Saturday, August 23, 2008

Summer Tomatoes

Woo-hooo!! Finally this year, our tomatoes have been ripening all through the summer--not just the last week of the summer. Tonight, we had to pick a bunch so the plant wouldn't topple over. The plants, themselves, never got very big, but they have produced lots of tomatoes. Yea!!!

This is one of my favorite summer recipes--it's the BEST made with fresh tomatoes from the garden, fresh basil from the herb garden, and a little olive oil and vinegar. And, to top it all off, it's super fast and easy, too.

This recipe came from my friend Tori several years ago. I think she got it from an old Bon Appetit magazine (July '91).

Tomatoes and Pasta

1 lb. tomatoes, diced

4 oz. mozzarella, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup fresh basil, torn or finely chopped

6 TBS. olive oil

2 TBS. Balsamic vinegar

fresh garlic, crushed (one clove is usually plenty)

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

toasted pine nuts (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup)

12 oz. pasta (I usually do a shape rather than a noodle)

Cook pasta. In the meantime, mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. When the pasta is done, drain and immediately toss the hot pasta with the other ingredients in the bowl. The heat from the pasta warms the "sauce" and just slightly melts the cheese. YUMMY!!! Serves about four.

Let me know what you think!!! I think I'll make some on Monday.

This is my herb garden at the first part of the summer. I love my herb garden. It's one of my favorite things. It's planted where there used to be a pond. We kept the pond when we first moved in, but it was ugly and every kid that came to our house wanted to throw rocks into it. We cleaned it up and filled it in with soil about seven or eight years ago and it has been an herb garden ever since.

The first herb in there was the sage plant, a gift from my mom. It's been there since the beginning. Every spring I trim it down to within an inch of its life, and it beautifully fills back in. The other herbs we have this year are....parsley, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, tarragon, basil, and chives. In the black bucket on the left, I planted cilantro, which didn't ever come up and I've never been able to grow. Then I tried planting dill. Several of the dill seeds sprouted, but after each one got to be about 1 inch high, something would eat it. Right now there's one surviving dill plant--guess that's better than nothing. In the foreground, by the flower pots, I tried planting lavendar for the first time. It's growing but very, very slowly.

I love being able to just pop out to the little herb garden and pick whatever I need for a recipe. And several of the herbs will last long through the fall, even after it freezes (sage, rosemary, thyme). If I were to give any advice about planting an herb garden, I would start with the hearty herb, like sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. But be careful with oregano because, really, it's a weed and will take over. I've cut mine back numerous times. And if anyone has any suggestions for growing cilantro, just let me know. Maybe I'll post a couple of my favorite herb recipes over the next couple weeks.

Have a good one!!!