Recipes to Make from Garden Vegetables and Herbs

This summer, with its erratic weather and hot conditions, has yielded some great crops and some not so great ones. One in particular that flourished in my household is tomatoes. We have more than we know what to do with. We’ve also had a good stock of peppers, cucumbers, and hot peppers.

In honor of the close of summer (and perhaps even a little late), I wanted to shed some light on some things you can do to use up those crops and eat healthy along the way.

Tomatoes

Let’s start with the most problematic first, at least for my kitchen. Tomatoes are one of my favorite foods, and we have such an abundance of them that even I can’t eat them fast enough. That’s saying a lot, since I routinely eat them for snacks.

Here’s some easy things you can do with tomatoes:

Salsa

  • What you need: This really depends on your taste. Tomatoes are mandatory. Onions are a delicious addition. For some heat, chili or japaleño peppers. Garlic also tastes great. Cilantro, lime juice, and salt also add to the taste. For less sodium, skip the salt.
  • How to make it: Very easy! Simply chop everything up. Take the seeds out of the peppers and the tomatoes and add everything in portions that suit your taste! Get unsalted tortilla chips to cut back on your sodium. For some fun, add mangos or peaches!

Bruschetta

  • What you need: 1 loaf of bread – either garlic, italian, or sourdough, tomatoes (any type), garlic (optional), fresh basil leaves, olive oil, and oregano, rosemary and thyme. {If you want to make fresh bread, check out this article from ehow.com}
  • How to make it: Remove the skin of the tomatoes. Chop them up and set aside. Chop up garlic and set aside as well. Spread olive oil on the slices. Slice bread and toast in the oven for 5-6 minutes. Mix tomatoes, garlic, chopped basil, dash of olive oil, and spices in a bowl and set aside. When the bread is done, put tomato mixture on top and serve. Also tastes great with fresh tomatoes, goat cheese, and balsamic vinagrette!

Margherita Pizza

  • What you need: Thin pizza crust, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic cloves, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese.
  • How to make it: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush olive oil over the pizza crust. Chop the garlic (to taste) and spread it over the surface of the pizza, then thinly spread the mozzarella cheese over the crust. Next, slice the tomatoes and spread them over the pizza, followed by the basil leaves. Cook in oven for 9-10 minutes. Put on parmesan and enjoy this great summer meal.

Basil

While basil tastes great with other things (especially tomatoes!), it also can create some savory dishes on its own.

Basil recipes:

Pesto

  • What you need: Fresh basil, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, pine nuts or sunflower kernals, and parmesan cheese.
  • How to make it: Just add desired amount of products into a food processor, and run it until it is a paste. Pesto goes great on sandwiches, as an appetizer with fresh bread, and just about anything else that you try.

Basil Sauce

  • What you need: Basil, olive oil, and lemon.
  • How to make it: Blend the ingredients together (as desired). This sauce tastes great on fish and grilled veggies!

Cucumbers

Light and refreshing, let these cucumber recipes help guide you into fall.

Here are some of the simplest and tastiest ones:

Tropical Cucumber Salad

  • What you need: Cucumber, avocado, and mango.
  • How to make it: Simply cut and mix all ingredients together. Make sure to take the seeds out of the cucumbers for a smoother flavor. For some flavor, add a light dressing like balsamic vinagrette or a dash of honey.

Tzatsiki

  • What you need: Plain yogurt, cucumbers, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh dill, garlic cloves.
  • How to make it: Combine all ingredients and blend. This popular cucumber sauce is popular on gyros and pitas.

Peppers

My favorite peppers, of course are the ones with a little kick to them. However, all peppers have the crunch and vitamins that can go with almost any meal.

Sweet pepper recipes:

Ratatouille

  • What you need: Olive oil, onions, garlic, crushed tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, salt & pepper, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, basil, eggplant,  and pretty much any other vegetable that you can find.
  • How to make it: Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add onion and garlic, stirring over medium heat until onion starts to become translucent. Add tomatoes, eggplant, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup water. Cover and simmer until eggplant is soft (you’re able to put a fork in it). Stir in peppers, zucchini, and squash. Cover and simmer until squash is soft. Stir in basil and a little more olive oil.

Stuffed Peppers

  • What you need: Hardboiled eggs, bell peppers (of any color, depending on preference), onion, tomato sauce, and breadcrumbs. For a little more flavor, add italian flavored breadcrumbs. If you’re a meat-lover, many people also add ground beef.
  • How to make it:  Preheat oven to 375. Hardboil eggs. Cut and clean peppers, and partially boil them until they are just slightly tender but not too soft. Set aside the inside. Mix cut up eggs, inside of peppers, breadcrumbs, tomato sauce, and onion and stuff the peppers with them. Then, cook the peppers in the oven, covered, for a hour. (Put a little water in the bottom of the pan so they don’t stick). After they are done, take out and enjoy.

Hot pepper recipe:

Homemade Hot Sauce

  • What you need: Olive oil, chopped carrots, chopped onions, minced garlic cloves, hot peppers, 1/4 cup water, lime juice, white vinegar, 1 fresh tomato, salt & pepper.
  • How to make it: Cook the carrots, onions, oil, and garlic in a pan over medium heat for ten minutes. Put the mixture in a blender, or food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. Be careful of your eyes, and make sure not to rub them with your hands, because it stings like heck! After it is fully blended, simmer in saucepan for a few minutes to smooth it out further.

Most of these recipes can be estimated, but if you need any help with ingredient amounts, please feel free to contact me. I would also love to hear your summer garden vegetable recipes. What are your favorite ingredients?

-Lisa

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