Beautiful Gardens, Heirloom Tomato Sauce, and Greasy Beans

Reader Contribution by Ira Wallace
1 / 5
2 / 5
3 / 5
4 / 5
5 / 5

A week ago I was in North Carolina visiting amazing
Asheville area gardens with a great group of garden bloggers from all over the
country. It was such a treat to see such a variety of beautiful public and
private gardens with folks just as excited about gardening as I am. We started
the weekend with a reception given by the folks at Sow True Seeds, the area’s newest seed
company. Sow True specializes in open-pollinated, non-GMO seeds for western
North Carolina. I stayed with Sow True owner and activist Carol Koury (GMO Free Western North Carolina).

I was surprised how far along the growing season is even in
the mountains. Gardens were lush with spring greens and herbs. Tomatoes plants
are full of unripe fruit so far along that I imagine that Carol and other savvy
Asheville gardeners will have lots of ripe fruit before long. Actually the
early tomato plants reminded me of Carol in her kitchen making delicious sauce
from all of her heirloom tomatoes last summer.  I didn’t get Carol’s recipe but I think you
might enjoy this everyday sauce from our summer kitchen here at Southern
Exposure Seed Exchange. You can add a lot more basil or garlic and still have a
tasty sauce.

Classic Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Fresh Basil

makes approximately 2 cups
30 min cooking

  • 1/2 cup
    extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 large
    garlic cloves – peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 lbs
    (1.36kg) very ripe red or yellow meaty heirloom tomatoes (seeds strained
    and juices reserved, about 3/4 cup
  • 1 small
    bunch basil (leaves removed from stems and chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 3/4 to 1
    teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly
    ground black pepper to taste

First: Place
the tomatoes in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.

Then: Heat a
large heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and garlic
and sauté for 1 minute only. Add the tomatoes and reserved tomato juice and
bring to a boil. As soon as the sauce reaches boiling point, reduce heat to
medium to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes until the sauce
has thickened and the tomatoes separate from the olive oil, stirring from time
to time. Add the basil, salt, and pepper. Continue to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes
until the basil has wilted. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool, or
proceed with your recipe of choice.

If making several batches of the recipe, decrease the olive
oil by half and increase the cooking time to about 30 minutes for each
additional portion.
Example: If you multiply the recipe 3 times, use 9 lbs tomatoes, 3/4 cup oil
and simmer the sauce for about 1 hour and 40 minutes. All other ingredients in
the recipe can be multiplied exactly 3 times.

Thinking about tomato sauce brought on thought of greasy
beans, a specialty in the Asheville area and much of the mountain south. These
hairless beans (makes them look greasy) stay tender even after the beans begin
to form. Waiting for the pods to fill out adds protein to the pods. These are
used for the leather britches famous throughout Appalachia.

Now is the time to put up to your trellises and get all of
your pole beans started if you haven’t already done it. I’ll tell you more
about leather britches and other dried delights next time.

for stopping by and we hope you’ll come back often to see what we’re growing
and cooking.


Ira Wallace lives and gardens at
Acorn Community Farm home of
Exposure Seed Exchange
where she coordinates variety
selection and seed growers. Southern Exposure offers 700+varieties of Non-GMO,
open pollinated and organic seeds. Ira is also a co-organizer of the
Harvest Festival at Monticello
. She serves on the board of the
Organic Seed Alliance and is a frequent presenter at the Mother Earth News
and many other events
throughout the Southeast. Her first book the “The Timber Press Guide to
Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast” will be available in 2013