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  • Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
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  • 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
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    1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
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    Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.

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    Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks

    2" Soil Blocker

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    Mini Soil Blocker
  • New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
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  • 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
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Short journal entries detailing the nuts and bolts of our ventures in growing food at our micro-farm

Entries in tomato sauce (2)


Uses for Purple Basil

Purple Amythyst BasilWe're growing a lot of different varieties of basil: Sweet Italian, Holy, Thai, Purple and Purple Ruffled.  I have plenty of uses for the Thai, Holy and Italian varieties but I'm often stymied when my purple basil is lush and full, waiting for a culinary use.  I do use it as a finishing herb on top of salads, pastas and appetizers as a burst of purple color but it still leaves me with an abundance of the herb.  I've tried to make a pesto from it which came out beautifully in taste but a little disconcerting in color.  The final blackish eggplant color was not appetizing to everyone.  So what to do? 



The basils make a gorgeous batch of aubergine color in the herb garden in our edible forest garden.  I figured my favorite grilled tomato basil sauce would be a perfect vehicle since it wouldn't change the color of the sauce.

I used the prolific producing Plum Regal tomato since it's so meaty with little water content.  An Aunt Ruby's Green tomato snuck in there since it was super ripe

And recent harvested Spanish Roja garlic, Dakota Tears onions making the sauce virtually all from the farm.


And the finished product looks great.  The black specks which are the purple basil actually look like the grilled bits of tomatoes and the resulting sauce is, as usual, spectacular.

For the recipe posted last year (I have yet to find a better and easier marinara to make than this one).  Click HERE.  More tomato uses to come as we are swimming in tomatoes.





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