Monday, April 7, 2008

Tuscan Garden.. Tomato & Basil

I had been busily working in the greenhouse transplanting all the basil seedlings, when my mind began wandering... I've been working for weeks on a new 'Garden Collection' line of soaps and stumped on the last two of the varieties I will offer at this years Farmer's Market. As I plugged along, it finally came to me!

What staple of the Tuscan Kitchen embodies the summer sun more.. tomato & basil! Bright and 'green' with just a touch of ripened tomatoes. It will be strong, earthy, deeply herbal, basil will simply add to it's green bouquet and sweet sensuality that clearly will round out my Garden Collection beautifully! Can you tell I am head over heels over basil? Genovese, sweet, Thai, ruby red.. this year I've added lemon basil to my list. Ayup, clearly head over heels! :o) And there, sitting right next to my basil plantings were cucumber seedlings.. finito! So the complete line will now include Pumpkin Mousse, Herb Garden, Carrot Patch, A Slice of Summer.. Cucumber and Tuscan Garden.. Tomato & Basil. I'm so psyched! Remarkable how much you can get accomplished working in the greenhouse LOL And even moreso, the appetite you can work up.

So in honor of a very fruitful day in the greenhouse and the fact that I had put on a pot of basil marinara sauce thankfully early in the day.. supper was decided upon.



The sauce...

1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, smashed & chopped
2 - 32 oz cans whole plum Italian tomatoes - crush them up with your hands
1 small can of crushed Italian tomatoes
1 TBLS each- fresh parsley & fresh basil
white pepper and a bit of ground sea salt
2 oz Pinot Grigio white wine

Saute your garlic in olive oil until lightly browned, add your herbs next.. sauteeing for only a minute or two. Add your hand crushed whole plum tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and wine next and stir pot well once.. bring it all to a gently boil, and then reduce heat to the lowest simmer. Continue simmering for an hour or so, until your sauce has thicken up and reduced. Try not to stir often.. you will want this sauce to be thick and chunky.

The shells filling...

20 oz Ricotta (whole milk) cheese
6 oz mozzarella cheese
2 oz asiago shredded cheese
handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup fresh spinach leaves, torn

Cook your large shells al dente.. fill with spinach ricotta ... ladle basil marinara sauce over all...a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella & pop into the oven for 45 minutes. Enjoy!



PS.. Oops, I almost forgot..

It kind of brings a whole new meaning to 'washing your mouth out with soap' now! LOL