I had harvested a ton of basil from my garden two days ago but only this morning found the time to turn it into pesto. Some of the leaves had wilted a bit, but overall, storing the basil wrapped in dry paper towels in a produce bag in the fridge worked very well. I just washed the leaves and dried them well and then processed them with olive oil and salt using my stick blender. As usual, I did not add garlic, cheese or nuts to my “pesto”. I find it more versatile this way. And it also keeps better in the freezer.
I turned two of these beauties I harvested two days ago into quick refrigerator pickles. The other one will become Tzatziki.
When life gives you zucchini … My zucchini plant is just starting to set fruit, but I am currently taking care of a friend’s plot, and she has a massive zucchini, so I am harvesting a ton of them these days. Yesterday, I made this super delicious zucchini grilled cheese. It was just for myself, so I halved the zucchini amount in the recipe and used a quarter of all other ingredients. Plus I brushed one slice of bread with my favorite chili garlic mayo instead of butter. Because of the extra zucchini, the filling was quite thick, but it was so good!
I decided to experiment with preserving more of my herbs this year. I always have been making the base for basil pesto by simply chopping freshly harvested basil with olive oil and freezing it in ice cube trays. I sometimes add kale or arugula to the mix. This basil “pesto” is then used throughout the year in pasta dishes, on pizza or focaccia, and for chicken, fish, roasted vegetables and other dishes. I find that leaving out the nuts, cheese and garlic makes it more versatile, and I can always add those later.
I also have been making Thai basil pesto (with sesame oil, rice vinegar and peanuts), but I have always used it fresh or kept it in the fridge for a few days. I just made my first batch this week to use for these crispy pork noodle bowls. So good! I always use a different recipe for the pesto though. This year, I am planning to experiment with freezing Thai basil in a similar way as my regular basil, so I can make fresh Thai basil pesto throughout the colder months. I have five plants in a big container on my porch and expect to get several harvests out of them.
This year, I am trying to find ways to preserve my parsley. I have two huge plants on my porch and one in my plot. Parsley is probably the herb I used the most in the kitchen, from Moroccan meatballs to fish dishes to soups to simple garnishes. I harvested a big handful, washed it and chopped it up in a food processor. I then froze it with a bit of water in ice cube trays and later moved the cubes to a ziplock bag. This first batch turned out quite crumbly, so next time, I will add more water and even freeze some of the parsley in olive oil.
Made a yummy chicken stir-fry over wild rice for dinner tonight. With freshly harvested home-grown peas, garlic scapes (I found two more hidden in my garden plot) and cilantro. Topped with chopped peanuts.
I turned the garlic scapes I harvested a couple of days ago into pesto: just store-bought basil, garlic scapes, olive oil and salt, homogenized with a stick blender and frozen in ice cube trays with a thin layer of olive oil on top. I then stored the cubes in a Ziplock bag in the freezer. They will last for several months. I am still using pesto I made last year. I find that leaving out cheese and nuts makes the pesto more versatile, for instance if I decide to use it on fish or shrimp. One cube packs a punch. I also used rosemary from my porch to make rosemary focaccia, which I had for dinner with a big home-grown salad.
Last night, I pickled my green tomatoes. When they cool down over night on the counter, the color goes from a bright green to a pickle-greenish-brown. I am looking forward to using these on sandwiches (my favorite combination: sharp cheddar, grainy mustard, apple slices, arugula), or on burgers. Yum!
The last tomatoes of 2022. I harvested them yesterday, November 5, just before I pulled all plants. My first tomatoes this year were harvested on July 15. I will savor the last red tomato and quick-pickle the green tomatoes for sandwiches. Yum!
My corn is not yet ready for harvest but I am very excited about the King Philip corn I planted this year. It is a historic Wampanoag flint corn native to New England (named after the Wampanoag chief Metacom who adopted the name King Philip) and has copper-colored, reddish kernels. Flint corn has a hard outer layer around each kernel (protecting it from rodents) and is mostly used for coarse corn meal. It can also be dried and used for popcorn. In addition to King Philip corn, I grew glass gem corn again this year. While mostly used for decoration, glass gem corn can also be ground into meal or popped for snacking.
The garden is brimming with tomatoes. Pictured above is yesterday’s harvest, and I harvested almost as many tomatoes the day before. Time for a second batch of oven-roasted garlicky tomatoes and basil “pesto”. To keep it versatile, I make the latter only with basil, olive oil and salt. I leave out cheese and nuts to add in later depending on the use. Sometimes, I like to mix it with goat cheese for a pesto-goat cheese-spread or use it in a compound butter, which would not need Parmesan. I also found that it freezes better this way. For the tomatoes, I only use red ones and no big slicers. If the larger tomatoes are very juicy, I blot them with paper towels before they go in the oven. I roasted this batch at 275F for two hours and packed it in olive oil. This batch will go in the fridge, the last one went in the freezer for use in a few months. I like to use those in pasta sauces, on pizza or as toppings for sandwiches or savory crepes. It is amazing how a baking sheet packed with tomatoes gets reduced to a single half-pint canning jar.
Some more basil pesto for the freezer: