Neither of my grandmothers did a lot of cooking. My mom cooked a lot but she was not a fan of letting kids get in the kitchen to cook and make a mess. But cooking was something I destined to learn do! My first memory of cooking was from my 4-H club where I learned to set the table, make 1000 Island dressing, and make brownies and snicker doodles.

Being drawn to experiment in the kitchen, coupled with my love of science and desire to help people were the most influential factors in my decision to be a registered dietitian nutritionist. My big break into the cooking world was in my food classes in college and as a newlywed in college. I married a “foodie” before any of us even knew what a “foodie” was. All we knew was that we wanted food to taste delicious!

The summer before, my husband and I got married, his parents helped us grow our first vegetable garden. His dad told us, if we could learn how to grow your own food, we would never go hungry. Every year since we have had a garden.

That year, we had a bumper crop of everything but especially green beans. I learned how to use a pressure cooker and can green beans and tomatoes. I froze corn and peppers to take back to college in our cooler. My father-in-law even bought us shelving to store our canned goods in our tiny apartment.

Green Beans and Fixins

Because green beans were the most plentiful, I had to learn to get creative on ways how to fix them which included soups, casseroles and sides. With our garden staples, we always had something to eat and green beans will always hold a special place in my heart. My husband’s dad taught us self-sufficiency along with my mother-in-law and my mom who shared their favorite family recipes to use in my kitchen.

Having our very own kitchen gave us the opportunity to experiment with new cookbooks and we began making our own creations.

These days, when my five year old granddaughter and three year old grandson want to do “food experiment” in the kitchen, I take a deep breath, smile and let them do it.  I know that the counter tops will get sticky and sometimes I am not in the mood, I get out the mixing bowl, whisks, measuring cups, spoons and spatulas. We go out in the garden and pick things. They go out and see the barren ground when we have do not have a winter garden and we talk about the seasons. They love to go visit local farms, farmers’ markets and they even have a garden of their own at home.

Today, I am sharing a recipe using green beans to celebrate the memories of our first garden and kitchen. This is a recipe passed down from my mom’s family which I have added my own touch of a pesto sauce. I hope that you enjoy eating as much as I do! Green beans have been plentiful in our garden this year but you may also be able to buy some from a local farmer or farmers market.

Green beans are filling and low in calories so they are a great food to eat to achieve a healthy weight!

Green Beans at the Farmers' Market

Italian Green Beans with Tomatoes and Pesto

My mom fixed fresh green beans out of the garden for a summer supper using this recipe! The chopped fresh tomatoes and onions add a fresh flavor to the beans. The fresh basil and pesto to the recipe to give it a fun twist. You can serve the beans warm or cold. A splash of vinegar can also be added if desired to make it more of a cold summer salad!

Makes 6 servings

4 cups freshly picked green beans, washed and stemmed

1/3 cup freshly made Pesto Recipe

1 medium tomato chopped tomato

1/3 chopped purple onion

Purple Basil for garnish (I did not have any purple basil for a garnish so I added a pop of purple with a pansy)

In a medium sauce pan, cook green beans about 5-10 minutes until they are soft but still a little crunchy. Drain and rinse in a colander with cold water. Add to a mixing bowl and add pesto. Transfer green beans to a serving bowl and add the tomatoes and onions to the top. Garnish with the purple basil to add a pop of color. When it is time to serve, mix the tomatoes and onions throughout the green beans.

I hope this story of my earliest memories in the kitchen, remind you of special times that you have had in the kitchen and a garden. I would love to hear how you got started making your favorite foods! And if you haven’t had a lot of these memories, there is no time like the present to get started! As a registered dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, I love to help people create a healthy relationship with food and get more comfortable making easy delicious meals! You can find more seasonal, healthy recipes throughout the Vine Ripe Nutrition blog and you can find out more about me here.

 


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