I have wonderful childhood memories of going out into my father’s garden, picking a tomato off the vine and eating it in the backyard, the juice warmed from the sun dripping down my face and arm. What a taste delight! I mean, is there anything better than a fresh picked tomato right off the vine? Well, maybe the local heirloom tomatoes that I ate at the Main Squeeze this week that were sliced and placed with organic red onion and spinach between two pieces of Upper Crust sourdough bread, slathered with a combination of Goatsbeard Farm blue cheese blended with organic cream cheese, grilled to perfection, and served with a lovely tomato basil salad featuring tomatoes from the Main Squeeze garden. This food also dripped down my face and arms and required extra napkins!
The past two summers I have tried to have a garden in my backyard with the help of a friend, who really wanted to have a garden but didn’t want to have a garden in her yard. The only similarity between my father’s gardens and ours were there were vegetables planted in each. You could actually see my father’s plants. My plants are so overgrown in weeds that it is hard to even find the delicious fruit. And, somehow once I’ve found the tomato amongst the weeds, it doesn’t seem to taste as good. The only thing I seem to be good at is growing basil which I adore and I make into pesto to use in sauces throughout the winter.
Nevertheless, tomatoes (which I usually buy from the farmer’s market) and basil are two of my favorite summer food choices. Here are some ideas for using them. I just read a blog piece in Salon.com about “true love and home-grown tomatoes” that has a recipe for spaghetti with a tomato, basil, and cheese sauce that is simple and tasty.
My pesto sauces are adapted from a low-fat version by Rosie Daley that can be found in her cookbook, “In the Kitchen with Rosie.” (Rosie Daley was Oprah’s chef.) I don’t make it as low fat as she does but I do use her idea of using lemon juice in order to cut down on some of the olive oil which makes it taste really fresh. Here is my version of her pesto recipe. I use it over pasta, fish, chicken, or even just as a dip with crackers. Enjoy!
Lynn’s Pesto Recipe
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves
- 5 garlic cloves, minced (I love garlic and often use more)
- ½ cup nuts (Traditionally people use pine nuts, but I like walnuts better and sometimes I even use a combination of nuts including cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts, etc.)
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (don’t scrimp here.. get the good stuff.. the real Italian parmigiano reggianno)
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil (to make the pesto more smooth, add more olive oil)
How to make it:
Put basil, garlic, nuts, and cheese in the blender or food processor. Blend together. Drizzle the lemon juice and oil in a little at a time until a smooth paste is formed. Add more olive oil for a thinner sauce. Freeze it in small amounts to use all winter.