Grow Your Own Part II
Last month I shared my first experience with our readers about growing my first garden. A month later, for the small price of a handful of seed packets, I now have a garden that is in full production of the most beautiful and robust vegetables and herbs.
Growing your own garden will not only help with the food budget, but will also ensure that you and your family get an abundance of healthy nutrients and vitamins. Oh yes, and did I mention that everything in a garden is GLUTEN-FREE!
So far, we’ve enjoyed many kinds of lettuces and spinach throughout the spring. We have also harvested snap peas, snow peas, swiss chard and beets. Our broccoli is developing beautiful little heads and our zucchini and crook neck squash are beginning there onslaught as the king and queen of proliferation.
For those of you who haven’t yet delved into vegetable gardening, I can hardly explain the thrill of heading out each evening with my empty salad bowl and ‘shopping’ through the beds, picking a little of this and a little of that for our salad that night. I will also admit that this year we have eaten more salads that ever before! But be aware that there is a down side; eating lettuce and spinach picked within the hour for your salad will spoil you. I haven’t ordered a salad at a restaurant this year!
As the other vegetables mature, we will have more produce than we (my husband and I) can consume. I plan to share some of our harvest with our neighbors, enjoy as much as we can fresh and make soups and freeze them with the rest, enabling us to enjoy our harvest well into the rest of the year.
I haven’t put a pencil to it, but I imagine that our savings on our food budget throughout the season will be substantial. This year, my trips down the produce isle at the market have been few and far between and as the garden swings into full production, I may have made my last visit until late fall.
Here are a few great recipes for early harvest:
Kitchen Sink Salad
- 4 handfuls of gourmet salad greens, torn into bite size pieces
- 1 large handful of fresh spinach leaves, torn into bite size pieces
- 4 green onions, slices
- Fresh peas, beans, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, red or yellow peppers, corn, asparagus, mushrooms, etc.
- Fresh berries, cherries, watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, peaches, apricots, etc.
- Fresh goat cheese
- 3 to 1 ratio of good olive oil and good balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Start by adding the greens to a salad bowl. Then add bite size slices or pieces of any combination of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Emulsify the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and pour over salad. Toss. Sprinkle lightly with salt and fresh ground pepper; toss and taste. Sprinkle with goat cheese just prior to serving.
- 1 bunch mixed beets, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2" pieces
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss beets with olive oil in a glass baking dish. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
Roast in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Test with fork for tenderness. Beets are done when the inside texture resembles roasted potatoes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Sauteed Swiss Chard
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup seedless red grapes
- 1-1/4 pound swiss chard, leaves cut from stems and chopped and stems finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet heat butter over medium heat. Add onions; sauté for 4 minutes or until onions are tender. Add garlic & grapes; sauté for 1 minute. Stir in swiss chard in handfuls, adding more as it wilts. When all of the chard has been added, stir in remaining tablespoon butter. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
- Chef Yvonne