For the Love of Tomatoes by Heidi Kise

My love for tomatoes developed at a young age. Undoubtedly our family garden had a little something do with it. We had an enormous garden every year that was home to everything from radishes to potatoes and always a plethora of tomatoes. My Dad was the main caretaker for this masterpiece. He was meticulous about the layout, spacing and weeding. He carefully and masterfully nurtured our garden all summer long. All of us kids begrudgingly helped out here and there. Enjoying the harvest as a family was the part we all loved. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of enjoying my Dad’s harvest of tomatoes will concur that his tomatoes are a little slice of heaven. I still savor each and every tomato that he gives me, often eating it with just a little sea salt. When I think back to those harvest days, I think of dinner on the patio that includes of my mom’s cucumber salad, BLTs, and cantaloupe. Still a favorite summertime meal of mine.

HeidiTomatoes1Having my own real garden for the very first time this summer has been a fun and interesting experience for my family. Everyone had a chance to choose a few items to plant…cucumbers for Katie, beans for Leo, zucchini for Ken and tomatoes for everyone! The kids, my Dad, my neighbors and the internet have helped plant our garden and we have watched plants grow, blossom, and bear fruit. Tonight the kids ate freshly plucked organic beans from the garden, raw. They were over the moon excited and my daughter asked if she could take them to school in her lunch. In addition to the beans, ironically, my Dad was here today to see the very first ripe tomato plucked from our garden! Thanks to my Dad, I know what ripe tastes like. And thanks to my Dad, my kids will also know where their food comes from and know what a real tomato tastes like.

Produce like this, eaten at its prime, needs little to dress it up. One of my favorite things to make is a batch of basil oil to enhance mayo for a BLT or to drizzle over either prosciutto and melon or tomato caprese. Take 10 minutes to make a batch and let me know how you like to use it!

Basil Oil
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup basil leaves, packed
  2. ½ cup grapeseed oil
  3. 1/8 t. kosher salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, add a cup of ice and fill with cold water.
  2. Drop basil leaves in small pot of boiling water and turn off heat.
  3. Immediately remove basil from hot water, strain and plunge into the prepared ice bath.
  4. After a few minutes, strain basil and squeeze dry between two dinner plates.
  5. Add basil, oil and salt to your blender. Blend until smooth.
Notes
  1. I like to use this flavorful oil as is unless I’m catering a fancy party, then I strain the beautiful, bright green oil through a cheese cloth.
  2. Store in refrigerator in a mason jar for up to 3 days.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

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