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This week in the Freestone kitchen

Our garden is bursting at the seams with four different varieties of tomatoes, plus basil, sweet peppers, and hot peppers. Not to be outdone, the cherry plum tree produced more fruit than we (humans, birds, and squirrels) could possibly eat. Time to start cooking and preserving!

Basil Pesto – A classic recipe from Joy of Cooking (1997, p. 307). If you have a lot of basil to use all at once, make extra batches and freeze. We pour extra pesto into ice cube trays, freeze solid, then transfer the pesto cubes into an airtight container for longer term storage in the freezer. Homemade pesto is a delight to use all year long for pasta, pizza, and soup recipes.

marya bruning dietitian nutrition boise RD

Jim Lukach / Flickr Creative Commons

Tomato Jalapeno Chilaquiles – This is the recipe for enjoying your garden fresh tomatoes. Chilaquiles is a Mexican soup made with slightly chewy corn tortillas covered in a simple yet deeply flavored tomato-pepper stock. Though the recipe does take some time to prepare, it’s well worth the effort. We used homemade tortilla chips, and we added 1.5 cups of cooked black beans to the soup to make it a more complete meal. If you don’t have any fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes will do just fine.

Gnocchi Skillet with Tomatoes – This super-quick dish has just five ingredients: pre-made gnocchi, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and Italian sausage. For such a simple recipe, this dish has a lot of flavor, color, and texture to enjoy.

Raspberry Plum Stew – When we have a lot of fruit to use – stone fruit, berries, apples, pears – we cook it down and freeze it for winter. This week we combined plums and raspberries to make a gorgeous purple stew.

The recipe is simple: Wash the fruit. Remove any pits, seeds, leaves, or stems (but not the skin). Chop into bite-size pieces. Simmer the fruit in a large pot over medium heat until it thickens and reaches the consistency that you like. Add a little bit of cinnamon, maple syrup, honey, or sugar if you like.

Pour the stew into glass containers and allow it to cool. Then cover the containers and freeze. Defrost the fruit by placing it in the refrigerator over night.

Last step: Eat it up! For breakfast, top oatmeal, other cooked grains, toast, pancakes, or waffles with warmed fruit. For a tangy snack, stir it cold into plain yogurt. For dessert, make a fruit sundae with warm fruit and vanilla ice cream.


May these recipes inspire your own menus in this bountiful season!