Cooking from the Garden: Best Recipes from Kitchen Gardener
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Cooking from the Garden: Best Recipes from Kitchen Gardener

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by Ruth Lively, Editors and Contributors of Kitchen Gardener

Rising food prices, the slow food movement, and the green movement have revived interest in finding delicious food close to home. The backyard vegetable garden is making a comeback even in urban areas. Why grow grass (that you have to mow) when you can pick the best tasting tomatoes right outside your door? Taunton's "Kitchen Gardener" magazine was ahead of its

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Rising food prices, the slow food movement, and the green movement have revived interest in finding delicious food close to home. The backyard vegetable garden is making a comeback even in urban areas. Why grow grass (that you have to mow) when you can pick the best tasting tomatoes right outside your door? Taunton's "Kitchen Gardener" magazine was ahead of its time in trying to raise the bar on food prepared with home-grown food. The recipes collected here are innovative and tasty, and most are relatively simple to prepare. Not only do they help home gardeners find ways to make use of abundance, they show how to do it with style and expertise. The recipes apply equally to good seasonal buys in the supermarket or farmer's market as to produce from a home garden.

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Taunton Press, Incorporated
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Best Recipes from KITCHEN GARDENER

The Taunton Press

Copyright © 2010 The Taunton Press, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-60085-247-3

Chapter One


You'll find lots of tasty possibilities for appetizers and meal openers in this chapter, ranging from rustic to elegant, from light to substantial, from simple to involved. Some are small plates-little dishes that can be eaten as a first course or paired with a salad or cup of soup for a light meal. There are several tasty spreads like Baba Ghanoush and White Bean and Herb Spread that you can make up and keep on hand for impromptu entertaining or healthful snacks. Plus there are lots of good things to drink-smoothies, herbal teas, and a refreshing and somewhat unusual Watermelon Milkshake with Cardamom.

Many of these could become staples in your kitchen. Green Olive Tapenade and Oil-Simmered Garlic are some of my favorites. Not only do they make terrific spreads on their own, but they also can be used as ingredients in so many ways that I'd never want to be without them. I mash the garlic into vinaigrettes, pan sauces, or just with olive oil and herbs for a simple pasta sauce. The tapenade can be stuffed into chicken breasts or lamb roasts, used as a sauce for grilled fish, or as a sandwich condiment. The Shallots Braised in Sherry are another example of versatility. They work as an appetizer or a condiment; try them with a holiday ham or roast pork, or simply alongside a sandwich.

Spicy Carrot Fritters with Fresh Salsa

If you're looking for something different to make with carrots, try these quick fritters. Topped with a traditional salsa made with fresh tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro, these fritters are perfect for a first course or a sassy side, or paired with a salad for a tasty lunch.

Fresh from the garden: TOMATOES, RED ONION, JALAPEÑO, CILANTRO, CARROTS, POTATO, SCALLIONS Makes 10 fritters | 150 calories, 10g fat, 140mg sodium


3 tomatoes, diced 1 small red onion, diced 1 jalapeño, minced 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro Salt to taste


2 cups shredded carrots 1 large potato, grated 1/4 cup chopped scallion tops 3 eggs, lightly beaten 1/4 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup flour 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying

MAKE THE SALSA | Combine all the ingredients for the salsa and set aside.

MAKE THE FRITTERS | Combine all the ingredients for the fritters. The batter will be loose. In a large frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of oil over high heat, but don't let the oil smoke. Use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter. Put as many fritters in the pan as will fit without crowding. Cook them until golden brown on both sides. Remove the fritters from the frying pan and place them on a paper towel to drain. Repeat with the remaining mixture until all the fritters are cooked. Top with salsa and serve.

- Recipe by Rosemary Campiformio

Small Tomatoes in Shallot-Flavored Cream

One and a half minutes on the cut side of the tomato and one minute on the other side is all it takes to put this side together. Quick and easy, but oh, so elegant, this recipe is a perfect use for tomatoes that are too small to slice.

Fresh from the garden: SHALLOTS, SMALL TOMATOES, PARSLEY 4 servings | 290 calories, 18g fat, 580mg sodium

4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano 4 shallots (1/4 pound), minced 1 tablespoon flour 1 1/3 cups half-and-half Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg 8 small tomatoes (1 pound), cut in half Salt and freshly ground white pepper Handful of chopped fresh parsley

Whirl the cheese to tiny nubbins in a food processor. Warm a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté, stirring until browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour, then slowly whisk in the half-and-half. Add the nutmeg and whisk until thick.

Place the tomatoes cut sides down in the half-and-half, turn the heat to high, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook 11/2 minutes. Use a spatula to turn the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes until they begin to exude juices and the sauce is pink, about 1 minute. Spoon into small heated bowls and sprinkle with the cheese and parsley.

- Recipe by Sylvia Thompson

Eggplant "Sandwiches" on Crisp Greens with Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette

Oven-roasted slices of eggplant replace bread in this twist on grilled cheese sandwiches. Peppery greens like arugula, frisée, red mustard, or spinach add tang to the dish and are a perfect foil to the mild eggplant.

Fresh from the garden: EGGPLANTS, BASIL, SALAD GREENS, SHALLOTS 6 servings | 910 calories, 76g fat, 700mg sodium


2 medium globe eggplants, sliced into twelve 1-inch-thick pieces, ends discarded 1/4 cup olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper 12 ounces mozzarella, preferably fresh 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves 12 anchovy filets, rinsed and patted dry 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts 1 cup flour 3 large eggs, lightly beaten Vegetable oil for frying 6 cups peppery salad greens


2 tablespoons minced shallots 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar 2 teaspoons dry sherry Salt and freshly ground pepper 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

MAKE THE SANDWICHES | Lightly brush the eggplant slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place them in a single layer on baking sheets and bake in a preheated 400?F oven until lightly brown and tender, about 20 minutes. Cut the cheese into 1/8-inch-thick slices and arrange on 6 of the eggplant slices. Chop the basil and anchovies together and sprinkle over the cheese. Top with an eggplant slice to form a sandwich. Stir the breadcrumbs and walnuts together. Dredge the sandwiches in flour and shake off the excess. Dip each sandwich in beaten egg and then in the breadcrumb mixture. The sandwiches can be prepared to this point and refrigerated, loosely covered, up to 8 hours before finishing.

In a frying pan, heat 1/2 inch of oil to 350?F. Cook the sandwiches in batches in a single layer, turning once, until they're golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and keep warm while frying the rest. Sandwiches can be cooked ahead and reheated in a 300?F oven.

MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE | Using a whisk, combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients except the olive oil. In a steady stream, incorporate the olive oil into the mixture.

To serve, toss the greens with a little of the vinaigrette and arrange on plates. Place the eggplant sandwiches on top.

- Recipe by John Ash

Grilled Eggplant Bruschetta

Make this tasty appetizer when you've got the grill going. The roasted garlic can be made ahead, or use Oil-Simmered Garlic (p. 18).

Fresh from the garden: GARLIC, EGGPLANT, TOMATOES, BASIL 6 servings | 320 calories, 21g fat, 290mg sodium

1 head garlic 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper 3 long slender eggplants, such as Thai Long Green or Waimanalo Long 6 Roma tomatoes 4 ounces soft melting cheese, like Teleme or Havarti 6 slices coarse Italian bread 2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh basil

Cut off the top quarter of the garlic head. Drizzle the garlic with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap securely in foil and bake in a 325?F oven until the garlic is soft, 30 to 40 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Remove the stems from the eggplant and slice lengthwise 1/4 inch thick. Brush both sides with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill over hot coals (or medium-high on a gas grill) until just softened and lightly browned. Set aside.

Remove the stems from the tomatoes, cut them in half, and remove the seeds. Coat the halves with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Slice the cheese 1/4 inch thick. Brush the slices of bread lightly with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and grill or broil them until lightly toasted.

Squeeze the garlic purée from the cloves and spread it evenly on the bread. Next, layer the bread and garlic with the eggplant, tomato, basil, and cheese. The layers should completely cover the bread.

Place the bruschetta on a covered grill (or under a hot broiler) until the cheese just melts, 3 to 5 minutes. Top each one with a few grindings of pepper and serve them immediately.

- Recipe by John Ash

Okra Tempura with Soy Dipping Sauce

With okra, the challenge is how to bring its wonderful flavor to the table without any of the gooeyness most people dislike. Deep frying in a light tempura batter puts this characteristic to good use-okra's thick juices enhance the crispy fried batter.

Fresh from the garden: OKRA 4 appetizer servings | 210 calories, 11g fat, 1,040mg sodium

FOR THE SOY DIPPING SAUCE 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup rice vinegar 3 tablespoons brown sugar 1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger


16 ounces canola or vegetable oil 2 egg yolks 1 2/3 cups ice water 1 2/3 cups sifted flour 2 cups okra, cut in 1/4-inch slices

MAKE THE DIPPING SAUCE | Mix all sauce ingredients together. Set aside.

MAKE THE TEMPURA | Heat the oil to 350?F in a deep fryer or a tempura fryer. If you have neither, use a heavy pot, 12 inches deep and wide.

Combine the egg yolks and the ice water in a bowl and mix gently. Add the flour and stir briefly; the batter should appear rough and only partially mixed.

Dip the okra in the batter to coat loosely. Deep fry in small batches until the okra is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with the dipping sauce.

- Recipe by Clark Frasier

Crispy Okra with Basil Pesto & Bacon

The flavors and textures of this dish-crunchy okra, rich pesto, and salty, smoky bacon-combine well with sliced yellow and red tomatoes or a small salad of garden-fresh greens, drizzled with a light vinaigrette.

Fresh from the garden: BASIL, GARLIC, OKRA 4 appetizer servings | 420 calories, 27g fat, 930mg sodium


1 cup fresh basil leaves 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons olive oil Juice of 1 lemon 1 teaspoon chopped garlic 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts


2 pounds okra, cut into 1/4-inch rounds 1/2 cup cornmeal 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper 8 strips crispy bacon 8 fresh basil sprigs

MAKE THE PESTO | Process all the pesto ingredients in a blender or food processor. Set aside.

FRY THE OKRA | Toss the okra with the cornmeal and place in a sieve to shake off any excess cornmeal. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick sauté pan until it's hot. Test by putting one piece of okra into the pan. If the oil sizzles right away, it's ready. Add the rest of the okra. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and slowly sauté over medium heat until the okra is golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Arrange the okra and bacon on four plates, drizzle with pesto, garnish with basil sprigs, and serve at once.

- Recipe by Clark Frasier

Bagna Cauda

Bagna Cauda means "hot bath" in Italian. It is best when made with moist, recently cured garlic. You will need a flameproof bowl with a stand and a votive candle to keep the sauce warm. Or rig a stand from two bricks placed on their sides. Rest the dish atop the bricks and put the votive underneath the dish. For accompanying vegetables, choose whatever is in season. If cardoons (an artichoke relative) aren't available in your area, substitute fennel, celery hearts, small whole roasted beets, or blanched cauliflower.

Fresh from the garden: GARLIC; A SELECTION OF SEASONAL VEGETABLES-CARDOONS, NEW POTATOES, ARTICHOKES, SPRING ONIONS, RADISHES, SALAD GREENS, FENNEL, CELERY, BEETS, CAULIFLOWER 4 to 6 servings | 810 calories, 54g fat, 1,070mg sodium; based on 6 servings (2 ounces bread per serving)


4 heads garlic, cloves peeled 3/4 cup dry white wine 1/2 cup butter 2 ounces anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil


6 to 8 cardoons, parboiled (see Note) 12 to 18 small new potatoes, roasted 3 large artichokes, boiled, leaves and hearts separated, choke discarded 6 spring onions, grilled 12 to 18 small radishes, trimmed 4 cups large leafy greens (such as endive, radicchio, or arugula) 1 loaf country-style bread

MAKE THE BAGNA CAUDA | Cut each garlic clove into 5 or 6 thin, lengthwise slices. Place the garlic in a medium saucepan, add the wine, and set over low heat. Simmer until the garlic begins to soften, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan, then stir in the anchovies. Simmer until the anchovies begin to break up, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the olive oil, heat through, and stir the mixture into the garlic and wine. Simmer the sauce for 3 or 4 minutes, remove from the heat, and set aside.

TO SERVE | Prepare the vegetables and arrange them on a large platter. Heat the bread, cut it into large chunks, and wrap it in a heavy cloth napkin to keep it warm.

Set the stand with a votive candle in the center of the platter, or alongside it.

Reheat the sauce, light the candle, and then pour the sauce into the flameproof bowl. Arrange all the elements in the center of the table. Guests use their fingers to dip the vegetables and bread into the sauce.

NOTE | To prepare cardoons, have a pot of boiling salted water ready. Select the tender, inner stalks and trim away any leaves. Cut them in half lengthwise, trim away the tough membrane on the inside of the stalk, and scrape off coarse fibers from the outside. Cut into 3-inch pieces and rinse. Simmer the cardoons in the water until just tender, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size and variety. Drain, refresh briefly in ice water, and drain again.

- Recipe by Michele Anna Jordan

Shallots Braised in Sherry

This easy-to-make dish is ideal as an accompaniment to cheese or as an hors d'oeuvre with toast or crackers. It is most flavorful when served at room temperature a few hours after it is made.

Fresh from the garden: SHALLOTS 6 servings | 100 calories, 8g fat, 5mg sodium

60 small white shallots (about 1/2 pound) 1 tablespoon butter 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil 5 tablespoons dry sherry 1 teaspoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper Salt

Trim and peel the shallots and cut any large ones in half. Heat the butter and oil in a frying or sauté pan and add the shallots. Stir to coat the shallots evenly with the oil and butter mixture. Cover and sweat over mediuml-ow heat for 15 minutes.

Add the sherry, sugar, and pepper. Cover and continue sweating until the shallots are soft and glazed, about 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and remove from the heat to cool. Serve at room temperature.

- Recipe by William Woys Weaver

Kale & Cheese Rolls

Frilly-edged dark green kale leaves give this healthful appetizer eye appeal. The rolls can be made a few hours ahead of time and left to sit at room temperature.

Fresh from the garden: KALE Makes 24 rolls | 30 calories, 2g fat, 40mg sodium

6 large kale leaves 6 ounces soft cheese, such as Teleme, Havarti, or Camembert, at room temperature 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Wash the kale and shake off the excess water. Cut out the stems, leaving the two halves as long strips. Bring a small amount of water to a boil in a steamer. Steam the leaves until they are soft enough to roll but still bright green, about 3 minutes. Cut the pieces in half lengthwise to make long, narrow strips.

Dip each strip of kale in the rice vinegar and let the excess run off. Cut the cheese into 24 teaspoon-size cubes. Put one cube at the end of a kale strip and roll the leaf around the cheese. Insert a toothpick to hold each bite-size roll together. Serve as an hors d'oeuvre.

- Recipe by Nan Wishner


Excerpted from COOKING from the GARDEN Copyright © 2010 by The Taunton Press, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Ruth Lively, a long-time garden writer, was trained at the LaVarenne culinary school in France. A former editor of "Fine Gardening," Lively was also one of the founding editors of "Fine Cooking" and "Kitchen Gardener."

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