Garden Fresh Vegetable Recipes

Fresh VegetablesRead back over months of previous posts and you’d think we garden just for gardening sake. And, yes, we do. But let’s not loose sight of the first and foremost reason. We love to eat. And there’s nothing better than eating — and cooking — fresh, organic, home-grown produce. Now that we’re in the season when gardens are supplying us with a bounty of fresh vegetables and greens, we thought we’d talk about enjoying the harvest. Let’s eat.

Combining fresh vegetables in various recipes is a matter of taste and compatibility, sure. But it also hinges on what’s ready and when. Earlier in the season, when we harvest peas, we’re also harvesting baby or pearl onions. A little butter and voila! The simplest of dishes that everyone knows and loves: peas and pearl onions. Make a cream sauce and you’ve got a traditional comfort food: creamed peas and pearl onions (a little bacon really makes this dish shine). Cook the onions down, add some chicken or vegetable broth in which to braise the peas, add some mint, thyme or chives from the garden and you’ve got a wonderfully different yet still easy dish of braised peas.

Most likely, your peas are done for the year. But here come the beans! Make the braised pea recipe above with green beans. For a homey, Southern variation, sautee the onion (and some garlic if you know what’s good and what’s good for you) in a little bacon grease. Then braise the beans in the broth. Vegetarians: you know what to do. Have some walnuts? Add them when you’re almost done sauteeing the onion.

If you’re lucky enough to have beans and tomatoes ready (and if you don’t, wait a week or three and you will) you can make this delicious dish with one big overripe tomato and a mix of green and yellow and purple beans. The tomato vinaigrette can be spiced up with some chile flakes if you like. And don’t throw away the juice and seeds you squeeze from the tomato! Use it in your marinara or save it to add to vegetable soup. Because it’s acidic, it should last up to a week in the refrigerator… any sign of mold on the lid or lip of the container you store it in is a signal to discard. Be safe!

Right now, you’re probably harvested zucchini and other summer squash for a week or more (probably the latter) and are running out of ideas for serving them (as well as neighbors to give them to). If you have corn and peppers, either bell of Anaheim or even smaller piquant peppers, make a calabcitas, a dish from northern New Mexico that’s the epitome of using what’s ready and available in your garden and combing those items into a simple wonderful dish. Lot’s of variations, depending on what you have, are possible.

Sautee onion, say a cup chopped, for a couple minutes then add a whole chopped pepper (or two if they’re small). Be sure to roast and peel the skin from Anaheims or other green chiles. Add to the onion, then slice a summer squash, just enough that it will be the dominate ingredient and whatever kind you have, and add to the sautee. When the squash starts to soften, add precooked corn (leftovers are good for this) and continue sauteeing, stirring frequently for 12321another few minutes until the squash is tender but not soggy. Salt to taste. Have some cherry tomatoes? Add them with the corn and cook until they pucker. A pinch or three of garden oregano is another good thing to add. Tip for fussy eaters, children or adults: Let them add a splash of maple syrup. It’s the old “spoonful of sugar” method, though this ain’t medicine.

More zucchini? Here’s a delicate, delicious and somewhat fancy dish that seems fussy but is really easy: zucchini tarte! Use a roll of puff pastry or even phyllo dough for the crust. A little chopped red pepper, cooked tender, is a variation that will add some color (I’m sure you can think of others). Still have puff pastry left over? Getting a bounty of cherry tomatoes? You can make a simple tarte with them, too.

What ready vegetables from your garden are you combining into delicious, nutritious dishes? Share your ideas and your recipes with us. You might say, we’re hungry for them.