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The last of summer from the garden is always precious and bitter sweet.

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Pal Robert sent this photo from his Clayton (NC) garden a few days ago. I like the fact that Robert always includes flowers for the table in his pickings.

Last week, friend Margie emailed to say they were still getting tomatoes and peppers in her Douglasville, Georgia garden.

About the same time, I made my last harvest and pulled out the scraggly plants.

harvest_chris

This bounty was followed by a few busy days in the kitchen.

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I roasted the peppers, made chili, and froze the rest of my roasted peppers in ziplocks.

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With the eggplant and few tomatoes, I cooked a big pan of caponata, the sweet and sour Sicilian relish. My favorite recipe comes from Martha Rose Schuman’s Very Best Recipes for Health. This is the book I reach for most often when I’m cooking fresh veg-

The leftover caponata is in the freezer, making me feel very RICH. What a nice way to transition from summer into fall.

Have you picked your final harvest yet?

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This is the first year I tried to grow Kale.  I wrote about planting this fine Kale in my post: The Great Fall Garden Transformation, but little did I know what joy this wonder plant would give me.

Kale - Super Food, super easy to grow. You should grow that

Kale – Super Food, super easy to grow. You should grow that

There is a Kale craze sweeping the nation and for good reason.  This super food is packed with nutrition – some even call it a plant healer.

Consider all these amazing traits:

  • 9 essential amino acids needed to form the proteins within the human body—-histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine (not unlike how the protein in meat works)
  • 1 gram of fiber per serving
  • 3-1 carb-to-protein ratio — complex carbohydrate at that
  • 9 other non-essential amino acids—making a whopping 18 total
  • Omega 3 – although it is considered a fat-free food
  • Vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin (good for sunblock, eye sight), Vitamin C
  • Calcium – which is actually absorbed 25%  better than whole cow milk in kale form
  • And to balance all that calcium, it also contains magnesium to keep it in check
  • Anticancer compounds, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbino are packed in too
Picking Kale from my garden

Picking Kale from my garden

Kale is a part of the cabbage family but it is a little on the wild side.  Blog partner Chris, would love this description of Kale -the  “hippie” member of the cabbage family.

Growing it is super easy..so all you brown thumb nay-sayers...even you can do it. All you need is soil – in a bed or pot – fertilizer, a kale transplant (when putting them in the ground I prefer transplant to seed, but if you wanted to grow seeds inside and then transplant that would work). Some sunlight and water – I only watered the first day I planted – nature did the rest.  Voila – Rockin’ Kale.

By now you are on board and ready to dive into eating a “whole mess” of Kale – but how you wonder?

Here is an amazing “How To” video from one of my favorite organizations – America’s Test Kitchen.

Microwave Kale Chips

I made them for my Thanksgiving feast and what a hit. Light and airy, comparable to super bad potato chips. Yum!

Enjoy the recipe! Thanks so much for reading our blog.  On this day, I am thankful for all of you and my new love -Kale.

Happy Gardening & Kale Experimenting

m


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Too many tomatoes?  It’s a good problem to have.  I’m slow-roasting some, sharing tomato sandwiches with neighbors and friends, and I just found the BEST tomato pie recipe in the August edition of Cooking Light magazine. 

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tomato-ricotta-tart-50400000129512/

Trust me here–I’ve eating a lot of tomato pies over the years. 

Now for slow roasting: 

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Heat oven to 250 degrees

Slice cherry tomatoes in half.  Peel and cube larger varieties. 

Cover cookie sheet with foil and cooking spray. 

Place tomatoes cut side up.

Drizzle with olive oil, salt and a pinch of sugar

Cook 2 to 4 hours until tomatoes lose their shape and just begin to brown.bounty_3

Seve tossed with pasta.  Spread on good bread or crackers or freeze in small containers for a bit of summer in winter time.  PRICELESS.

So what’s your favorite way to use homegrown  tomato bounty?  Please share–


When I was growing up, parsley was the curly stuff that nice restaurants used as a garnish.  Everyone left it on the plate.  parsleycut

Then in the 80s, I started seeing Italian parsley listed in recipesThank goodness.  Italian  or flat leaf parsley is packed with sweet, fresh flavor.  These days, it is THE  garden crop I am never without.  parsley-tight

A true biennial, Italian parsley winters over in my Wake County garden.  I clip, wash, and chop green leaves  even on the coldest days–then put them in many of my favorite recipes–like this quick and easy go-to pasta from the food magazine, Cooking Light.

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tp://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/pasta-with-prosciutto-peas-10000000226527/

My Italian parsley crop is lovely now–but as the weather warms it will bloom, turn leggy and die.parsley_wide Don’t even try to save it.  That’s the life cycle of a biennial plant.   

So new parsley plants are the works under grow lights on our dinning room table.  This parsley is  easy from seed or transplant, and very rewarding.  In fact, if you have almost no garden space at all, I would tell you, find space for a few herbs (like my favorite–Italian Parsley). 

What herbs do you love and grow?


Got lots of tomatoes?  Make this  pasta variation of the classic Caprese Salad.  My husband Bill asked for this dish not once-but twice  last week.

  • Cube fresh mozzarella cheese and  put  in a large bowl.
  • Boil water and cook your favorite pasta. Drain. Then pour warm pasta over the cheese and toss.
  • Next add 1 or 2 chopped fresh tomatoes and their juices, minced garlic, and capers in salt (rinsed and drained).
  • Finish the dish with lots of  good olive oil and chopped fresh basil. Serve at room temperature with  bread to soak up the juice.

Note: .  I’m lucky enough to do some part-time writing for Capri Flavors, the local Italian food importer. They have high-quality olive oil, capers in salt, and real buffalo mozzarella cheese that’s shipped from Italy  frozen ( so even retired people lik e me can afford it).

I use all three of those favorite items in this dish.  And yes, I would serve this  easy, meat less pasta to guests.  Is there anything better that fresh home-grown tomatoes?  What a delicacy!

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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