Editor’s note: Kate Jerome is a longtime contributor to the Kenosha News. She has been writing about all aspects of gardening. She is starting a new column in conjunction with our redesign that will appear every other week. Her garden column will go from weekly to every other week.

I love to cook and I would like to share that love with you. I particularly love to cook as simply as possible. Nothing is more daunting on a busy weeknight than a recipe with 25 ingredients. It would certainly make me walk away from the kitchen and order carryout.

We’re going to take a journey together — one with a short number of steps — from the garden into the kitchen. Or, maybe a wee bit longer if we start at the farmers market.

We all have to eat. And the higher the quality of food we put in our bodies, the better we will feel. We all have very busy lives, but that need not preclude eating healthy, simple meals. In the words of Michael Pollan: “Eat good food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Even if you don’t consider yourself a cook, you can learn to prepare fresh wholesome meals without a lot of prep time or a lengthy list of ingredients. And cooking can become an interesting part of your life instead of a chore. My column will help you ease into the kitchen with simple vegetarian recipes designed to feed two people. You can certainly increase amounts or add meat or fish if you wish.

It’s August, the best time of vegetable production, seconded only by September harvests. Gardens and markets are brimming with cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, zucchini and, especially, tomatoes. Let’s start by making one of my favorite dishes in the whole world, which is as simple as chopping tomatoes and combining them with garlic, olive oil and basil.

This is a great way to use abundant tomatoes and can be made more interesting by using colorful heirlooms. The classic flavor is with basil, but you can use whatever you have in the garden. It works well with marjoram, rosemary or mint.

TOMATOES WITH GARLIC, OLIVE OIL AND BASIL

2 to 4 tomatoes depending on size; you want to have about 1 1/2 cups when they are chopped

1 fat clove of garlic

1 tablespoon fruity, high-quality olive oil

4 to 5 leaves fresh basil

Salt to taste

Cut the tomatoes in quarters and squeeze gently to remove the seeds and pulp. This may seem a waste, but if you leave it in, the dish will be runny. Chop the tomatoes coarsely into pieces, about 1/2 inch.

Take a big knife and smash the garlic clove. You don’t have to whack it, just push down on the knife and it will give way. Pull off the papery peeling and chop the clove coarsely.

Roll the basil leaves into a tight cigar and thinly slice.

Mix all together with the oil and toss with hot pasta, spread on toasted baguette slices over a schmear of goat cheese, or use as a topping for pizza or a baked potato.

Kate Jerome has written about gardens for the Kenosha News for many years. She is a garden to kitchen consultant, and is starting a new column. Find our more about her at kjerome.com. She can be contacted at katejerome2020@gmail.com.

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