Tag Archives: Tomato

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes

The frost is almost upon us!  That means it’s time to harvest the herbs!

I work at The Celtic Cup Coffee House in the small town of Tullahoma, Tennessee.  I don’t have my own herb garden, but The Celtic Cup does.  I love getting to use the fresh herbs when I bake quiches, casseroles, and savory scones.

Today I harvested all the basil for the winter months.  If you’ve never processed herbs before, you probably think it’s really complicated.  At least, that’s what I used to think.  I know there are a couple different ways to do it.  Drying herbs actually does take a while, so I prefer freezing them.  I think it preserves the flavors better, too.  It’s really a lot easier and faster than I imagined.  All you have to do is snip the entire plant, wash, pluck the leaves, and freeze  on a towel-lined sheet pan.  After about half an hour, the leaves should be stiff enough to store in a plastic freezer bag for the winter.  It’s that simple!

While we’re on the subject of basil, last week I made some delicious parmesan baked tomatoes.  I love how all the local markets are just bursting with fresh fruits and veggies from the garden this time of year.  I bought some beautiful plump red tomatoes and thought I would get creative.  All they needed was some leftover basil pesto and a hearty sprinkle of cheese.  Voila! Parmesan baked tomatoes! So fast and simple, but delicious and comforting.  They taste like pizza!  You can make them as a side dish or just a healthy snack.

I’m not religiously gluten free or anything, but I think I feel better when I stay away from bread.  So, to accompany the tomatoes, I baked some chicken and made fresh broccoli salad.  This broccoli salad was at my friend’s wedding last weekend.  It was so good I had to make it for myself.

Together it was the perfect guilt free/gluten free dinner!  It only takes about 30 minutes to make, so I hope this meal will find it’s way into your week as a tasty and stress free option!

Abby Hughes

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A quick and tasty side dish or snack.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 12 slices
  • 3 ripe medium tomatoes
  • ½ cup basil pesto
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees.
  2. Thick slice the tomatoes and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan
  3. Spread about a tablespoon (more or less to taste) of basil pesto on each slice.
  4. Bake for about 8 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and broil on high until the cheese is lightly browned (about 4 minutes).
  6. Enjoy!



Broccoli Salad
Prep time
Total time
A light brunch or dinner side.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 8 servings
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 medium red onion
  • ½ c. Craisins (dried cranberries)
  • ½ c. roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • ¼ c. white distilled vinegar
  • ½ c. mayo
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  1. Chop broccoli and cauliflower into small bite-sized pieces.
  2. Small dice red onion.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, mayo, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add chopped broccoli, cauliflower, onion, craisins, and sunflower seeds.
  5. Toss to coat all ingredients.
  6. Enjoy!

My Own Marinara Sauce

Our Aunt Mattie Lou, often times says  “we do not have, because we do not ask.”  I so agree with her.  The Bible says in   James 4:2

“You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.”

Start today – talk to God!  ASK.


I am still flying high from the great success with my Victorio Food Strainer, which is all I could blog about yesterday!  🙂  I had several choices what to do with the 10 cups of tomato puree that I got from the first batch of tomatoes that I processed.  It isn’t a great amount, so I knew it wouldn’t be worth canning sauce or juice.

However, my brother John, and his wife Jeanne, and their girls, Cathy and Stephanie are coming for a visit next week.  I plan to make Italian Burgers this weekend and I knew that a fresh marinara sauce would be just the thing to add to the filling as well as for dipping!

Italian Burgers

“Marinara” actually means sailor-style sauce.  There are at least two folk theories as to the origin of this sauce: One says cooks aboard Neapolitan ships invented marinara sauce in the mid-16th century after Spaniards introduced the tomato (a New World vegetable) to Europe. This meat-free sauce was easy to make and resisted spoiling due to the high acid content of tomatoes. This made it ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before refrigeration methods were invented.   The other theory for this unusual named dish refers to the fast, fresh sauces (which usually contained onions and tomatoes) that the wives of Neapolitan fishermen would prepare from their husbands’ catch of the day.

Regardless of the origin, making my own marinara sauce has spoiled us from ever wanting the sauce that comes from a jar!  My marinara recipe is parts and pieces of recipes that have given me mixed results.  You can adjust the amount of each ingredient up or down based upon how much sauce or puree you start out with.  If you want to make your own Marinara but don’t want to start from a garden tomato you can easily start with tomato sauce from a can — you will still end up with something tastier than canned marinara!

I wish you could taste this sauce.  It is the very best I have ever made and I can’t wait to share it with my family.  Have fun!  I sure did!

My Own Marinara Sauce
by Catherine
10 cups fresh tomato puree
2 Tablespoons parsley (dried)
4 cloves chopped garlic (2 teaspoons minced)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onions
1 cup white wine (whatever you have on hand)

*Heat oil and saute’ garlic and onion until soft and golden (be careful not to burn.)

Stir in all other ingredients.

Simmer, do not boil, until the sauce is your desired consistency.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

*   Most generally I would use a dry white wine, like a Chardonnay, but I have even used Moscato, which is a sweet dessert wine and it was great!

*   I simmered 10 cups of juice/puree about 7 hours and ended up with 1 quart of marinara.  That may seem like a long time but it isn’t much work and the truth is I ended up with a marinara sauce that is so much better than anything you can buy.

*  This recipe is a compilation of several marinara recipes that I have tried.  To me this is the best mix of ingredients for a deliciously rich and hearty sauce.

Selecting vegetables Whether in your supermarket’s produce aisle or at your local farmers’ market, fresh vegetables should look firm, plump, and as if they’re bursting with life.  Avoid those that are dried out, bruised, discolored, or overly soft.