Cultivating Community

Cultivating Community

July 7, 2016

Harvesting at Cristwood

Good things take time. Meaningful friendships, similar to a home-grown garden, take patience and intentionality to flourish. At CRISTA Senior Living, our community gardens offer both, simultaneously. The only thing better than spending a relaxing summer evening sitting outside with friends and enjoying good food and great company is doing so after having grown and prepared the meal together.

Every summer, our community gardens at Cristwood and Crista Shores are brimming with tomatoes. And while our resident gardeners surely enjoy savoring the fruits of their labors, just as enjoyable is the process of working along each other, tending the plants and growing in community.

Now what to do with all those tomatoes? Just ask our Director of Dining Services, Chad McKenzie. With more than 30 years of culinary experience, Chad believes that food brings people together and in gathering around a meal there is great conversation and healing. His work has been awarded by the Washington Health Care Association, but most importantly he sees dining as an avenue that brings meaning and enjoyment to life. Here Chad shares his recipe for heirloom tomato bruschetta, a summer recipe filled with fresh ingredients and perfect for outdoor eating with friends.


(serves 6)
3 diced heirloom tomatoes
2 tablespoons basil pesto
¼ small diced red onion
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of sundried tomato paste
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.


2 cups of balsamic vinegar
1 cup molasses
Cook on stove top over medium heat until reduced and thickened.


1 baguette
Finely shredded gouda cheese
Melted butter

To make the crostini, cut baguette into quarter inch slices. Place on a baking sheet and then brush with
melted butter. Place in oven at 350 degrees until golden brown. Top with finely shredded gouda cheese.

Top each crostini with a tablespoon of the heirloom bruschetta.

Top with finely shredded gouda and a light drizzle of the balsamic glaze.

This article first appeared in 3rd Act Magazine.