Preserving Garden Tomatoes

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San Marzanos awaiting transformation.

Tomato sauce recipes are ubiquitous. Ask your friends and they will all have their own versions which most cling to like a plum pit. If you grow your own tomatoes like I do, you want to do something really special with your precious harvest.

San Marzanos in abundance!

San Marzanos in abundance!

This year I am growing Italian San Marzano heirloom tomatoes. Originating from the town of San Marzano sul Sarno in southern Italy near Naples, they are a prized Italian treasure. You can usually find the canned version in specialty stores but rarely will you see them in the fresh fruit section of the grocery stores or even at Farmer’s Markets. They are a smaller, more elongated version of an American plum tomato or Roma, with a thick pulp and low acidity which makes them perfect for preserving. As if overnight, about five pounds of them ripened simultaneously in my garden. It was time to can.

How did I decide on what kind of sauce to make with these coveted tomatoes? I consulted my library of traditional Italian cookbooks from Giuliano Buglialli to Ada Boni. The suggestions ranged from complex to simple. From my travels in Italy, I know that the true Italian version of “sugo di pomodoro” or tomato sauce is not to embellish it with too many flavors. The intention is to keep it simple so the tang of the tomato can shine. I liked Bugialli’s technique of simplicity so improvised with my own twist.

San Marzano Tomato Sauce
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Recipe type: Tomato Sauce
Serves: 6 cups

Ingredients
  • 4-5 lbs of San Marzano or Italian Plum tomatoes
  • 2 tbs Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Handful of basil chiffonade (thinly sliced basil leaves)

Instructions
  1. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise.
  2. Place in a deep saucepan.
  3. Stir in Garlic Olive Oil
  4. Stir in basil. The basil helps bring out the flavor of the tomato.
  5. Cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until juice is released and tomatoes break down. This took about 2 hours.

The finished sauce, thick and juicy and delectable.

The finished sauce, thick and juicy and delectable.

Most people will pass it through a food mill to eliminate the skins and seeds. Not me. I am ok with seeing and eating the entire fruit.
You can either pour it over hot pasta and sprinkle with parmesan or preserve it by canning like I did. Instead of placing my jars in a water bath and sealing my cans, I opt to freeze my sauce in the jars. It lasts nicely, keeps its vibrant red color and is easy!

Yield: About 6+ cups of sauce. I could just eat it with a spoon out of the jar.

Yield: About 6+ cups of sauce. I could just eat it with a spoon out of the jar.

“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
― Miles Kington

Ciao with Love,

Mary




Picnic Palette

A feast for the eyes as well.

A feast for the eyes.

Color is the theme of this vibrant and hearty side dish that delivers both bold flavors and textures. Reminiscent of something Italian, it is the picture perfect picnic dish. Using a mandoline or vegetable slicer will make quick work of prepping the veggies. Be sure to slice them thinly, 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick, or you will be waiting forever for it to finish cooking. I used my herbal olive oils from The Virtuous Olive, to really push the flavors. It’s ok to use different veggies from the ones I chose. Just paint your palette and be prepared for rave reviews!

Summer Garden Side
 
Ingredients
  • 1-2 zucchinis, thinly sliced.
  • 2-3 bright red tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 eggplant, thinly sliced, then cut into half rounds
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1-2 tsp. chopped fresh herbs (thyme, basil, parsley or your choice) or use herbs de Provence
  • salt

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8 X 10″ pan. The size of the pan is not important. If you are feeding a crowd, use a larger pan and prep more veggies.
  2. Toss veggies lightly in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  3. Layer zucchini slices along the side of the pan. Sprinkle with garlic, scatter the herbs and lightly salt. Repeat layering with tomatoes, garlic, herbs and salt, then the eggplant, garlic, herbs and salt. Continue layering until you’ve reached the end of the pan. If there are gaps, like I had in mine, roll up thin slices of zucchini and tomato to form mini roses. They serve a purpose and look pretty too. Drizzle entire dish with Bel Tocco Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  4. Bake for 1 hour or until veggies are soft but not soggy. Let cool and serve either warm or cold.

“Summer night–
even the stars
are whispering to each other.”
— Kobayashi Issa

Enjoy your summertime!

Ciao,

Mary




Harvesting Goodness

ImageMy daily catch!

Most of you know the three things I love most (besides my dogs!). They are gardening, travel, food and cooking. I’ve decided to pull these passions together to change the flavor of my blog slightly. Because it is creating such joy in my life, I will bring my garden more into focus, sharing with you its beauty and bounty. Its influence on me is changing my life in tiny increments. Each new sprout, flower of budding fruit and even weed give pause for admiration and awe. To be able to harvest, daily if I wish, and eat this freshness of nature, is teaching me to appreciate life’s abundance.

” Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time like dew on the tip of a leaf.” Tagore

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Swiss Chard, Lactino Kale & Italian Kale – all cozy cousins!

My seeds of Italian Kale, Lactino Kale and Swiss Chard are presently producing in abundance. Every night, in order to honor their appearance, I come home and must devise a way to cook these bold greens. Here are two recipes I created. They are both delicious, filled with nutrients and gorgeous on the plate.

Walnut Kale
 
Ingredients
  • ½ Cup toasted walnuts, crumbled slightly
  • 2 Tbls. Olive oil
  • ½ Cup sliced mushrooms (or more if you love mushrooms like I do)
  • 3 Cups coarsely chopped kale or any mixture of fresh hearty greens like chard
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ Cup sliced fresh fennel, about 1”long by ⅓” wide
  • Walnut Oil

Instructions
  1. Toast walnuts over medium heat just until slightly browned.
  2. Heat olive oil to medium and add the mushrooms, sautéing just until soft.
  3. Stir in the kale and garlic and cook over medium. Kale will wilt slightly but you don’t need to overcook. If the pan seems dry, add about ¼ cup of warm water.
  4. Stir in the fennel and let it heat through.
  5. Serve as a side dish or you could mound it over brown rice – yum.
  6. Drizzle with walnut oil to finish the flavor. A sprinkling of Fleur de Sel would also be nice!

 

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I love the “cooked” flavor of toasted walnuts.

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Mise en place.

 

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Healthy and beautiful to eat!

Omelet with Kale Sauté
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbls. Olive oil
  • ¼ Cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Cup coarsely chopped kale or like I did, combo of kale, chard and some baby broccoli
  • 2 eggs beaten with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Slivered basil
  • Optional: cheese of your choice

Instructions
  1. In a small sauté pan, heat the oil to medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook until soft. Place mushrooms in a small bowl to use later.
  2. Add kale to the pan and sauté gently just until wilting.
  3. Remove and place in separate bowl.
  4. Add some butter to the pan, heat to medium high and when hot, pour in the egg. Rotate the pan, lifting the cooked parts of the eggs to let the uncooked portion run underneath and cook. Put a lid on the pan for 2 minutes to finish cooking.
  5. Unmold the omelet onto a plate.  Sprinkle with cheese if you like. Pile the kale in the middle, sprinkle the basil on top. Voila! This is really tasty.

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Be creative! Add Herbs de Provence to the eggs. Add onions or shallots or green onions. The world is your oyster.

My hope is that you will be inspired to plant, even the tiniest garden or even just a few seeds and see how they influence your life. Planting seeds of goodness – isn’t that what it’s all about?

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Sparky having a zen moment in our garden.

Avec l’amour de ma maison à la vôtre avec l’amour, le bonheur et la bonne santé  (With love from my house to yours with love, happiness and good health)

Merci mille fois! (Thanks a  million!)