Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Garden Update + Pesto Pasta Salad

I missed an update in between, so prepare yourselves, because the garden is getting out of control!

Here's a photo from July 11:

Garden 7/11/2015

Not too crazy, right? Lettuce is coming in, tomatoes are filling out, radishes are a little bit nuts (and were mercilessly thinned).

Garden 7/11/2015 (radish)

Because that's not how you grow radishes. Oops. Turns out if you have extra seeds, you should save them, or give them away, or even throw them away, instead of just tossing them all in the dirt and giving yourself a bunch of extra work to do thinning, and also... no mature radishes.

OK, one mature radish.

Garden 7/21/2015 (radish!)

Not a totally wasted effort, however, because as it turns out, radish greens are edible and tasty! After cleaning (so thoroughly! many slugs spotted.), they are great sautéed and tossed in with scrambled eggs, pasta sauces, wherever you might use spinach or kale (although they are kind of prickly, so I wouldn't use them in salad). And I made a big batch of pesto, which made a phenomenal pasta salad! (Scroll to the bottom for recipes.)

Radish Green Pesto! ::

Pesto Pasta Salad ::

The carrots and lettuce are playing nicely:

Garden 7/11/2015 (carrots and lettuce)

And here's where I start to lose my grip on the situation (from July 21):

Garden 7/21/2015

ACK! What is even going on?! OK, a couple of things are going on. The aforementioned radish was harvested, along with most of the rest of the radish greens. We might get another few radishes. Peppers and tomatoes are going like gangbusters, loving the recent heat wave.

Garden 7/21/2015 (cherry tomatoes)

Garden 7/21/2015 (cherry tomatoes)

Basil! Threatening to go to seed. Chopped off a bunch of the tops and used 'em for dinner last night. That'll teach them to be dramatic.

Garden 7/21/2015 (basil)

And then there was the time when I almost lost my entire crop of beets to some sneaky, devious, giant weeds that took over their spot in the bed. Being still firmly in the camp of "novice gardener," I was more than a little nervous to pull out of a bunch of uniform-looking, big, healthy, pink-rooted plants that were growing where I planted beets. Are these the beets? I asked myself. Then, after remembering what fully-grown beets look like, I took a deep breath, gave myself a little pep talk (out loud: "Trust yourself!" Oh yes I did.), and pulled them ALL! And lo and behold, what should remain but two neat little rows of the saddest, most sun-starved little baby beet plants you've ever seen.

Garden 7/21/2015 (beets, right after weeding)

Now that I've gotten rid of their competition and thinned them out a bit, I think they'll bounce back.

I was about to thin the vining plants on the right side, started to, and then totally lost my nerve. (The beet weed episode really took it out of me!) I'm going to make sure to get a lot of advice (from my friends on youtube, and some real gardeners at the local garden center) before going back to stake, prune, and thin those bad boys. More on my findings in the next post!

Pesto can be made with basically anything dark and leafy, so I went for radish greens, which I had in abundance. Try kale, chard, collards, or stick with the classic basil. They are all delicious.

Pesto Pasta Salad

1/3 cup radish pesto (recipe follows)
1/2 pound cavatappi, or other short, dried pasta, cooked al dente, and drained
8 ounces fresh mozzarella (I used the tiny balls that come in a water-packed container)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 12-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper

Toss ingredients together in a large bowl and stir to combine, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, and thinning the sauce as needed with olive oil. Store in the refrigerator for days of easy meals!

Radish Green Pesto

4 cups radish greens (or other greens, see head note)
1.5 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
juice and zest of 1 lemon
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
salt and pepper to taste

Place ingredients in a food processor, and pulse to combine, then puree until you reach your desired consistency. Enjoy!

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