alliums ameraucana Anthony Bourdain aphids Appleseed Permaculture aquaponics arthritis artichokes Asian Vegetables aussie basil baby chicks baby turnips bearss lime bee keeping beet greens beneficial insects benner tree farm Biochar Bitter Melon blight blooming hill farm boothby blonde cucumber brix broccoli brussels sprouts cabbage cabbage hill farm camp hill farm cancer caraflex celeriac chicken coop chickens children chinese tamale chives cilantro cilantro root coconut cold frames collard greens Compost coriander corn crop rotation cruciferous crucifers cucumber Dan Barber dan kittredge Dave Llewellyn detox dirty dozen dragon fruit Dutch white clover dwarf citrus eggplant Elderberries factory farms farm to table farmer's market farmers markets Fava beans ffarm to table fish oil flea beetle flowers food allergies food combining food miles founding farmers four wind growers Fred Kirschenmann french bulldog G6pd deficiency garlic garlic festival garlic scapes geese Glynwood grass-fed beef Great Outdoors Listening Tour green tomatoes greenhouse growing indoors Hanalei Hemlock Hill Farm heritage turkey heritage USA hudson valley farms hurricane Irene hyssop iced tea infections influenza Insect control isothiocyanates joan gussow jolie lampkin joong kaffir lime kale Kauai kohlrabi korean licorice mint Ladybugs late blight leeks lettuces local food locust tree maine avenue fish market menhaden meyer lemon mycelia mycorrhizal natural fertilizers nectary nightshades No Reservations Nurse cropping nutrient density okra organic Baby food organic christmas tree Organic Pest Control Parsley Paul tappenden peas Permaculture pesticides pesto petite watermelon plant sap pH plymouth barred rock pole beans potatoes preserving food purple basil qunice Radish Greens rainbeau ridge farm raised beds rampicante raw food real food campaign red hook Rockland Farm Alliance ronnybrook farm row covers salt-preserved duck eggs sambucus nigra seed saving seedlings Sheet mulching small space soil analysis soil blocks soil conductivity sorrel Squash Vine Borer star fruit sugar snap peas sustainability sustainable fishing Swiss Chard tabbouleh TEDx Manhattan terracing three sisters tomato sauce tomatoes trellis trovita orange turkana farms Tuttle Farm urban zen volt white clover winter harvest Winter Squash Young Farmers Conference
Indispensable Books and Resources
  • Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    by Dave Jacke, Eric Toensmeier
  • The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
    The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
    by Eliot Coleman
  • The Biological Farmer: A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biological System of Farming
    The Biological Farmer: A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biological System of Farming
    by Gary F. Zimmer
  • The Garden Primer: Second Edition
    The Garden Primer: Second Edition
    by Barbara Damrosch
  • 1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
    1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
    Organic Insect Control
  • Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.

    The best farming and growing magazine money can buy!

  • Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks
    Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks

    2" Soil Blocker

  • Mini Soil Blocker
    Mini Soil Blocker
  • New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    by Emily Brooks
  • What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health
    What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health
    by Tasneem Bhatia, Editors of Prevention





« End of the Summer Nightshade Fest | Main | Fried Green July »

Weekly Musings: And the Winner is.... Grilled Tomato and Basil Sauce

Enough about tomatoes and blight. I’m tired about hearing and talking about it at this point. Though we had quite a disaster, roughly 15 of our 109 plants continue to stand and though most of them are stripped down and won’t be able to continue producing much more, what we did harvest early starting in mid July, has fully ripened. I remember canning and freezing my tomatoes last year at the end of September but it is the 2nd week of August and I am nearly done with all the tomato jams and variations on marinara leaving us with enough tomatoes, sauces and jams to last us well through the winter. What I found extremely useful for my winter cooking is to use whole frozen tomatoes. This can be done with currant, cherry and medium sized tomatoes and come in quite handy when you need to cook with them. Don’t count on using them raw but if they are going into a sauce, stew or soup these are the next best thing to fresh.

Follow these simple steps:

Place tomatoes in a single layer on a baking tray. Place them in the freezer for 1-3 hours (depending on their size).
Remove tomatoes when they are quite solid, place them all in a freezer bag or container and store away.
To thaw: just remove the tomatoes you need, keep them out in room temperture for 10 minutes and use accordingly. To remove the skin, just run them under some warm water and they slip right off.

Dr. Whyches Yellow, Giant Belgium, Church and Brandywine Tomatoes
For sauces, I have tried a variety of different methods with different tomatoes. Usually, most recipes call for plum tomatoes since they have less water and seeds than regular tomatoes. I’ve played around with a few. Most of them require either peeling/seeding or a run through a food mill.

Simple Heirloom Tomato Basil Marinara
First try was a simple heirloom tomato marinara with basil which was coarsely chopped and simply cooked down for about an hour, run through the food mill, then simmered on the stove for a few hours leaving me with just a quart of sauce. I played around with the addition of different herbs, onions and garlic. Very nice and simple but definitely time consuming.

Second trial used roasted plum tomatoes. We grew the famed San Marzanos which grew beautifully and showed some blight resistance. I added the sweet Walla Walla onions we grew (1 medium, sliced) and added a few sprigs of thyme and marjoram, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. I baked these gorgeous guys at 375F for 45-60 minutes. After cooling, they were blended in the food processor. This was definitely easier (no peeling, seeding or food milling) and the result was very tasty.

The winner, however, turned out the be a grilled tomato sauce with basil and garlic. This was a winner in taste and in ease. Plus, I didn’t have to generate any heat in the house as we are trying to conserve energy as much as possible without torturing ourselves. I used all the Black from Tula Russian heirlooms to make this sauce but any variety should do.  By the way, black tomatoes aren't really black, they are a beautiful light port color.

 Black from Tula Russian Heirloom tomatoes on the grill

Recipe: Grilled Tomato and Basil Sauce

Makes 2 quarts

  • 4-5 lbs of market fresh tomatoes
  • 11 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of loosely packed basil
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Salt, Pepper (and sugar if necessary)
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste
  1. Grill tomatoes gradually turning them so the entire skin blisters and chars slightly.  Pull of any pieces that have blackened but leave everything else.
  2. Roughly puree in a blender or food processor leaving some texture.
  3. Heat 3 Tbs olive oil in pot and gently cook onion until it's soft and translucent.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook over medium heat until thickened.  About 20-30 minutes.
  5. Taste and season with salt.  If tomatoes are tart, add a pinch or two of sugar to correct the acidity.
  6. Meanwhile in a food processor or blender, add 8 Tbs of olive oil (less is OK if you want to reduce the fat content) add half the basil until it is well blended and gradually add the rest along with the garlic until it is fairly smooth but still with some texture. Add this to the tomatoes.  Cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in 1 tsp of sea salt and season to taste with freshly ground pepper and vinegar.  


Adapted from The Greens Cook Book by Deborah Madison


Farmer Pam, MD

Reader Comments (5)

I'm definitely gonna try the grilled sauce, Pam. It does look easy and why not throw a few on the BBQ as long as it's hot?! I've been reading some sauce recipes where people are meticulously removing the tomato seeds from the sauce. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I honestly like the seeds! Doubt I'll have enough to freeze this year, though. Glad you were able to salvage most and at least you're getting a head start on the preservation efforts.

August 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

I don't mind the seeds either. Some people think they're bitter or that the sauce looks "less refined." In this particular recipe, having some bits of skin and the seeds made no difference in the taste. I felt it was superior to the ones that I passed through the food mill. Charlie, resident expert on tomato sauce, also thought this recipe was the best out of the 5 or 6 recipes I tried. Hot weather is just starting, finally, so I bet you'll have plenty of tomatoes to come.

August 17, 2009 | Registered CommenterPam

I'm so glad Jen posted this link! I loved reading about your results. I tried making a few different tomato sauces this summer too, experimenting to see what works. Great to compare notes!! I don't have a bbq, but I think I'll have to try roasting some before the harvest is over. It's so much fun making different flavors, gosh and could go on and on!

August 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLzyjo

Yum - I am salivating and can hardly wait to try your sauce recipe.

August 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGP

Thanks for sharing the Grilled Tomato and Basil Sauce.It's yummy. It was nice going through your blog. Keep it up the good work.

August 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFlowers

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>