Today’s guest post comes from Sherrilee

As some of you may know I am a straw bale gardener. I got interested in straw bales after I had determined that I really wanted to grow tomatoes on my own every summer – after someone on the Trail recommended the expose Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook.

I’ve had varying results over the last few years but this summer the tomatoes are doing quite well and have taken over the corner of my yard that is dedicated to my bales. I’m harvesting enough that the occasional tomato that I’m losing to the squirrels is not driving me too crazy and I’m starting to think about ways to preserve them since they are coming off the vines faster than we can eat them.

Yesterday I pulled a whooper off the vine – I’m calling it Tomato-zilla. Unfortunately I don’t know what kind of tomato it is because I didn’t write down what kind of plants I planted and the little stakes have all gone missing.

But here are a couple of dishes we’ve made recently. These are Verily Sherrilee creations, not out of a cookbook, using what was on hand!

Tomato Corn Bean Salad

4 ears of corn from the farmer’s market, kernels cut from cobs

1 can of black beans, rinsed

20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half (we actually have Santa tomatoes in our garden, which are shaped like little tears)

Handful of basil, chopped (basil also from our garden)

About ½ tsp cumin

Salt / pepper

  • Mix all the items together.  You can add more cumin (or less) to taste.

Roasted Tomato Pasta

4 large leeks from farmer’s market, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, chopped or minced (depends on how you like it)

Handful of basil, chopped

3-4 T. olive oil

4-5 tomatoes, chopped

Olives, pitted & chopped (this is optional)

Cooked pasta of your choice (I used spaghetti)

Parmesan cheese (also optional)

  • Sauté the leeks, garlic and basil until the oil is absorbed.  Then add tomatoes and let them roast a bit.  Add cooked pasta and stir.  If you’re going w/ olives and parmesan, you can add them at this point or put them on the table and let folks add themselves to their own dish!

Do you have a favorite summer recipe?

65 thoughts on “Tomato-zilla”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    It is a good day here. The contractor will be back to finish our renovation this week and next. We have lived in unfinished stuff for 3 weeks while he finished another project and now it is our turn again. Woo-Hoo!

    Meanwhile, summer recipes:

    Basil BLT: Make your BLT and replace the L with Basil leaves. Yummy.

    Charred Corn Salad from the Splendid Table:

    6 ears of corn shucked
    Canola oil
    Kosher salt and pepper

    Brush the corn with oil, salt and pepper, grill until charred.
    After it cools, cut the corn off the cob.

    Basil Vinaigrette
    1 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves.
    1 garlic clove, grated (or pressed)
    1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
    1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
    Salt and pepper to taste
    10 oz (2 cups) of cherry tomatoes, halved
    1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

    Blend vinaigrette in blender: pulse the basil and garlic, add the vinegar, add the oil, season to taste.

    Throw it all together and toss.

    Yum, again.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. VS, I think the beautiful red, round tomatoes are Rutgers–excellent for slicing and canning (if these are your picture). The largest irregular one is probably a Mortgage-lifter.


    1. Yes my picture. And you’re right about the Mortgage-Lifter. Yesterday morning I found the little “stake” on the ground behind the bales! Good eye!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good morning. I would say our favorite summer recipe is a sauce made with tomatoes,and other fresh vegetables from the garden with mushrooms from the store added to it. This is served over pasta, topped with shredded cheese, and usually some pine nuts are available to sprinkle over the top.

    I don’t have an exact recipe for this. The vegetables from the garden usually include onion, peppers and yellow summer squash and some other vegetables might be included. Also some fresh basil, oregano, and garlic is included. Enough tomatoes are added to give it a tomato base. However, it contains less tomato and more other vegetables than is usually found in tomato sauces served over pasta. The vegetables, except for the tomatoes, are stir fried and the tomatoes are added later. A little hot pepper is another ingredient.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This sounds very much like how I like to cook, especially during garden season. “What’s out there”, season and serve over pasta or a grain of some sort.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. One beautiful summer afternoon.
    One parking lot.
    One pickup truck.
    One large grill.
    Two dozen hamburger patties
    Two dozen hot dogs.
    Buns in quantity to match the meat.
    Baked beans
    Beer in mass quantities
    Rock music
    Stir well until evening.
    Attend Columbus Crew FC match.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Mine is just plain corn on the cob. State Fair roasted corn is the best, but boiled is fine too. I bring the water to a hard boil, drop the corn in, turn off the heat, and let it sit for about 5 minutes, rather than risk overcooking it. Anyone remember the M*A*S*H* episode in which Father Mulcahey spends all summer growing sweet corn, anticipating a feed, only for the cook to cream the corn? I saw that when I was a little kid, and I think it must have influenced my enjoyment of fresh, tender, in-season corn.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is how I do boiled corn as well. Last weekend I was at a friend’s cabin and they put the corn in cold water and then brought it to a boil. Tasted fine but it felt like it took forever!


      1. He had a long spiel about picking the corn and cooking it immediately, then he said that sweet corn cooked that soon after picking was better than sex. Something like that.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Right. You gotta pick it, husk it and get it in the boiling water within 5 minutes. THAT’s when it’s *almost* better. 🙂


    2. I gave up boiling corn long ago. Love it roasted either in the oven or on the grill.

      Because I am lazy and mealtimes are not regular here, I really like to put a little water and fistful of whatever woody herb (usually lemon thyme) in the slow cooker and put the corn in on top of that.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I gave up boiling corn long ago. Love it roasted either in the oven or on the grill.

      Because I am lazy and mealtimes are not regular here, I really like to put a little water and fistful of whatever woody herb (usually lemon thyme) in the slow cooker and put the corn in on top of that.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. I eat a lot of sweet corn on the cob this time of year. Tonight we boiled it on the stove.
      If it’s hot — or I’m feeling lazy, I nuke it.
      Take off about half the husk, nuke two ears on power level 7 for 4:30.
      Let it sit there a few minutes (so while you will still burn your fingers it will only be 2nd degree and not 3rd) Cut off just a bit of the butt end.
      Grasp the tip and sort of ‘squeeze’ the corn out the bottom. Most of the silks will stay in the husk. With enough butter and salt, it’s just as good as boiling.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tomatozilla indeed! Just you wait until you see the photo of my monster tomato plants, most of which are as tall as I am and I am 5’8”. We planted 8 Brandyboys and 8 San Marzano II. They are loaded with fruit (unfortunately all green as yet) and they resemble a hedge. I have to prune them this weekend so they focus on the fruit they have and stop trying to produce more. Just you wait!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Long growing season for those, but great for sauce.

      5’8″=Dutch heritage (and my non-Dutch height as well–we don’t know where I came from).


      1. I figure we have another 6 weeks for the tomatoes to ripen. Our first frosts are getting later and later. The tomatoes are right by the house and that seems to keep them frost free longer.


  7. My favorite is a recipe I invented. I’ve never assigned quantities to the elements of the recipe, and I suppose I alter it a little each time I make it.
    The ingredients:
    Red potatoes
    Yellow or red bell peppers
    Lots and lots of fresh dill

    Peel and boil the spuds until they’re cooked through but not mushy. Cut them in bite-size pieces. Peel, seed and dice the cukes. Dice the bell peppers. Cut the spring onions in small pieces, omitting the dark green parts. Add mayo, using as little as you can while getting the ingredients to come together. Go crazy with snipped fresh dill.

    Serve with a crisp white wine or sweating bottle of beer. If your guests don’t rave about the salad, serve more beer and/or wine.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. When August rolls around with oppressive heat and tomatoes ripening at record speed, I break out two of my favorite summer recipes. Warning! Don’t even think of making either of these recipes if you don’t have really good, flavorful tomatoes on hand. Those store-bought winter tomatoes just don’t cut it here.

    One is panzanella, an Italian bread salad that is pure heaven. I usually use Ina Gerten’s recipe, but sometimes I’ll switch it up a bit. I’ll leave out the basil and use oregano instead, and toss in some calamata olives and some good feta cheese to give it a bit of a Greek flavor.

    Panzanella, from Ina Gerten’s Barefoot Contessa Parties!


    3 tablespoons good olive oil
    1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
    1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
    1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
    1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
    1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
    20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
    3 tablespoons capers, drained
    For the vinaigrette:
    1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
    1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
    1/2 cup good olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

    For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

    In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

    Another favorite is an uncooked tomato pasta sauce. This recipe is best if you have an assortment of tomatoes in different colors and sizes, and a really good extra virgin olive oil is a must.

    Roughly chop tomatoes and toss in a bowl with a couple of finely minced fresh garlic. Cut a handful of basil leaves in thin ribbons and add to the tomatoes with some salt and pepper and 1/4 cup (or so) of extra virgin olive oil. Toss lightly. Cover bowl and let marinate at room temperature for at least a couple of hours. Then serve over al dente pasta of your choice, and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

    This is also wonderful served on crostini.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Having posts centered on food reminds me how it used to be when I had an appetite. I definitely remember what I enjoyed and having large portions. For the last quarter century prior to my surgery, I was a typical middle aged lady who always had at least 10 to 15 pounds to lose but never quite had the self-discipline to do it. That was 40 pounds ago.

    I wish I could relish food the way the rest of the world does. I miss that.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Perfect post for this week, VS, with the tomatoes coming in as they are now (well, unless you’re Renee). My favorite is an
    Oven Ratatouille – you just chop up into bite size chunks:
    garden tomatoes
    green and/or red pepper
    (mushrooms if you have them, olives if you like)
    add minced garlic, fresh basil, oregano, thyme… anything you’ve got
    salt & pepper
    Stir it all up in a big bowl, coat everything with a good olive oil, and bake it in a 350 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours, stirring it up halfway through so everything stays coated. The house smells heavenly – if it’s a hot day I bake it in the toaster oven. You could sprinkle on some
    feta or parmesan cheeswhen serving.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. OT: WP won’t let me Like anything today, and I have to keep signing in, won’t “Remember Me” even though I keep checking the box. Wouldn’t take my comment to Steve (“Don’t forget the wine in the cook.”) Got upgraded to WIndows 10 and so far I’m not a happy camper (but haven’t gone to the class yet).


  12. I once had two great recipes — one for a green tomato relish, another for homemade catsup. Can’t find either of them or an appropriate substitute.

    But favorite summer treat is fried green tomatoes with fresh basil pesto topping. Good idea for tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Funny, for those giving me tips for today. Sandy’s friend lives over common Roots, where I dropped her off. Spy house was too loud. The Java shop on Lyndale had no bathroom. Old men do not go to places with no bathrooms. So I came back to Common Roots for the first stop in my five hour wait.


  14. Greetings! The tomatoes growing in my EarthBoxes are also doing wonderfully, and I’ve had a couple Tomato-zillas already from heirloom varieties — Purple Cherokee and Black Krim(?). Unfortunately, I’m no cook so I will certainly appreciate your recipes today. Although I prefer recipes with actual amounts and measures as I am rather lame in the kitchen.


    1. Have faith in those tomatoes! One of my favorite summer lunches is a mega-tomato with cottage cheese and a little chopped basil (or some kind of herb blend out of a shaker if no basil). Add some good bread and butter if you’re still hungry.

      As tim might say, life can be simple.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. BLTs. No recipe needed, just be sure to toast the bread (people who make BLTs with untoasted bread are just Wrong) and put on lots of mayo. And use real, ripe tomatoes.

    Raspberries out of the garden. Again, no recipe needed.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. OT: I had to laugh. A Washington Post story listed Minnesota among the ugliest states in the union, with NW Minnesota described as the ugliest spot of all. The article had been posted for twenty minutes when the avalanche of outraged Minnesotans began sending hot replies. Senator Al Franken was among them. What is funny: many other states were called ugly. Nobody except Minnesotans objected. One letter writers described Minnesotans as having “thick coats but thin skins.”


    1. The Washington Post has clearly not been to some states if the find Minnesota ugly.

      I’d also point out that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. When I lived in the greater DC area, I visited my grandfather who spent his entire life farming in Scott County, MN on beautiful fertile land. After moving to town, he and Grandma did some seniors’ bus tours, including one to DC and northern Virginia.

      He was unimpressed with northern Virginia, “it’s all woods!”

      For some of us, productive farmland is a beautiful sight.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When my parents were here, during their one and only visit to Minnesota, a month before I was married, I took them on a trip to northern Minnesota. At one point, as we were driving through the Chippewa National Forest, dad tersely commented: “Too bad there are so many trees that we can’t see the landscape.” I knew then it was hopeless to try to convey to him what I loved about Minnesota. He appreciated neither the people nor the beauty of the place. Some people just don’t get it.


        1. Oh, gosh. That is classic. “Too bad there are so many trees that we can’t see the landscape.” made me snort with laughter. Thanks, PJ.

          Liked by 1 person

  17. All this rain has left me with a bunch of cracked cherry tomatoes that have been washed and tossed in a bucket in the freezer until I have enough to juice.

    Homemade tomato juice is a staple of my winter pantry. Also wonderful for an ersartz Bloody Mary-homemade dill pickle to stir with is an added treat.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. This sounds logical to me. I do like their advice to pick early and let them ripen inside, if for no other reason than to get to them before the RTSs (rotten thieving squirrels).

          Liked by 1 person

  18. A good summer/fall recipe:

    Zucchini Fritters

    5 tbsp. Bisquick
    1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/8 tsp. pepper
    2 beaten eggs
    2 tbsp. butter
    2 c. grated zucchini

    Blend the Bisquick, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper; add the eggs and zucchini.

    Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat, and pour batter into pancakes. Fry 3 minutes on each side. Serve warm.

    Liked by 3 people

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