It’s probably safe to assume that as more people started gardens this spring than in the past 30 years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and fears of limited food supply chains. Or perhaps because people just needed something to keep them busy when we were all ordered to stay at home.
Whatever the reason, more people gardening is one of the few positives to emerge in this unprecedented time. Gardening provides both food and therapy sources. Passionate growers reap the health benefits of homegrown food with the added advantages of sunlight exposure for a nice vitamin D boost, exercise and a sense of contentment.
Midsummer typically provides an overflowing bounty for both novice and expert backyard gardeners in our zone. Fresh veggies like tomatoes (technically a fruit, but we know better), peppers, zucchini, okra, cucumbers and more, along with herbs like basil, mint, parsley, cilantro and rosemary, are in surplus. They all pack a delectable punch of flavor that simply cannot be duplicated in store-bought versions.
Enjoy these vegetarian, vegan-adaptable, mostly raw and all-natural, straight-out-of-the-garden veggie recipes. Your waistline and your organs will thank you!
2 large garden-grown zucchinis
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Using a mandoline slicer (a large vegetable peeler can work as well), gently slice the zucchinis, longways, into 1/8-inch thick strips – the thinner, the better! Arrange on a large plate or serving tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle salt, pepper and Parmesan on top. Use nutritional yeast as a Parmesan substitute to make it vegan. Serve immediately.
Summer Garden Gazpacho
8-10 garden-grown tomatoes, Roma preferred
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 of a yellow pepper, chopped
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 Tbsp smoky paprika
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp raw sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garden-grown cucumber, skin peeled and diced
Bring a pot with one-half gallon of water to a boil. Core each tomato and score the opposite end with an x. Quickly and lightly blanch tomatoes for a few seconds until skins start to peel. Remove tomatoes from water and shock in an ice bath. Peel the skins and place the tomatoes in a food processor or large blender.
Add red wine and apple cider vinegars, salt, pepper, garlic, cumin and paprika. Blend until completely liquified. Add remaining ingredients to food processor except for half of cucumber. Blend until liquified. Strain liquid with chinois, cheesecloth or other fine strainer (you don’t have to strain if you want a more rustic style of soup).
Pour soup into large bowl, cover and chill in fridge for at least 3 hours before serving. Garnish with remaining cucumber.
Heart of Palm Caviar
2 garden-grown tomatoes, diced
1 12 oz. can of hearts of palms, chopped
1 12 oz. can of black beans
2 ears of garden-grown sweet corn, lightly blanched and removed from cob
1 lime, juiced
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup of thinly sliced red onion
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp kosher salt
Strain canned beans and rinse. In a large bowl, gently fold all ingredients together. Allow to marinate for at least 3 hours before serving.
It can be served as side salad or with chips, crackers or toasted bread.
No-Churn Berry Blast Homemade Ice Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 pint freshly picked blueberries
1 pint freshly picked strawberries
6 sprigs of freshly picked mint
In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to whip the cream until stiff peaks form — do not over whip. In another large bowl, whisk the vanilla and almond into the sweetened condensed milk. Gently fold in the whipped cream, slowly incorporating. Gently fold in berries. Transfer the mixture to an insulated tub and freeze for 5 hours. Scoop and garnish with fresh mint.
Cherry Soda Ice Cream Float
3 cans of cold cherry 7Up or seltzer water
2 cups of berries, (Rainier cherries recommended, pitted)
2 limes, juiced and zested
1 qt vanilla or cherry-vanilla ice cream
Maraschino cherries, for garnish, optional
Empty soda cans into pitcher, add lime juice and stir. For a less sugar-intense alternative use a cherry or cherry lime seltzer, like La Croix, and add a dash of Stevia or agave syrup, along with the lime juice. Pour about 8 ounces each of the soda into 6 glasses, but only fill up halfway. Scoop one serving of frozen ice cream into glass. Garnish with cherries and lime zest.