Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce over Brown Rice Spaghetti

This Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce is a bright luscious sauce packed with flavor and versatility!  I added fresh cherry tomatoes and basil on top of individual servings for an added freshness.  I chose to serve it over pasta but it is also great served by itself with a loaf of crusty bread and a glass of a crisp wine.

n3u9a2080 This last week was so much fun, to say the least.  Robby had to go to L.A. for work and lucky me was able to tag along for the ride.  We stayed at the Marriott in Marina del Rey with an awesome view of our old hometown.  I have never seen the Westside from that perspective before; it was pretty cool!  After we arrived, we freshened up and went to meet our longtime friends, Maggie, George, Christine and Jonny at a fairly new Italian inspired restaurant called Scopa.  There was a lot of great conversation and laughter involved as usual!

I was really looking forward to the next day because I had made plans to meet up with Adam and Ryan who are fellow food bloggers from Husbands that Cook.  We met in Venice at The Butcher’s Daughter for lunch and they were just as sweet as I imagined them to be.  We had so much to talk about during the relatively short time we spent together.  Unfortunately, we barely scratched the surface of all the things we wanted to learn about each other but that just gives us more reason to meet up again!

Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce Later that day, I went to visit one of the old school Venice families who still hold down the old Venice vibe, which is slowly but surely disappearing!  When I use to live down the street from the Massie’s, I would give Ms. Massie a back massage every time I stopped in.  Well, this time was no different and I gave her one on this visit as well!  It is always so great to see everyone!  Robby had text me when he was off work and we decided to meet George at Charcoal Venice for dinner.   My good friend Josiah is the owner/chef of Charcoal and he told me he was going to be working that night.  The food was phenomenal; I highly suggest you try it if you are ever in the area.  And there are surprisingly a lot of vegetarian options.

Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce The next day my dad drove down to meet me for lunch.  We ate at Cafe del Mar that happens to be a few buildings east of the Marriott.  The food was really good and they had a great view of the Marina but that’s all I’m going to say about the restaurant.  My dad left shortly after lunch and I went back to the hotel to meet my friend John for a glass of wine before heading to dinner at Cast and Plow with Robby’s coworkers.  Cast and Plow is a restaurant at Ritz Carlton that also overlooks the Marina.  I had a great time meeting and chatting with Robby’s coworkers!

Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce I always make it a point to go to the 3rd St. Promenade to do a little shopping whenever I am in LA, so I snuck in some quick shopping the next morning before I met up with Maggie for lunch.  We met at a wine bar called Local Kitchen and Winebar, which was located where Marty’s Liquor store use to be.  Marty’s was in that location for almost 50 years, which was in the neighborhood I grew up in.  This is the liquor store that Maggie and I managed to get beer from when we were teenagers!  Haha.

After lunch with Maggie, I went to meet up with another friend Janelle.  We met at her boyfriend’s furniture shop Stansbury where she also happens to work and we decided to go to a Spanish tapas restaurant down the street called Manchego for dinner.  We shared 5 varieties of tapas along with a really nice bottle of Rueda Verdejo and we talked and talked and talked!  This had to be one of the best times I have had in LA in a very long time!

Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce

4 – 6 Servings

  • 7 Large Tomatoes – cored – cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • Marinade – recipe below
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine – I used Sauvignon Blanc
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper


  • 6 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 Packed Cup Fresh Basil leaves – finely chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Dry White Wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Sea Salt


  • Cherry Tomatoes – room temperature – quartered
  • Fresh Basil Leaves

Preheat oven to 325 F

  In a bowl, mix together the garlic, thyme, basil, oil, wine and salt.  On a large baking sheet or 2, lay out the tomatoes in a single layer and spread the marinade over the tomatoes.

Put the baking sheet on the middle rack and bake for approximately 45-55 minutes depending on the size of the tomato, the tomatoes will start to look a little shriveled up.  The tomatoes will produce water and you will want to keep it.

 Turn oven up to 400 F for 20 minutes to slightly caramelize the tomatoes.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, although a little brown is okay and they will have the roasted sweetness that gives these tomatoes the yummiest flavor!

 While tomatoes are cooking saute the onions in the olive oil until soft.  Add the wine and reduce until syrupy.

Set aside until tomatoes are finished cooking.

When tomatoes are finished cooking, let them cool and peel off the skins.

Put everything into a food processor or blender, including tomato water and puree.  Pour back into the pan and simmer until it thickens up to desired consistency.

 Drizzle a little olive oil over it.


While sauce is simmering, add pasta to a pot of salted and oiled water.  Cook according to the package.

Mix a little sauce into the pasta then top individual servings with more sauce.  Top with fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.

Roasted Tomato Basil Sauce Health benefits:

Tomatoes are great for the heart due to the extreme antioxidant support, niacin, folate and vitamin B6 that help the reduction of heart disease.  They are also high in vitamins A, C, K and potassium.  The choline in tomatoes helps assist the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.  It also helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.  Tomatoes are high in Lycopene the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color.  Cooking tomatoes break down the cell walls, which helps to release the lycopene and is better absorbed by the body with a little bit of fat like olive oil.  The Zeaxanthin in them helps to filter harmful ultra-violet rays, which protect eyes from “age-related macular disease.”  They are also a powerful blood purifier and great for skin and bone health.

Fresh Basil has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  The herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A and is rich in zeaxanthin an anti-oxidant that helps protect age-related macular disease.  It has a good amount of Iron and also helps to detoxify the liver.  It contains phytochemicals that may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you’re stressed that causes weight gain, so add some fresh basil to you water or tea.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini with Roasted Red Pepper, Cucumber and Arugula

These Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini are super easy to make yet they are packed with flavor!  The chive pesto and arugula add a nice mild spiciness, the cucumber gives it a much needed crunchy fresh quality and the roasted peppers provide a lovely smoky flavor that ties it all together.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini I am so excited about my new ceramic plates I recently purchased from my friend Jasper.  I met Jasper and his friend Tom a number of years ago at the Santa Cruz farmers market located downtown Santa Cruz.  Jasper and Tom sell their beautiful creations in a booth shared with two other ceramic artists.  Jasper and Tom made all of the ceramic bowls you see on my blog.  I have been in need of plates for a long time now and my jaw dropped when Jasper told me that he had made some.  I knew I had to see them!  The following Wednesday, I headed to the farmers market and when I saw the plates, I just about died.  They were gorgeous!!  I bought 3 of them and then he gifted me one.  Sooo sweet!  I absolutely love his signature cat painted on the backsides of two of my new plates!

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini The annual Santa Cruz Artist Open Studios was on the following Saturday so Robby and I paid a visit to Jasper’s studio.  I found a large bowl that matched my plates and of course I had to have it!  We were there for a while chatting with Jasper and some of his friends.  We learned that one of his artist friend Joao was from the Azores where Robby’s mom’s family originated.  Before Joao new what island, I blurted out you guys are probably related and he said probably not, then asked what island.  Robby said San Miguel and Joao said yup, we probably are related.  Such a small world!  We also got to meet Jasper’s cat the star of the cat mugs and drawings!  It was a fun visit!  Next, we went to see Tom and of course I found another beautiful white bowl.  Tom was busy with a customer so we bought the bowl and headed home.

I am really stoked for Jasper and any of you who might be interested in his ceramics because he is working on a website store and I will share with you once it is up and running! Woohoo!!!

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini I would pair these with a Pinot Gris, Soave, Sauvignon Blanc or a Tempranillo.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper – roasted – cut into 24 thin strips – instructions below
  • Chive Asiago Pesto – recipe below
  • 1 Large Cucumber – thinly sliced – quartered (you can leave the skin on if it’s organic, otherwise peel it.)
  • 12 Slices Sourdough Baguette – crostini recipe below
  • Arugula
  • 1/2 Cup Chives
  • 1/3 Cups Walnuts
  • 1/3 Cup Aged Asiago Cheese – finely shredded – packed
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoons Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • Approx. 12 Slices of Sourdough Baguette
  • Approx. 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cut chives into 1-inch pieces and finely shred the cheese.

Measure all ingredients and put into a food processor or blender and blend well.

Make sure to scrape down the sides at least once.
Roast peppers on the stovetop on medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove. Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag that is rolled shut to hold in the steam.
Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.  Cut the top and the bottom off ,then cut one side lengthwise and lay flat. Cut into thin strips the size of your crostini.

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices.

Place slices onto a baking sheet and with a pastry brush or your fingers, coat both sides with olive oil.

Place on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 1 – 2 minutes then flip them over and broil for about 1 more minute.  Make sure and watch close, they can burn fast.

I usually put the timer on for 1 minute and check, then put on for 1 more minute while watching.  They cook faster on the second side because they are already hot.

Spread the pesto, top with one slice of cucumber that has been cut into 4, top with two strips of roasted pepper and a sprig or two of arugula.  I like to serve some extra cucumber and arugula on the side.

Chive Asiago Pesto Crostini

Health Benefits:
Chives contain flavonoid anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals, and vitamins.  It is one of the richest sources of vitamin K, rich in vitamin C and is really high in vitamin A. It reduces cholesterol production in the liver and helps decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.  It also helps to maintain bone mineral density.

Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes with Honey and Tarragon – Alternative Baker

These Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes are heavenly, to say the least!  They are exceptionally better than any classic shortcake I have ever had.

They are buttery, flaky and have the perfect moisture content thanks to the ricotta and cream.  Top it off with the tarragon infused honey strawberries and you will have yourself an eye rolling experience!  You don’t need to be gluten free to love these gems or any other of Alanna’s recipes for that matter.  Think of it as a way to experience alternative flours; trust me, you will have fun learning about all the different varieties and ways to use them!  White flour can be so boring!

Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes I have been a long time fan of Alanna Taylor-Tobin’s blog “The Bojon Gourmet“.  I was so excited to hear that Alana was developing a gluten-free dessert cookbook and as soon as it was available, I immediately placed my order.  It is one of the most stunning cookbooks I have seen.  The photography is breathtaking, all of which Alanna shot herself!  I always prefer cookbooks that are full of beautiful photos! I have only one wish and that would be for it to come in a hardcover version because it’s really is that gorgeous!

There has been a number of food bloggers posting Alanna’s recipes ever since the “Alternative Baker” cookbook came out and I knew at once that I wanted to be in on this amazing journey.  It was really tough to choose just one recipe but I decided on the strawberry ricotta shortcakes because my mom was coming to visit and strawberry shortcake is her all time favorite dessert.  Needless to say, we all absolutely loved them!

Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes I wanted to stick to the original recipe as much as possible but I did adapt it just a little bit.  As you all know, I really have a hard time sticking to recipes. I prefer to get an inspiration and then develop my own take on a dish.  Alanna uses lemon in the original recipe and although I like lemon, I choose to omit it.  I used arrowroot powder in place of cornstarch and baking soda and apple cider vinegar in place of baking powder.  I also used coconut sugar in place of cane sugar because Robby has a bad sugar allergy.  I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, except for maybe the lemon.  They came out amazing!

Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes These Strawberry Shortcakes pair well with a semi-sweet Riesling.

 Check out some of the recipes that other bloggers have posted from Alanna’s cookbook “Alternative Baker“.
Lemon Ricotta Shortcakes with Peaches & Mascarpone Cream – Honestly Yum
Coconut Vanilla Chiffon Cake – Betty Liu
Buckwheat Double Chocolate Cookies – Cookie and Kate
No-bake Oat Bars w/ Sour Cherries, Hemp & Chocolate – The First Mess
Triple Coconut “Tres Leches” Cake With Mango & Lime – Vegetarian Ventures
Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes Strawberry Ricotta Shortcake Recipe:
For original recipe and so much more, do yourself a favor and order Alana’s book!
  • 1/2 Cup Oat Flour
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Millet Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Tapioca Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter – unsalted – cold – cut into pieces
  • 1/2 Cup Ricotta Cheese – whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream – cold – plus 2 teaspoons for brushing biscuits
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Coconut Sugar for sprinkling – optional
  • 2 Cups Sliced Strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey – plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 Tablespoon Tarragon – loosely packed – torn – plus some pretty sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/3 Cup Whole Milk Ricotta
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Sugar
In a large bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together.  Add the butter pieces,  mix the butter with the flour by breaking down the butter into pea-sized pieces with your fingers. Chill the mixture for 20 to 30 minutes to chill the butter.
In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, cream and apple cider vinegar.  Set aside in the refrigerator.
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and place a rack on the upper third of the oven.  Stack a baking sheet on another baking sheet and line with parchment paper.  This helps to not over brown the bottoms.
Mix the ricotta mix with the flour mix until the dough comes together in a ball.  Flatten the ball into a disk on a lightly floured board and cut into 6 pieces.  If you have a kitchen scale you can weigh them into 2 oz. balls.  Roll them into balls and space them out on the parchment.  Slightly flatten and brush the tops with the 2 remaining teaspoons of cream the sprinkle with sugar.
Place the baking sheet on the upper rack and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden.  Let cool for 15 minutes,  they will continue to cook while they cool.
The biscuits are best the day they are made but you can heat them up a little before serving.

In a small bowl, toss the strawberries with the honey and tarragon then let sit to let the juices draw out.

In a large mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whip the cream, ricotta and sugar together until it forms soft peaks. (careful to not overdue it) If you want it smoother you can put the ricotta into a food processor and puree it first.

Either place a whole biscuit on a plate and top with cream and strawberries or cut the biscuit in half with a serrated knife and top the biscuit bottom with the cream, a scoop of strawberries and then top with the biscuit top.  Garnish with honey and tarragon sprigs.

Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes Health benefits:

Strawberries are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Just one cup gives you 100 percent.” of the daily value of Vitamin C which is a great immune booster, helps improve the eyes and it produces collagen in the skin, that helps keep wrinkles at bay. The antioxidants and phytochemicals also help to reduce joints inflammation. They are high potassium and fiber making them great for your heart.

Tarragon herb is one of the highest antioxidant value food sources.  It helps lower blood-glucose levels, which helps with low blood sugar.  It helps in the production of bile by the liver thus making it a great digestive tonic.  It is a mild sedative and can help with insomnia anxiety and stress. It is great for the health and function of the eyes. It helps prevent clot formation inside the tiny blood vessels of heart and brain protecting from a heart attack and stroke.  It is rich in vitamins C, A and B-complex.  An excellent source of minerals, like calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, and zinc.  Tarragon should not be used while pregnant or nursing.

Black Rice Stuffed Peppers topped with Fresh Veggie Pico de Gallo

These Black Rice Stuffed Peppers are so incredibly delicious and satisfying!  The roasted peppers and fresh corn complement the earthiness of the black rice and the veggie pico de gallo provides a nice crunchy texture to balance everything out!  You can use any salsa however, the salsa rojo is really easy and adds the perfect spice to the mix.

Black Rice Stuffed Peppers Robby had been looking into taking up yoga for some time.  He searched the Internet for a good beginner’s yoga video but most “beginner’s” yoga videos turned out to not be geared to true beginners.  He finally came across “Yoga with Adriene” who had a great beginner’s yoga video and he has been hooked ever since!  Yoga has been so great for Robby.  It has had a positive impact on so many areas of his life including relieving back pain, indigestion, insomnia, anxiety and it has also uplifted his spirit immensely.

I was having a lot of hip and back pain at the time so I decided to give it a try as well.  I hadn’t done yoga since my early twenties because it I felt that it was kind of boring at the time.  However, I was actually excited about giving it a try again.  I haven’t been as consistent as Robby but I have been slowly but surely incorporating it into my daily life.  The effect it has on the body and emotions is truly amazing!

Black Rice Stuffed Peppers We watched an awesome documentary the other night on Netflix called “Breath of the Gods“.  One of the Yogi’s stated that yoga is an energizing activity that revitalizes and increases energy unlike many other types of exercise that drain energy and makes you tired.  I love that!

I was heavily into gymnastics from 10 years old till I was 14.  I often went to Muscle beach by the Santa Monica Pier on weekends to do acrobats.  I was kind of a freak of nature back then because I had a very insanely flexible back.  Watching the extremely flexible yogis in the documentary inspired me to work on my flexibility in hopes of regaining some of what I once had.  I know it won’t be the same as a 10 to 14 year old, but if I practice I know that I will get some of it back.  It’s never too late to start anything so I will continue to practice.  Check out this classic acrobats video from muscle beach during 1955.

Black Rice Stuffed Peppers What’s great about recipes like this is that you can make the rice, salsa, pico de gallo, roast the anaheim peppers and shredded the cheese the day before.   Then all you have to do the next day is to roast the hatch peppers, fill them with the rice mix, top them with the cheese and stick them in the oven!  You can serve the extra rice alongside the peppers.

This meal is nice with a Mexican beer or a crisp white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gis.

Black Rice Stuffed Peppers Black Rice Stuffed Peppers Recipe:
2 – 3 servings
Stuffed Peppers
  • 3 Cups Black Rice – recipe below
  • 4 Anaheim peppers – roasted
  • 2 Red Bell Pepper – roasted
  • 2 Ear Corn or Frozen – cut off cob or thawed – divided
  • 3 Large or 4 Medium Green Chilies – hatch, poblano or anaheim – cut in half – seeds removed
  • 1 Cup White Cheddar Cheese – shredded – or to taste
  • 1 Cup Forbidden Black Rice
  • 1 3/4  Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove (Optional)
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Fresh Veggie Pico de Gallo
  • 1/4 Cup Corn – reserved from above
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper – diced
  • 1/4 Red Onion – diced
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro – roughly chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic – minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Salsa Roja – can be made the day ahead – optional
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 White Onion – 1/2 cup – diced
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove – minced
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeño Pepper – sliced – roughly chopped (leave seeds in for a hot salsa or remove for a mild salsa)
  • 2 Large (about 2 cups) Tomatoes – diced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Mexican Oregano (can sub regular)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • Dash Black Pepper – or to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons Filtered Water – or to taste
  • Cilantro
Measure rice and water and put into a small saucepan preferably with a glass lid.
Add the garlic and salt then cover and bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to simmer in-between medium-low and low for 30 – 40 minute.
 Check at 30 minutes, if you still see a bit of liquid cook for 5 – 10 more minutes.
Or until water is gone.  Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for 5 more minutes.  While the rice is cooking, roast the peppers.
Red Bell Peppers/Anaheim Peppers
Roast the peppers on the stovetop on medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove.
Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.
When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut to hold in the steam.
Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.  Slice in half, remove the seeds and stems and dice.  Add to the rice
Veggie Pico de Gallo
In a medium bowl, add the corn, orange bell pepper, onions, garlic, lime juice, cilantro and salt, then mix together.  Set aside.
Add the oil into a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes then add the garlic and jalapeño sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and garlic becomes golden.
Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for about 8 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Puree the salsa in a food processor or immersion blender until smooth then stir in the water.  Serve warm or cold.
Turn oven to broil
Place the chile halves cut side down on a baking sheet and place under broiler for 1-2 minutes or until chiles become blistered.  Don’t leave them in too long or they will become way too soft.  Remove from oven and let cool.
Mix the rice, 1/4 cup corn and roasted anaheim and red peppers together.
Arrange the peppers on a parchment lined baking sheet and fill the peppers with the rice and then top with cheese.
Return them to the broiler for 1 – 2 minute or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Top with the fresh pico de gallo and cilantro.  Serve with the extra rice, salsa rojo and more veggie pico de galo.
Black Rice Stuffed Peppers  Health benefits:
Black rice contains a high amount of anthocyanin like blood oranges.  The research has found that just a spoonful of black rice coating “bran” has more anthocyanin antioxidants than in a spoonful of blueberries, less sugar, more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants.  It is valuable for reducing inflammation and for its anti-aging properties. It is also for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer and helps protect the nervous system from degeneration.

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad with Toasted Seeded Chèvre

This is one luscious Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad!  The toasted seeded chèvre is crazy good paired with the freshness of the tomatoes.  The olive oil herb dressing gives a nice depth to this perfectly balanced salad.  It is even more incredible when served with crusty sourdough bread and a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad I have had cookbooks on the brain ever since my friend Aysegul from Foolproof Living talked about her abundance of cookbooks in one of her recent posts.  I had made a comment about how I sold over 50 cookbooks right before I left Oregon.  It was probably actually more than 50, but who’s counting?  Even though I sometimes wish I still had them, it’s nice to start a new collection.

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad The strange thing about cookbooks and me is that I can never get myself to actually make any of the recipes.  I generally use them as a source of inspiration.  My recipe process has always been the same.  I pour through as many cookbooks, magazines and online resources as I can for inspiration.  Then I start writing out the ingredients I want to use for a new recipe.  From there I just start making it and fill in the amounts as I go.

Aysegul has inspired me to actually try a recipe from a cookbook.  I just ordered Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin from The Bojon Gourmet and I’m going to try and make one of her recipes.  Although I will most likely adapt it a little, I’m still excited to try one out!

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad As I mentioned in my prior post, it was my birthday on last Labor Day.  My friends Hannah and Dennis had brought me a whole bunch of Heirloom cherry tomatoes that they grew in their garden.  I was instantly inspired to develop an end of summer tomato salad.

 I wanted to incorporate a toasted seed mix into my fresh summer salad.  I got the idea for the toasted seed mix from a cafe in Santa Cruz called The Picnic Basket.  They have a basic green salad that they top with toasted seeds and it’s incredible!  I decided to cover chèvre cheese balls with the toasted seed mix.  I started to search the Internet and I came across Half Baked Harvest’s salad recipes where she did almost the exact thing I had envisioned.  She made them into really small balls, which I thought was even more perfect than what I was originally going to do!  Thus this salad was born!

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad This salad is amazing with a crisp Sauvignon Blanck from the Marlborough region of New Zealand.  It’s also nice with a Rosé, Pinot Gris or a Soave.

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad Recipe:
  • 3 Baskets Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes – room temperature – some whole – cut some in halves  – some in quarters
  • 1/4 Red Onion – minced
  • 1 Ear of Corn – cut off the cob (or 1/2 cup frozen and thawed)
Dressing – adapted from my  Italian Style Salsa Verde
  • 1/4 Cup Minced Fresh Basil
  • 3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Chives
  • 1 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons Capers – roughly chopped
  • 1 Shallot – minced
  • 2 Small Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • Dash Black Pepper
Toasted Seed Cheese Balls
  • 8 oz Chevre Cheese
  • 2/3 Cup Raw Pepitas
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons White Sesame Seeds
  • 1/3 Cup Raw Sunflower Seeds

Add everything to a medium bowl, mix together and set aside.

Toasted Seed Cheese Balls
In a large skillet, toast the pepitas seeds on medium heat, while stirring often, for 2 minutes then add the sunflower and sesame seeds and stir until fragrant and lightly golden.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.  Approx. 3 – 5 minutes.
Measure a teaspoon of the cheese and roll into a ball.  Next, roll the cheese balls into the seeds as best you can, then add some seeds to the palm of your hands to roll more onto the cheese for full coverage.  Place them into a covered container and refrigerate until the salad is ready.
You will have some seeds leftover to add to individual salads.
Wash and dry the tomatoes.  Cut some into quarters, halves and leave some whole.  There are two ways you can pull it together.
1. In a large bowl, mix everything but the cheese balls together. Serve the cheese on the side.
2. Arrange half the tomatoes on a large platter.  Sprinkle on half the corn and half the onion, drizzle with the dressing and then add more tomatoes, corn and onion.  Arrange some of the cheese balls around.  Serve remaining cheese balls and seeds on the side.
  Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad Health benefits:

Tomatoes are great for the heart due to the extreme antioxidant support, niacin, folate and vitamin B6 that help the reduction of heart disease.  They are also high in vitamins A, C, K and potassium.  The choline in tomatoes helps assist the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.  It also helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.  Tomatoes are high in Lycopene the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color.  Cooking tomatoes break down the cell walls, which helps to release the lycopene and is better absorbed by the body with a little bit of fat like olive oil.  The Zeaxanthin in them helps to filter harmful ultra-violet rays, which protect eyes from “age-related macular disease.”  They are also a powerful blood purifier and great for skin and bone health.