We don't speak about it often enough, but we have 2+ gardens in our back yard. One is 40' x 15' and the other is 25' x 10'. This summer we have grown: lettuce, snap peas, green beans, many varieties of tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, red and yellow beets, carrots, peppers, eggplant, onions and one crazy watermelon. We have scattered beds that grow many of our fresh herbs ranging from sage and thyme to parsley and basil. We also have a separate area about 16' x 6' that has blackberries and raspberries...GALORE! Many times we don't capture our vegetable recipes because we will grill, saute, roast and blanch them then simply add a bit of butter (or olive oil) with salt and pepper. Probably the best way to enjoy vegetables from the garden. Sometimes, the aged balsamic vinegar comes out and that gives them an extra burst of flavor.
Over the next year, we are looking at expanding our gardens and begin canning more of what we grow. It is still a learning process for us, but an experience we hope to bring to you. We would like to document everything from getting the ground ready to planting and harvesting. We have been doing this for many years, we just haven't been good at spreading the word.
This year, we decided to plant carrots, beets and onions. We wanted to see where they would grow best. We picked our first bunches last week and decided to roast them. The carrot top greens were made into our favorite, Carrot Top and Toasted Walnut Pesto. After cleaning the carrots, this is what we did: this recipe for approximately 2 pounds of carrots (check out the lower pictures).
1. Chop the greens 2 inches from the base and then cut them in half. Brush with a tablespoon of olive oil and some kosher salt and pepper. Baked them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes on each side. The carrots should appear golden (as above).
2. Microwave for 30 seconds (more if not melted)
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 1/8 tablespoon of cinnamon
3. Toss the honey butter with the carrots. Serve warm.
These carrots were the "veggie" hit of the week at our house. After enjoying them at dinner, they seemed to disappear in everyone's lunch. Most of us grab some sort of salad for lunch and these were great cold as well as hot. The freshness of pulling carrots from the ground, washing and roasting them brought the flavor to a new level. If we hadn't added honey butter, we could have roasted them with thyme or mint, two great herbs that would complement the fresh carrots.
Having our own garden has been such a rewarding experience. Learning how to can will be another part of the process. We are looking forward to being able savor our summer vegetables all year around.