Country Spoon

Garden to Table in Cayuga County

Category: Accompaniments

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Now that the temperature has cooled down a bit… turn on the heat in your oven! Tomatoes, garlic and onions truly come to the perfect melody of flavors roasting at high heat.  Sprinkle with some fresh basil and serve with warm crusty bread and devour the last taste of summer! This recipe is a great way to use up some of your crop and it will freeze well too. 

Oven Roasted Tomatoes:

10 – 15 plum tomatoes (I prefer San Marzanos)

2 small yellow onions – thinly sliced

4 -5 large garlic cloves – smashed

1/2 t. sea salt

1/4 t. freshly cracked black pepper

good olive oil

fresh basil


Preheat oven to 500.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Slice onions and smash garlic – set aside.  Half or quarter tomatoes, depending on size, and lay on lined cookie sheet. Add onions and garlic to tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil – Just a light coating will do Sprinkle tomatoes, onions and garlic with salt and pepper.  Roast in preheated oven for about 1 hour, turning once or twice.  The edges will begin to brown.  Remove tomato mixture from oven.  Let cool slightly and top with freshly torn basil to taste.  Serve with warm crusty bread, hot fresh pasta or enjoy with some grilled chicken. 


Fresh Basil Pesto

You can always count on a pesto to brighten up a dish, a sandwich or even just a plain tomato.  With tomatoes and basil reaching their season’s peak… whip up some pesto to keep the summer flavor going.  This recipe is perfect for freezing and will keep that memorable flavor into the winter months when you really need to be brightened.  Fresh lemon, heart healthy almonds and garlic make this basil pesto just that much fresher.  

Fresh Basil Pesto:

yields about 1 c.

1/2 c. dry roasted unsalted almonds

2-3 garlic cloves

1/2 lemon juiced

2 c. basil leaves (packed)

1/4 c. good olive oil

sea salt

freshly cracked black pepper


In a food processor, pulse almonds and garlic cloves until finely chopped. Add lemon juice and half the basil leaves.  Continue to pulse until finely chopped, adding the remaining basil leaves as the mixture blends down.  The lemon juice not only adds fresh flavor, but will also keep the processed basil greener. Drizzle in olive oil and continue to pulse until the mixture is well combined.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper – roughly about 1/2 t. of salt and 1/4 t. black pepper.

You can of course add some parmigiano reggiano, about 1/2 c. finely shredded, but this tastes so fresh without the cheese – you won’t miss it I promise!

Classic Mint Julep

And we are off … to the Kentucky Derby! Yes, we really are and I decided to try the famous mint julep in the race’s honor – the official beverage of the Derby. This recipe does not require a simple syrup, but just a little sugar, mint and good whiskey. Give it a few sips – it will grow on you. Whether you are attending the race, or gathering with friends to watch, mix this drink up and wear a fabulous hat! Cheers to the greatest two minutes in sports and may the fastest horse win!

Classic Mint Julep:

Serves 1 julep

1 12 oz. glass

shaved ice

1 T. powdered sugar

1 sprig of fresh mint – leaves only

1/4 c. whiskey (Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey preferred)


Fill 12 oz. glass with shaved ice (a silver mug is tradition if you have one) Add mint and powdered sugar and muddle. Add whiskey and stir, without holding onto the glass, until glass is frosted. Top with water and serve with a fresh sprig of mint. Cheers!

Homemade Granola

Crunchy, sweet and salty granola that is good for you and smells so inviting slow roasting in your oven. Loaded with heart healthy almonds, chewy dried cranberries and local antioxidant loaded grape seed oil make this the ultimate breakfast or snack…

Homemade Granola:

4 c. quick cooking oats

1 1/2 c. chopped unsalted almonds

1/4 c. grape seed oil or light olive oil

1/2 c. honey

1/4 c. brown sugar

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. salt

1 c. dried cranberries or raisins

Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except the cranberries. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and pour granola mixture on sheet. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, checking every 15 minutes to stir the granola. The cinnamon and oats will fill your kitchen with such an amazing aroma! Once the granola is lightly browned, remove from oven and cool. Add cranberries or raisins and store in an air tight container. Great with milk, yogurt or just plain!




Old-Fashioned Tomato Sauce

With tomatoes dropping off the vine and your counter tops and window sills filling up, it is time to make sauce to enjoy  in the cold winter’s months. I feel like we wait all summer for that juicy tomato, but when they ripen, fall is just around the corner.  My mother and her mother and her mother’s mother and beyond always made this tomato sauce. Through generations, it really hasn’t changed and it has remained simple, delicious and fresh from the garden.  There is nothing like the smell of sauce filling your kitchen and welcoming cooler weather… Happy Labor Day!

Old-Fashioned Tomato Sauce:

1 large bushel of Roma tomatoes – ripe

1 head of garlic – minced

1/4 c. olive oil

2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves – torn

several bay leaves

2 t. salt

1/4 t. black pepper

In batches, halve tomatoes and pulse in a food processor until just blended.  If you like a smoother sauce, pulse more. In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and add minced garlic when hot. Saute until opaque and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir occasionally with large swooping turnover stirs for the first half an hour.  Skim off any orange foam that rises to the top. This is very bitter and will ruin your sauce if you leave it in.

Add in freshly torn basil and bay leaves. My mom always added more than one bay leaf and did not remove them from the sauce. I always loved the bay leaves, not to eat of course, but because very time I would find one my mom would tell me it was good luck. Add salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for several hours at a low boil. More foam will rise to the top, so continue to skim it off.  When the sauce is thick and sticks to the back of a wooden spoon, process in sterilized jars for about 10 minutes, cool and store.

A good estimate to when your sauce is done, is when it is reduced by half. This makes a great starter sauce to add fresh vegetables, meat and olives to later in the winter. It is also great on pizza – a versatile way of stowing and using up all those tomatoes!

Sweet Pea Hummus

Summer is the perfect time for snacking and light meals with the heavy heat. Freshly picked sweet sugar snap peas with classic chickpeas, fresh garlic and lemon make the most refreshing hummus to serve before any dish, or even call it a meal.

Sweet Pea Hummus:

1  1/2 c. green peas – shucked

1  16 oz. can chickpeas – drained

2 cloves garlic

1 lemon – juiced

2 T. good olive oil

1/2  t. salt

1/2  t. freshly cracked black pepper

In a food processor, pulse sweet green peas, chickpeas and garlic.  Add in freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined and smooth. Remove from processor and serve with fresh veggies, crackers or corn tortillas.

Pickled Garlic Scapes

A secret recipe is one that you should not pry to get, respect that it is a secret for a reason and maybe someday you will have one too. The first time I crunched into one of my co worker’s pickled garlic scapes I knew that I needed that recipe.  After finding out it is one of those forbidden to share recipes, I set out to make up my own.  Here is my version of Dave’s scapes… not quite the same, but good enough to share.

Pickled Garlic Scapes:

garlic scapes- about 50

6 c. water

3 1/2 c. white vinegar

1/2 c. salt

red pepper flakes

Pick garlic scapes right before you want to pickle them.  Just like asparagus, you can snap the scape where the woody, stalk like area begins. Discard thicker stalk. Cut scapes in about 3 inch pieces right up to the bottom of the blossom. Discard blossom. Sterilize canning jars and lids. Pack jars with scapes and add a pinch of red pepper. Bring water, vinegar and salt to boil in a large pot over high heat.

Once liquid is boiling, pour over scapes in jars leaving about half an inch of headspace in the jars. Tap jars on the counter to release air pockets. Cover jars with lids and process in large pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Remove jars from boiling water and let set without touching the lids. The scapes will have the best flavor within a week or so of sitting and letting the flavors meld. Enjoy these with a sharp upstate New York cheddar cheese.