Spiced Lettuce Cake Bars

Finally, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to try this recipe for lettuce cake, and today’s bounty of lettuce provides the means. I saw this mentioned at SeriousEats.com last year, and although it calls for iceberg, I’m going to try it with our green leaf lettuce. Sounds like an interesting variation on carrot cake. The recipe comes Nicole Weston of BakingBites.com.

Enlightened Chocolate Basil Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

I also love making a simple syrup (equal quantities sugar and water, heated until the sugar dissolves) flavored with basil. Tonight I made 4 cups of simple syrup and while it was still warm. dropped in all the basil from the box (stems, flowers and all – rinsed well, of course!). Tomorrow I’ll strain out the basil and refrigerate the syrup. I can use it to flavor iced tea, make a frozen ice or sweeten fruit salads. And since it’s not watermelon season yet, I can save my basil syrup and use it to make a modified version of Martha’s margaritas. (It’ll keep at least a month in the refrigerator.) Yum!

Ok – so then Suzanne mentioned basil cake. I found a recipe online for Lemon Basil Cake, calling for Trader Joe’s vanilla cake mix gussied up with the zest of 2 lemons and 1/2 cup chopped basil. And a lemon cake with basil syrup at Epicurious.com. And pound cake with lemon-basil-orange syrup. I can totally see the connection between lemon and basil, but chocolate? There was a chocolate basil cake on the Enlightened Cooking blog. Here’s the recipe. If I hadn’t already put all my basil into sugar syrup, I’d try this tomorrow.

Watermelon-Basil Margaritas

Not sure why, but this week’s box has set me to thinking about sweets. Maybe not the traditional reaction to the bounty of squash, cucumbers and greens, but there you are. What may have pushed me to the sweet side was the huge bunch of basil in my box. “Hmm … more pesto? Nah. Chop some into a salad with the beans and potatoes? Ok. But there’s LOTS of basil …”

And then I remembered a drink I discovered last summer, the watermelon-basil margarita. The recipe came out in Martha Stewart Living back in 2007, and like lots of people, I had torn it out and added it to that stack of “recipes I will get to one day”. Well, “one day” came last summer and what a hit! People who were totally not going to try it ended up loving it and we were muddling basil leaves all night long. Here’s the recipe.

Japanese Curry Rice

The recipe for Japanese Curry Rice comes from Marc Matsumoto of norecipes.com. He says: “ I make almost everything I post without a recipe. I think cooking is most fun and innovative when you just wing it. I do recognize that not everyone is as adventurous as me, so I post the ingredients and method to give you a starting point.”

So in that spirit, substitute okra for the carrots, thinly sliced green beans for the peas, use applesauce instead of the fresh apple, or make any other substitutions that appeal to you.. You could skip the protein and still have a lovely meal.

Smoked Spanish Potatoes

If you need a new idea for squash and basil, try this recipe for Squash and Ham Ribbons adapted from the folks at Good Housekeeping, The pesto uses mint along with the basil, pistachios for the nuts and no cheese. It’s a nice variation on the traditional version. (And would be delicious along with your favorite potato salad recipe.)