Wake Forest University Campus Garden

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
August 15, 2012, 7:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Contributor: Annabel Lang

We have A LOT of tomatoes in the garden; literally, Nathan and volunteers will harvest hundreds of pounds of tomatoes before the summer is over.  What’s more impressive than the sheer volume of tomatoes is the quality of tomatoes the garden produces. They are heirloom varieties with deep and complex flavors. Perhaps this will sound ridiculous to the uninitiated, but heirloom tomatoes are the best food ever (or at least they make the top 10).  They taste like sunshine (really).  If you haven’t tried them, make your way over to the Campus Garden during volunteer hours and snack on a few straight off the vine.

Normally I just eat our tomatoes raw but there is some newish research  suggesting that cooked tomatoes are, in some ways, more nutritious than their raw counterparts. This made me think about ways I could cook with our Campus Garden heirloom crop.  There is also an abundance of basil in the garden, so I decided on tomato basil soup.

Here is the recipe I used, which is my gloss on this person’s gloss on what was originally an Ina Garten recipe.  This recipe is pretty easy, but I have two notes of caution. First, do not start this recipe if you are already hungry because it takes some time to go through all the steps and, second, the transferring of the soup from the pot to the blender is messy.  If you have the fancy type of blender that you can just stick directly into the pot, then I would definitely use that; otherwise, just have a cloth on hand to wipe up spills and don’t cook in your tuxedo.  Finally, this makes an enormous amount of soup, so make sure you have containers or freezer bags on hand so you can freeze your leftovers for later.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup


2 1/2 lbs heirloom tomatoes, sliced (this doesn’t need to be exact, I don’t have a kitchen scale so I just guessed)

4 table spoons of olive oil

salt and pepper

1 medium onion

4 cloves of garlic (minced)

Dash of red pepper flakes

2 cups of freshly chopped basil (you can use just 1 cup, I just had quite a bit)

1 28 oz can of organic, whole, peeled tomatoes

4 cups water or vegetable broth

leftover pesto (this is optional, I just had some around)


1. Set the oven to 400 degrees while you slice up the heirloom tomatoes and lay them flat on a baking sheet. Cover them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper and then cook them for 45 minutes.

2. Use the rest of the olive oil to cook the onion in a large pot. Once the onion is soft and translucent, stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Then, add the can of tomatoes (with juice,), the chopped basil, and the water or vegetable broth.  Slide the cooked tomatoes off of the tray and into the pot. Cook the entire mixture for 30 minutes on medium low heat. If you have pesto or something else you want to stir in, this would be the time to do it.

3. Gently transfer all of this to a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender if you have one).  Blend until almost smooth. You will probably have to do this in batches. Make sure the top is securely on the blender.

This soup is better warm but also totally edible cold.  And, as with any food, serve with cheese if possible.


Discovering Okra
August 2, 2012, 5:24 am
Filed under: Summer Intern

Okra, as it turns out, doesn’t come off the stem batter-dipped and ready to fry. I grew up in Pennsylvania so you can understand my lack of knowledge in that regard. The only encounter I ever had with the spindly vegetable was mediated by a Paula Dean television show and some shallow stereotypes about southern cuisine. Okra, in fact, does grow on the end of a long, verticle stem but can be prepared in a variety of delicious ways. A recipe for my new favorite, Tomatoes and Okra, is below. I like to serve it over rice.


Tomatoes, diced

Okra, chopped into 1/4 inch segments

1 large Yellow Onion, chopped

1 tbsp Worchestire Sauce

Heat 2 tbsp Olive Oil in large pot over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent. Add tomatoes and okra. Simmer on low for 1-2 hours until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens. Add Worchestire sauce and season with salt and pepper.

Zucchini Pancakes
August 2, 2012, 4:52 am
Filed under: Student Blogs

Contributor: Sanders McNair

The garden is teeming with zucchini these days, so I’ve been trying all different recipes using it. I now have one that works for any zucchini, even those five-pound ones that were left on the plant too long. It’s for zucchini “pancakes”. Or if you have a Jewish grandmother like me, they’re called latkes. I’m a strict adherent to the idea that recipes are only guidelines, so I encourage you to adapt it any way you want. Add grated potato or some different spices if you want.


2 medium-sized zucchini

1 onion

2 lightly beaten eggs

1 cup of flour

1 tablespoon of milk


Oil or butter (enough to coat entire pan in thin layer)

Grate the zucchini and onion into a bowl. Add the eggs, milk, flour and salt/pepper. Mix all together in a bowl. Put oil in the pan and place on medium-high heat. Spoon the mixture into the pan, forming small, thin pancakes or latkes. Cook until lightly browned on both sides.

Serve with any number of condiments. I like basil pesto, ketchup, or applesauce. BBQ sauce, sour cream, or a fruit jam will work too.