Posts tagged ‘purple basil’

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?

Caprese Salad with purple basil and my friend Peg’s pink dahlias

August 13, 2012 at 7:24 pm 4 comments

Caprese Salad with Purple Basil

Avila Beach CA has a trendy little Farmer’s Market on Friday afternoons with a handful of produce booths selling only top quality. A real find for me was purple basil which is incredibly rare.

I wish I had adequate words to describe the rich, heady aroma with almost a hint of licorice or anise.

Sensing the potency of the taste would match the scent, I chopped it fine on a caprese salad instead of using whole leaves as I would with standard “green” basil.


Cari and Craig Clark at Chaparral Gardens in Atascadero CA grow the basil to use in their artisan vinegars. Check out their website at

The tomatoes came from a local farmer and the mozzarella cheese from DePalo and Sons Deli in Shell Beach CA. The cheese is hand-crafted daily from grandfather Dr. Tedone’s recipe. The good doctor, retired now, starting making the cheese to work out his grief after his wife passed. DePalo’s is a family affair with an excellent Italian-California style deli, tremendous wine collection and shelves stuffed with every imaginable delicacy.

August 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm 1 comment

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