and layers of flavor to the soups and stews you make-- that's a given. Use your liquid gold to make risotto, to cook rice and grains like barley, farro, and buckwheat groats. Use it as a medium in which to simmer your dried beans, and as a base for meaty braises. A ladleful added to just about any ragu or stew will deepen its flavor. And one of my favorite things is to cradle a hot mug of broth first thing in the morning as a gentle winter wake up tonic.

The Difference Between Unroasted and Roasted Vegetable Stock

Roasting the vegetables before the simmer produces a deep, richly flavored stock perfect for supporting heartier cool-weather ingredients and recipes. Save the light golden unroasted vegetable stocks for spring and summer cooking. To make a typical light golden broth, simply do not roast the vegetables first, and omit the mushrooms. Follow the remaining directions as they are written.

overhead picture of a jar of roasted vegetable stock.

The Difference Between Stock and Broth

There seems to be a different answer to this question for every person who asks it. Some say that to be called stock it needs to be made with bones, or that broth is something you sip and stock is something you cook with. Another pundit suggests broth is lighter and more flavorful, while stock is thicker. That is questionable, in my opinion, as light broths can be rather wan and flavorless, and thicker stocks can be full of complex flavor.

So, potayto, potahto. Make some, enjoy it, and call it whatever you want. To me, spring and summer cooking seems to lend itself to light broths, autumn and winter to rich, brown stocks. The cooking community seems to agree that the terms are interchangeable. Whatever rolls out of my mouth is the term I'll use!

Vegetable Stock Do's and Don'ts

The very thrifty among us (like Mrs. Waetje, I'm sure) keep a zip-bag in the freezer and stuff clean, vegetable scraps into it. When it's full it is time to make stock.

Classic mirepoix-- onion, carrot, and celery are standard issue in stock making. (You will note the absence of celery in the mis en place photo below. I didn't have any, and it is not noticeably missed in the resulting stock.) See the notes section of the recipe for a more comprehensive list of vegetables and optional ingredients that can contribute to great stock.

Most vegetables make a good stock, with a few exceptions; Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and artichokes can be overpowering or add off-putting flavor notes, so avoid them for this purpose. Beets, especially red ones, will likely make your stock an odd and unappealing color, so think twice about throwing those into the pot. Potatoes are fine, but I don't use them to keep the stock a little more clear than cloudy, a personal preference.

Mushrooms are lovely in a roasted vegetable stock. Dried mushrooms, even better! Just one ounce of dried mushrooms (don't roast them-- just add them to the pot with the water) intensify the rich flavor and add a deeper color to the stock. They are not required, but do add something nice and grounding.

Limp, wilted, scuffed, and past-their-prime vegetables are all fair game. Just be sure to peel or cut off any parts that have blackened or have signs of mold to keep your broth clean and fresh tasting.

Use Your Roasted Vegetable Stock in These Recipes

To cook the grain in Roasted Mushroom, Grain, and Spinach Salad. Get the Recipe.
In place of the water in Pumpkin Black Bean Soup. Get the recipe.

Last Words

If you like this recipe, please give it rating by clicking into the green stars, and if you have questions about the recipe or other culinary dilemmas, please email me at pam@101milekitchen.com. Your success is important to me. Thank you to each and every one of you who subscribes to 101-Mile Kitchen newsletters. You are appreciated more than you'll ever know!

pot of roasted vegetable stock

Roasted Vegetable Stock

Course: Soup + Stew
Season: Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Roasting
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 2 quarts
Deep, richly flavored roasted vegetable stock provides perfect support to hearty cool-weather ingredients and recipes.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4-5 pounds mixed vegetables See notes.
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for adjusting at the end
  • 1 teaspoon whole black or mixed peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley, flat leaf or curly, stems trimmed
  • assorted fresh herbs of your choice, about one bunch total, OR dried herbs of your choice, up to 2 teaspoons
  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms, any variety, optional
  • 1-2 bay leaf
  • other optional ingredients of your choice. See notes.
  • quarts water

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°, or 325° convection. Line a 13" x 18" baking sheet with foil.
  • Wash the vegetables and trim away any spoiled parts. Cut the vegetables into evenly sized chunks and place them on the foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and a good drizzle of olive oil, up to 3 Tablespoonsful. Mix gently together with your hands. Place the sheet into the oven and roast for about 40 minutes, or until the onions and other vegetables are beginning to take on some roasted color and are quite fragrant, stirring halfway through.
  • Place the roasted vegetables and any browned stuck-on parts and oil that remain into an 8 quart stockpot. Add the salt, peppercorns, fresh or dried herbs, dried mushrooms, if using, bay leaves, and water. Bring the pot to a rapid boil, and immediately reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cover, and cooking for 1-2 hours, stirring often. Remove the lid for the last half of cooking.
  • Taste the stock and adjust seasoning by adding more salt if necessary. Allow the stock to cook slightly until safe to handle.
  • Strain the stock first through a colander to remove the larger bits, then strain again through a very fine mesh strainer to remove the tiny bits that make it cloudy. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to three months.

Notes

Vegetable selection:
Classic mirepoix-- onion, carrot, and celery are standard issue. Most vegetables make a good stock. Do use the leaves, peels, skins, and stalks of leeks, garlic, peppers, parsnips, turnips, squashes, fennel, kohlrabi, tomatoes. Corn and corn cobs and celery root, are good additions, too. 
Think twice about using Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and artichokes which can add overpowering off-putting flavor notes. Potatoes are fine, but omitting them will keep the stock from becoming too cloudy.
Mushrooms are lovely in a roasted vegetable stock. Dried mushrooms are even better! Just one ounce of dried mushrooms (don't roast them-- just add them to the pot with the water) intensify the rich flavor and deep color to the stock. They are not required, but do add something nice.
Optional additions:
Rinds (not the juicy flesh) of citrus, especially lemon and orange.
Nubs of fresh ginger and/or turmeric.
Dried chilis of any variety. I find a couple small arbols add a very subtle warmth. The larger dried chilis will make a marked flavor difference and would be fantastic as a tortilla soup base, for example. 
Varied fresh herbs. Nearly all herb will make a nice flavor contribution, but do be careful with some of the more overpowering herbs such as rosemary and oregano. A little can go a long way.
Dried herbs are much more condensed in flavor than fresh, so a little goes a long way here, too. But do use them!
Juniper berries are wonderful in a stock. Add up to 1 teaspoonful, gently crushed to release even more of their wintry flavor. 

How to release a cake from its pan begins a series of kitchen wisdom every home cook should know. These quick tips will make your kitchen efforts more fun, easy, and successful.

Two cakes waiting to be released from in their pans.

Have you ever baked a cake only to have the top of it stick to the bottom of the pan in chunks, taking your visions of a perfect cake with it? Me too. Here's how to get over that.

How to Release a Cake From Its Pan

First, be sure to follow the recipe directions for prepping the pan. If it asks you to butter/grease or flour the pan, so do generously.

Be sure the cake has sufficiently cooled after coming out of the oven before attempting to release it from its pan. The pan should be comfortable warm to the touch, but not hot. This allows the sugars and proteins in the batter to set and gives time for steam to loosen the cake. If the pan is too hot, the chances of a clean release are small.

Use a knife, blade angled and pressed against the cake pan. Circle the blade all the way around the edge to begin loosening the cake.

Next, gently start to tap the pan, and gently bounce it up and down like you are waking a beloved from a deep sleep. You'll know the cake is ready to release when you feel it lightly bouncing against the pan. If the cake doesn't easily budge, leave it to cool just another minute or so and try again. Be gentle! If you are a bit rough, your cake can rip and leave it's beautiful flat top layer stuck.

If you've forgotten about your cake and left it to completely cool it may stick as well. First, test the above steps. If at first tap it doesn't budge, place it back in a warm oven for just a few minutes. This will allow the pan and the edges of the cake to warm up a bit, allowing the sugars release.

Of course, if your cake does come out of the pan missing parts, use a metal spatula to remove the stuck on parts and patch it back together. These things happen, and are nothing a dusting of powdered sugar, a drizzle of glaze, or a fluffy frosting can't minimize!

Lemon Ginger Zucchini cake on a cake plate.
Zingy Lemon Ginger Zucchini Cake

Practice your new skill with these easy recipes:

Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake + Blueberry Compote

Zingy Lemon Ginger Zucchini Cake

sweet corn buttermilk cake with bowl of blueberry compote
Sweet Corn Buttermilk cake + Blueberry Compote

Other Great Cake Pan Resources

Wilton's Cake Baking and Serving Guide offers so much information! The capacity of batter and cooking times and temperatures for every size of pan; how many servings to expect, and a lot more.

Bake through the comprehensive classic recipes in Flo Braker's out-of-print book The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, first released in 1997 and updated in 2003, and you'll be a cake baking pro in no time.

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Welcome!

Photo of 101-Mile Kitchen blog owner.

You’re in the right place!  I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar.

Superpower: Dreaming up recipes that work, serving them to my friends and family, and writing little stories about how cooking them well is the same as loving well.

Inspiration: Ingredients! The fresh, colorful, fragrant, local, seasonal ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest are my creative medium.

Heroes: Local food and wine producers– the people who keep me, my family, and our community nourished and happy.

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