Traditional recipes

Basil Thyme Truck: Artisan Lasagna from a Food Truck

Basil Thyme Truck: Artisan Lasagna from a Food Truck

Artisan Lasagna from a Food Truck

In June 2011, former IT professional Brian Farrell introduced the District of Columbia to homemade and gourmet lasagnas made with from-scratch pasta and served on the go. The "scratched" metal finish on this food truck is just where the hard work began for Basil Thyme. "It took me 250 hours with a drill and sandpaper to create the swirled-brushed aluminum look," said Farrell. "In the beginning, I had no funds for a fancy wrap, so I just hoped people would get it: scratched truck equals from-scratch food — and forgive our appearances in favor of our 100% hard work (and hopefully tasty) menu! People seem to like the finish though, so I think It's going to stick."

People also seem to really enjoy the food Farrell serves with the help of Chef Alberto Vega. There are five different kinds of artisan lasagnas, among them the Linda ("traditional" lasagna with seasoned beef), the Cantena (wine and shallot sautéed chicken with spinach), the Guiseppe (black truffle lasagna with gorgonzola and portobello truffle cream sauce), and the newer lobster or crab lasagnas — it was the Washington City Paper’s readers' pick for second-best food truck in the city. And it looks like Washingtonians are about to be rewarded with double the basil and thyme. Basil Thyme is about to launch its second truck: "Basil Thyme's Two." Farrell says it's going to focus exclusively on fresh pasta, with innovative techniques and specials. "Now I'm working 70 hours a week, just to do lunch — so I just wont have the same time to devote to decorating this new truck; it will definitely have to have a wrap," he joked.

Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. Follow Arthur on Twitter.

Vegetarian Lasagna with Ricotta

This vegetarian lasagna recipe is a total crowd pleaser! The easy spinach and ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy.

When it comes to lasagna recipes…well, this one is tops. Meet our best vegetarian lasagna with ricotta, aka vegetarian lasagne! We’ve been honing meatless lasagna recipes for years. This one is the culmination of all of our research: and damn, is it good (if we may say so ourselves). The tomato sauce has just the right zing and garlic nuance, and the spinach ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy. It’s scented with fresh thyme and a little lemon zest, which takes it to over the top status. There’s no one who will turn down a piece! At least, who we’ve met. Here are all our secrets.

Tuesday 6/21- Basil Thyme (Pasta)

Today is a special posting of FTF blog, the wifey was able to join me for lunch today and agreed to be a guest contributor to today's post!

We tried "Basil Thyme", which is pretty new on the DC truck scene (less than two weeks), but despite their newbieness they ran a smooth and tasty operation selling a good variety of high quality pasta with generous proportions and at a decent price! According to their website they create the pasta fresh every day, not just the sauce but the actual pasta itself, and after tasting it I definitely believe it!

The pasta was very fresh tasting, and you could actually TASTE the pasta, it had perfect texture and softness. The Pesto sauce was also very good, if not perfect. It was not overpowering and had the right balance of basil and oil, and was not too oily or greasy. The pasta was also topped with a good amount of cheese which really tied it all together quite nicely.

The salad was definitely well put together and was not an after thought as often side salads are it contained high end ingredients, including tomatoes, cucumber, olives, greens and a tangy dressing. The slice of french bread was a nice touch and was useful to help push the pasta on the fork!

I am not a big fan of cannoli as I find them either too rich or too sweet for my taste, but I actually really enjoyed this cannoli, the casing was softer than usual and the fresh ricotta filling was soft and creamy and not too rich or sweet.

The truck staff was very friendly and pleasant to deal with, my only suggestions would be that they use more environmental friendly containers instead of the plastic containers they are using, and stop automatically putting orders in plastic bags. Also it would be good if they posted the days menu on the truck, which they did not do today.

Overall I give the Basil Thyme truck a very high rating and will definitely be looking to try it again as it was a delicious and filling lunch at a very good value!

My wife had the Beef Lasagna pictured below and agreed to contribute to my blog by posting a review of her meal:

Thyme Travel

Cast aside sandwiches, salads and the other predictable stalwarts of grab-and-go lunches.

The new food truck Basil Thyme is serving pasta that tastes like it came out of an Italian grandmother's kitchen.

The owners roll out their from-scratch pastas each morning, rotating among Italian-American classics like manicotti, ziti and different lasagnas.

Thick slabs of a variety of lasagnas ($9) are the house specialty. The Linda is modeled after classic lasagna, layering seasoned ground beef between thin sheets of pasta with ricotta and bubbling tomato sauce. The vegetarian Giuseppe incorporates an array of seasonal vegetables, including portobello and slices of summer squash in a thyme-steeped besciamella sauce. The meat-filled Pasquale packs an Italian sub's worth of salami, pancetta, pepperoni and prosciutto within the folds of delicate pasta.

When ziti is on the menu, order the baked casserole ($9), which combines the truck's house-rolled noodles in a tomato sauce thickened with generous heaps of Parmesan cheese.

Each portion comes with a salad of roasted peppers and olives. The full combination meal ($10) includes a drink and flaky cannoli, filled with thick, house-made cinnamon-chocolate cream.

"I always sprinkle sea salt on each side of the cod and refrigerate uncovered for a couple of hours or more. This removes excess moisture and firms up the fish. For breadcrumbs, I keep a tub of panko crumbs mixed with dried lemon peel as a base for fish. This helps add flavor."

Tomato & Ricotta Dumpling Soup

What’s not to love about ricotta dumplings? They’re homey, comforting, and in the middle of savory tomato basil goodness, they’re like a deconstructed sort of pizza. The recipe is easy enough for a weeknight, but delicious enough to work for a special dinner. Even if you’re not able to find local basil at this season where you live, this one might even be worth a little splurge.

Basil Thyme Truck: Artisan Lasagna from a Food Truck - Recipes

By Ligaya Figueras // June 1, 2012

We tend to shy away from heavy foods like lasagna during warm weather months, but this summer, Bixby’s has given us a reason not to dismiss such comforting fare. Leave the oven off as you prepare this pasta sensation of sprightly seasonal ingredients like tomatoes, leeks, basil and mizuna, all layered between thin squares of fresh pasta. The shrimp, grilled asparagus and melt-y mozzarella won’t leave you feeling full, but be forewarned: That sauce will tempt you to bring out the bread and start sopping.

Shrimp and Lemon-Basil Lasagna
Courtesy of Bixby’s Callaghan Carter
2 servings

For the shrimp stock:
1 lb. stock shrimp*, shell on
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, largely diced
1 small carrot, largely diced
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups clam juice
1 16-oz. can tomato juice
4 cloves
1 star anise, broken
4 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme

For the lasagna:
10 sheets lasagna noodles, cut into 2-by-3-inch squares
10 tail-on shrimp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 oz. melted leeks (see left)
3 oz. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp. butter
2 oz. mizuna (or arugula)
1 oz. Marcoot Jersey Heritage cheese, shaved**
2 oz. Marcoot Jersey mozzarella***
3 asparagus spears, grilled
Lemon-basil oil (see left)
Chiffonade of basil

• First, make the stock: Place a large pot over high heat. Place the stock shrimp (shell still on) in a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped.

• Add the olive oil to the pot. Immediately add the shrimp to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes.

• Add the onion and carrot, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

• Add the white wine and cook until most or all of the wine has evaporated.

• Add the clam juice, tomato juice, cloves, star anise, bay leaves and thyme. Turn the heat down and bring to a simmer. Let cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and set aside.

• Next, make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and stir to separate the sheets. Cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.

• Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Add the tail-on shrimp and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the leeks, tomatoes and shrimp stock. Bring to a boil. Stir the butter into the broth.

• Add the mizuna and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

• To assemble: Place 1 pasta sheet on a plate. Top with a shaving of Heritage cheese and some cooked mizuna and tomatoes from the stock-and-shrimp mixture. Repeat until all of the pasta is used.

The aforementioned Franklin returns for The Chef Show finale. Set at Hot Luck in Austin, the episode sees the three of them cook Roy Choi's famous Kalbi dish, among other things to close out the season.

Roy’s Kalbi: Soy Sauce, Kiwi, Garlic, Scallions, Short Ribs, Onion, Sesame Seeds, Mirin, Orange Juice, Sugar, and Sesame Oil.

Kimchi: Garlic, Water, Onion, Kosher Salt, Ginger, Chives, Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce, Kochukaru, Rice Vinegar, Oyster, Sugar, Baby Shrimp, Napa Cabbage, and Oyster Sauce.

Roasted Smores: Marshmallow, Chocolate Covered Pop Rocks, Honeycomb, Hot Fudge, Chocolate Covered Cocoa Pebbles, and Graham Cracker.

Ingredient Notes, Tips, and Substitutions

1) The Mozzarella – Fresh or Packaged? I could be a ‘food snob’ here and decry the ‘vices’ of packaged, non-fresh mozzarella, but the difference is a bit more nuanced. To start, yes, fresher is always better – and mozzarella is no different. Fresh mozzarella is undeniably moister, with a fluffy or even silky texture, with something of a milky quality to it, and above all it simply tastes ‘fresher’ – imagine that. Thus, opt for fresh whenever you can. However – and this is a big ‘however’ – fresh mozzarella is far from always being a ‘must.’ Recipes that call for fresh mozzarella involve those where the ‘milky’ taste and ‘fluffy’ texture won’t either be overpowered by the other ingredients, or destroyed by a harsh cooking process. That said, if the mozzarella is going to be drowned out by a medley of powerful ingredients, or baked down, then you can save yourself a few dollars and buy packaged. After all, there’s really no point in paying for fresh mozzarella when all of the qualities that make ‘fresh’ desirable are being lost. Today’s recipe is one such case.

2) Fresh Oregano vs Dried – and Possible Substitutions. In an unusual twist, dried oregano is generally preferred in the kitchen over its fresh counterpart – although there are exceptions. The one word you’ll likely always come across when reading about fresh oregano is ‘pungent,’ and occasionally ‘intrusive.’ Fresh oregano has a tendency to steal the limelight. For this reason, it’s at home in recipes with ‘powerful’ ingredients, or where other fresh ingredients are present. Things like Greek salads, whole roasted fish, grilled lamb, heavy sauces, or in herbal mixes for use in stuffing scored pork shoulders. In other words, recipes that aren’t ‘gentle’ or light. For virtually all other uses, dried oregano is preferable, since the drying process mellows it dramatically – which is almost the polar opposite of what happens with other dried herbs, where the drying process has a tendency to ‘concentrate’ rather than mellow the herbs’ most prominent qualities.

Substitution: Dried basil or thyme at a 1-to-1 ratio.

3) Fretting Over Grating Cheese – A Gratuitously In-Depth Dive. One of the most enduring ‘Food Myths’ is that all grating cheese is more or less ‘the same.’ To start, Parmesan is simply American produced Parmigiano Reggiano – both are produced from cow’s milk, and both are aged for two or more years, which imparts the cheeses with what many describe as a ‘sharp’ and ‘salty’ flavor. Parmigiano Reggiano ‘must’ be produced in Italy due to EU and Italian trademark laws. So, at least in this case, the two grating cheeses are ‘basically’ the same, although Reggiano is considerably pricier, and regarded to be of generally higher quality overall. Pecorino Romano, by contrast, is produced from sheep’s milk, and is only aged for less than a year, giving it a slightly less sharp and considerably less salty flavor. Despite these differences, these three cheeses are often used interchangeably, and once they’ve been melted over sauce, or baked into something like a lasagna, few if any palates would ‘really’ be able to tell the difference unless these cheeses were used in positively ‘silly’ amounts. Bonus Fact: Locatelli is ‘not’ variety of cheese, it is instead an Italian brand of Romano.

4) Zucchini vs Cucumbers – A Tale of Unsubtle Differences. Given their largely similar appearance, new home-cooks might be tempted to believe that zucchinis and cucumbers are similar or even interchangeable. However, the differences between these two items could hardly be ‘less’ subtle. On the exterior, zucchinis are dry to the touch with a rough skin, whereas cucumbers tend to be ‘cold’ and smooth, or sometimes waxy. On tasting, raw zucchini tends to be rather unpalatable due to its dry and bitter taste with an interior whose texture is often described as ‘dry and spongey,’ whereas the moist and crisp interior of a cucumber makes it a perfect ‘stick’ veggie for eating raw or dipping. However, the aforementioned taste and texture of a zucchini makes it ideal for cooking, particularly frying and baking – think zucchini frites, fried zucchini sticks, and stir-fried zucchini strips – and today’s baked zucchini lasagna.

5) The Bread. You’re going to want a hardy bread, preferably one that’s as flavor-neutral as possible, such as an artisan white bread or simply sliced Italian bread. The reason is you want the bread to be able to absorb copious amounts of liquids without falling apart, and you want it to do so without giving off too much flavor of its own, lest it’s ‘bready flavor’ will dominate the recipe.

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