Written by Amanda Weaver
If you had a peppery minty piece of fresh basil, what would you make with it? That’s what Mountain View residents asked among themselves in the aeroponic greenhouse one sunny morning.
When the Mountain View Dining Committee wanted to know where their food was coming from and learn about the science behind the aeroponic greenhouse, Executive Chef Anthony Biscanti was more than willing to host the bunch on a tour to show them. Tony himself has always been a farm to table sort of guy, supporting local farms. The greenhouse, located on the Garden Spot Campus, is where he gets most of his ingredients for the dishes he prepares in Mountain View.
Instead of just giving the group a boring ride over in a minivan or having a group walk, Operations Manager Ashley Baker decided to go all out and include an open wagon ride over to the greenhouse. “We try to give the best with each experience we provide for our resident,” says Ashley. Not only did the residents enjoy the greenhouse, but they also were in awe of the new Sycamore Springs homes, where one of the residents, Joan Riale, lives.
“Some people didn’t go purely because of the wagon ride, and while I was sore a day or two afterwards, I would do it again and again,” says Joan. Having moved into Sycamore Springs a year ago and being able to see the greenhouse from her home, she had always wanted to visit it. After a brief hospitalization, Joan spent time in skilled nursing before recuperating at Mountain View.
While in the greenhouse, the residents explored all the different fresh herbs and vegetables. They walked through smelling the sage, rhubarb and cilantro. That’s when the basil hit their senses. And at the very top of the basil plant, was the prettiest bloom of basil any of them had seen. Tara Philips, the clinical dietitian and friend to residents, brought the plant down close enough to the ground, and Joan had the honors of snipping the bloom off. That’s when the question arose among them, ‘What would you make with this?’ One said pizza, another said pasta, another said bruschetta. Everyone agreed a bruschetta would be delicious.
“Well I could make that for dinner,” Chef Tony nonchalantly put in. He would need more ingredients from the garden and everyone helped pick the herbs and vegetables that were needed for that night’s dinner. They rode back in on their open wagon and Tony started prepping for dinner. Joan says “I thoroughly enjoyed it… I certainly am glad I got to go. I wish more residents could visit the Aeroponic greenhouse to see what is involved in growing the lettuce we enjoy. The experience gave me a greater appreciation for what is available to us here at Garden Spot Village.”
That night at the dinner table, Joan sat around with her friends and told them about her day at the greenhouse. When dinner arrived, and there wasn’t much talking. Everyone was too busy eating the delicious bruschetta. The flavors were unbelievably incredible and fresh, the mix was perfect. Everyone enjoyed it, some even asked for seconds.
Joan will be heading back to her home in Sycamore Springs, and she will deeply miss the staff and care she received while in skilled nursing and Mountain View. “I will keep coming back to visit my friends. Hopefully Chef Tony will make bruschetta when I visit.”
Yield: 1 Quart
• 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced fine
• 2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, diced small
• 2 oz. fresh basil, chiffonade (sliced very thin)
• 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar (also works great with balsamic vinegar)
• ½ tsp. salt, kosher
• ¾ tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1. Thoroughly combine all ingredients and place in an air-tight container.
2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to meld.
3. Stir before serving.
Serving Suggestion: Serve over lightly toasted ciabatta bread or focaccia topped with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and shredded parmesan cheese.