Just a girl who loves Fall – The last of tomatoes and basil from the garden

Happy Autumn everyone! Well, in a few more day anyway. I love Autumn, Winter and Spring but not a fan of the Summer heat and humidity. Here in the Northeast we do have our nice days days and those I enjoy, but the hot days I just can’t seem to function very well. Once September arrives I begin to feel I can finally relax with the cooler temperatures slowly setting in, we now can open the windows and shut off the A/C and I feel like cooking again.

For those who may have some veggies and herbs left in the garden now is the time to use them up if you aren’t planning to can or freeze them. If you don’t have any homegrown take the time to visit some of your local farms or produce stands. Pick up some tomatoes, corn, squash or herbs, there are so many recipes you can make with them. Here I am sharing a family favorite at our house, plus another recipe for making homemade pesto and a chicken dish you can use both tomatoes and basil in.


A simple fresh tomato sauce where you can use the last of your tomatoes. I have used Cherry Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes as well as Beef Steaks to make this sauce, they all work fine.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Makes 2 cups, enough for 1 pound of pasta

To keep the garlic from burning, start the olive oil and garlic in a cold pan. Add a pinch of sugar to the cooked sauce if your tomatoes aren’t as sweet as you’d like. If the sauce seems too thick, toss the sauce and pasta with a little reserved pasta cooking water to help spread the sauce evenly.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ripe beefsteak tomatoes (about 4 large), cored, peeled (see related How to Cook), and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • Table salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Ground black pepper


  • Stir oil and garlic together in large skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook until garlic is sizzling and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to rapid simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, reducing heat if sauce begins to stick to bottom of pan, until thickened and chunky, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.


I love making fresh Pesto with Basil from our small herb garden. This is a delicious Chicken Thighs with Pesto Recipe you might want to try.

Basic Pesto Recipe

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts or pecans
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup good quality olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2-1 cup fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, or blender, combine all the ingredients except the cheese. Process the mixture in short bursts until it is smooth. It should not be soupy. If it is too oily, you can add more basil. Scrape down the sides as you work. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in Parmesan cheese. Place in a covered container and chill. It will last up to a week in the refrigerator. The optional ingredients are up to you-I’ve seen many recipes without them, but quite a few that include them.

Notes, Additions and Tips

Ingredients: Pesto is SO varied! Some people insist on pine nuts, others hate them. I always go with the concept of using what you have on hand and what you can afford at the time. Substitute walnuts or pecans if you wish! You can also use Pecorino or Romano cheese for a change. Salt and pepper should be used to taste. If you are on a low salt diet then leave it out. If you love garlic then try adding more, less if it’s too much for your taste. You can also toast the nuts in the oven, or in a skillet before using.

Pesto freezes well in ice cube trays. Store the frozen cubes in a plastic freezer bag to use in the off season. Add a cube to soups, stews or tomato based sauces.

Toss fresh pesto with hot pasta, rice, or steamed vegetables. Spread on toasted French Bread, use a dip for bread sticks, or spread on pizza crust in place of tomato sauce.

Baked Pesto Chicken Thighs

My husband loves the juiciness of chicken thighs, so this recipe was a winner with him. Baked Pesto Chicken Thighs is a fast chicken dish made with boneless thighs, pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. It can be even made on a week night. This recipe is easily doubled.


4 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

1 jar ready-made Pesto or homemade if you prefer

1 Medium tomato, sliced thin

1 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Wash chicken and dry with a paper towel. Season lightly with salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line baking sheet with foil or parchment.

Place the chicken thighs on prepared baking sheet.

Spread about 1-2 teaspoons of pesto over each piece of chicken, depends how much pesto you like.

Bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.

Remove from oven; top with sliced tomatoes, sprinkle Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese on top.

Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve over cooked white rice or pasta.

Thank you for visiting!
Please share this site with your family and friends and ask them to join Recipes from a Small Kitchen to see what my next cooking adventure will be. I hope my recipes will inspire you to take time to cook no matter what size your kitchen is.
Please Like and leave a comment, I would love to hear from you and hear what you are making.

3 thoughts on “Just a girl who loves Fall – The last of tomatoes and basil from the garden

  1. The Baked Pesto Chicken Thighs look amazing, and sounds delicious. I just made a big batch of pesto with the basil from my garden. I will definitely use some to try this recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

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