Hoboken Farms: Small Town Sauce, Big Town Flavor

Hoboken Farms Big Basil tomato basil sauce

Store-bought sauce can be a pretty contentious subject for fans of sauces with that just-made fresh flavor. I was one of those snobs, always stressing to squish San Marzano tomatoes in the can as a pot of salted water cooked pasta. I’d pull out the woody stems and toss the broken down tomato meat with fresh smashed garlic cloves sizzling in olive oil. That simmering concoction would meld as it cooked, was seasoned with salt and pepper and finished with torn fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of EVOO.

My work-life balance wasn’t in sync enough for homemade sauces to be on the menu and I always kept a few jarred options to resort to when the kids were lobbying for lasagna, pasta and a protein or chicken parm. I’d get complaints when I hadn’t sufficiently labored at the stove and produced a luxurious sauce that had flavor rich with the taste and aroma of freshly made tomato and basil sauce with the wonderful texture of those hand-swished tomato chunks. 

Hoboken Farms sauce comes in three varieties (L to R): Big Red, Big Boss and Big Basil

When the folks at Hoboken Farms asked me to sample their three sauces–Big Red, their marinara sauce; Big Boss, their vodka sauce; and Big Basil, their tomato basil sauce– I agreed without expecting much. I had read the reviews and readied myself to see what all the fuss was about. 

I popped off the lid of the Big Basil sauce and took stock: wonderfully fresh aroma; great texture thanks to meaty tomato chunks; beautifully seasoned and full of fresh taste. These sauces are the real deal. They have the taste you’d expect from a chef that perfected marina, tomato basil and vodka sauces by simply relying on excellent quality ingredients prepared classically with minimal fuss.

Big Basil sauce served over Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne

Here’s how I enjoyed Big Basil over Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne: talk about elevating the natural flavor of pasta! Hoboken Farms defies you to sauce your pasta  modestly the way you’d be served them in Italy. I flunked, happily and greedily over-saucing and enjoying every spoonful. 

Other ways I’d serve Hoboken Farms Big Basil or Big Red sauces:

– Spooned over a layer of pesto atop a grilled slice of sourdough or ciabatta

– Layered with plain Greek yogurt for a savory parfait that’s topped with minced celery and parsley for crunch 

– Spooned over zucchini noodles or baked potato

– Blended with summer veggies like squash and kale for a refreshing smoothie or chilled soup

– Stir a cup or more into bean or vegetable soup

– Baked on top of seasoned chicken cutlets or fillets of fish like char

You are only limited by your creativity with Hoboken Farms, a pantry essential for uncompromising sauce enthusiasts. 

Contributions made by Samantha (Sam) Donsky

Stokes Farm: Fresh Herb Wreaths, The Perfect Hostess Gift

Stokes Farm in Old Tappan likes to call itself a small town farm with big city charm.  If you have visited their farm stand in Old Tappan on DeWolf Road or one of their three New York City farmers market setups, you’ll likely agree that the statement holds true.  When Isaiah Stokes set sail from England in 1873 for America, he quickly purchased 40 acres of land in Old Tappan which he developed into farmland.  Several generations later, his descendants have added 17,000 square feet of greenhouses to keep a robust harvest possible even as the temperatures dip.  I visited with 6th generation farmer Jenny Lichtenwalner to learn about herb wreaths, which are exquisitely fragrant and made with Stokes own rosemary ($25) or rosemary and thyme ($28). I can’t imagine a lovelier hostess gift.

Fragrant fresh herb wreath, hand-made by Stokes Farm in Old Tappan, NJ
Fragrant fresh herb wreath, hand-made by Stokes Farm in Old Tappan, NJ

Upwards of 1,500 wreaths were sold last year between the farm stand, its NYC outposts and through online purchases through their website. Visit the Old Tappan farm stand on Tuesday, November 19th or the 26th to purchase (pre-orders accepted now) or call 201-768-3931 to arrange shipping.  Each wreath, about 12 inches in diameter, comes with a card on wreath care.  The herb is made hours before sale and keeps its suppleness for about one week before entering into its “dry” herb life chapter, when it can be plucked at for quick additions to soups, stews, roasts or teas. Its usefulness certainly outlasts floral arrangements and its value to the home cook or lover of herbal fragrance wafting through the air will last well beyond the holiday season.

The farm also offers its Stokes Farm Thanksgiving Thyme Saver Box, chock full of NJ grown fresh fruits and vegetables.  Sizes and prices vary from small ($39), adequate for feeding 5 people up to large ($99), adequate for feeding 15.  A flyer suggests that the bounty will be adequate for the preparation of winter squash soup, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, cranberry jelly, sweet potatoes and apple pie.  Box orders must be placed by 8:00PM Monday, November 18th.  Pick up is on Tuesday, November 26th betwen 9:00AM and 5:00PM.

On a recent visit, Stokes had a fine selection of winter squash.  It’s the only farm in the region I have been able to find my favorite mini white Jack-A-Boo pumpkins for decorating my Thanksgiving buffet table.  Halloween seems to clean other farm stands and grocers out of these squash.

White Jack-A-Boo Pumpkins
White Jack-A-Boo Pumpkins

Stokes Farm

23 DeWolf Road

Old Tappan, NJ

Call 201-768-3931 for hours, shipping and pre-orders.  Email Jenny at jenny@stokesfarm.com.  http://www.stokesfarm.com