Locally-Grown Tomato Basil Pasta

So you know I’m a big fan of eating healthy, organic, locally-grown produce, right? If you didn’t know that, you can read all about my obsession with local produce and Farmer’s Markets here.

Well I’m very pleased to say that we’ve taken this commitment to eating locally even closer to home — our own backyard!

Bryan has always been interested in growing produce in our yard. Some crops have worked well (lemons, tomatoes, plums). Others, not so much (avocados). Earlier this summer, Bryan and Sophie planted a few tomato plants in our yard and they have flourished. In fact, one of Sophie’s favorite activities of the summer is running into the backyard and picking red tomatoes to show Bryan. Then she leaves them on the kitchen table for me to cook.

A few weeks ago, my mom – an amazing green-thumb – made me a little herb garden consisting of basil, parsley, chives and thyme. My fresh herbs are in pots on the patio table growing quite well.

So after noticing a very full bowl of backyard tomatoes and lots of basil that needed picking, I decided to put our locally-grown, organic produce to action by making one of my all-time favorite tasty and healthy dishes — Tomato Basil Pasta. This dish is SO easy and simple, yet beyond flavorful.

I don’t have an actual recipe or measurements for this dish. My mom used to make it for me back in the day and I’ve since adopted it. So I’ll do my best to tell you how to make it. You really cant’ mess it up, honestly!

Here’s what you need: olive oil, tomatoes (I always use fresh), basil, garlic, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and pasta. (I use penne, or whatever is in the pantry.)

Basically, you heat the olive oil in a pan. Again, not sure how much — maybe 1/4 cup. Then I add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook over a medium-low heat until it comes saucy, yet still chunky. Then I add garlic, salt and pepper. ALWAYS add salt and pepper when you cook, not after. It bring out the flavor more.

Once it’s become a thick and yummy sauce (taste it!), add the chopped basil and the cooked pasta. Oh yeah, you have to cook the pasta first. Then stir it all together.

Then add Parmesan cheese. You don’t have to add cheese, but I think cheese makes everything even better. If I’m feeling really daring, I add chunks of fresh mozzarella. But that’s not something I keep on hand a lot.

Then let the pasta sit for a few minutes so all the flavors absorb together. Taste it for seasoning and, voila, you’re done!

I’m telling you, this dish is so simple, so delicious, and so healthy. You will love it! You can add some grilled chicken if you want it heartier. Tonight I added chopped zucchini that I bought at the Farmer’s Market today. (Check out the Photography page for a few cute photos of today’s trip to the Farmer’s Market.)

My Herb Garden: Parsley, Basil, Chives, Thyme

Make it and let me know what you think!

What other fresh dishes do you  make? I’m always looking for recipes!

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