Meal-planning is an important way to stretch your food budget, to keep mealtime interesting, and to get other family members involved in the harvesting, shopping, preparing, or cooking. However if you’re gardening, vegetables wait for no man (or woman). They ripen on their timeline, not yours. The consequence of this is that you may have veggies or fruit that are ripe when you didn’t plan on using them, or more than you needed, or not quite the same quantity as you had imagined. How do you reconcile a well-thought-out meal plan with home-grown produce?
Before you go thinking, “you don’t”, consider the possibilities. For produce where you have an over-abundance, or early ripening, consider whether you have space to preserve – by canning, freezing, or dehydrating. We’re cautious in the volume of veg we are putting up for winter, since this is only our first harvest year in our small condo. But some things, like this pesto, let us pack a lot of flavour, and volume, into a small space.
I don’t use a recipe for pesto any more, because I’ve made it many times. But the easiest one I found when I started out was from Jamie Oliver. Nowadays, I add other herbs sometimes, or use walnuts (the sacrilege!) or make other variations according to what’s on hand. One thing I always do, though, is this: I freeze my pesto in small mason jars like the ones above – just enough for a week or so of flavouring, or a single dinner’s worth of pasta for two. To freeze, simply pour a small layer of olive oil on top of the pesto to keep it from discolouring, seal the jar, and pop in the freezer (make sure it’s upright, at least until it is fully frozen). This will give you delicious, fresh basil-y flavour anytime you want, and is especially welcome on a drizzly day in February when you don’t want to venture out and there’s nothing in the cupboard but a little dried pasta. (Yes, those days are coming, my friends)!
I bought some farro a couple of weeks ago for a recipe, so when I went casting about for ideas to use more of it, I came across this great recipe from Jamie Oliver. It’s the perfect sort of thing to make on a lazy weekend – it takes an hour or two, but with lots of breaks for reading or tv watching…
It makes large servings, so could easily feed more for a potluck. Also, we decided to leave our veg much chunkier than in the original photo. Can’t wait to make it again in summer, with grilled veggies instead.
Some of you know that earlier this week we roasted a turkey, and have been benefitting from that delicious pre-cooked goodness at several meals. The night before last we made an adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s Singapore Noodles recipe. As recommended, we substituted what was called for, for what we had. With a plentiful veg garden and lots of turkey, it was quite a different dish, in the end. (At least we used the noodles!)
We halved the recipe but it was definitely still too much for two, so yesterday we had about 1 serving left. We considered just reheating with a salad, but at the Tantallon Farmers’ Market we had acquired some delicious-looking chorizo. From the garden we grabbed a golden beet (including greens), about half a cup of fresh sweet peas, and three small carrots. We cooked these up – dry browning the sausage then adding about 1/2 cup of water, and steaming the harder veg and sausage until the sausage were cooked through. We sliced the cooked sausage and tossed everything together with our leftovers…no waste, all taste.
So we are always searching for inspiration. This week we were researching a variety of Jamie Oliver recipes. Today we adapted the Hit ‘N’ Run Panbaked Chicken. We used what we had…carrots, parsnips, olives for extra flavour…and it was beyond awesome. Experiment and make your own veggie combos. We guarantee it will be tremendous.
These delicious tomatoes are prepared using an adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s recipe. However we were short on basil, and despite his assertions, we like ours using way less salt and just a tiny sprinkling of oil. But the method is awesome and never fails to transform any tomato – a delicious, colourful collection, or even a few halved cherry ones, into a delicious side dish.