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  • Heather Shannon

Anticipating the Summer Harvest: Planning and Recipes with Tomatoes and Basil

Updated: Mar 6

Savory tomato basil recipes
Mouthwatering tomato basil recipes.

As we eagerly await the warmth of summer and the opportunity to plant our gardens or planters, anticipation of a bountiful harvest begins to build. While it may be too early to get our hands dirty in the soil, we gardeners should be settling in on what we will be planting this year. Even with limited space, a few planters or a raised bed bursting with herbs and tomatoes can really be a blessing! And as I watch another round of March snow falling, I’m thinking that it’s a good day to get creative in the kitchen.

Snow falling on garden area.
Snow covered garden area.

There is no comparison when it comes to freshly harvested, mouthwatering tomatoes and basil! Since I have limited growing space, I usually plant container varieties of cherry tomatoes, Roma, and a slicing variety of one kind or another. Last season, I grew Thai basil in addition to the usual Genovese and it was amazing! The great thing about growing our own food is that we can plant what we love and have all that goodness at our disposal. No trips to the store, hoping for quality or availability. What will you grow this year?

Though most of us can’t start planting or harvesting right now (west coast here😊), we can satisfy our cravings by playing around with canned, dried, or fresh store-bought ingredients. While these may not match the flavor of homegrown produce, they can help us decide what we’ll be planting and tide us over for a bit. I’m really craving a margarita pizza with fresh tomatoes and basil. Who can relate?

Lots of yummy tomato basil dishes
What tomato basil recipe will you make?

A few tomato basil recipe options to get you inspired:


1. Homemade Tomato Basil Sauce:


   - 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, diced

   - 4 cloves garlic, minced

   - 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

   - 2 tablespoons olive oil

   - Salt and pepper to taste

   - Optional: may include tomato paste to thicken, onion, or other desired spices, it’s your sauce, make it how you want it


   1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

   2. Add diced tomatoes to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens.

   3. Stir in chopped basil leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

   4. Remove from heat and let the sauce cool slightly. Blend or emulsify if you prefer a smooth sauce. You can use it as a base for pizzas, pasta dishes, or any other recipes that call for tomato sauce.


2. Margherita Pizza:


   - Prepared pizza dough (homemade or store-bought)

   - Homemade tomato basil sauce (see recipe above)

   - Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

   - Fresh basil leaves

   - Olive oil

   - Salt and pepper to taste



   1. Preheat your oven to the recommended temperature setting for your chosen dough (highly recommend finding a good one from scratch).

   2. Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface to your desired thickness. Transfer it to a pizza stone or baking sheet.

   3. Spread a thin layer of homemade tomato basil sauce over the pizza dough, leaving a border around the edges.

   4. Arrange slices of fresh mozzarella cheese evenly over the sauce. Tear fresh basil leaves and scatter them over the cheese.

   5. Drizzle olive oil over the pizza and season with salt and pepper to taste.

   6. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

   7. Remove from the oven and let the pizza cool for a few minutes before slicing. Serve hot and enjoy!


3. Tomato Basil Pasta:


   - Cooked pasta of your choice (spaghetti, fettuccine, penne, etc.)

   - Homemade tomato basil sauce (see recipe above)

   - Grated Parmesan cheese

   - Fresh basil leaves, torn

   - Optional: cooked protein such as grilled chicken or Italian sausage



   1. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

   2. In a large skillet, heat the homemade tomato basil sauce over medium heat until heated through.

   3. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the sauce and toss to coat evenly.

   4. If using, add cooked protein such as grilled chicken or Italian sausage to the pasta and sauce mixture and toss to combine.

   5. Serve the tomato basil pasta hot, garnished with grated Parmesan cheese and torn fresh basil leaves. Enjoy as a comforting and flavorful meal!


Make something yummy.
So many tomato basil recipe choices!

While we eagerly anticipate the joys of planting and harvesting another season of freshness, we can hone our culinary skills, savor the essence of summer, and plan what varieties of tomatoes and basil we'll want plant for our next harvest. Happy experimenting!


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