Monday, June 2, 2014

Early Garden Bounty

Hello June!  How did you get here so fast?  The grandkids are all out of school for the summer now.  Less structure, swimming, no homework, staying outside until dark, and all sorts of fun things.  Among some of those fun things for me, is garden bounty!   I have been cooking like crazy, and planning our meals around what is ready to harvest in the gardens.  Let's start with the Baked Rigatoni.  I had one or two frozen gallon sized bags of roasted tomato sauce left in my freezer, so I wanted to use them up to make room for this summers stash.
I have had enough sauce in the freezer to get us through an entire year!  I hope to make a bunch again this summer too.
Along with this rigatoni, I wanted to cook up some of the Swiss Chard for the first time.  I washed the Chard, and removed the stems from the leafy greens.  Melting a good T or so of butter, and adding a T or so of olive oil to hot pan, add some fresh minced garlic.  Saute until brown, then add the stems of the chard, torn into about 2 inch pieces, into hot pan.  Saute for a couple of minutes before adding rest of green leafy chard. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  When wilted, about 2 more minutes, add a handful of fresh shredded parmesan cheese.  Put lid on pan to allow to melt, turning heat to low.  Takes only a minute or so.
It was delicious!  It tastes nothing like spinach.  We thought it had an almost nutty flavor to it.  Loved it.
I have also had several ripe cucumbers.  We like them with just a bit of salt and pepper on them.
One night we had a yummy quiche, loaded with spinach and chives.
In addition to the Swiss Chard, I planted another vegetable that I was not familiar with eating.  Beets.  They are a beautiful leafy root vegetable.  But I had never eaten them before!  As per my friend Elaine's suggestion, I roasted them in my crockpot, so as not to heat the house with the oven.  I cut off the root end, and peeled them, cut them into halves, and drizzled with olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Put the lid on and cooked them on high for about 5 hours.  Until fork tender.
Above you see a bowl of greens and beet peels to go to the chickens, beet ends to go into the compost pile, and some very red water where they were stemmed and peeled.
They maintain their deep rich color, and a bit of a gravy develops as they cook.  I removed them from the pot to cool, then went online to find some ways to use them.  I ran across a recipe for a salad with roasted beets, arugula and orange segments.  I went out and snipped a big bunch of arugula, and peeled a few oranges, and also added a couple of fresh picked cucumbers.  The dressing was my own.  I used a couple Tablespoons of red wine vinegar, a few T of olive oil, a T sugar, salt and pepper, and the juice of one half of an orange.  Oh my, was this ever wonderful!  The cooked beets have a very hearty and almost meaty like flavor to them.  Reminded us of portobello mushrooms.  Delicious.  And such beautiful color.  Not to mention, loaded with vitamins!  We took this salad to dinner at Gennifer's house.  Everyone loved it.
 Genny wanted me to use some of the Swiss Chard I had brought her, and cook it like I had done a few nights prior, so you see more of the chard on this plate as well too.
I found out that chickens hate beets!  They only like the leafy tops.
This is the basket of garden greens I brought over to Gennifer's with me.
Last night, we made two pizzas.  It was hot, so we decided to cook them on the grill.  This was the first time for us.  First I made a batch of pesto with all of this basil.
I topped both pizzas with the pesto sauce first.
The first one we cooked, got burned on the bottom.  But it was still delicious.  It had cremini mushrooms, pepperoni, bell pepper and mozzarella cheese, then topped with fresh basil after it cooked.
For the next one, Greg layed a sheet of tin foil on the grill underneath the perforated pan.  This did the trick, and the next pizza was beyond good!
I used cremini mushrooms, prosciutto, snipped chives, and I sliced up the rest of the roasted beets, along with mozzarella cheese.
When it came off the grill, I heaped fresh arugula on the top, drizzled it with olive oil, and sprinkled it with sea salt and ground pepper.
This was quite possibly the best pizza either of us had ever had!  So delicious!
My garden is mostly producing greens right now.  But the rest is coming right along too.

Let the summer begin!!!!
XO  Kris


podso said...

You have so much produce already! I grew up eating beets. My mom fixed them regularly. And I have never made them--does that tell you anything? I don't think I liked the fact that they were sweet--and the juice is staining … She would slice them and warm them. I certainly don't like pickled beets either, which seems to be pretty popular. They are a beautiful color. Did you like them?

Betsy said...

Wow! Look at all the food you're getting already. Did you see the picture of my garden at the lake? You can sure tell that we're "way up north". Things are barely poking through the soil.
Hubby and I both love beets. The chickens are funny-didn't know they dislike beets so much.

Betsy said...

Wow! Look at all the food you're getting already. Did you see the picture of my garden at the lake? You can sure tell that we're "way up north". Things are barely poking through the soil.
Hubby and I both love beets. The chickens are funny-didn't know they dislike beets so much.

NanaNor's said...

Hi Kris, I haven't cooked Swiss Chard before but it sounds so good. I love beets but have never roasted them; generally I eat them pickled, or juice with them or use them on salads. So glad to catch up with you friend. Summer is here and I'm so thankful.

Nana Go-Go said...

Masterchef indeed! What a bounty. I think you should produce a cookbook - I'd definitely buy it. We roast our beets over here too but leave the tops and tails and skins on - it seems to preserve the flavour. We pickle them too and make chutneys from them. I love your chard recipe but ours is nowhere near ready right now so your recipe will be something to look forward to making. Happy Summer Days to you my friend and hope your Mama's health is good right now. x

Holly said...

Oh I so miss my garden! Will definitely do it next year. Time just got away from me and things were a bit nuts here. Everything looks so yummy!!! I agree with the chickens, beets are yucky.

Amy at love made my home said...

It is only mid morning here, so too early to eat again, but all of your delicious dishes are making me hungry Kris as they all sound and look amazing!! It is wonderful how much produce you can produce in your garden, it looks as though you have lots more lovely things to come too! Hope that you have a great summer! xx

mynestofyarnandbuttons said...

Morning Kris, Or should I say Chef Kris! You are quite the cook and that's a good thing with your harvest bounty! I always love seeing all your gardens and daily chores with the chickens and groves!
Have a wonderful day and thanks for sharing, xoRobin

Dawn said...

Your garden looks beautiful and not a weed in sight. I wish things were ready here but it will be a while yet. I think you should have your own cooking show, everything looks delicious and creative.

Valerie Ratliff said...

Wow your recipes and garden look gorgeous. I love beets one of my favorite recipes my grandma always made was Harvard Beets...they are very sweet. I'm about to plant my corn and melons. No harvest yet but waiting. Love the recipes.


Cottage Making Mommy

Debbie said...

Good morning! WOW such a bounty! I grew up eating beets. It might be a mid-west thing, but I don't know. All I know is I LOVE them both warm and cold on salads. Don't make them often as I seem to be the only one who likes them but my mom. She would pile them cold on a salad too, so I kind of got back into them when she was living here. I think you are all going to be in for some GOOD and tasty eating this summer. ENJOY!

Pammy Sue said...

Oh how fabulous all of that food looks! And to know most of it is fresh from your garden make sit even better. Now you've gone and made me hungry! Your flowers on the other side of the driveway look beautiful. Can't believe how much all the greens have grown already!

Maryjane-The Beehive Cottage said...

Oh Kris you are the best cook ever! You always make me hungry! You are spoiling that family of yours and thats how it should be! Pretty garden! Hugs, Marjane

Home Meadows said...

Your early summer fare looks and sounds great. You've always been an inspiration to me with your gardens. We are still waiting for some more grading (buldozers) and seed and hay to our yard. Take care, Heather

Vera said...

Wow! Amazing produce. Love your pizza ideas...will be trying some of them. Love beets and also love beet greens -- cook them like you cook chard or turnip greens or kale, etc. Really yummy and so good for you!

Mereknits said...

I am inviting myself over for lunch, you do not have to fix anything fancy, leftovers will be perfect.
Hugs to you,

Jeanna said...

Your Swiss chard recipe sounds magnificent....I will give it a try for sure.

The pizzas look delish as well.

Your garden is doing great! Can't wait to see future harvests, this is only June!

Teresa Kasner said...

Kris, you always amaze me with your gardening expertise and how you use so much of it, too. I really admire you! Your pizzas look delish! Now I want some! We're off to have a shrimp salad and then get some hair cuts. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Grammy Staffy said...

You continue to amaze me. You are both a great gardener and a great chef. You should open a healthy eating cafe. I will be your first customer. My mouth is drooling as I read your blog.

Try cooking the beet greens. We just love them... and so do our grands. I mix the greens with slices of the the colorful beets. It looks really pretty and tastes great.
I know you will have a great summer.

Gracie Saylor said...

Move over, Pioneer Woman, Kris has arrived! Your garden and recipes inspire me, and I was surprised to learn that chickens don't like beets. Thanks for posting,Kris xx

priscilla said...

Wow ! Your garden is growing so fast! Love beets !

Nicolle said...

I'm not ready for the heat, but I'm sure ready for summer. I want to come over to your house and eat some of that pizza! Yum. I'm really into arugula on everything right now. You are one amazing cook! Hope all is well. xo

Joyce Hill said...

Kris, cook beets with the skin on, after they are cooked, rub with a paper towel - less mess!

Elizabeth and Gary said...

Hi Kris,
WOW! amazing food, amazing garden! Everything you prepared is so healthy! Can I invite myself over for dinner LOL
Yum Yum Yummy!
Have a sweet day, Elizabeth

corners of my life said...

Looking forward to recreating the best pizza either of you had ever had. Mmmmm

Susanne said...

Hello there Mrs. Green Thumb, lol. Looks like it is full swing in your garden and it is keeping you very busy. My feeble attempts at being a farmer are laughable. I planted 6 tomato plants and had to cover them 2 times because of frost. Well, 4 look like they are doing fairly good, but 2 are down right pitiful and I keep thinking they may snap out of it yet, but so far that hasn't happened. I do have some blooms and 1 tomato already. I planted some radishes, 2 packs actually. I figured if I got swamped with them that I would share with the kids. The seed was a year or so old and so they are coming up rather sparsely and I might get a dozen at this rate. My chives are up again but I will let them flower. I have more than enough from the first harvest. I planted garlic for the first time last fall and it is growing. Other than that I am dealing with the wildlife that is moving in from the surrounding woods. I discovered the start of a hornet's nest 2 days ago and Terminex wanted $199 to remove brother Mike is coming in the next 2 days with a can of hornet spray, killer traps for the ground hogs and we will live trap the raccoons. He wants to get the chipmunks too but I hate to see him do that. The snake in the woodpile was predictable. I knew sooner or later I would be dealing with them.
Have a great weekend....oh, love the pizzas, they look scrumptious, my very favorite food ever,
Susanne :)

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

OK I just had breakfast and now I am hungry all over again! We love beets and I have never tried roasting them in a crockpot...but I will now! And I need to try the chard, too...thanks for sharing!

Patty Antle said...

You are amazing with the cooking. Your family must LOVE dinner time! Everything looks just wonderful and delicious Kris!

Linda said...

Awesome my friend....
You are such a workhorse!
Enjoy your week....
Linda :o)