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Tomato, Basil and Everything

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One of my favorite things about my Napa apartment is my yard! Not only is there space for corn hole, ping pong, a grill, and a fire pit, but also a garden. This summer is the first time I have ever exercised my green thumb, so I started with something simple: sunsugar tomatoes, Genovese basil, Thai basil, and purple basil. I figured these ingredients would last me all summer and still allow for some variety. And I am happy to report that my garden is thriving! I have my genes and the hot Napa sun (no more SF fog!) to thank for that.

My sunsugar tomatoes, planted in a half barrel

My sunsugar tomatoes, planted in a half barrel with some Genovese basil

Over the weekend I used all three basil varieties to make a pesto. I also incorporated some kale and a touch of lemon juice, as well as pine nuts and parmesan. I wasn’t sure what I would do with the pesto, but then it struck me when I spotted some frozen chicken thighs in the back of my freezer. I coated them in the pesto and left them out to defrost for the day, while my mind stirred with ideas of side dishes. I happily settled on a light tomato-farro salad with – you guessed it – more basil from my garden.

Left to right: Thai basil, purple basil, Genovese basil

Left to right: Thai basil, purple basil, Genovese basil

Pesto Chicken (serves 2)

Tomato Farro Salad (serves 2)

  • 1 cup of vine-ripened grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 green beefsteak tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup sunsugar tomatoes, quartered
  • 20 basil leaves (assorted or Genovese), julienned
  • 1/8 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 TB shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry pearled farro

Heat a grill or cast-iron pan over a medium-high flame. Once hot, spray with a touch of cooking spray. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes on each side, then continue to flip until fully cooked.

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Meanwhile, cook the farro. Fill a small pot with 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of farro. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until done. Drain any excess water then rinse with cool water to chill. Add to a mixing bowl with all other salad ingredients. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

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Pair with your favorite summer Rosé. As far as domestic brands go, I like Azur, Navarro, Red Car, and Trefethen – but you can never go wrong with a nice GSM French Rosé!

This was the perfect summer meal, and I was so happy to incorporate ingredients from my small garden. Next summer I hope to plant several more varieties of tomatoes, as well as more herbs and even some zucchini!

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