Fran’s Favorites: Garden Salsa & Pesto


I love this time of year when the gardens are full of beautiful bounty and I get the opportunity to make and preserve special foods that we enjoy all year round. This year I don’t have much of a garden, only a couple of tomato plants and some nice herbs, but my family and friends share their bounty with me.

I love to can tomatoes and tomato juice. But if I am too busy to process them I simply wash them and remove the stem end. Then I put them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer. When I want to cook up a batch of chili or tomato sauce I run hot water over the frozen tomatoes and the peel comes right off. Then they are ready to cook.

Salsa is always a favorite at our house this time of year, especially with the young people. My recipe varies depending on what kind of vegetables I have, but it always contains lots of garlic and onions and peppers and tomatoes. Sometimes grated carrots, fresh basil, and chives. But one of my favorite salsas is made with roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers. Roasting the vegetables first gives them a delicious sweet flavor.

Oven Roasted Onion & Tomato Salsa

1 large Spanish onion, chopped

2 large tomatoes, cut in half

1 large jalapeno chili, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Combine in cast iron skillet or heavy baking dish. Roast at 350° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool. Pulse in food processor — keep chunky. Add chopped cilantro if desired. Refrigerate.


My basil plants are doing very well so I’m going to make a batch of pesto. This recipe was given to me by Janet Voinovich and my family loves it. I make several batches and freeze it flat in small Ziplock bags. Then I can toss it with fresh pasta, or put it on my pizza, or just break off a little piece of the frozen pesto to add to my soups and stews. It adds a delicious fresh flavor. And it’s nice to have it in the freezer when you need the vegetarian option for spaghetti.


1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons walnut pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large clove garlic

8 ounces uncooked fettuccine or other pasta

In blender, combine basil leaves, cheese, olive oil, walnuts, salt and garlic. Blend on medium speed until smooth. Do not over-blend or mixture will separate. If sauce is too thick, add 1 tablespoon hot water and blend. Cook fettuccine or other pasta according to package directions and drain. Toss pesto sauce with hot fettuccine and serve immediately.

By Fran DeWine

Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, wife of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and guest columnist. She just released her newest cookbook, Fran DeWine and Tina Husted’s Family Favorites.

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