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!

www.everlongardener.com

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!

www.everlongardener.com
Just 4 ingredients!

Ingredients List

  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup of fresh peas
  • 1 pound of cooked pasta
  • Parmesan cheese
www.everlongardener.com
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!

www.everlongardener.com
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.

www.everlongardener.com
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.

www.everlongardener.com
Combine the ingredients.

Using tongs, turn mixture over several times to combine.

www.everlongardener.com
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.

www.everlongardener.com
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

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

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.

www.everlongardener.com

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.

www.everlongardener.com
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

 

www.everlongardener.com
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.

www.everlongardener.com
Blend all ingredients.

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

www.everlongardener.com
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.

www.everlongardener.com
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.

www.everlongardener.com
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.

www.everlongardener.com
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!

www.everlongardener.com
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

Simple Roasted Vegetables

What’s one of the easiest, tastiest ways to enjoy eating your vegetables? Roasting them!  No matter what season it is, simple roasted vegetables are an excellent way to prepare an evening meal.  Roasting vegetables is one of the best ways to use up storage vegetables or just a way to clean out the crisper!

Roasted vegetables work so well as a side dish, a vegetarian meal or with meat added to the pan to create a one dish meal.  Try using chicken, pork or sausage made from chicken or pork.  Our favorite option uses local pork sausage mixed with as many veggies as we can fit on the pan.

Snip sausage with kitchen scissors.

Use a large cookie sheet or roasting pan.  I use my kitchen scissors to cut the sausage in 2″ pieces.

Chopped turnip and beets.

On to the vegetables!  A number of years ago, a friend mentioned that she had been just roasting veggies every night.  No matter what they were, she would simply cook them in the oven.  Broccoli was one veggie that she specifically mentioned.  I had always steamed broccoli.  After trying this method of cooking, I now roast broccoli whenever I can.  As you can see above, beets and turnip can be chopped uniformly to add to your pan.

Cauliflower and broccoli cook up nicely.

Cauliflower and broccoli cook up about the same when you roast them.  Broccoli tends to get a little singed on the edges.  Cauliflower is wonderful when roasted with garlic and then pureed to emulate mashed potato.  Just know that the garlic flavor is quite potent!

Parsnips and carrots have so much flavor.

What would this one pan dinner be without carrots and parsnips?  The sweet flavors are almost like eating candy.  This is one way to use up smaller homegrown carrots.  The ones that are a nuisance to deal with.  Give them a scrub, cut off the end and throw into the pan.  Sometimes our local farm stand has parsnips as big as your forearm.  It only takes one of these to make a meal special and give it that earthy, sweet parsnip taste.

Sweet potatoes are as sweet as can be!

Did I mention sweet potato?  Cut them into chunks or slice like in this photo.  They are fabulous.  It seems that when you roast vegetables, everything just goes together.

Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, cauliflower and beets, ready for the oven.

This past year, I started roasting brussel sprouts.  I’ve grown to love them in this way.  They are especially good with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  Don’t forget that you can use pieces of white potato, asparagus, green beans and bell peppers.  Winter squash wedges are really good too.

Onions are do sweet when roasted.

Onions turn into pure perfection when roasted with other vegetables.  Soft with crispy edges.

Try not to overcrowd the pan!

I literally throw this meal together.  It’s almost like a convenience food for me.  I simply chop, assemble and then we are about an hour away from an awesome meal.  In my oven, the roasted veggies come out best cooked for about an hour at 400 degrees F.  Before placing in the oven, drizzle or spritz with olive oil if desired.  If you are using sausage, go easy on the oil.  Toss in some garlic cloves and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder or brown sugar.  Whatever you like.  Stir vegetables half way through cooking.

A delicious meal!

The resulting meal is so delicious and satisfying.  The flavors all blend together.  It may be simple to make roasted vegetables but the flavors are anything but.  I think that you should make it tonight!  If you have some vegetables in the fridge that are borderline or if some of your veggies stored from your fall harvest are looking sad, try this sumptuous one pan meal!  I hope that you will enjoy it as much as our family does!  Thanks for coming along this week as Everlongardener explores the simple art of roasting veggies!  Don’t forget to subscribe for free in the sidebar for my weekly garden related ramblings!

Hilary|Everlongardener

 

Cranberry Orange Labneh Cheese Ball

What’s creamy, delicious and fancy all at the same time?  A tasty treat with no fat?  How about making a labneh cheese ball?  I’ve made them with savory flavors before but what if the cheese was mixed with sweet and sour flavors for a delectable party cheese ball or breakfast spread?

This may sound like the craziest idea ever but believe me, this is fabulous!  This time of year in New England, fresh cranberries are in local stores.  In our area, we have a cranberry farm that supplies beautiful bags of these tart, crimson jewels to our local health food stores.  Usually we think of making cranberry sauce, bread or relish.  I even have a cranberry pie recipe that everyone loves. But, how else can you enjoy these seasonal fruits?  I had been thinking of making labneh or laban recently.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a simple Middle Eastern yogurt cheese.  Possibly the easiest cheese you can craft at home.

The Process

For making your own labneh at home you will need non-fat or low fat yogurt, cheesecloth, a colander and a saucepan.  I follow the recipe in the 1997 edition of The Joy of Cooking cookbook.  For this recipe, I used vanilla non-fat yogurt.  Regular yogurt will do, no need to buy Greek yogurt.  For a savory cheese spread, plain yogurt is best.

Place cheesecloth in the colander.

Place a small colander in a quart saucepan, then layer three pieces of cheesecloth in the colander.  Leave excess for wrapping.  Scoop 2 cups of yogurt onto the cheesecloth.  Add 2 tsp. salt if making a savory version.  Wrap in a loose ball shape.  Place the saucepan cover over yogurt and put in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  That’s it!  That’s all you have to do!  All excess liquid will be in the saucepan.  For a savory labneh, mix in your choice of herbs…rosemary, mint, basil, oregano, you decide.  Form into a ball, sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with good olive oil.  Serve with pita, crackers or vegetables.  No one will guess that it is a healthy snack!

Cranberry Orange Labneh Cheese Ball

Local Maine cranberries!

For this sweet and tart version, a sort of chutney is needed.  Do not add salt in the cheese making process.  You will need cranberries, a large orange, sugar and pecans.  In a quart size saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries, the juice and zest of 1 large orange.

Juicing the orange to add to the cranberries.

Cook over medium heat until cranberries burst and mixture thickens.

Cooking down the chutney.

Add water as needed but the chutney should have a thick consistency, not watery.  Near the end, add 1/8 cup of sugar.  Add more or less sugar according to taste.  Allow chutney to cool.  This makes enough for two recipes.

Stir in the chutney.

Gently mix half of the chutney into your cheese.  Save the rest for another ball or use for something else.  Just swirl it in, don’t over mix.  Return mixture to cheesecloth to form a ball.

Wrap cheese ball up again.

Put back in the fridge to firm it up.  When you are ready to serve, turn cheese ball out onto serving plate.

Look at that cheese ball!

Toast chopped pecans and coat cheese ball with cooled nuts.  Serve with crackers, bread, bagels…what ever you can think of!  Use in stuffed french toast or on pancakes! Yum!

Just try to stay out of that sweet cheese spread!

This is just one way to serve labneh cheese. If you have fresh cranberries locally, why not try this alternative way of serving them? I hope you try making some, it really is an amazingly easy process.  You will be carrying on an ancient cheese making tradition.  I also hope you love it as much a we do!  This is perfect for a party or even just to keep in the fridge for an anytime of day snack.  Enjoy!

Hilary|Everlongardener

Subscribe for free in sidebar for weekly gardening articles and more ideas for using local food!

 

 

 

Wonderful Winter Squash

If you are anything like me, you can’t wait for fall to come.  Cozy sweaters, fire in the wood stove, shorter days…no, wait, I didn’t mean that one!  I have to say, one of my greatest fall pleasures is eating winter squash and baking with pumpkin.  This is while the masses are heading out to get their pumpkin spice lattes, that pumpkin spice lip balm and all of the rest of the limited edition pumpkin spice things.  Let’s get back to the real food and talk about using real winter squash and pumpkin!

img_1432

Winter squash and pumpkin belong to the cucurbita genus of plants.  They come in so many shapes, sizes and colors.  Just stroll through your local farm stand and you may see just a few fine specimens from a long list of varieties.  ‘Red Kuri’, ‘Butternut’, ‘Sweet Dumpling’, ‘Blue Hubbard’ and my favorite that I grew up with, ‘Buttercup’!  Ranging in size from a two serving ‘Delicata’ to those huge pumpkins that you can barely fit in your oven!

'Delicata' squash is very sweet!
‘Delicata’ squash is very sweet!

Squash and pumpkins have always been very important crops because of their nutrition and storage qualities.  In the article Celebrate the Three Sisters: Corn, Beans and Squash, the process is described about how the Iroquois tribe planted these three crops together in a highly sustainable inter-planting arrangement.  Valued the world over, they are packed with Vitamins A, B, C, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese according to Epicurious.  Also, they are low in fat and calories (that’s the real winner here!).  And then there is the flavor.  Some of the best winter squash are rich, meaty and oh so sweet in flavor!  I call it fall soul food!

Gnarled pumpkin stem!
Gnarled pumpkin stem!

In autumn, squash are abundant here in Maine.  Because winter squash and pumpkins store well, many of us stock up this time of year.  If you have a cool, dry location that won’t freeze, try storing a few for future use.  Check with some of your local growers, the price seems to go down as winter gets closer.  I have a shelf in my garage where I keep an assortment.  Just be sure to check them regularly and use any that show signs of going bad.  The stem may grow a bit of mold or the flesh can show a few dark spots.

Butternut squash.
Butternut squash.

I really have a hard time growing winter squash, let alone pumpkins.  If I had an open field I might give them more attention but they take up too much real estate for me right now.  Cooking and freezing is an easy option for anyone who has the space.  Canning or pressure canning can be used also.  This is an option if you are not a fan of eating canned food from the store.  I came upon an article One-Pie Canned Pumpkin Pur’ee|History and Recipes.  It featured our iconic Maine canned pumpkin and squash, One-Pie.  Growing up, it seemed that this was the canned pumpkin to buy and I still have a few cans on hand for convenience.  This company started out in Waldoboro, Maine, then moved to West Paris, Maine.  Now, although still distributed from West Paris, says the article, the processing is done in Illinois!  Crazy!

One Pie canned pumpkin.
One Pie canned pumpkin.

Pumpkin and squash are so versatile.  They can at times be used interchangeable in recipes.  Taking on the flavors of the seasoning that you add, the mashed squash can be sweet or savory.  Roasted squash has got to be my favorite fall side dish.  Not to mention the countless ways to serve it.  Just on it’s own with butter and pepper is fine with me!

In my grandmothers 1949 copy of The Wise Encyclopedia of Cooking, right between squab-pigeon and squirrel, is a quirky spread of recipes for squash.  It notes that “Squash soup is an epicure’s delight, and many combinations of squash and other vegetables can be made.”  True indeed!

Roasting Fall root veggies and squash!
Roasting Fall root veggies and squash!

If you have a squash with a dry texture, try steaming chunks of it.  A squash with a lot of moisture can be improved by roasting with a drizzle of olive oil and brown sugar.  Pumpkins and squash can be baked whole or in pieces.  Seeds can be cleaned and roasted with your favorite seasonings for a healthy snack.

All colors, shapes and sizes!
All colors, shapes and sizes!

I would like to share a recipe that I have adapted for a pumpkin soup that is diet friendly and so delicious!  Squash or pumpkin work in this recipe.  Great as a meal with bread and salad or try serving a mug with a sandwich for a filling lunch.  This recipe is easily made vegan.

Skinny Pumpkin Curry Soup

Heat over medium-low heat in a soup pot, 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Add 1 medium onion, chopped.  Cook till translucent.  Saute 2 cloves of minced garlic for a few minutes but be careful not to burn.

Onions, garlic and spices!
Onions, garlic and spices!

Put 1 tsp. yellow curry powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, pepper to taste and 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes in with the onions and cook for a quick minute.  Pour in 3 cups of chicken or veggie broth and 1 3/4 cups of mashed pumpkin or squash.  Simmer for a good 15 minutes.

Adding the squash or pumpkin.
Adding the squash or pumpkin.

Place soup in the blender with 1 cup of skim milk or almond milk.  Blend until smooth.   That’s it!  Sweet and spicy!

Soup in the blender!
Soup in the blender!

Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and a piece of bread.  I hope that you give this recipe a try.  It’s thick and satisfying!

Grand finale! Pumpkin soup.
Grand finale! Pumpkin soup.

Winter squash and pumpkin can be part of your healthy diet in an endless amount of ways.  Pies, cakes, cookies, bread, side dishes and soups.  You are only limited to your imagination!

Hilary|Everlongardener

 

 

For The Love Of Rhubarb

If you are anything like me, you spend the months of spring waiting for your patch of rhubarb to be ready.  Those first curled leaves emerge from the ground and you know that many delicious treats are on their way!  Many a home garden would not be complete without a clump of rhubarb.

As kids, my nephew and I would run out and pick rhubarb stalks to dip in sugar.  Raw eating is very tart but tolerable with the sugar.  Talk about sweet and sour!

You may think that rhubarb has always been growing in North America, but it apparently did not show up on our shores until the late 1700’s.  Records of rhubarb cultivation go back to around 2700 B.C. in China.  Traveling along with exotic spices, it made it’s way across Europe and eventually to America.  Prized for it’s medicinal benefits, it has been known to have cathartic and laxative properties.  Not a true fruit, it is considered a vegetable.  I found some captivating history on rhubarb in the article Rhubarb History The History of Rhubarb also had chronological facts about how rhubarb got from there to here.  Probably more than anyone ever wanted to know about rhubarb but great info for plant geeks!

Harvesting the rhubarb.
Harvesting the rhubarb.

When we moved to our property, we were able to move a rhubarb plant from my husbands grandmother’s patch.  She always said to plant it by a rock.  Does ledge count?  As you can see in the picture, our clump has really done well.  Whether you are digging a plant from a friends garden or purchasing a plant, make sure you get a good healthy plant.  Prepare soil well and amend with aged manure or compost.  Rhubarb plants are heavy feeders and benefit from yearly applications of manure.  This is especially important if you have poor soil.  But if you do absolutely nothing at all, the rhubarb will still put out some stalks.  Choose a sunny, permanent spot.  If you don’t have rhubarb growing, you can ask someone if you can pick or local markets usually carry it this time of year.

Rhubarb crowns coming up out of the ground!
Rhubarb crowns coming up out of the ground!

To harvest, firmly grasp individual stalks and pull.  Broken or cut pieces can leave the rhubarb susceptible to disease and rot.  In general, the rhubarb has very few problems.  When the plant sends up a seed stalk, simply pull it out.  Always leave some stalks when picking.  Leaves should be discarded and not added to your compost piles because of the toxic levels of oxalic acid.  The stalks are low in calories and high in nutrients.

But now, on to the good part.  Eating!  Cooking with rhubarb is only limited to the imagination.  Rhubarb can be steamed, sauced, frozen, canned or pickled.  It can be made into pies, muffins, scones, juice, syrup, jam, jelly and wine.  With the addition of some form of sweetener, the rhubarb is transformed into a highly edible treat!  Pair it with strawberries and you’ve really got something.  My mother always made her rhubarb coffee cake which involves a box of strawberry Jello and sour cream.

Look at that gorgeous rhubarb!

In this post, I would like to share a recipe that I adapted from an apple crisp.  I had this combination a few years ago at a restaurant and I had to create a version of my own.

Rhubarb Blueberry Crisp

Prepare a 9×13 pan.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine rhubarb and berries in pan and sprinkle with desired amount of sugar.

  • 4 cups rhubarb, cut in 1/2″ pieces
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 1/4 cups light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter 
    Assembling the crisp.
    Assembling the crisp.

    Stir together last six ingredients until well combined.  Spread evenly over fruit mixture and bake for about 30 minutes.  It should be nice and bubbly.

    The crisp is ready for the oven!
    The crisp is ready for the oven!

    A perfect combination of sweet and tart!  I always thought that I had to use strawberries with rhubarb, but one taste and I knew that I had to make this recipe!  The crisp is perfect served alone or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

    Rhubarb Blueberry crisp!
    Rhubarb Blueberry crisp!

    I hope I’ve tempted you today with the thought of a pie, crisp or other fantastic creation!  Consider adding a rhubarb plant or two to your garden.  They are undemanding and generally high yielding.  It will repay you for years to come!  Have a great week! And don’t forget to subscribe over in the sidebar! Or follow me on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram for daily pics!

    Hilary|Everlongardener