Holding Louisiana Ripeness in a Jar

Published 4:56 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

Everyone is seeing red these days…red sunsets, red sweaty faces, red sunburnt shoulders, the insides of red watermelons and red ripe tomatoes on the garden vine.

Last night my half-pint chef and I chopped up overripe tomatoes that were bursting upon my windowsill. We made a layered taco in my cast-iron skillet and used every one of those juicy vitamins. Whenever I open my grandmother’s refrigerator it’s seeding with plump rubies from the neighbor’s garden. She’s getting a healthy fix of tomatoes and cucumbers with every meal.

I know our kitchen sinks, windowsills, refrigerators, and chopping boards represent only a shelf worth of everyone else’s kitchen countertops so I questioned, as I pulled out my computer, what everyone else was doing with their overabundance of ruddy minature suns.

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My friend Becky Benoit (co-owner of

B&O’s Grocery

with her husband Jeff) makes Homemade Ro-tel sauce for her family table. She makes it seem so easy.  “I pretty much just throw everything in the pot and cook it to taste.”

Sounds easy enough, but where to start? Becky was extra generous, “I will try and put it into recipe form …”



• 25 medium size tomatoes

• 10 jalapenos, cored out, cleaned, chopped (may use chilis instead—I use what I have)

• 10 banana peppers (I leave the seeds in)

• 2 small green bell peppers, chopped

• 2 small red bell peppers, chopped

• 2 small-medium white onions, chopped

• 2-3 Tbsp. minced garlic

• 4 cups of water

• Garlic Powder to taste

• Salt to taste


Blanch tomatoes first to get the skins to peel off. Remove skins from tomatoes. Add all other ingredients with peeled tomatoes. Season to taste.

Boil down until the right “ro-tel” consistency (liquid to solid).

Let sauce cool completely, then bag into Ziploc Freezer bags.

Put about 2 cups to a bag (normal can of Ro-tel is around 10 oz.)

Another dish I’m tempted to pluck my tomatoes into is this recipe. I’m willing to bake it out of plain curiosity if nothing else:

Tomato Pie (traditional southern dish)


• Pie Crusts, 2

• Tomatoes, 5 or 6

• Mozzarella Cheese, 16 ounces

• Sour Cream, 8 ounces

• Basil, 3 or 4 tablespoons when snipped, or equivalent dry

• Garlic, 6 to 8 cloves

• Salt/Pepper

• Parmesan

Go here for recipe:

Tomato Pie

. The claim is that the pie slices disappear quickly. I’m not so sure I can sell the idea to my children but there’s enough grown-ups in the family to invite over for a taste test. 

Would love to see all of your tomato dish sharings before summer’s over!Ro-tel-sauce