This is a guest post by Kurt Jacobson, who runs the Fast and Furious Cook blog. We're very happy that he's found our blog useful! Please check out all his great recipes.
Like some of you readers out there I have been helped out by the Grow It, Eat It website, and the plant and garden hotline. I'm happy to be able to share with you some of my recipes that I create in my “test kitchen” since starting my healthy food blog in November of 2012. I have been cooking for over 42 years with twenty of that as a professional chef. Many of my 120+ recipes written over this last year reflect items from my veggie garden. Gardening is a newer pursuit for me, and I would have been lost without the help of the Grow It, Eat It site and the hotline.
I have seen my garden produce large amounts of peppers in 2011, and lots of okra in 2012. This year has been a great year for my many varieties of heirloom tomatoes with one plant growing to an amazing size of 12 feet long by 5 feet high by 4 1/2 feet wide. This was a French Marmonde variety that produced many tomatoes in the one pound range, and when all was said and done it put out around fifty pounds of the great tasting tomatoes.
When you have a bumper crop I suspect you look for new ways to prepare and/or save the produce? One of the new ways I found to deal with my bumper crop of tomatoes was to take about ten pounds of them, and just core them and blend them in in my food processor. Then I would saute a minced yellow onion with four cloves of garlic before adding the tomatoes. For seasoning I would add two teaspoons of dried basil, two teaspoons of dried oregano, and a few bay leaves. With the addition of two teaspoons of salt and some ground red pepper all it needed was four hours of cooking on the stove to produce a great all around tomato sauce that freezes well for later use.
I also ate tomatoes on different types of salads all summer. If you have never tried a tomato and avocado salad you should as it’s a great, and simple way to eat fresh tomatoes. I have a recipe on my blog if you want to give it a try: Super Fast Avocado and Tomato Salad.
My oregano produced such an amazing amount of pretty green leaves early on that I decided to try it in a pesto instead of the usual basil, and it came out great. Here’s the link if you want to try it: Oregano Pesto.
I also dry and use my own herbs often. I find that thyme and rosemary dry and process easiest. I just cut the branches and hang them from a hanger in my laundry room for a week or two to dry. Then I spread wax paper or parchment paper on my kitchen island and strip the dried leaves before bottling in a spice jar. Basil is also a good one to cut and dry and is priceless when used in Italian type tomato sauces, and soups.
My okra did well again this year and I shared my favorite recipe on my blog that my grandmother taught me long ago. It’s simple and very healthy. It uses fresh tomatoes, onions, and okra and cooks in about twenty five minutes. The leftovers keep well too, making this one of my favorite dishes from my garden. There is more to okra than gumbo and fried okra. I love the way okra freezes for mid-winter use with my home canned tomatoes. Too bad all veggies from the garden don’t freeze that well.
I hope you get a chance to check out my blog, and please leave comments to help me provide what you are looking for in recipe ideas for your garden produce.