As ready as I was to come home from Italy to my Southern comfort food, I still love the food over there. Zack and I both fell in love with Caprese sandwiches, so the other night we pulled some basil out of the backyard…
And some tomatoes too…
And combined it with the olive oil we bough in Italy and some buffalo mozzarella (yes, really from a buffalo), and we ate a kick-butt dinner that tasted just like we remembered.
So you’ve heard me go on and on about Jamie at Home and my garden. Sadly, my basil was attacked by a faceless enemy in the middle of the night (slugs) and I have but 3 leaves left. But before this horribly tragedy occurred, Zack and I got to take advantage of my herbs and have a great dinner.
It all started when I got the notion to make his Quickest Tomato Sauce:
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- A bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and torn
- 3 x 400g (14 oz) tins of good-quality, whole plum tomatoes
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place a large non-stick frying pan on the heat and pour in 4 generous glugs of olive oil. Add the garlic, shake the pan around a bit and, once the garlic begins to colour lightly, add the basil and the tomatoes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mush and squash the tomatoes as much as you can.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper. As soon as it comes to the boil, remove the pan from the heat. Strain the sauce through a coarse sieve into a bowl, using your wooden spoon to push any larger bits of tomato through. Discard the basil and garlic that will be left in the sieve, but make sure you scrape any of the tomatoey goodness off the back of the sieve into the bowl.
Pour the sauce back into the pan, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes to concentrate the flavours. It will be ready when it’s the perfect consistency for spreading on your pizza.
Store the sauce in a clean jar in the fridge – it’ll keep for a week or so. Also great to freeze in batches or even in an ice cube tray, so you can defrost exactly the amount you need. But to be honest, it’s so quick to make, you might as well make it on the day you need it.
Next we grilled up some refrigerated pizza dough. Just unroll, brush with olive oil, douse your grill with some non-stick spray, and grill over direct heat till it’s the way you want it.
Then we topped it with some unbelievable goodness: the homemade tomato sauce, roasted tomatoes and peppers, seasoned grilled chicken, feta cheese, goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, onions, basil and a little bit of thyme, compliments of my garden…you name it and it was on there. We popped it under the broiler for a couple minutes to get the cheese gooey and just a little golden…
And guess what? We still had leftovers of the sauce. Didn’t make it till the next weekend though.
One part of ”nesting” I’ve never quite gotten ’round to is gardening…I dunno why. But this week when my copy of Jamie at Home came in, which is all about his vegetable patch in Essex, England and how he grows everything he eats, I got super inspired. The intro to the book talks about how he went to the market, got some seeds, threw them in the ground, and next thing he knew he had vegetables for him and his family to eat (or “veg” as he always calls it). So why not? I sought out the advice of my food editor, Betty, who I just love so much, and she took me to Collier’s Nursury this afternoon after work and gave me some pots to get started. A good hour and about $25 later…I have the beginnings a veg and herb garden!! I just can’t wait to cook with these herbs and veggies! Let me take you on a quick tour…
These are my herbs…from front to back, we got French Lavender, Cilantro, and Sweet Basil:
This is an heirloom tomato variety called Brandywine. I think heirloom tomatoes are just so fancy…
And my other variety of ‘maters is Best Boy, which apparently is just a good ol’ standby:
Give me a few weeks and I’ll have everyone over for supper, featuring my homegrown produce and recipes out of Jamie at Home!!