So you’re into agriculture. You’ve got a raging case of green thumb and when you see a patch of rough soil, you can’t help but picture it covered with thriving green life. Every square inch of your backyard is regularly tilled and planted with a wide variety of delicious fruits and vegetables, providing you with an abundance of fresh produce each year.
This notwithstanding, you might be feeling a little bit unfulfilled with your agrarian adventures. Growing fruits and vegetables is all well and good, but there’s more to this hobby than just nurturing plants and watching them bear fruit. If you want to really see this pastime through, you need a way to prepare this produce and elevate it to its fullest culinary potential.
This brings us to our present order of business: giving you a dinner template comprised of some of the most delicious recipes you can make with fruits and vegetables you can grow yourself in your own backyard! This meal will come with the benefit of being quite healthy, so you can enjoy the delicious savory sensations without fear of health repercussions later down the road. Let’s get into it! Even if you live in one of the best food cities in America, you’re sure to enjoy this one!
Garden salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
With fatty dressing, unhealthy garnishes and a variety of other counterproductive additions, many classic American foods like salads have become little better than less healthy dishes. Luckily, this is one salad that you can feel good about eating, both from the perspective of taste and health consciousness. Once you try it, you’ll never want to eat any other salad again!
So what will you need for this salad? Well, as luck would have it, all of the ingredients can be grown in your garden, with nothing but seeds, some water and a bit of elbow grease. What will you put in your salad? Let’s find out! Here’s what you need to make this delicious salad without leaving the comfort of your home:
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- 1 large tomato
- 8 radishes
- 1 large carrot
- 1 red onion
- 3 cucumbers
- 100ml olive oil
- 80ml balsamic vinegar
- Bread croutons (if desired)
As far as preparation goes, things are dead-simple. First, cut the base off of the head and peel the leaves off of the lettuce. Once you’ve done this, cut or tear the lettuce into one-by-two inch pieces and add them to a salad bowl. Peel and slice the cucumbers and carrots, and add them to the bowl. Wash the radishes and tomatoes, remove the inedible portions, slice them and add them to the bowl.
Once these ingredients are added to the mix, add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss the contents of the bowl with salad tongs until everything is evenly mixed and coated in the dressing. Now, your salad is nearly finished. Simply peel the skin off of the onion, cut it in half and then slice it lengthwise, separating the rings once you’re finished. Garnish your salad with the onion and croutons, and enjoy your salad with a glass of sauvignon blanc.
Prep time: 20 minutes (prep) 45 minutes (baking)
For this one, you’ll need to make a trip to the store unless you have what you need to make pasta at home. Regardless whether or not this is the case, you’re sure to love this delicious homemade twist on the italian classic. Just watch out: it will smell so good, you may be tempted to take it out of the oven before it’s finished! Here’s what you’ll need to make this.
- 1 package lasagna leaves
- 1 fresh eggplant
- 500ml tomato sauce
- 300ml ricotta cheese
- 250ml bechamel sauce
- 250g finely shredded mozzarella cheese
- 75g finely shredded parmesan cheese
- 500g ground pork or beef
- 1tbsp each oregano, thyme, crushed basil
- 1tbsp white flour
- 1tbsp white sugar
- 2tbsp olive oil
- Two cloves of garlic
- One small white onion
The prep on this one is a bit more complex, but don’t worry: it’s hard to mess this one up. Before you begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once you’ve done this, peel and wash the onion and garlic and cut off the tough sections. Crush the garlic and mince the onion, then add to a large frying pan along with the olive oil and the sugar. Cook on low heat until the garlic and onion are tender and slightly browned.
Once you’ve done this, add the ground meat to the pan, and stir at medium heat until it is evenly browned. Now, add the tomato sauce, spices, flour and a generous helping of salt and pepper to the mix, stirring until the sauce has noticeably thickened. If you’re not sure whether the sauce is thick enough, just keep it up a little bit longer; the sauce should be fairly thick to offset any excess moisture from the eggplant.
Once the meat sauce is complete, set it aside to cool. Now, peel the eggplant and slice into thin (roughly 2-3mm thick) slices and add to a separate frying pan. Grill the slices on high heat for about one to two minutes on each side, then salt them evenly and set them aside to cool on a plate covered with paper towels.
Once everything is warm to the touch (it doesn’t need to be cold, but it should be cool enough to handle), start building your lasagna. Repeating in this order, add meat sauce, eggplant slices, lasagna leaves, ricotta cheese, bechamel and a mix of the shredded cheeses to a 13×9 baking pan. Once you reach the last layer of bechamel, add a healthy helping of cheese to the top and put it in the oven. After 45 minutes, take it out and enjoy the best lasagna you’ve had in your life!
Melon fruit salad
Prep: 20 minutes
While the previous entry on this list will probably require you to make a grocery store run, this one won’t, as long as you’ve got some juicy melons in your garden! This desert is the perfect end to a sumptuous home cooked meal, and can be consumed without undue fear of excess calories or other health concerns. It’s a delicious treat, straight from the bounty of mother nature!
- 1 ripe honeydew melon
- 1 ripe cantaloupe
- 1 medium sized seedless watermelon
Much like the first entry on this list, the prep on this one is easy as pie, and won’t require much else than a bowl, a knife and a couple of eager participants. The first thing you’ll want to do is cut the cantaloupe in half lengthwise and dig out all the seeds, leaving only the rind and the flesh. Once you’ve done this, slice it up and cut the rind off of each individual piece.
Once you’ve done this, cut the melon slices into bite sized cubes and add them to the bowl. Repeat the process for the honeydew, adding the melon cubes to the bowl. Finally, cut the watermelon in half, then in slices, then once again into bite sized cubes. Once you’ve done this, your fruit salad is complete: serve it to your guests or family to round off a delicious meal!
Once you’ve learned to prepare more complex meals with products from your garden, you’re going to discover a whole new world of possibilities opened up right before your very eyes. With your love of gardening firmly seated in your heart, is there perhaps room for a budding passion for the culinary arts? Only time will tell!
If you live in a cramped city space, you may begin to feel confined by your surroundings; a 3x3m space to garden in is quickly used up when you begin planting. If you feel the need to move somewhere more spacious, why not find a real estate agent and see what’s on the market; after all, it could hardly hurt, and you may end up finding your dream home!