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ingredients and techniques

Garden Bounty

meg's picture

            When I bring home a harvest like this (and compared to the gardens of people who actually know what they’re doing, this is pretty puny), I get a little giddy. A sack full of basil?! If you translate that into food put up for winter, that’s a lot of frozen pesto and basil butter, plus all the fresh basil I can possibly use right now. That means something. I’m not nearly at the self-sufficiency level yet, but homegrown basil pesto is a start. It’ll be a bright, fresh, green taste of high summer when I start to think that winter will never end.

            And jalapeños. Jalapeños in everything, including my eyes when I forgot to wash my hands.

Don’t forget to wash your hands after seeding a jalapeño unless you like being maced. It’s such an unprofessional thing to do. I’m supposed to be a food authority, and I rubbed my eyes after seeding a jalapeño.

High five.

But I ate through the tears, and those jalapeños are delicious—spicier than grocery store peppers, I think. I could just be romanticizing the heat, but I swear those peppers tasted hotter.

            Fresh leeks. They’re smaller than the ones at the supermarket, but these are so tender that you can actually eat the greens rather than just throwing them on the compost pile (or saving them indefinitely to “make stock” when you know full well that you don’t make stock very often, and they’ll probably just wind up, yep, on the compost pile).

I sliced the leek greens extra thin and added them to the base for a pasta sauce I made this weekend. I gave them a little extra time to sweat in the oil, and they were perfect. Full of flavor and so tender.

            Crookneck squash. This is such a maligned vegetable. You’ll notice that almost no one really talks about them on food blogs. A truly humble vegetable—they don’t have much texture when cooked, they’re pretty bland, the color is nice but not extra nice, and if you grow squash there’s just too much of it. I don’t have a squash panacea to offer you, but I can tell you that squash is great lightly sautéed in butter with onions. Sprinkle on some salt, pepper, and chipotle or cayenne and that’s really all you need.

            Did I mention that I’m loving the garden thing? It does my soul good to see all those plants standing tall (or lopsided, or falling down…).

            Even if the heat is starting to be too much for them.

            Even if I didn’t have enough tomatoes to put up this year.

            It’s still the bee’s knees.


KR Notley's picture

I grow my basil in 3-lb fabric pots on the deck. When they start to get full before putting out seed, cut them back every 3-4 weeks. You can preserve the basil by making pesto, buy the pine nuts, walnuts or almonds in bulk and keep in the freezer or fridge; they're best in pesto if they're roasted; I leave out the cheese until serving. Freeze the pesto in half-cup containers. I use two of them for a pound of pasta, thaw in the fridge, or defrost carefully in the microwave, a little bit at a time. You can thin it out with some of the leftover pasta water if needed. Pesto actually keeps a long time in the freezer.

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In a large sauté pan, warm over medium heat:
            3 tablespoons olive oil
Add and sauté until softened and beginning to brown:
            1 large...