Tanya Foster clipping fresh basil from herb garden

Fresh tomato from herb garden

fresh caprese salad with tomato basil and mozzarella on vietri serving platter

Tanya Foster making fresh caprese salad on vietri serving platter

Sparky and Max sitting on Frontgate dog cusions

Tanya Foster holding fresh caprese salad on vietri serving platter

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. Pete and I just relaxed, enjoyed meals out at restaurants and started season 3 of Yellowstone.

Recently, I redid my outdoor patio furniture – read about how I did it without breaking the bank here – so I want to spend as much time enjoying the patio as possible. I discovered gardening as something to do during quarantine, and it has become a relaxing and fun activity that allows me to enjoy my new outdoor space. Better yet, it provides fresh, organic ingredients to make some amazing recipes. One of those recipes is a tomato, mozzarella, basil salad. Today, let’s look at this fresh seasonal salad you can make with your home garden ingredients. As you can see, Sparky and Max clearly love hanging out with me on the back porch. Now let’s talk about tips & tricks on growing tomatoes and herbs in your backyard. Pete’s giving away his secrets…

Let’s start out by talking about some gardening tips that I have learned over the past couple of months. For starters, watch my video on how I did the spring planting during quarantine by clicking here. Something super important is the gardening tool set that you use. This gardening tool set is my go-to equipment for tending to my plants. The type of planters that you use for herbs is also really important. I use these planters to keep my herb garden growing and remaining healthy. This self-watering planter is a great option that can be used indoors or outdoors. Another random tip I have learned is that it is so important to find the perfect sun hat. I love this straw sun visor because of the cute bowtie in the back plus it is velcro! This makes it easy to wear any hairstyle while also keeping the sun out of your face. Ok, now let’s get on with the recipe!

Pete’s tomato gardening tips

I would love to give you all my secrets to growing delicious tomatoes but to be honest, Pete is the master gardener of the tomatoes every summer. Sometimes, his tomato plants produce so much fruit that we give sacks of them to our friends. If you are wondering WHY he loves to grow tomatoes its because his Italian immigrant family always grew vegetables. He has fond memories of his grandmother (Nanny) and her vegetable garden. He has allowed me to share his secrets.

  • Select the largest plant you can find to transplant into your garden (minimum of 1 gallon container size)
  • Pete prefers large indeterminate tomato varieties because they produce fruit all season
  • He uses very large pots and plants early in the season (Dallas –>> February)
  • In case of frost forecast, move the tomato pots into the garage
  • Water mornings as needed; daily once temperatures reach 90 degrees
  • Install the tomato cages early in growth so that the root system does not get disturbed
  • Pete suggests that tomatoes get 8-12 hours of direct sunlight per day


Fresh Herb Garden Salad Recipe

3 ripe tomatoes
1 large bunch of basil leaves
12 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
Balsamic vinaigrette & Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

First, pick your ripe tomatoes and pinch the basil from your garden. Next, slice your tomatoes and mozzarella into about 1/4 inch slices. Once complete, lay them out on a serving platter (I am using this Vietri serving platter in the photo). I like to lay down two tomatoes for every one slice of mozzarella cheese as seen in the photo above. Place the basil leaves evenly throughout the tomatoes and mozzarella. Finally, drizzle your favorite balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil over the salad. You can add as much or as little as you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste. That’s it! The recipe is so simple but when you harvest your own fresh vegetables, it’s incredible how much more flavor they have.

This recipe is perfect for your menu when you are outdoor entertaining. Do you grow any fruits, vegetables or herbs? Please share your gardening tips in the comments. I would love to get your input.

xoxo – Tanya

Photo: Audrie Dollins

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fresh caprese salad with tomato basil and mozzarella on vietri serving platter

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