As summer winds down, my vegetable garden is in full swing. Every plant is producing and I find it a challenge to eat what’s ready to be picked on any given day. The recipe below is a great way to take advantage of the fresh produce now available.
Creamy Green Pasta
¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 small zucchini or 1 medium zucchini, seeded and chopped
2 cups green beans
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups spinach (or Swiss chard, stems removed)
1 cup basil leaves
¾ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup almonds
1 pound of pasta
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
Heat 1/8 cup of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and sauté for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and reserve.
Steam (or boil in a little water) the green beans until tender, 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
Place 1/8 cup olive oil, garlic, spinach, basil, evaporated milk, walnuts, and almonds in a food processor and process until smooth. You may have to add the spinach in small batches, processing it down a few times before all the spinach fits in the food processer.
Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water per package instructions.
Drain the pasta and mix with the spinach-basil cream, sautéed vegetables, steamed green beans, and crumbled feta. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top.
Note: Vegan version – use soy or almond milk for the evaporated milk and substitute tofu for the feta cheese; omit the parmesan.
August. It’s August. And not just the beginning — it’s mid August. Bittersweet: I think that is the word for this month. The slow letting go of lots of sun, swimming holes, and unstructured days. Deep breath.
But we don’t have to say goodbye to vegetables too soon — we are just hitting the peak. From now until mid to late September our gardens and farms will be plumping up, ripening and sweetening our vegetables for your tables. This summer has been relatively cool, so tomatoes and eggplants and peppers may be slow, but the rest of the high summer veggies are coming on strong.
So pack it in while you can, friends.
Here are 9 recipes that make the most out of our last month of summer.
Apparently, this is a thing. Popping up on restaurant menus all over the place. I didn’t know. But it sounds easy and amazing, so put it on your menu this week! Great for vegetarians and those looking to give the cauliflower main stage.
What a great way to use up veggies: grab a Le Petit crust, roll it out, and load on the veggies and herbs and a little tomato sauce or olive oil. Done and done. This one from Love and Lemons is a great mixture of seasonal veggies.
I’ve starting making a frittata over the weekend when I have a bit more time and serving it for breakfast (or dinner) throughout the week. I recently read a frittata recipe that, instead of listing what vegetables, just said “vegetables.” As in, as long as you have some veggies, cheese, and maybe a little cream or meat (totally optional, though I do argue bacon is always a good idea) along with eggs, you’ll be good to go.
Looking for some tips on growing, harvesting, and using herbs? This week we’re featuring a special guest blog by Northside Community Garden Leader and Mentor, Sarah Johnson. Sarah grew up in eastern Washington climbing trees and picking huckleberries. Her love of nature evolved into an agricultural journey that took her to farms in western Washington & south to Central America. From Guatemala she landed in North Idaho where a one season commitment on an off-grid organic farm quickly turned into five years! In 2014 she moved to Missoula with her soon-to-be husband and quickly became a fan of Garden City Harvest. This is Sarah’s second full year as a Northside gardener. When she’s not gardening Sarah works as a nurse at St. Patrick’s Hospital, enjoys cooking, basket-making, and exploring the great outdoors!
It’s that wonderful time of year when the garden is starting to fill in and long gone are the first cold days of spring. It’s the time of year when the parsley you planted starts to produce, the basil begins to bud, and the spring arugula begins to go to seed. Buying bunches of fresh herbs at the farmer’s market is practically irresistible! With just a little effort you can keep them fresh for up to a week or longer or you can use different methods to freeze or dry your herbs keeping summer flavors available throughout the year.
How to keep herbs fresh:
Whether your herbs are freshly harvested or purchased, trim the ends and place them in a glass of water. Most herbs will keep on the counter for several days. To keep them fresh longer place a plastic bag over the herbs and place them in the fridge; some herbs will keep up to a week or more this way. Rinse your herbs if they appear wilted or muddy before trimming ends and placing in water.
There are multiple ways to dry herbs. Some herbs have higher water content than others and respond better to one method of drying versus another. Low water content, woody herbs like oregano and rosemary dry well tied into little bundles and hung upside-down in an out-of-the-way place. The herbs may be placed inside a paper bag while hanging to catch any fallen leaves. Cutting holes into the side of the bag increases the ventilation for the drying herbs.
Herbs with higher water content such as basil, mint, or tarragon can mold easily and dry better with plenty of air circulation accomplished by spreading the leaves out flat and not overlapping. An old window screen set in an area with good air circulation and out of direct sunlight makes an excellent drying surface. They can also be dried on the lowest oven temperature spread out on a cookie sheet or dried on a low setting in a food dehydrator.
Freshly dried herbs should be stored in an airtight container such as a re-purposed glass jar or a plastic Ziplock bag. Dried herbs can be kept for up to 2-3 years but are best used within one year as the intensity of the flavor decreases over time.
This method works well for small amounts of leftover herbs. Simply chop the herbs with a knife or food processor, press them into an ice cube tray and cover with water or an oil of your preference. Place into the freezer and once frozen transfer from the ice cube tray to a plastic bag or jar to help avoid freezer burn on your frozen herb cubes. They make great additions to sauces, soups, and more in the middle of winter!
Larger amounts of herbs may be processed as pesto! Traditionally thought of as an Italian sauce made of basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese, the basic ingredients can be substituted to create a pesto alternative of your choice.
I typically fill my food processor with my chosen herb, drizzle with a generous amount of oil and then pulse until the herbs are chopped. I then add the nuts/seeds, garlic, cheese, and any other addition that I fancy. Blend until the desired consistency is reached, adding in more oil as needed. Salt to taste.
Once the desired consistency is reached, use a spatula to transfer the pesto into containers or plastic freezer bags. Frozen pesto keeps well for a year or longer if kept in an airtight container. Labeling your pesto with the type & year is always recommended!
Herbs: Cilantro, Dill, Parsley, Basil, Mint…… Etc.
Nuts/seeds: any nuts or seeds, most often sunflower seeds, or neither
Oil: any oil will do!
Garlic: As little or as much as one desires, may be omitted
Cheese: Parmesean or any appealing hard cheese; may also be omitted entirely
*other additions may be added such as salt, hot peppers, honey, lemon juice, etc.
I tend to make my pesto according to taste and available ingredients without using a recipe, however there are endless recipes available online or in standard cookbooks to use as a guide when creating your own pesto variation.
For more information on the care of your herb plants throughout the season I invite you to attend the Herb Workshop on Tuesday, July 12th at the Providence Hospital Garden (Map) from 5:30-6:30pm.
I do love meat, but sometimes a sister has to give it a rest. And many readers have said, “FOCUS ON THE VEGGIES, GENEVIEVE!” Totally. You are right. And it might be that I skipped lunch, but doing this research has uncovered some of the most interesting, beautiful vegetarian and vegan cooking blogs. Here are a few, with a smattering of recipes that work well with what’s growing right now.
A little on how to make 11 kinds of pesto from Saveur — I feel like I am turning green, there is so much basil out there to make into pesto. . . And before you know it, the frost will nip that little basil.
Garden City Harvest has four farms in our fair city of Missoula: Orchard Gardens, PEAS Farm, River Road and the Youth Farm. Each farm has its own flavor (forgive the pun), created by the farmer, Mother Nature and specific programs that might happen at the farm (like community gardens or youth development). It is cooler up the Rattlesnake at the PEAS Farm. Scattered showers can hit harder on one part of the city than another. Hail might ding one farm and not another.
This, my friends, is why we aren’t able to offer a complete list of vegetables for each of our four farms. Instead, we look at what the farms have on the horizon, and the basics that everyone has now.
So, what’s up this week?
These keep, so bag ’em and put ’em in your fridge if you aren’t ready to deal. If you are. . . go simple (basil beet salad, using ingredients that will be this week or soon after in your CSA), or go big (beet caviar). Or go breakfast.
We’ve had cabbage for a week or so now. . . Might it be time for sauerkraut? Packed with probiotics along with the vitamins cabbage carries with it, raw sauerkraut is awesome. And it extends the life of your lovely cabbage. My favorite sauerkraut recipe is by Diane Sanfilippo.
Cabbage is also a great topping for tacos, a great bed for salads, and yummy roasted in the oven.
Oh, basil. A great Italian herb, and SO MUCH MORE. Basil got me in trouble last weekend, when my friend made Moscow Mules with basil. (This one uses a basil syrup — not necessary! Just muddle the stuff – the ginger beer has plenty of sweetness.) There are so many cocktails that taste so good with a little basil involved.
Now that summer squash and zucchini are in the mix, basil tastes great sauteed with them and a little Parmesan. Add eggplant and tomatoes when they come on and you’ve got yourself an amazing ratatouille.
Garlic keeps. And makes almost anything tastes better. So I am guessing you know what to do. (CHEER!)
Kale is all over the internet, so I am guessing you can find some great recipes. Kale chips will almost assuredly be a hit at the kid table. If you find a recipe that tells you to roast at anything higher than 325, keep looking!
And the Smitten Kitchen just does kale right. Check out their Kale Files.
In the Crystal Ball:
I see cauliflower
Cauliflower is great roasted, in stir fry, etc. etc. But have you tried making it into rice or faux-tatoes? A great way to mix up your rice dishes and add nutrition to your meal. This cauli-mash sounds cauli-awesome (yup, as usual, bacon included!).