Basil Sauce

In the summer, are there any two better words than “tomato season”?

From early June to mid July, tomatoes are in, meaning that the local tomatoes are ready

Like generations of Beaufortonians, I worked in a tomato packing shed in the summers

Those are tales for another day

When the tomatoes are in season, we serve them a lot

Like a lot

This summer I have been peeling them and slicing them paper thin with a tomato knife someone gave us when we were hitched.  Yes, there is such a thing as a tomato knife

We serve them with either my silver tomato server or my wife’s silver tomato server.  Yes, there is such a thing as a tomato server.  And, yes, my wife and I each have our own, because, well, the South

I grew up with sliced tomatoes on the plate through the summer

A perfect summer breakfast on the weekend involves sliced tomatoes

My grandparents ate them on the same plate with cantaloupes, musky and fecund, sausage, bacon, hominy, eggs, biscuits, toast

When my wife and I were dating, her mother introduced me to the most perfect accompaniment for sliced tomatoes: Basil Sauce

This is her receipt

I haven’t a clue where she procured it

Not only is this heavenly on sliced tomatoes, but it’s great on grilled chicken, steaks, baked fish, cold asparagus, cold green beans

It works really well on a tomato sammich on lite bread, too. The kind where the lite bread sticks to the roof of your mouth.

My sister-in-law, Margaret Johnson Kunes, loves Basil Sauce

Like loves

So do I

Wonder if it’s wrong to drink it?

With thanks to my sister-in-law Elizabeth West Johnson for sharing the receipt in her Cooking Up A Storm, Christmas ’96, compilation of family treasures for spilling the secret. It’s out there now

Serving suggestion with tomato servers


Becky Johnson’s Green Basil Sauce


1/3 cup white vinegar

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 cup basil leaves, packed super tightly, the more the merrier

1 clove garlic, smashed or roughly chopped

1/3 cup vegetable oil – only vegetable oil, not corn, not canola, not olive, not walnut – but vegetable

1 cup sour cream

3 tbsp Italian flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of sugar


In the bowl of a food processor, add the vinegar, mustard, basil, and garlic. Mix until smooth. You may have to use a spatula a time or two to make sure the bowl is scraped down and mixed. Using the feed tube, while the processor is running, add the oil in a steady stream. Once that is fully mixed, add the remaining ingredients at the same time. Then pulse several times until fully combined. Chill until ready to serve

Notes: use full fat everything and vegetable oil. I tried this with olive oil. I did not work. As for salt and pepper, I love both, but let your taste buds guide you. I mean I’m crazy about pepper. Once I made this and it was basil pepper sauce. You can always add; you can’t take away.

I have even been known to dip lite bread in it as a way to get it down my gullet

Again, would be wrong to drink this?

I don’t think so


4 thoughts on “Basil Sauce

  1. Making today! I bet it “keeps” in a jar in the fridge for a long time? What a fun hostess gift in a jar with a bag of homegrown tomatoes!


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