Three Months in the Garden
Hi everyone and welcome back to my third Garden Update (check here for the others)! Today we're getting into the fun stuff - harvesting all those yummy veggies and herbs that I worked so hard to plant and keep alive. Things have definitely been growing like crazy lately, and I've been in produce heaven!
I'll be sharing some of my favorite ways to use all of the veggies that I'm growing- some are preservation methods, and some are actual recipes. I hope this helps give you some inspiration if you're also growing any of these. I would also love to know how you're using your veggies as well!
Before we start, I want to share the products that I'm using. I didn't have anything when I started this, so I was happy to find that Ball offers a starter set for preserving. This has everything you need- 4 half Pint jars, preserving rack, real fruit classic pectin, jar lifter, headspace/bubble remover tool, jar funnel. These are all working great for me and was reasonably priced! I also got a pack of pint and quart jars and can preserve to my heart's content.
Now let's get to the ideas...
Pickled Green Beans - This was a recipe that my mom sent me, and it's been a delicious way to use a ton of beans. We actually got these seeds (along with the peas which I'll talk about below) from Dan's coworker, and they have been growing like crazy from the start. I'm not a huge fan of beans themselves, so I like how this makes them taste more like a pickle and is a great snack or addition to a cheese plate. Sometimes I'll even throw in the peas as well and pickle both together!
Sauteed Garlic Beans - The only other way I like to eat fresh beans is by sauteeing them with some garlic and oil in a pan until they're pretty charred. This is a great side dish to go with any meal, but particularly tastes great with Asian dishes.
Frozen Peas - Lately every time I grab some peas, I'll take the biggest ones and pop them out of the pods and freeze them. I don't get a ton this way, but it's a good way to save them up!
Pea Puree - My favorite recipe to use with peas (besides just eating them as-is) is to make them into a creamy and delicious pea puree. There are so many different ways to use this, from a dip to a side. I found this recipe which not only looks incredible, but also tastes great and was surprisingly easy! Reminded me of a dish I'd get from a restaurant.
Carrot Top Pesto - In an effort to not waste any parts of my precious veggies, I've learned some recipes that uses some typical "scraps", including the tops of carrots! These are packed with flavor and taste really good- I use them as a garnish similar to parsley and also found that it works really well as a pesto. This recipe is really great and happens to be vegan, but you can also make this more traditional with some Parmesan cheese.
Snackers - To be honest, none of my carrots grew to be super large (I think I didn't thin them out enough so they had no room!). I couldn't really do much with them, so I mostly just snacked on them or chopped them up for salads. The taste was amazing so I definitely need to work on growing them better next year.
Pickled Peppers - I am learning how to pickle just about everything, and pickled peppers is one of those items that can be added to any food. Pizza topping, veggie burger, burrito, taco, salad - it makes everything better! Dan even uses it on his grilled cheese and is a huge fan. I usually mix hot and mild together (none of our peppers are SUPER hot so this works for us), so this is a one size fits all recipe.
Breakfast Scramble - Another way that we've been using our peppers is to chop them up and add them with some onion and eggs to make a fantastic scramble. It kicks everything up a notch - particularly if you mix fresh and pickled peppers!
Bonus- Fermented Hot Sauce- Adding this as a bonus because I haven't made it yet, but I'm going to be trying to make my own hot sauce! Here's the recipe that I'll be following which seems easy enough, more to come!
Stuffed Zucchini Blossom - This is another great way to eat all of the plant- the blossoms that pollinate to create the fruit are actually edible! Just stuff them with some cheese, batter and fry them and you have a beautiful and delicious side dish that will impress anyone!
Lemon Zucchini Bread - This is by far my favorite recipe for zucchini. This is one of those veggies that I'm not super crazy about (I basically have to burn it to like the taste), so bread is the best way for me to eat it! This recipe is really easy and delicious- I prefer to leave off the glaze and just squeeze a lemon over the bread once it's done- otherwise it can be a bit too sweet.
Beet Root Kimchi - If you love kimchi, this is a super easy recipe that I made weeks ago and am still enjoying. I love how the root and greens of beets taste, and this is yet another way to use the entire product.
Roasted Beets - Roasting helps make the beet so versatile and is really easy! The way I like to do it for salads is to wash, peel, and dice the beets. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar, roast in the oven for 20ish minutes at 400, tossing halfway through. Delicious! I also like to roast them whole (wrapped in foil) then once they're cool slipping them out of the skin. This can be added to smoothies, baked goods, or also chopped for salads. So good.
Sundried Tomato - This is such a simple recipe to make, but has such a major flavor punch. You basically just have to dry out halved tomatoes in a super low oven, and then cover with oil. I like to add seasoning to the ovens before they go in as well (salt, pepper, thyme, oregano). Done! Add this to your pizza, salads, or pasta dishes...delicious.
Pico de Gallo - What I like about this recipe is that it uses up so many things from my garden - tomatoes (obviously), hot peppers, cilantro, onions, and garlic. Add in some salt and lime and you a delicious and fresh dip!
Bonus - Pan con Tomate - This is my FAVORITE dish in Spain, and it's so easy to make at home. All you have to do is grate a fresh tomato over bread (I've been making fresh sourdough which is perfect for this). Drizzle on some oil and a bit of salt and pepper and enjoy! Sliced tomatoes are also fine if you don't want to grate, and sometimes I also add a bit of balsamic glaze.
Kale Chips - If you hate kale, I promise that you'll still love this recipe. Think of a super thin and crunch chip, that's actually healthy, and you've got a kale chip. My favorite way to make this is to wash and thoroughly dry the kale, cut into bite size pieces, toss with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 (checking every 3-4 minutes to make sure it doesn't burn!). Once it's crispy and starting to turn brown in spots, pull it out and drizzle with lemon juice. YUM!
Salad - Kale is my favorite salad green, since it's pretty hardy and has a flavor that I like. But- to make it more manageable to eat, make sure to remove the thick stem, cut into bit size pieces, drizzle in some oil and salt, and massage to soften up the leaves. This makes a HUGE difference!
Pickles - Yes, another pickle. But you can't really think of cucumbers and not make pickles! I am pickle obsessed, so I love to make these. Sometimes I'll go with a quick pickle and I also made more traditional ones. No matter how you make it or if you make them sweet or dill, I'll take it.
Gazpacho - Talk about the ultimate summer food that will also use up a TON of produce! I love eating gazpacho and pretty much always order it when it's on a menu. There are millions of varieties out there, but this is a good basic one from queen Ina.