Summer means tomatoes and purple basil
Summer is the season of glorious fruit and veggies in California – and my favorite time because we love tomatoes most of all. Just a few miles down the freeway, back on a winding road at the foot of the Mesa, is a little wooden stand tucked away behind a gate. It’s kind of a secret place, so I won’t give you exact directions.
But there you can find paper bags of very ripe tomatoes for $3 and little square baskets of plump, firm, perfect ones for $4. I make my own tomato sauce these days. Just chop the super ripe tomatoes in chunks, throw them in a saucepan with some salt and boil until the consistency you want. Soup, sauce or paste. It all depends on the cooking time.
Wanna make a ratatouille? You’ll find everything you need – lavender, round eggplants the size of grapefruits, shiny green bell peppers, juicy white onions with their long bushy stalks. Did I mention ripe peaches with no bruises and sunflowers with four foot stems?
Do you need more to be impressed? You leave your money in a small box with a slat on top. The honor system. A little bit of heaven right here on our tumultuous earth.
This is a Caprese salad I made for lunch today. Tomatoes from the Mesa, fresh mozarella from DePalo & Sons and purple basil from Avila Beach Farmer’s Market. The flavor of the basil is super intense, so I chop and sprinkle rather than put whole leaves like I would with green basil. I know I’ve written about the purple basil and caprese salad before. But can good things be repeated too often?