fresh tomato

It’s been a hot summer. H-O-T hot. It’s been hot here in Chicago, on sweaty bike rides and walks; hot in Raleigh, North Carolina, by the pool and at farmers markets; hot in Ohio; hot in Nashville; hot in St. Louis; hot everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve sweated through clothes and on furniture, felt skin stick to leather seats in my car, walked into buildings for the sole purpose of feeling their air-conditioning, started keeping deodorant in my purse so I can apply it multiple times a day.

You could say I’m experiencing summer this year, really experiencing it, and listen: it’s not always comfortable.

And yet.

After winter, after snow, after giant puffy parkas and endless weeks of boots and tights, after days with little daylight, after months with little fresh air and even now, sometimes after sitting at a computer all day long, I find so much joy in stepping out into the sun, putting my hands in the dirt, smelling the sweet air, feeling the heat on my back. I guess what I’m saying is, in a choice between January and July, I still choose summer. Hands down.

beautiful fresh basil

Because summer means sweat, sure, but it also means sun! and tank tops! and beautiful flowers! and warm, fresh air! and the opportunity to walk out to your garden, reach out your hand and pull armfuls of vibrant red tomatoes, fistfuls of fresh rosemary and basil, a green pepper grown right in your own soil.

fresh tomatoes

Summer means coming back into the kitchen with those things and, not even using a recipe, just what you have on hand and what you’ve grown, making a tomato cream sauce, one that floods the air with butter, onions, garlic, white wine, the smell of fresh tomato lingering on your fingers while you cook.

tomato cream sauce

Summer means taking that homemade sauce, filled with your own tomatoes, your own basil, your own rosemary, and pouring it over your own homemade ravioli, the ones you’d frozen a few weeks back.

tomato cream sauce

And it means eating a big plateful of it all, of eating what feels like pure summer, while you look at the window and in the sunshine, watch the green branches blow in the breeze.





Fresh-from-the-Garden Tomato Cream Sauce

So I haven’t announced this officially or anything, but one of my new big goals is to cook less with recipes and more with bravery. I like to think of this sauce as a sign of things to come.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup white wine
4 big tomatoes, diced (or about 14 ounces)
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Melt butter in skillet, add ½ cup onions and cook until soft. Add basil, rosemary and ½ cup white; boil. Salt and pepper if you like. Cover and reduce heat for 20 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and cream; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Puree with immersion blender (this is easiest if you transport the soup to a taller, skinnier container). Salt and pepper to taste. Very nice atop homemade pasta.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. katie

    ooooh…I’ve been growing both rosemary and basil and have lots! My tomatoes aren’t ready yet, but I think I might have to give this a try because I definitely need more ideas on using up those herbs!

  2. Jacqui

    yes! summer! i was just telling murdo last night, as we took a walk around the neighborhood and listened to the crickets chirp, that this particular summer has been so very summer. hot hot hot days, crazy summer storms, humidity that hangs in the air and begs for a cold drink. last year it felt like we skipped summer and spring altogether! but this year, we’ve got all the seasons shining through so far. although if we skip winter this year, i won’t mind at all. :)

    also, kudos on the recipe-less recipe! and that tomato up there? i want to eat it. now!

  3. Kim Shenberger

    [to] cook less with recipes and more with bravery

    I love that phrase. How would you like a custom blog button designed and executed by little old me that you could put in your sidebar with all your brave recipes linked in?

    Let me know if you’re interested!

  4. Maddie

    After this past winter’s storms brought an unheard-of amount of snow to D.C., I totally agree with you! Even a sweltering July kicks January’s butt. Having an entire week of snow days was cool, but the stir craziness doesn’t hold a candle to long bike rides and evening walks.

    Tomorrow, I’ll be making the tomato bisque that Jacqui wrote about here. Thanks for the tomato inspiration!

  5. Kelley

    OK, I’m with you 99 percent … on tomatoes, fresh herbs, the joy of cooking things YOU grew, growing braver in the kitchen …

    However —

    I cannot say, with a clear conscience, that I would honestly choose this particular Carolina July over ANYTHING! :)

  6. jessiev

    THIS will get made today. i am so happy to see it, and hear your lovely lovely ode to a hot summer (for how else will we get these gorgeous tomatoes?). freeze some of this, girlfriend, for winter. it will bring it all back! thanks, again, for the delicious recipe. :)

  7. Shannalee

    Antonietta, Indeed!

    Katie, Fresh herbs are such a delight – love that you’ve got an abundance!

    Jacqui, Took a walk and heard the crickets chirp? That sounds like a perfect night. Oh, summer.

    Kim, You’re so sweet! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    Whitney, That’s true – with so much more to do, there’s so much more to tire us out, ha!

    Maddie, I totally remember seeing photos of D.C. last winter and being amazed by it all. Man, it’s nice to look out the window and see green grass instead! Hope you enjoy Jacqui’s soup! I’m bringing some to a friend tonight!

    Kelley, HA! I will say, of everywhere I’ve been this summer, the Carolinas do it HOT like nobody else. Yikes!

    Kim, Yes! Sauces are so much fun!

    TJ, Well said. I’ll sweat it out too!

    Susan, Exactly! A farmers market is def the next best thing, and I stopped at mine this morning for some fresh blueberries and peaches!

    JessieV, Hope you enjoy it! And great idea to freeze stuff. I’m afraid most of my tomatoes get eaten up before the end of August though!

  8. Jessica

    I was with my parents in Indiana and Ohio this July and my dad spent almost every day working outside around my grandparents house. He would always come in with sweat dripping, a large wet spot spreading on both the front and back of his shirt. One especially hot day, as he wiped his face and somebody commented on how hot he looked, he said, “I really love to perspire. Sometimes in Montana, I have to get some water in my hair wet just to stay cool because I don’t sweat enough.” Having lived in the northwest for more than a decade now, where summers are quite comfortable, but not always as sweaty as I would like, I do not take mid-western summers for granted or complain about the humidity anymore. It’s kind of what makes it summer for me—like you said, not always comfortable, but so great.

    I’ve been really enjoying looking around your site! I am always excited to find sites that pair writing and stories with food.

  9. Shannalee

    Jessica, Your comment made me smile. I love hear stories like that, and it honestly did make me think about sweating in a new light. : ) Thanks so much for stopping by!

    Allison, Yes! Do it! That sounds like a wonderful Sunday evening.

  10. Niki

    I think I’d chose fall over ANY of the seasons. And it always seems like the shortest. Sad. I’m totally ready for it though.
    I think that tomato sauce would god wonderfully over some roasted red pepper stuffed gnocchi for dinner tonight… Mmmmm…

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