Emily Schmidt, R.D.N.
There's something so satisfying about picking vegetables you've grown and tended yourself. Whether your garden is a pot of herbs or tomatoes on the patio; rows upon rows of peas, carrots, potatoes, squash and sweet corn; or something in between, it's time to start harvesting and savoring your homegrown nutrition.
Be sure to pick your crop at the peak of its freshness during cooler times of the day. Then it's time to put your produce to delicious use.
Need some ideas? Give these a try:
- No prep needed
Some veggies, like tomatoes or radishes, are delicious as a snack or part of a summery salad. Toss greens like lettuce, kale and spinach with sliced tomatoes, radishes, green onions and cucumbers with your favorite dressing. Make it a full meal by adding cooked chicken or a sliced hard-boiled egg. Cut herbs as you need them for seasoning meats, vegetables, salads, beverages and more.
Just about any firm vegetable can be roasted, including beets, carrots, parsnips, squash, potatoes, radishes, green beans, bell peppers, eggplant, onions, cabbage or Brussels sprouts. Cut the vegetables into chunks, and toss with a little olive, sunflower or peanut oil and balsamic vinegar. Then have fun with seasonings, which can be as simple as salt and pepper. Or try Italian seasoning, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, curry or chili powder, herbs (thyme, basil, oregano) or a salt-free option like Mrs. Dash.
Cut up a blend of carrots, potatoes, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, corn on the cob or summer squash. Fold into little foil packets with salt, pepper, butter or oil. Seal and place on the grill next to whatever meat or fish is on the menu. Cook 25 –30 minutes or until veggies are tender. Carefully open the packets to allow the hot steam to escape. Or toss your veggie combination with oil and seasonings transfer to a grill basket. Grill over medium heat until tender.
- Air frying
If you have one of these hot new appliances, cut an assortment of veggies into chunks, and toss with a tablespoon or two of oil, salt, pepper and seasoning mixes like Italian or herbes de Provence. Preheat your air fryer to 350 F, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Cook your vegetables for 10 minutes, stirring after five. For more firm vegetables like carrots, beets or potatoes, cook for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes.
Make veggies more fun with a spiralizer. This easy-to-use kitchen tool turns zucchini, cucumbers, summer squash, butternut squash, carrots, beets and onions into noodles with the crank of a handle. Use the noodles in salads or cook in boiling water for one minute for a gluten-free pasta.
Cut up veggies like zucchini and carrots, freeze in zippered freezer bags and blend later into smoothies. Cut bell peppers and tomatoes in chunks or cut corn off the cob, place in bags and freeze for use in soups, stews and omelettes.
Harvest the herbs from your patio or windowsill herb garden, tie them in bunches and hang upside down until thoroughly dry. Seal into zippered bags or glass containers to season your meals throughout the winter.