It’s Harvest Time

IMG_7317It’s harvest time in the Willamette Valley. My husband and I have been enjoying blueberries, strawberries, beans and summer squash from our garden. We have two small raised beds at our home and a small collection of veggies in pots at my parent’s house. The snails are so prolific at home that I find I succeed much better with the above mentioned produce, rather than leafy greens. Tomatoes do well for me also, and they are just beginning to ripen. My husband eats the cherry tomatoes like candy!

As many of you know, I love to cook. I have a large collection of cookbooks, subscribe to 2 cooking magazines and am always on the lookout for new recipes. My sister, our advertising consultant, and I were brainstorming about blog posts last week. I had made some gluten free blueberry muffins using coconut flour. Erica and Lora were enjoying them, so we talked about a blog about harvesting blueberries and making that muffin recipe. Well, the blueberry harvest is nearing an end in my garden. Plus I’m freezing most of my blueberries to use in green smoothies. (We Kid_Orchardwon’t delve into that right now.) So I wasn’t that excited about blogging about blueberries. Then I read the Sunday paper and I had an inspiration. The editor reminded us that August 8th is “Sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch night.” Okay, I know what you’re thinking…do we really need another day, another blog, another recipe about zucchini? Well, in my opinion, yes we do. Because either you grew zucchini and you need a new, delicious recipe to use said vegetable or you didn’t grow any but your neighbor is going to leave some on your porch Friday night and you are going to have to come up with something to do with it. Unless you (horrors) throw it away.
So I am going to give you a couple of ideas how to use that over-abundant, green vegetable. My sister-in-law gave me a subscription to Bon Appetit for Christmas. Last month there was a photo of a gorgeous zucchini salad with corn and squash blossoms. I decided to make it. Try finding squash blossoms. Granted I do have a zucchini and a pattypan squash plant in my raised bed. But the recipe called for 10 squash blossoms. So I pulled them off the plants, but it seemed like the squash didn’t mature after I pulled the blossoms off. Plus, the corn IMG_0363had to be cooked and cut off the cob. The end result was definitely not as pretty as the magazine photo! There were other zucchini salad recipes online that called for steaming the zucchini. Finally, I found one that was simple, tasty and I knew I could make come out like the photo. It is from Willi Galloway’s cookbook Grow, Cook, Eat. Willi is a Master Gardener, former editor of Organic gardening, and a blogger from Portland, Oregon. I had the pleasure of meeting her when she spoke at Garland Nursery while promoting her cookbook. She is down to earth and enjoys using all parts and stages of a vegetable. I knew her recipe would be simple and easy to prepare. And so it was. A little lemon juice, olive oil, romano cheese and thinly sliced summer squash and basil. Use both yellow and green squash for a visually appealing salad. Pretty, simple, and tasty. Okay, a mandolin is helpful but not a requirement. (I admit I own a mandoline but are much more comfortable using a peeler.) Yum. Checkout her recipe.

Another lady who knows a thing or two about vegetables is Renee Shepherd. From the Shepherd seed family, Renee has built her own successful seed business and established herself as an influential woman in food. Garland Nursery has been selling her seeds for a while and I love them! Renee’s Seeds has my favorite sweet pea blend (Queen of Night) and my favorite beans (Emerite French filet). She has a great website, blog, You-tube videos, and 2 cookbooks. I was thrilled when the sales manager for Renee’s Seeds (Kathy Chesus) visited me this spring and gave me a copy of Recipes from a Kitchen Garden. I knew that I would find a great zucchini recipe there. There are many in the book, but the one I chose to try was Zucchini Rellenos. I love Mexican flavors and Chile Rellenos are my husband and my favorite recipe. In the past I have roasted the peppers, peeled them, stuffed them with cheese, dipped them in an egg batter and fried them. Totally decadent, definitely gluten free, but a lot of work! I was excited to see if using zucchini in a casserole type dish would be simpler and still give the flavor I was craving. It did not disappoint! Here is the recipe….

Finally, a recipe I have shared in the past but worth repeating. Nigella Lawson is a culinary heroine of mine. I won 3 of her cookbooks. This recipe, however, I found in a magazine or newspaper (Parade perhaps). It is still a favorite to me and a crowd-pleaser at any potluck. I will not say that it is easy to make but it is fairly simple. It can be adapted to be gluten-free. My only problem with it is that I am the only gardener in Oregon that cannot grow mint. When I had a craving for it and went to make this dish 2 weeks ago, I was unable to find mint in the 3 grocery stores I checked. (It must have been an off day). So I bought a plant at the nursery to use. It probably was cheaper than the package of leaves anyway. Now I have the cut off plant waiting to see if I am courageous enough to try growing it one more time. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

About Brenda Powell

I'm one of the owners of a family-owned retail nursery. I have a degree in horticulture from Oregon State University. I love to garden and read. My technically savvy but horticulturally challenged husband, Mitch, spends most of his time as slave labor in the garden. Thank goodness he adores me! My goal in this blog is to share my enjoyment of gardening, my love of nature, and my addiction to books. Did I mention I like to cook, too?
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