This weekend we did the biggest harvest yet! Pounds of potatoes, beets, carrots, eggplant, bell peppers, celery, green beans, and of course, tomatoes. I’d say at least 20-30 pounds of tomatoes, easy. Fortunately, we had lots of friends to share with, so it didn’t go to waste! On Saturday we had a few friends over for dinner, and it was amazing to look at the table and realize that we grew every single thing that we ate. (Okay, maybe not the wine or cheese) Yum!
Our friends Mark and Gina also brought us a “monarch milkweed” plant, in bloom, complete with a swallowtail butterfly caterpillar attached! He’s pretty cute, and still out there munching the leaves.
I decided to slow-roast a big batch of the tomatoes to preserve them. I didn’t want to make a sauce out of the heirlooms, because the flavor is too delicate, so instead I roasted them in the oven for 6 hours at 275, with a few springs of thyme scattered about. They’re in the fridge covered in olive oil, so they’ll keep for ~4 months that way. I also froze some for later use. One of the plants has produced a few 1 lb, 5 oz tomatoes – they’re huge and misshapen and I love them!
Whenever we have people over to the house, we usually send them home with a spaghetti squash from the pile outside. Our favorite way to prepare it is to roast it in the oven, scrape out the fleshy strands with a fork, and top it with a tomato sauce of some kind. Before the tomatoes started ripening up, I would just use a jar of pre-made spaghetti sauce. But I feel immensely guilty doing that with so many ripe tomatoes around now, so I usually make the Spicy Tomato Sauce I featured here.
Cut in half, scoop out seeds, roast cut side down for 45 minutes at 375. Scoop out the flesh with a fork to form long strands.
1 can Diced tomatoes mixed in with 1/2 jar Marinara Sauce (you can also just use one jar of your favorite sauce)
Oregano, Basil, Marjoram – chopped
One bunch Chard, chopped
Chicken Apple Sausage, chopped
Feta or parmesan cheese
Saute sausage until heated and browned, then add chard into sauce pan and heat over medium-high until wilted. Add tomatoes/sauce, heat, and stir in herbs. Remove from heat and serve over spaghetti squash, topped with feta or parmesan cheese.
*If you use the Spicy Tomato Sauce, goat cheese is a great topping!
These last few weeks have just blown by me! I went to a week-long workshop called “the Mind of Mentoring” up north of Santa Cruz, and now we’re already well into September! Over Labor Day weekend, my brother and his family came to visit us. There were two enormous zucchinis in the garden, so we decided to stuff them for dinner one night (my nephew Caleb is in the picture above).
I think this could easily go vegetarian by dropping the meat and just leaving the rice- or you could substitute couscous or quinoa for the rice for a different twist. You could also add in other vegetables – kale, chard, sauteed carrots or eggplant? Lots of room for experimentation!
On another note – remember the last watermelon we picked that was completely not ripe yet? Well – this weekend I checked the watermelon that had been growing, and it had a hole in the side and was bubbling… it was so overripe that it was fermenting in the hot sun! Needless to say- not edible. But right after I cut that one off the plant, a new one has started growing.. so maybe this time we’ll get it right! We also harvested a few honeylopes that are delicious. I had saved the seeds from one I bought at the market last year, so these melons came from those seeds. They’re quite a bit smaller, but still tasted great!
2 really large zucchini (ours were 2 and 3 lbs)
1 lb mixture ground beef, pork, or turkey
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 can stewed tomatoes (or 1-2 cups tomatoes chopped and sauteed with the meat/onions)
2-3 cups rice, cooked
Handful oregano, thyme
~3/4 cup cheese – we used garlic jack and cheddar
Heat oven to 375. Slice zucchini in half length-wise, scoop out seeds. Put on baking sheet and bake for ~20 minutes or so. Saute ground meat mixture and onion, and drain out any excess oil. Add in tomatoes, cut into pieces, and heat up a bit. Combine in a large bowl with the rice, herbs, and cheese. Spoon into the zucchinis, and grate some extra cheese on top. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until heated through and cheese is bubbly.