Tag Archives: heirloom tomatoes

Rustic Tomato Marinara


First of all, I owe my family, friends and coworkers a big huge apology.  You see, I will not be giving away my excess homegrown tomatoes from my garden to them ever again.  It’s not that I don’t like to share or that I am a stingy person or that I like to hoard my garden produce.  It’s just that I need the tomatoes because I have learned how to make my own homemade Rustic Tomato Marinara Sauce from scratch. And in my opinion, this Rustic Tomato Marinara sauce is worth apologizing for.


The key to this delicious sauce is freshly picked, perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes.  This bucket full of lemon boy’s, early girls, green zebras, pineapples, mortgage lifters and a handful sweet millions was used in my Rustic Tomato Marinara.  What makes this sauce “rustic” is that I did not peel the tomatoes or seed them before tossing in the pot for cooking.  I say, so what, who cares?  A stick blender takes care of the tomato skins and as a result there’s very little waste and a fantastic tomato flavor.

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My Rustic Tomato Marinara is one of those recipes that works better by taste and feel rather than following the recipe exactly.  Why?  Every variety of tomato is different and some cook faster than others.  Also, you can add whatever blend of spices and herbs you like.  If you like it spicy, add some red pepper flakes.  It’s all about you and your taste. The next time you have an overabundance of tomatoes, make some Rustic Tomato Marinara.  Enjoy! Tessa


  • 1 gallon tomatoes (about 5 pounds, quartered)
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup wine (I used red table wine)
  • 1 cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • about 2 – 3 cups water
  • 5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 2 Tbs sugar (optional)

Grab a large pot and saute the onions in the olive oil until they turn translucent.  Meanwhile, wash and remove stem scars from tomatoes. Quarter the tomatoes, making sure that all the tomato chunks are somewhat uniform in size.  Add tomatoes, wine, water, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to the pot, Cook on low uncovered for 2 – 3 hours, stirring often.  Add garlic near the end of the cooking process.  Using an immersion or stick blender, blend sauce until smooth or desired consistency.  If the sauce is too watery or thin, cook the sauce longer to reduce or if it’s too thick, add more water.  Taste your sauce, add sugar if necessary.  The purpose of the sugar is to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Correct your seasonings.  Remove from heat.  Use sauce immediately or cool and put into plastic containers to freeze for later use.  Makes about 2 – 2 1/2 quarts.

Roasted Tomato Bisque

Roasted Tomato Bisque

It’s the beginning of fall and I had an obscene amount of fresh picked tomatoes that I had to deal with.  I did not want any of the tasty tomato gems go to waste so I thought it would be a great idea to oven roast a large cookie sheet full of fresh picked heirloom tomatoes.  I wanted to make a roasted tomato bisque and any leftover roasted tomatoes would be tossed into a plastic bag to be placed in the freezer for use in sauces or soups at a later date.

While harvesting some of the final tomatoes of the season, I thought that I would photograph some of the annual flowers and plants that I have growing in my garden before the first frost.  Once the fall frost hits our region, my garden is pretty much out of commission until next spring.  I may plant a few cold weather vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and kale to tie me over but my favorites are always the summer crops of tomatoes, squash, peppers and beans.

Morning Glories…  One of my all time favorite climbing plants.  They are sweet whimsical annual flowers that close up their petals at night or during the heat of the day.  They are fairly easy to grow however, they don’t like to be transplanted.  I plant mine from seed directly in the ground in mid spring.

A Mammoth Sunflower.  These annuals reach upwards of 6 to 8 feet tall!  The birds in my yard, especially the blue jays and finches love eating the seeds.  The blooms are huge and they look striking cut and placed in a large vase.

Dusty Miller…  A strange name for a beautiful plant.  The leaves are silver in color and look gorgeous tucked in amongst the green foliage.  The color of the leaves remind me of the winter season that will be here in just a few short months…

A pint container of fresh picked cherry tomatoes for my neighbor across the street.  I still have bunches more to pick…  The reddish ones are the sweet 100 variety and the orange ones are called sun golds.  Both are prolific plants that supply my family with pounds of delicious fruits.  The sun golds have the sweetest flavor of the two varieties and are my favorite little tomato.

My Roasted Tomato Bisque is a perfect use for those extra heirloom tomatoes you may have in your garden.  It’s simple to make and tastes amazing with a simple grilled cheese sandwich or cheese panini with tomatoes and basil. Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 3 cups roasted tomatoes with juice (see recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt to taste

Begin by grabbing a medium sized pot with a lid.  Over medium heat saute the onion and olive oil until the onions are cooked and translucent.  Add the roasted tomatoes, chicken stock, garlic paste, saffron threads and white pepper.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.  Add heavy cream, stir, taste and correct your seasonings and serve.  Makes about 5 one cup servings.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

This is a simple recipe that will yield some flavorful tomatoes for soups, stews and sauces.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Cut tomatoes in half or into large chunks.  Gently squeeze out some of the seeds.  Toss lightly with olive oil, salt, pepper.  I added some sprigs of basil and rosemary for some flavor.  Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet (for easy cleanup).  Bake for 45-60 minutes depending on the size or variety of tomatoes.  Cook until the tomatoes start to shrivel and get a bit of color or until your liking.  Remove from oven, let cool, remove basil and rosemary, place in plastic bags and toss in the refrigerator.  Use within a few days.  Can be frozen for later use.  Note: if you don’t like the skins on the tomatoes, just pull the skins off after cooking.  They pop off pretty easily. Enjoy!  Tessa

Nasturtium Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Honey Mustard Dressing

Nasturtium Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Honey Mustard Dressing

There’s only a few days of summer left but my garden still does not seem to know it yet… Before my family woke up this morning I was out watering the plants, trimming flowers and harvesting anything that will fit into my garden basket and bucket.  My bounty this morning was a bucketful of heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, chives, parsley, and nasturtiums.  Even before my first cup of coffee I was thinking about making a salad…

Orange nasturtium blossom.  Nasturtiums are edible flowers that have a wonderful peppery flavor.  You can even eat the leaves too!

Nasturtium leaf.  The leaves are circular shaped with the stalk near the center of the leaf.  Some of my nasturtium leaves are green, some are variegated.  I grow my nasturtiums from seed in the spring and plant them where ever I can fit them in my garden.  Some are tucked under tomato plants and some are in pots.  They are easy to grow and add lovely color to your yard and garden.  Not to mention they taste great in salads!

Fresh picked heirloom tomatoes.  Green Zebras, Caspian Pinks, Indigo Rose, Sweet 100’s, Chocolate Cherries, Medford Ace, and Yellow Pears.  I walked away with a gallon size bucket filled to the top…  I’m going to roast some of the larger ones later for a delicious roasted tomato sauce.

My Nasturtium and Heirloom Tomato Salad is made with fresh picked nasturtiums, basil, chives, curled parsley, crunchy green leaf lettuce and a variety of heirloom tomatoes.  I then drizzle the salad with a tangy homemade honey mustard dressing.  It’s flavorful, fresh and delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 4 cups green leaf lettuce (washed and torn into bite sized pieces)
  • handful of nasturtium blossoms
  • handful of nasturtium leaves (pick the smaller ones)
  • handful of basil leaves
  • handful of curled parsley (coarsely chopped)
  • a few stems of chives (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 cup or 2 of small heirloom tomatoes
  • honey mustard dressing to taste (see recipe below)

Assemble all of your ingredients on 4 salad plates.  Drizzle with honey mustard dressing.

Honey Mustard Dressing

Whisk together in a small bowl the following ingredients.  Refrigerate immediately.  Keeps for about a week.  Makes about a cup.

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 5 Tbs honey
  • 4 Tbs stone ground mustard
  • 2 Tbs prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar

Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad

My son and I were at a local bookstore the other day and those who know me know that I can never leave a bookstore empty handed.  My new prize for the day was “Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking”.  First of all, I must say that book is a complete winner.  Lovely photos, easy to follow instructions.  Cool cookbook.  Second of all, as I was flipping through the pages, his recipe for a Tomato Salad caught my eye.  I had a bunch of heirloom “Caspian Pink” tomatoes from my garden that I needed to deal with and that recipe sounded like it would be a good one.  Color me wrong…  After it was all said and done, Bourdain’s recipe for the Tomato Salad was not just a good one.  It was simply outstanding!

This “slightly adapted” Tomato Salad recipe is a simple yet flavorful mixture of sliced and seeded heirloom tomatoes, thin slivers of red onion, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, salt and pepper.  If you have some heirloom tomatoes, be sure to give this recipe a shot.  It’s easy and delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 pounds fresh heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 small to medium sized red onion
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar (I used the dark, not the white)
  • fresh basil leaves for garnish

Wash, core and cut the heirloom tomatoes into wedges.  Place wedges into a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp coarse salt and 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper.  Let tomatoes sit for 1/2 hour.  (I tossed mine in the fridge, I like my salads on the cool side)

Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the red onion and place in another colander.  Sprinkle on the additional 1/2 tsp of salt and let the onions sit for 1/2 hour also (I stuck them in the fridge too).

When the 1/2 hour is up, lightly brush off the salt and pepper from the tomatoes and give each tomato wedge a light squeeze to remove the seeds.  Toss seeds away.  Add tomatoes to a bowl.  Using your clean hands lightly squeeze the moisture out of the onions.  Add onions to tomatoes.  In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic paste, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  Add the dressing to tomato and onion mixture.  Lightly toss, taste and correct your seasonings.  Garnish with basil leaves, and serve.  Makes 4 servings.

Heirloom Pineapple Tomato

Heirloom Pineapple Tomato

One of my favorite variety of tomatoes is the heirloom Pineapple Tomato.  The massive yellow fruits are juicy, sweet, and can grow up to a whopping 2 pounds each.   Every year I purchase one or two plants at the Master Gardener Fair down at the Expo in late spring.  I plant them in the garden in late May and by early August, I am in the midst of my harvest.  My tomatoes are doing quite well (so far) and the biggest one that I have picked out of my little garden this year weighed over 1 1/4 pounds.   Wow!

I have learned over the years when preparing a dish for my family, sometimes less is more… What I mean by that is when you have a spectacular ingredient to work with, don’t cover it up with other flavors, seasonings or textures, simply showcase it.  That is exactly what I did with one of my fresh picked Pineapple Tomatoes.  I sliced it, drizzled it with olive oil and added a pinch of salt.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Simply perfect.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 Heirloom Pineapple Tomato
  • olive oil to taste
  • coarse salt to taste
  • garnish with a sprig of basil

Slice tomato into 1/3 inch slices.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Garnish and serve.

Stacked Caprese Salad

Stacked Caprese Salad

Here in Southern Oregon when the weather is hot outside, I try not to turn on my stove too much or even use my oven.  I don’t like living in a hot house nor do I like writing unnecessarily large checks to the power company.  During the warm summer months I like to cook our meals back out on the barbecue and serve fresh cool salads on the side.

This morning as I was checking out my garden, I noticed that I had quite the crop of heirloom tomatoes.  One of the first things that comes to mind when I have a bunch of tomatoes is making a simple Caprese salad.  I just love the flavor of fresh picked tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and herbaceous basil.  I like to drizzle the Caprese salad with olive oil and finish it with fresh cracked pepper and coarse salt.  It’s simply delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 8 heirloom tomatoes (about the same size as the bocconcini)
  • 4 – 5 balls of fresh mozzarella (bocconcini)
  • fresh basil
  • pepper
  • salt
  • olive oil for drizzling

Begin by slicing your tomatoes and the bocconcini.  Stack the tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil leaves.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper and salt.  Garnish with additional basil and maybe a fresh edible nasturtium flower.  Serve.  Makes 8 little salads.

Egg Salad Sandwich

Egg Salad Sandwich

Years ago when I was a cook while working my way through college, one of the things that I had to make on the menu was an egg salad sandwich.  I was taught to make them with hard boiled eggs, miracle whip, yellow mustard and sweet relish on white bread.  It was served with a handful of plain potato chips and a dill pickle.  Some people just loved it.  Me, on the other hand, I thought that it was simply anemic looking and disgusting…

Heirloom Tomatoes

I love preparing eggs so I thought I would try to improve upon the egg salad sandwich recipe that was taught to me years ago.  First of all, I ditched the miracle whip and used a good quality mayonnaise instead.  I swapped the plain yellow mustard for Dijon mustard and omitted the sweet relish.  I added capers, fresh chopped celery and fresh snipped chives.  I also added chopped roasted red bell pepper, a pinch of curry powder and fresh cracked pepper.  I serve my egg salad sandwich on whole wheat bread with sliced heirloom tomatoes and fresh picked lettuce.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 Tbs light mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs chopped celery
  • 1 Tbs chopped roasted red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 1 tsp chopped chives
  • big pinch of hot madras curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • garnish with fresh picked lettuce and sliced heirloom tomatoes

Begin by grabbing a small bowl.  Using a fork mash the eggs in the bowl.  Add all ingredients except bread and garnishes.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Divide egg mixture and place on two bread slices.  Add tomatoes, lettuce and top each sandwich with a bread slice. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.  Makes two sandwiches.

Green Zebra Gazpacho













If you happen to have an abundance of tomatoes, make some gazpacho.  Gazpacho is a wonderful chilled soup made with ripe uncooked red tomatoes, crispy cucumbers, onions, peppers, garlic and other ingredients.  Gazpacho has its origins in Spain however my version is somewhat similar but with a champagne vinegar and an obvious green tomato twist.













Green Zebra Tomatoes are my all time favorite heirloom tomatoes.  I plant several of these tomato plants in my little pocket garden every year.  When green zebra tomatoes are ripe, they are a gorgeous light green color with dark green stripes rather than the traditional all red color.  They are mild in flavor and are suitable for many dishes.  Mix these with other tomatoes in a dish or on a salad for a “pop” of color.  If you have a bunch of these little green tomato gems, be sure to make this gazpacho!  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 pounds green zebra tomatoes
  • 1/2 English cucumber cubed
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 bell pepper (quartered)
  • 1 avocado (quartered)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 c. cilantro
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/8 c. olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbls. champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper or to taste
  • garnish with cilantro sprigs and chopped red and yellow tomatoes

Begin by peeling your tomatoes.  The easiest way is to drop the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds and remove.  Then core and peel.  Toss the tomatoes into a food processor and buzz it up but do not puree.  You want to have some small pieces in the soup.  Put the tomatoes in a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and repeat.  Mix ingredients together and place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or overnight.  Before serving taste and correct your seasonings.  Garnish with cilantro sprigs and chopped tomatoes.  Makes about 8 servings.

* Note:  Go ahead and use red tomatoes if you like.  I did not make up the rules and I purposely chose green tomatoes for the visual effect.

Chicken Curry (Kari Ayam)













Every year for the past seven years I have planted tomatoes in my little pocket garden.  When we first moved into our home, my husband Bruce built me a couple of raised garden beds on the side of our house.  I have tomatoes and other vegetable plants tucked into those garden beds and every available space in our yard that gets over eight hours of sunlight everyday.  It’s now near the end of summer and for the size of my little garden, I am happy to say that I have quite the bumper crop of tomatoes.

Lemon boys and green zebras are the heirloom tomato varieties that I have chosen to use in my Indonesian inspired chicken curry.  I love the vibrant yellow color of the lemon boys in the sauce and the gorgeous green stripes of the green zebras as a garnish. My chicken curry is made with succulent chicken thighs, yellow tomatoes, Indonesian soy sauce, onion, coconut milk and fragrant spices.  Serve this flavorful curry over steamed rice and garnish with green onions and sliced tomatoes.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into large pieces.
  • 1 white onion chopped fine
  • 3 large yellow tomatoes (lemon boy) peeled and quartered
  • 2 Tbls. Indonesian soy sauce
  • 6 oz. can coconut milk
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground lemon grass
  • 1/2 tsp. galangal powder
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • a big pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • water
  • 1 Tbls. canola oil
  • garnish with thin sliced green onions and chopped green zebra tomatoes

In a large hot saute pan, cook the chicken in the canola oil over medium high heat until a gorgeous golden color.  Add your onions and cook until translucent.  Add the tomatoes, soy sauce, coconut milk, spices and a cup of water.  Cook covered until chicken is tender and sauce is thickened (about 30-40 minutes).  Add more water if necessary.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Serve over steamed white rice and garnish with sliced green onions and tomatoes.  Serves 6.