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Friday, July 10, 2009

Foodie Friday - Fresh Tomatoes and Pasta

Earlier this spring, as a cost cutting measure and to have a fun project with the kids, we decided that we would plant a small vegetable garden. Not anything real big and not a lot of different vegetables because we are, in fact, novices at the gardening thing. We basically planted some tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.

So far, the only thing that has produced anything for us is the tomatoes. And if you know me very well, you know that it just fine. I love me some fresh sweet summer tomatoes.

As I was working in the garden on day, watering, weeding and spraying with organic insect “stuff,” I got a whiff of a very familiar smell. The tomato plant smell.

If you have ever grown a home garden, you know that a tomato plant has a very distinct smell. It is hard to describe because it doesn’t smell like tomato. It smells like a tomato plant. While it is not what I would normally consider a pleasant smell, it was pleasant to smell it in that it took me back in time. To a simpler time.

My father had a vegetable garden every year in the back area of our back yard where he planted all manner of vegetables from tomatoes, to peppers, to onions and Lord only knows what else. I so distinctly remember that tomato plant smell from the vegetable gardens of my childhood. I remember I couldn’t stand it then because I felt like I was the weird one with the farm in her backyard. But now, as I smell that smell, I am transported back to my dad’s vegetable garden.

As I pondered this I began to think of how we can associate a lot of memories with smells and with food. Have you noticed that? Certain foods will remind me of people or situations. Homemade rolls remind me of being at my Nana's house at the holidays, as does chocolate meringue pie. Ribs always remind me of Christmas day and playing Monopoly until late in the night with my parents and sisters. The smell of the coast reminds me of many a spring break that we spent fishing off the Texas coast.

So many wonderful memories. I certainly hope that my children are making the same kinds of memories.

But back to tomatoes...

In our tomato growing journey we’ve learned a little about gardening. For one thing I’ve learned to identify a certain insect that could be extremely detrimental to a tomato plant. The tomato hornworm.

I found this little guy on my tomato plant not far from some small tomatoes that had been munched on. I quickly found out that his intentions were less than honorable and that he needed to be dealt with appropriately…. and quickly.

Despite all the odds, attacks of hornworms and Texas heat, we had several tomatoes ripen all at the same time. I was so excited, I had to email a picture of this, our first tomato, to my dad.

With so many fresh tomatoes sitting around, I felt it was the perfect opportunity for me to make one of my favorite dishes, Fresh Tomato Pasta .

This is a wonderful and inexpensive meal as most of it came straight from my garden between the tomatoes and my herb garden that I have grown for several years, now.

4 medium size fresh tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh basil (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh garlic chives (chopped)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
Pasta of choice (cooked to taste)

Dice tomatoes and prepare all herbs. Combine everything in a bowl, cover and allow to sit at room temperature for at least one hour (more is better, in my opinion).

Serve over prepared pasta.

We usually serve it with some grilled chicken, but it is certainly not necessary.

I'd like to say that this was a dish that also takes me back to my childhood, but it is not. Our fresh tomatoes were served mostly alone as a fresh side to a meal or as a condiment for hamburgers or sandwiches. But, I hope that it is a dish that my children remember when they begin planting gardens of their own and have some of their first fresh tomatoes.

And I do hope that they remember that tomato plant smell and fondly recall the summers of their youth.

Is there a particular food smell or dish that takes you back to another time in your life? Tell us about it in the comments.

In this post: Fresh Tomato Pasta

If you liked this post, you might also like a post about my Herb Garden and a Greek Salad recipe.


Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

I totally agree that smells can transport you to a different place!
I actually posted a picture last summer of a hornworm, but it was covered in somekind of insect larva that would eventually eat it. Weird. But it was on my tomato plant of which I have zero this year. I wish I did, but it was pretty impossible with the move and everything.
Hope you are well, friend. I've missed my computer buddies. :(

Kim said...

Mmmmm, love that tomato plant smell! It's winter here and we, for the first time, have a winter garden! And we picked our first radishes today! The lettuce will be ready to start harvesting next week. Lovin' this temperate climate that allows us to have a winter garden :-) Quite unlike the last 20 years when we lived in Michigan.

Room design studio said...

this definetly looks Way More Homemade than my tomato sauce!