Garden Harvest Recipes

When the fall garden is pumping out tasty treats, try these easy meals that put the bounty to good use.

| September/October 2014

The kitchen gets no rest during harvest season, and neither does the cook. There is pickling to be done, and freezing and drying and all the cleanup in between—thinking through food preservation projects seems to short-circuit the part of the brain that figures out what’s for dinner. Plus there is the seasonal challenge of handling the river of greens that flows into the fall kitchen. Whether your produce comes from your garden, your CSA box or the farmers market, it will be rich with cooking greens such as chard, collards, escarole, kale, pak choi, mizuna, mustard and turnip greens. Arugula, lettuce and spinach are in good supply, too, which adds up to a lot of greens to work into harvest season menus.

To meet these challenges, you will need to strategize. From cooking large batches to setting up a dinner co-op with a friend, the following tips save time while putting great food on the table.

Roast a large pan of mixed vegetables once a week, and use the cooked vegetables in salads, wraps, quiches and casseroles. The mixture will vary from week to week, but might include carrots, potatoes, radishes, onions, parsnips, turnips and kohlrabi if you have it. This is the perfect use for split or injured specimens in which the bad parts can be trimmed away. Cut the veggies into bite-size pieces, toss with enough olive oil to coat, season with sea salt, and roast in an open pan at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Refrigerate leftovers to use in salads, omelets and recipes such as the ones in “4 Time-Saving Garden Harvest Recipes,” later in this article. You also can use an outdoor grill to roast veggies cut into large, flat pieces.

Line casserole dishes with a vegetable crust. This time of year, chard, collards, kale and other greens need picking every time you turn around. Large batches can be frozen or dried, but daily harvests can be cleaned, chopped and arranged over the bottom of an oiled baking dish (for strata or casserole) or deep-dish pie pan (for quiche). As the dish bakes, the greens cook and compress into a pretty green layer that serves as a nutritious crust.

Make refrigerator pickles for salads and snacking. You don’t need canning skills or cucumbers to make refrigerator pickles, which keep for weeks due to their high vinegar content. It’s actually quite simple: Tightly pack two clean quart jars with fresh veggies cut into bite-size pieces (carrots, green beans, ripe peppers and cauliflower, for example), and add a few peppercorns, a sprig of dill or fennel, and two cloves of peeled garlic to each jar. Bring 2 cups white vinegar to a simmer, and stir in 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon mustard seeds. Pour the simmering brine over the veggies, screw on lids, and refrigerate at least two days to allow time for the flavors to marry. The liquid level in the jars will rise as the vegetables marinate. They’ll keep for about three months.

Put salads inside pitas or wraps. If you tire of plated salads but your arugula and lettuce keep coming, turn chopped salad greens into a crunchy filling for wraps or pitas. Add a protein (pre-cooked meat, beans or cheese) and a tasty dressing or dipping sauce, and you have a no-fuss meal that’s easy to eat. In a pinch, you can use wraps or split pita breads as crusts for quick veggie pizzas, too.

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