This was a great summer for gardens here in the northwest.
I consider myself really lucky because I didn't have to spend much time or effort tending the garden - summer just took care of it for me.
I started my garden REALLY late - much later than normal because the greenhouse Ella built in our backyard for her high school culminating project collapsed last winter under the weight of the snow, and I just didn't get my first planting in until May.
I planted several varieties of tomatoes, and the cherry tomatoes came on in August followed by the roma and beefsteak in September. I'm slowing down on my tomato consumption because I notice I get sores on the sides of my tongue when I eat too many.
I tried purple peas for the first time which were really fun. The pod was purple but the peas were green. Really tasty and I would definitely plant them again next year.
The biggest change I made to my gardening which likely had the most profound improvement was my watering routine. I made it a point to never let my soil dry out and that may be what allowed my garden to take off. Who knows? I fertilized every other week alternating between fish fertilizer and worm tea.
Because I had so much darn produce, I gave quite a bit to friends, family, and neighbors. I hate wasting food, so I flash froze the green beans, dehydrated the kale, made freezer pesto with the basil, spaghetti sauce with the tomatoes, shredded the monster zucchinis and froze them in quart ziplock bags.
Did I mention my garden is STILL producing? The nice weather this week extending the season so I still have plenty of basil, zucchini, summer squash, kale, chard, tomatoes, and jalapenos.
Would you like some? Let me know and I'll drop off at your house.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes from this summer for you to enjoy.
Greek Chicken Stuffed Zucchini Boats
4 medium zucchini
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic crushed or finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 chopped fresh roma tomatoes
1/2 cup quartered kalamata olives
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Preheat oven to 400°F and coat a 9x13 inch glass baking dish with olive oil.
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scoop out the flesh in the center of each zucchini half, leaving about a one-quarter inch thick shell, reserving the flesh that you scoop out.
Coarsely chop the reserved zucchini flesh and set aside.
Add the zucchini halves to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the water and drain slightly on a paper or kitchen towel.
Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook for In a large skillet, heat oil and add onion. Cook on medium-low for 3 to 4 minutes, until translucent.
Add chopped zucchini, garlic, and oregano and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the zucchini is tender.
Add the chicken, half of the tomatoes, and the kalamata olives, and cook for another few minutes until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the remaining tomatoes into the bottom of the prepared baking dish, and place the zucchini halves in the pan on top of the tomatoes.
Divide chicken mixture between zucchini halves and sprinkle feta cheese evenly over the top.
Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered another 10-15 minutes until cheese is slightly golden and zucchini is cooked through.
Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs cut out and chopped together, leaves coarsely chopped separately
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste (optional)
Melt butter and olive oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the chard stems and the white wine. Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, and cook until wilted. Finally, stir in lemon juice and Parmesan cheese; season to taste with salt if needed.
Blistered green beans with bacon
1/2 lb fresh green beans
2-4 slices thick cut bacon
2 tbsp reserved bacon grease
1 tbsp tamari sauce (or coconut aminos)
Heat your oven to 375F. Place a sheet of foil on a baking sheet and lay the bacon on the foil. Bake in the oven until the bacon is crispy. About 10-15 minutes. Let bacon drain on paper towels and reserve 2 tablespoons of the grease.
In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the bacon grease and the green beans. Toss the green beans in the grease and let cook until browned and blistered to your liking. Add the tamari to the sauced bacon and toss to coat. Serve.