Category: Tomatoes

Recipe: Fresh Mozzarella with Garlic, Tomato, Basil Sauce

Years ago, one of my favorite high school teachers, Mary Lagerwey, handed me the recipe below because she knew I liked (loved, really) basil.  


This recipe’s seen a lot of love.

I’ve made this recipe for the past 15 years since then, with a few changes.  After having children, I cut way back on the red pepper flakes, sometimes eliminating them altogether.  If I forgot to seed the parsley on time, we’d go without.   And in an unexpected (at least for me) turn of events, I became a garlic farmer, and this dish became flavorful in a way I never thought possible.  

Then, this year, I saw fresh mozzarella in the store and for some unknown reason I was brought back to my time with Dan in Italy eating fresh cheese and tomatoes and basil right off the street and I wanted that again.  Since a return trip to Italy isn’t in the budget (goodness, it was barely in the budget then–we were eating on the street!), I decided to use the tried and true tomato and fresh basil sauce from from Mrs. Lagerwey, bringing a little bit of Italy to our Indiana table.  And the dish turned out to be delizioso–perfetto–gustoso! (That’s all I’ve got.)

Start with your tomatoes.  I know the summer garden season is almost over, but you should still be able to nab a pound of ripe, juicy tomatoes from your garden or farmer’s market.  I like to use a variety of colors–red, yellow, Green Zebra green–for beauty and flavor.  Cut out the cores and seeds, toss them in the compost bucket, and chop the meat of the tomatoes into 1-inch pieces.  Set aside the chopped tomatoes in a bowl.

Next comes the garlic!  If you haven’t purchased any of our garlic yet, now’s the time to do so.  (Yes, that was a shameless plug. For real though, the fresher your ingredients, the better this dish will taste.) Mince 3-4 cloves of garlic, then toss it on top of the tomatoes.

Now for the herbs.  I used to be very particular about tearing my basil because long ago I read in one my herb books that cutting the leaves discolors them.  I used to follow such directions.  Three kids and vegetable farm later, I chop them quick as can be with my trusty chef’s knife.  So chop (or tear) one cup of loosely packed basil leaves and a half cup fresh parsley, then toss the chopped herbs onto the garlic and tomatoes.  

Add a half cup of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes (or more, depending on your audience), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a decent amount of freshly ground pepper, and a half cup of freshly grated Parmesan to the tomato/garlic/herbs.  Toss this all together and let marinate for at least a half an hour, but preferably longer (if you can wait that long to eat this!).

When you’re ready to eat, slice a pound of fresh mozzarella, then lay the slices on a platter.  (I used to make my own mozzarella, but now–yes, three kids and a vegetable farm later–I buy it at Costco.)  Pour that lovely tomato-garlic-basil sauce over the tomatoes,  and sprinkle another quarter cup of freshly grated Parmesan over the top.  You can serve this with pasta, crackers or crusty bread, or we like to eat it as is.  Whatever you decide, enjoy!



Fresh Mozzarella with Garlic, Tomato, Basil Sauce
A delightful summer salad perfect for a quick dinner or party dish.
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  1. 1 pound ripe tomatoes
  2. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  4. 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  5. 1/2 cup olive oil
  6. 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  9. 3/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
  10. 1 pound fresh mozzarella
  1. Remove cores and seeds from tomatoes. Chop the remaining tomato into 1-inch pieces. Set aside chopped tomatoes in a bowl.
  2. Add garlic, basil, and parsley to chopped tomatoes.
  3. Add red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup Parmesan to tomatoes. Toss ingredients together.
  4. Let marinate for a minimum of 1/2 hour, preferably 2 hours.
  5. Right before eating, slice 1 pound of fresh mozzarella. Arrange slices on platter.
  6. Pour garlic-tomato-basil sauce over mozzarella. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  7. Enjoy!
  1. Optional: Serve with pasta, crackers, or crusty bread.
Adapted from Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin
Adapted from Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin
Perkins' Good Earth Farm

Recipe: Spaghetti with Caramelized Garlic and Tomatoes

The garlic harvest for 2015 is complete, thanks to the help of our intern Sarah, her family, my family, Dan’s family, and one of our neighbors.  I’m so excited about this I’m even going to use a cliché: Many hands really do make light work!



This year we harvested the largest bulbs of garlic ever, thanks in part to Dan’s constant tweaking with cover crops, his use of strip tillage, and—crazily enough—all the rain.


Right now the garlic is curing, a 2-3 week drying process which concentrates the garlic’s flavor and makes it possible to store until next year’s garlic is ready.  (We actually just composted our 2014 garlic—and some of it was still usable.)  Our garlic will go on sale August 10, so the recipe I’m sharing today is kind of a teaser, but I can guarantee it will be worth the wait to use Perkins’ Good Earth Farm hardneck, gourmet garlic in this recipe!

A couple years ago I found a used cookbook from the Gilroy Garlic Festival (which Dan dreams about attending some day so he can eat garlic ice cream), and this winter Dan discovered a recipe in there for Linguine with Caramelized Garlic by Kimra Foster, his inspiration for this recipe.

You’re going to need three heads of garlic, which amounts to about 18-24 cloves.  Yes, this is a serious garlic-lover’s recipe!  But don’t be afraid—the caramelizing will bring out the sweetness in the garlic.

Begin by separating the heads into individual cloves and peeling them.  For easier peeling, Foster recommends placing the cloves in boiling water for about 30 seconds, cooling, and then peeling.  (We’ve never tried this; to loosen the peel, I gently crush each clove with my chef’s knife.)

Next, heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat.  Once the oil is sizzling, throw in that garlic!  Just like with caramelizing onions, you’re going to want to reduce the heat to low and very slow sauté the garlic until it begins to brown, stirring often.  This could take anywhere from 25-30 minutes, so I recommend having a glass of wine, LaCroix on ice, or some funky dance music to keep you company.


When there’s about 5 minutes left on the garlic, cook your spaghetti (we use Aldi’s gluten-free brown rice spaghetti), chop a tablespoon of fresh thyme, and chop some fresh, preferably heirloom tomatoes.

Once the garlic is caramelized, stir in the thyme and cook for a couple more minutes.  Then add about 1/3 cup chicken stock, and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer this altogether for about 5 minutes.  (Note: While this won’t look like enough sauce for the pasta, it really is!)

When the spaghetti is finished, toss the pasta with 2 beaten eggs, then add it to your pot.  Combine the pasta with the garlic mixture, then add Parmesan cheese and tomatoes and do a final toss.  Give it a taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Serve immediately and enjoy!


 Note: When Dan made this recipe in the winter with fully cured garlic, the garlic browned much more easily.  He made the recipe picture in this post with fresh, uncured garlic and had a harder time achieving full caramelization, we think due to the higher moisture content.  Search Google Images for “caramelized garlic” for examples.

Photography: Julie Oudman Perkins and Sarah Lindvall

Spaghetti with Caramelized Garlic and Tomatoes
Serves 3
A creamy pasta dish with caramelized garlic and fresh tomatoes.
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  1. 3 heads fresh garlic
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  4. 1/3 cup chicken stock
  5. salt and pepper to taste
  6. 6 oz spaghetti
  7. 2 eggs, beaten
  8. 3 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  9. 3 medium-sized tomatoes
  1. Separate and peel garlic cloves.
  2. Heat oil in large pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic. Reduce heat to low and saute garlic for 25-30 minutes, until garlic begins to brown. Stir often.
  3. When there's about 5 minutes left on the garlic, cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  4. Chop tomatoes.
  5. When garlic is caramelized, stir in chopped thyme. Cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
  6. When spaghetti is finished cooking, toss with the eggs. Combine the pasta with the garlic mixture in the pot and toss with Parmesan cheese and tomatoes.
  7. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.
Adapted from Linguine with Caramelized Garlic by Kimra Foster
Adapted from Linguine with Caramelized Garlic by Kimra Foster
Perkins' Good Earth Farm
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