By Joy Johnson, Master Gardener
It’s August and your garden, like mine is probably exploding with produce. I am so thrilled and excited to be able to feed my family right out of the garden with minimal effort on my part. The health benefits and grocery budget savings make it a double win. Right now, I have a variety of fresh lettuce, basil, tomatoes, beans and peppers. There is nothing better than a chilled garden salad.
Pick your lettuce in the morning if you can, rinse it under cool water and then put it in the refrigerator in a covered bowl to chill until mealtime. Slice some fresh tomatoes, fresh sweet peppers, fresh peeled cucumbers and toss them with the lettuce.
Use your choice of dressing. I prefer a light vinaigrette, so the veggie flavors come through. Some prefer a heavier dressing. Here are two delightful dressings for you to try:
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp sugar
1Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
¼ vegetable oil (avocado oil is delish)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 3 or 4 Tbsp mayonnaise
3 or 4 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp chopped onion
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp vinegar
Basil is a wonderful addition to so many recipes. This year I have French basil and lemon basil growing in my garden. I use both of these in the Ginger Tonic recipe that was in the April edition of Garden Buzz. Here is a simple, but delicious Pesto recipe that my dad sent me years ago.
2 cups basil, fresh or frozen (I use a mixture of French and Lemon basil leaves)
2-5 garlic cloves
½ to 1 cup pine nuts (can use part walnuts)
¼ cup to ½ cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (I use less than this, otherwise it’s too sour for my palate)
½ to ¾ cup olive oil (lower calorie version = use ½ cup water)
Pulse until finely mixed in a food processor.
A delicious and easy family favorite is Pesto Chicken.
Lay 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a glass 13 x 9 baking dish
Spread pesto on each breast
Lay tomato slices on top of each breast or drop cherry tomatoes all around the pan.
Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until chicken temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Remove cover, lay slices of mozzarella cheese on each chicken breast, bake 5 minutes longer.
Serve on a bed of fresh spinach or cooked rice.