So there are lot vegetables out there. More and more things are grown locally; there are more fruits and vegetables to pick from. I have come to realize many people do not try new and unique fare for lack of what to do with what they may find. Some things that are showing up in greater numbers are kohlrabi, Pattypan squash, Purple potatoes, red okra, chilies, and greens. So since it is the middle of Market season, I wanted to talk about 10 things to do with summer fare.
1) Salad: When in doubt try it in salad. I have been pleasantly surprise on several occasions by the taste of herds and greens in a salad. Often we would not think to include the likes of clover, bee balm, radish greens, okra sprouts, and lovage leaves to name a few. Not only do these have surprising tastes but the textures they offer are unique.
2) Slaw: Kohlrabi, yes it looks like something from another planet. This vegetable from the cabbage family is hardy full of flavor and keeps well. Grown originally as livestock feed, it has become the darling of the Farmer’s Market in the past couple years. I have found it to make an excellent slaw, grated with green apple, green onion, Greek yogurt, honey, salt, pepper, and toasted almonds. Eaten alone or added to sandwiches and sausage it will surely please the summer palate.
3) Pickles: Something I do from time to time in the summer is make pickles. I like to use some of my cucumbers, peppers, and left-over beet juice to produce tangy treat for my family. We have all seen them on the counter of country stores, pickled eggs. I finally got the courage to try on awhile back. I like eggs and have not found a way of preparation that was unappealing. As off putting as the chemical list of ingredient was on the side of the jar I was up for the adventure. Then I bit into it. Yuck was the first thing that came to mind, salt was the second. Enamored by the stories of my grandfather’s fondness for these pickle creations, I thought there had to be more to it than the vulcanized egg I was currently choking down. I went through some book I had and found a recipe that used beet juice, white vinegar, sugar, and salt. Now that is a far cry from the chemical soup the store bought variety where swimming in. I boiled eggs placed them in the vacuum canister, heated up the ingredients for pickling, combined and seal. After a week I popped open the jar eager to try if I had made any improvement. Wow what difference! Since then I have tried spinach and carrot juice also. Each vegetable adding its own earth notes all equally as good! Bonus my kids also love them and make cool additions to the kid’s lunch boxes. I am eager to try duck and quail eggs prepared this way.
4) Gratin: From the French to grate or scrape. This is a dish that can be used to cook potatoes, squash, beans, fennel, and celery. Slice vegetables very thin and layer in a gratin or another shallow dish. Add a sauce, cream, butter, or oil. Topped with egg, bread crumbs, and cheese, cook in hot oven till bubbly. Sprinkle with herbs salt and pepper and enjoy!
5) Pasta: So let’s talk Italian. Cook ragu of vegetables (tomatoes, squash, onions, garlic, and herbs) add oil, white wine, and pasta d’ jour. Ten to 15 minutes and dinner is ready. If you want add cheese, chicken, tofu or any other protein. Everything is better in pasta! I recently added fried green tomatoes as a substitution in my eggplant parm. Wow tangy goodness!
6) Freezing: Storing a bit of summer for a winter meal is a great way to try something. Usually in the dead of winter, all frosty and cold, I try new things. The brightness, and freshness of fresh frozen veggies, holds true till you use them. I had a bumper crop of okra last year, so I have nice tender okra to use in my recipes any time I want creole, Cajun or even Indian cuisine. Beans also freeze extremely well, along with greens and varieties of herbs.
7) Canning: I have tried canning, and like it to store sauces, soup, tomatoes, and salsa. I generally use it more for foods that are more processed. Though canned sauce you have from scratch beats anything you can buy. Last year I made tomatoes soup and stored it. We enjoyed it in February with grilled cheese on snowy day!
8) Drying: This works especially well with herbs. Basil oregano and rosemary do very well. I hang in a dark place till dry, and then place in labeled jars for later use.
9) Vacuum Sealing: We have adopted this as our go to method of storage and a way to save our garden for the year. By the end of the summer our freezer and pantry are full, share we buy from CSA’s and markets along with what we grow supplement what we buy for the rest of the year.
10) Seed saving: If you see something you want to grow and you can’t find seeds, buy some and save the seeds by drying. This works great for squash, cubits, and tomatoes. This way if you try it like it and it becomes unavailable you can now grow your own.
Hopefully this is helpful. Remember be adventurous with your eating you never know when you may find something you love!
Till next time good gardening!