Home-grown food just tastes better. It’s not hard to see why, either. The lack of processing, chemical treatment and, in some cases, genetic modification results in rich, authentic flavors that some people have never even experienced because we’ve become so accustomed to getting food at the market.
If you’ve put the time and effort into growing your own food in a garden, it only makes sense to find recipes that take advantage of the wonderful fresh ingredients you have. We’ve gathered 10 recipes to showcase popular garden vegetables and help put your best garden fruits and veggies front-and-center.
Home-grown carrots remind us how sweet and flavorful these simple root vegetables can really be. Plus, you get to indulge in a variety of different colors depending on what you planted. Carrots are easy to prepare in the oven. This recipe uses the timeless combination of butter, salt and pepper. The whole thing takes about 30 minutes if you peel the carrots. It’s an easy dish that showcases fresh veggies and doesn’t overcomplicate things.
Supermarket tomatoes have been phoning it in compared to their home-grown cousins for decades now. Add in the flavor of fresh basil and olives combined with lemon, orzo and feta, and you’ve got an island-inspired dish that’s packed with savory goodness. Best of all, it’s easy to make. The dressing will need at least two hours to chill, but the rest of the cold ingredients can be broken down and mixed together in about 20 minutes.
Have some fresh zucchini, tomatoes and peppers that you want to showcase? Here’s a creative take on classic pesto that delivers the vibrant green color we all know and love, but adds a twist when it comes to flavor.
Fresh tomato, pepper, slivered almonds and a host of aromatics are added to the squash to create a rich, vibrant pesto variation that is equal parts new, classic and fun. Of course, good pesto deserves bread and cheese, and those two items are precisely what this is paired with. Chianti, anyone?
Here’s a great recipe that can be a vehicle for any number of homegrown goodies. This pizza recipe is intended to be made on the trail, but it’s equally delicious if you just make it in your own backyard.
Kneading and stretching the dough adds a little activity to the meal in case you’ve got some young trail companions who need to keep busy. Top with your freshly picked garden veggies and cook over a hot plate until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. It’s better than any frozen pie!
This super-fresh and flavorful salad really shines when made with homegrown strawberries and kale.
Complement the main attractions here by adding feta cheese, fresh mint, toasted almonds and bacon. The dressing is simple but adds to the zesty flavor by combining honey, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. This is a great side to a summer barbeque, so throw it together in just a few minutes to bring to a block party or serve it as a side next to a grilled steak, chicken or fish dish.
If you have watermelons, beets or both, here’s a fun summery appetizer that you can bring to your next gathering to celebrate the season. The combination of savory and sweet works along with the refreshing kick from the watermelon to make these fun and interesting and the colors look really nice together.
Place atop a slice of toasted baguette topped with goat cheese and garnish with chopped red onion. Extra points if you make the goat cheese yourself!
If you grow peppers, you know how versatile they are to cook with. Homegrown poblanos serve as the base for this simple but hearty dish that combines nutritious members of four different food groups. The peppers are stuffed with rice, beans and a ground beef and turkey mixture that won’t leave you hungry, but is also healthy and delicious. Top it off with melted Mexican cheese and perhaps a little sour cream.
This is more of a sip than a dish. But if you’ve got a lemon tree and perhaps some verbena, you’re well on your way to making this fun summer cocktail. The honey and verbena are boiled to create a simple syrup, to which you then add fresh-squeezed lemon juice and vodka.
If you’ve never enjoyed a cocktail with fresh lemon juice before, you’ll soon see that these trees are nature’s bar cart. This is a crafty but simple cocktail that’ll hit the spot on a warm summer day.
What’s better after a cocktail than a little dessert? Fresh blackberries are good enough by themselves, let alone on top of some vanilla ice cream, but this recipe kicks it up a notch. By heating balsamic vinegar to make a blackberry reduction, you create a tart and tangy topping that moves this out of “ice cream with berries on top” and into the realm of restaurant-quality dessert. There’s an option to add honey to the mix as well, which we recommend.
A ripe peach is one of the high points of the summer season, and peach dessert is made infinitely better when you use fruit that was grown fresh in your own garden. The dough for this recipe is made using flour, sugar, oats, wheat germ, butter and salt. You can put the whole thing together then top with sliced peaches and bake in the oven for about forty minutes for a delicious home-made dessert. And, of course, it goes well with ice cream, just like the previous dish.
You’re Ready to Get Cooking!
Fresh ingredients are always best, and showing off what you’ve grown by putting it into a dish for friends and family is always a good feeling. Try these dishes out with what you’ve grown at home, and share your suggestions for how to combine garden-grown ingredients with our readers in the comments below!