My garden tells me what’s for dinner each day as I walk to see the how the crops are doing. I was surprised last week when I said that to someone and they thought how interesting that was. For me it’s about living sustainably and eating local. I have ten raised beds devoted to growing food including vegetables, berries and herbs. I find the garden inspires me to try new recipes or create new ones of my own. No more looking in the freezer or fridge trying to figure out what to cook. It used to be such a chore to figure what was for dinner.
So what do I mean by the garden telling me what’s for dinner? I harvest every couple of days, sometimes everyday if needed. Today I harvested a large bowl of tomatoes, some miniature peppers and a cucumber. Right then I knew I would be roasting tomatoes with peppers and adding some onion and garlic to it from an earlier harvest. What would I do with the roasted tomatoes? I had pesto in the freezer from the basil harvest so I decided to top some pasta with pesto and serve the roasted tomatoes on the side. I also used the cucumber and tomatoes to make a quick and easy greek salad. I threw in some feta cheese which I wish I could grow. As a side dish I used some of the garlic to make my own garlic butter for garlic bread. Trust me if you haven’t grown garlic, you must. Its flavour is amazing and you will never buy store bought garlic again.
This is how dinner looked last night and it was delicious. I am blessed to have an abundance of tomatoes this summer. They were late to ripen but now they are turning colour all at once. If I have too many tomatoes I will roast them, let them cool a bit and pop the sauce in a freezer bag and freeze it. That saves me a lot of time and I can enjoy the taste of summer’s bounty in the middle of winter.
So what if you only have salad greens like kale, spinach, mesclun and chives? Make yourself a salad using whatever greens you can harvest in the garden. Dress the salad up with some fresh blueberries or chopped apple. Add some roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds to your salad to give it some crunch. A salad can be made of many ingredients, not just lettuce, celery, tomatoes and green onions. I like popping some chopped up mint leaves or chervil into my salads for an extra pop of flavour.
Maybe you have a lot of basil in the garden like I do. I love making meatless meals and making pesto is so easy. Place your pesto sauce over hot pasta, add a salad as a side and you have yourself a great meal from the garden. Leftover pesto can be mixed with mayonnaise and used on sandwiches.
I used pesto on pizza this week. Replace the regular pizza sauce with pesto spreading it over the pizza crust. Add some roasted tomatoes, peppers, onions and any other topping you may like. Cook in the oven until the cheese starts to brown,usually about 10-13 minutes at 400F. Since making a pesto based pizza I am not sure I want to go back to using pizza sauce. Yes, it was that delicious!
Of course, we mustn’t forget about dessert. By growing fresh berries you can have homemade desserts each week. Okay, I would love to say every night but I am avoiding sugary foods and that includes pie. Once a week won’t be as bad. If you haven’t tried my tayberry cream cheese pie recipe, you are missing out. You can substitute tayberries with any other berry that you have in the garden. Use whichever berry is in season.
I could go on and on about recipes from the garden but I would to hear about yours. Each month brings us something new to harvest and new culinary delights to enjoy for dinner. So what am I making tonight? I am harvesting thai basil to add to a chicken stir fry. I will toss in some peas, onions, carrots and peppers that I have harvested and serve it with rice. Let your garden inspire you to create meals for your family and you will never be wondering what’s for dinner ever again.