Hey, it’s Thomas, bringing you the post for today. It’s full-on summer here and we are right in the thick of enjoying tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, herbs, and other sun-loving plants. I’ve swapped out the leaf lettuces and broccoli for tomatillos, okra, and sweet potatoes. With multiple harvests each week, I’m constantly adding these veggies and herbs to salads, bowls, or pasta, utilizing recipes old and new. Any recipe that can use two or more homegrown ingredients is a frequent repeat in our house. Caprese and Greek salads are my all-time favorites and I love that so much of them come from my garden.
Before jumping into some recipes, here’s a quick note about harvesting tomatoes. If you are growing tomatoes, pick them a day or two after the first sign of color, whether the variety you are growing is red, orange, or pink. I’ve found that if I let it fully ripen on the plant, I risk cracking, blossom end rot, pests, or even forgetting to harvest it. The tomato will ripen on its own in the safety of your own home and be just as delicious as if you had perfectly timed your harvest.
Caprese Salad: I don’t think I’ve ever followed an official recipe for this dish because it’s so simple. With fresh ingredients, it can be incredible. All it is: sliced tomatoes, basil, creamy mozzarella, salt, fresh cracked pepper, the best olive oil you have, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Once you have the base, it’s so easy to expand the ingredients from there, such as this recipe and this recipe .
Greek Salad: Almost as simple as the caprese, I personally love Greek salads for the tangy flavors that are balanced by the sweetness of ripe tomatoes, the crunch of cucumber, and the creaminess of the feta. This is my go-to recipe. This adaptation sounds especially refreshing in the summer.
Vegan Tzatziki – I’ve made this vegan tzatziki from Minimalist Baker a few times. Cucumbers have been my favorite new plant that I’ve added in my garden this year. They are fun to grow, natural climbers, very productive, refreshing to eat, and are great for pickling. This variety from Row 7 is particularly amazing. I find the recommended Coyo Coconut Yogurt to be a little too intense, so I mix it 50/50 with Kite Hill Unsweetened Greek Almond Yogurt.
Quick Pickles – After a really big harvest of cucumbers recently, I used this quick pickle recipe as inspiration. The end result was a little too vinegary, but I think it might mellow out over time. Instead of being snacking pickles, they are better as acidic balancers for richer dishes like sandwiches or burgers.
Vegan Pesto – I’ve loved making this recipe for years but it was always a little difficult to assemble enough basil to make enough. Not anymore, now that I’m growing more than 10 basil plants. Pesto apparently freezes well, which I might try at the end of the season
Pasta Sauce – This works well if you’re growing cherry tomatoes. When I grew them last year, I’d often be overwhelmed by them, so I started to sauté onion, garlic, and the tomatoes in a cast-iron skillet until the tomatoes released all their juices. Then, I’d toss in a handful of fresh basil leaves and our favorite pasta. It was similar to this recipe.