Pasta With Fresh Garden Peas

In the summertime, I need to make a lot of 30-minute meals. When the weather is nice, we often get carried away with outdoor activities. Suddenly it’s 6 p.m. and there’s no meal on the table. Sweet produce like fresh garden peas and comfort food like pasta make it easy to come up with a quick recipe. Often, we just grab what’s on hand and get cooking!

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Summer recipes can be simple, using basic pantry ingredients. Having just a few staples on hand for busy summer nights can make all the difference!

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Just 4 ingredients!

Ingredients List

  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup of fresh peas
  • 1 pound of cooked pasta
  • Parmesan cheese
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Shuck the peas!

Directions

Assemble all ingredients for making the dish. Put pasta water on the stove to boil. Start removing the peas from the shells. We call this shucking the peas! When pasta is nearly done, heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon to desired crispness. Please don’t mind the cooking action shots coming up!

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Sizzlin’ bacon!

Take the cooked bacon out of the pan and place on a paper towel to drain. Pour off some of the remaining bacon fat. Leave a tablespoon or so in the pan for cooking.

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Peas in the pan!

Add the fresh garden peas to the hot frying pan. Cook them for a few minutes while stirring gently. When the peas start to show that fresh, bright green color, turn off the heat. Toss in about 2/3 of the cooked pasta. Chop up the cooked bacon with kitchen scissors into 1/4″ pieces.

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Combine the ingredients.

Using tongs, turn mixture over several times to combine.

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Mix all ingredients.

When all of the pasta is mixed with the bacon and peas, serve in bowls. Grate on some Parmesan cheese for garnish and flavor.

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Delicious Pasta with Garden Peas!

Serving Suggestions

This recipe will work with nearly any pasta shape. We love it with bow-ties, shells or penne. Gluten-free pasta or cooked rice can also be substituted. If you already have leftover cooked pasta, cut the recipe in half for a express meal for two. As you can see, I used leftover spaghetti. Frozen petite peas can be used in place of the fresh garden peas. Garlic or onions could be added in the cooking process but may take away from the fresh pea flavor. Eat this meal alone or serve with a garden salad. This recipe makes about 4 meal sized servings. For more garden-to-table recipes, search ‘food’ in categories.

Do you have any speedy summer meals that can come together in just a few minutes? I would love to hear about them! We have needed many of these quick, throw together meals lately. We have been working on a patio area outside and these summer evenings go by so fast. Hopefully soon we will be out there enjoying our new outdoor space! The bush beans are ready for harvest. We have purple, green and yellow. Believe it or not, we are already thinking of planting for fall. But for now, it’s time to take advantage of the great weather for summer fun! I hope you try this garden fresh, easy recipe in the next few weeks. It’s a favorite around here! I’m leaving you with a few shots from the garden this week. Thanks and enjoy!

Hilary|Everlongardener

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Nasturtiums from the vegetable garden.
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Grab on for dear life little guy!
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Pollinators out in full force.

What Your Garden Needs Right Now!

Although around here it seems like summer has just barely started, the growing season Maine is about half over. Most of us have people coming and going, summer trips to go on and all of the other obligations that we already have. On top of that, you planted a garden with big hopes and dreams of fabulous harvests. So, with that being said, what does your garden need right now for success?

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Be Mindful of Watering

Probably most of us want to be conservative with water. Whenever I wash salad greens I quickly bring the wash water out to water something. Does anyone else do stuff like this? It seems like they keep forecasting rain but we don’t really get anything. A good soaking can do wonders for a struggling garden.

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Thirsty hydrangeas!

My peas will be done soon but I’ve been keeping them hydrated so they can produce as long as possible. Any new garden plantings will need to be watered until they become established. We expanded a few areas this year and the few perennials we planted have needed daily watering. Of course, I would love to depend on regular rainfall to do the work for me but you can’t always rely on the weather.

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A split valve.

We have been using soaker hoses in our gardens that are furthest from the house. This has proved to be a real time-saver and they are really efficient if positioned properly. We simply run a long hose that goes by each garden. A split valve allows a soaker hose to come off at each garden and then ends up at the greenhouse. The greenhouse houses most of our tomatoes and the climbing cucumbers. Watering in the early morning allows the garden to dry out during the day. This way, the plants don’t sit in water all night. With tomato blight being an issue here, drier conditions are better. Removing the lower leaves of the tomato plants is helpful for keeping the plants disease free.

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Soaker hoses can be real timesavers!

Thin Garden Seedlings 

It might be time to thin carrots, beets or anything else that’s crowded. Carrots may need an inch or more between them for maximum growth. Beets need many inches to reach their full potential for fall harvest. Turnips, parsnips, onions…just do an inspection and see what needs attention.

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Overcrowded turnips.

Feed Your Plants

Even if your soil is top-notch, a boost of nutrients never hurts. I usually make up a bunch of fish emulsion fertilizer to feed my garden. You could also make a batch of worm casting or manure tea. Whatever you choose to use, a shot of fertilizer here and there may be just what your garden needs to get it through the rest of the summer.

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A little fertilizer!

Our garlic is nearly ready for harvest. Last week I gave it a nice drink of fish emulsion for the final week or two before we pull them up. There’s nothing like pulling up those fat garlic bulbs!

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Garlic likes a little shot of fertilizer.

When annual flowers are tended at a commercial greenhouse, they are usually given daily doses of fertilizer. After a while in your own garden, they may go through withdrawal from lack of nutrients. Next time you water, give them a feeding. This will help with continuous blooming for the rest of the season.

Garden Maintenance 

Weeds can quickly choke out crops, so pay attention to any weed situations. It can be difficult to pull tiny weeds. Sometimes I leave them till they are a bit bigger so that I have something to pull. A garden claw or collinear hoe can be very helpful. If weeding is not an option for you, consider mulching weeds with grass clippings, hay or newspaper.

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Pullin’ weeds…

Some early crops may need to be pulled. This makes room for fall planting. Succession Planting can really extend your garden harvest. Plants such as tomatoes may need staking or pruning. Climbing veggies such as beans or cukes can be repositioned for better growth.

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Pinching tomato suckers!

Flower beds can be spruced up too. Peonies and iris can have their stems trimmed. Anything that looks sprawling and ugly can be tidied up. You can find more tips in my article Late Summer Flower Bed Care. Dead-heading plants can keep them looking spiffy. A quick weeding in the front of a bed can make all the difference.

Harvest Time

Many herbs and other crops may need harvesting. Things don’t hang on forever, so grab them while they are at their peak. Basil and parsley keep on producing as long as you keep harvesting. Peas need to be picked or they will grow too large and bitter.

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Borage!

These are just a few helpful tips to keep your garden going through the heat, drought or any other situations that might come up. There seems to be a bit of a lull right now in my garden. The salad greens have been slowing down. Some crops are stunted this year, possibly due to the slow start to summer. Soon we will be overrun by tomatoes and hopefully many zucchini. Always something to look forward too! What’s going on in your garden? I would love to hear from you. Give me a shout in the comment section. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any upcoming posts. I will be writing about local produce and other seasonal topics soon! Thanks for joining me this week!

Hilary|Everlongardener

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Rudbeckia.
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Day lilies!

 

Refreshing Strawberry Watermelon Granita

Summer is here and so are the watermelons! Every barbecue and picnic would not be complete without watermelon. Remember those huge watermelons that used to be in the stores? Did you have watermelon seed spitting contests with all of your siblings and cousins? I bet you did! Everyone’s faces were covered in pink, sticky liquid. You probably miss that. Right now watermelons are in those giant bins at grocery stores but they will soon be available from local farms or maybe even your own home garden. These smaller varieties we see now are perfect for just two people. There’s more to watermelon than just cutting it up and serving. With a little creativity, you can serve watermelon in many other ways.

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One of my family members cannot have dairy products so I’ve been cooking most of our food dairy-free for about 2 years. It has now become a way of life. The other day I had a quantity of watermelon that I wanted to do something with. The idea for a refreshing granita popped into my head. What is a granita? A granita is a unique Italian dessert usually made from sugar, water and flavoring.

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Juicy watermelon!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of watermelon chunks
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled, fresh or frozen
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tablespoons sugar or preferred sweetener

 

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Put watermelon and strawberries in the blender.

Directions

Assemble ingredients for the granita. If using fresh lime juice, juice the lime. If you are using bottled, measure out equivalent amount. Place watermelon and the strawberries in a blender or food processor. Pour in lime juice and add sweetener. You can make this without sugar but it really kicks the flavors into gear. You could use honey, agave nectar, stevia or coconut sugar. Less or more sweetener can be used to suit your taste.

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Blend all ingredients.

Blend all ingredients until smooth. If you prefer a chunkier granita, stop blending before all of the pieces are pulverized.

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Pour into shallow dish.

Select a shallow dish to pour your mixture into. A glass, oven-safe container is usually a good choice. Pour the slurry into the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a stable spot in your freezer for about 3 hours. Freezers will vary.

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Stir the frozen mixture.

After the time is up, check on your frozen creation. It should not be frozen solid but be somewhat firm. Using a fork, scrape the frozen slush to make the granita. If it seems too firm, just let it sit for a bit until it is workable.

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Serve it up!

After you have scraped up enough granita, spoon the dessert into glasses or pretty dishes. Garnish with mint or lemon balm leaves if you like. This recipe makes 4-5 servings. Keep any remaining granita in the freezer. Mixture will freeze solid, so plan enough time for thawing if you want to serve any left over portions.

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An elegant dessert!

There you have it! One healthy, vegan, gluten free, summertime dessert. It really is very refreshing. Even my pickiest eater loved it and ate every last drop. Try this easy summer recipe, I think you will really love it!

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As beautiful as it is tasty!

The garden has been slowly taking off. The flower beds are blooming right on time but the vegetable garden has been slow. My beets are still in the miniature stage. Chard is also behind. I have to attribute it to the very slow start we had with the weather. I’m continually surprised at the hope that I have for next years garden even when things don’t turn out like I planned this year. The peas are doing well. We eat them while we are tending the garden. I have a pea recipe in mind but they rarely make it to the house! I hope your garden is doing well. Thanks for checking out my recipe post this week here at Everlongardener! I really hope that you give it a try!

Hilary|Everlongardener

My Grandmothers Peonies

Flowers have always held different meanings. It is said the flowers have their very own language. Individual types of flowers mean different things to each of us. Flowers have always inspired poets and artists. A single flower can take us back to a special place or time. Some happy, some sad. For me, my grandmothers peonies do it every time.

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When my grandmother moved to her apartment later in life, the only perennials that came with her were her precious pink peonies. She planted them in a line in the back of her building. I’m not sure how many years she had been maintaining her favorite plants but I do know that she moved them to several different homes. She would wash her dishes in a wash basin and then send me out with the ‘grey water’ to water the thirsty peonies. This was supposedly the secret to huge blooms. We have several of her still life paintings featuring her pink peonies in a treasured vase.

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Peonies put on quite a show!

As the years have gone by, those same peonies have been moved to more homes. My sister and mother both have some in their gardens. I think I need to dig up a piece for my garden to make it complete.

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Pink is one of the many colors.

What Is It About Flowers?

For me it can be peonies or columbine or field flowers. For you it could be daisies, roses or Lily-of-the-Valley. The thing is that it could be any plant for anyone. Something that sparks a childhood memory or the thought of a person or an event. For Erin Benzakein, Washington state flower farmer, it’s sweet peas. Sweet peas brought her right back to her own grandmothers garden and the times she spent there. That first summer, word got around about her fabulous bouquets of sweet peas and someone placed an order. She nervously delivered the flowers only to find the recipient plunging her face into the fragrant bouquet and she started to cry. Why? Because they brought her back to her childhood days in her grandmothers garden. This experience helped Erin realize that there was a place for her in her area as a flower farmer. Flowers mean a lot to people. Adapted from Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein.

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The delicate folds of a peony blossom.

Peony Care 

Peonies are a long lived perennial, capable of lasting for generations. Herbaceous peonies require very little care and once established will not need division for some 8-10 years. Obtain bare roots by mail in the fall or get them from a generous friend. Plant them in a spot that offers full sun. Provide adequate drainage and plenty of organic matter. Roots will do best planted just below the soil, about 2″ for Northern growers. Space plants at least 3 feet apart. Peonies benefit from staking to keep heavy blooms off of the ground. After peonies bloom, dead-heading keeps the plant tidy. Any flowers left on the plant will form interesting seed pods so it’s up to you. Foliage continues to add structure to the garden and the leaves of some cultivars turn fiery red in autumn.

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Ever photogenic.

Divide mature plants in fall with a garden fork. Cut if necessary with a sharp knife. Each new clump should at least have three eyes. Plant in vacant spots in your garden, pass some on to friends or start a peony bed. It’s best to refrain from picking flowers while the plant is getting established.

Peonies As Cut Flowers 

Peonies make some of the most magnificent flower arrangements! Bold and colorful. Scented and grand! How can you make the most of your peonies?

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Irresistible bouquets!

Harvest flowers in the bud stage. Not when they first put out buds but when the flower petals start to soften. Growers call this the ‘marshmallow’ stage. Immediately plunge stems into clean water to refresh them. Pick off any ants that you find. It is said that peonies have nectar naturally occurring on the buds that ants are attracted to and the ants then aid the flower in opening. Remove the excess leaves and arrange as desired. Peonies can be placed in small arrangements or used in large, over-the-top displays.

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In the bud stage.

If you would like to use your peonies for a special occasion, the stems with buds can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Farmers with proper floral storage can hold them for up to three months. Simply remove leaves, wrap in a plastic bag and paper towels. Lay flat in the refrigerator for best storage. Check on them occasionally. When you are ready to use them, re-cut the stems and place in warm water. Floral preservative can also be used. Buds will soon begin to open. They will be ready for your event within 24 hours. For more cut flower information, read Erin’s book above or try The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski.

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Making bouquets.

Peonies hold a special spot in my heart. Especially my grandmothers pink peonies. I’m sure that you have your own plant or flower that takes you back down memory lane. My husband seems to have started collecting rhubarb plants from various relatives. Please share what you love in a comment below, I’d love to hear from you! Also, check out the archives for other helpful gardening articles. Thanks for dropping by!

Hilary|Everlongardener

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Memories…