I really only started cooking ‘for real’ a few years ago and found that I love experimenting in the kitchen. Having an organic garden makes things even more interesting as I grow things I’d never buy if I saw them at the store. Growing them myself feels like less pressure, like as long as I didn’t spend money on it I can be more adventurous.
I have to say too that since we started our garden our vegetable intake has skyrocketed. Ridiculously healthy food I never bought – kale, beets, leeks – just pop out of the ground and it would be disrespectful not to eat them. Since I love cooking outdoors I’ve done a lot of research on grilling the things I grow. Turns out you can grill just about anything and it will taste delicious. I never imagined myself fighting over my share of kale, but then who knew grilled kale tasted so crunchy and nutty and amazing? So these days when I’m throwing chicken or chops on the grill I always make room for whatever veggies we’ve got growing.
Beets are fantastic on the grill. I adopted (and corrupted) a recipe from Jamie Oliver that makes beets super sweet and delicious. I start with small beets or beet halves. Leaving the skin on I toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap them in their own greens. I make a foil packet for that little bundle, add a few springs of rosemary and seal it up. That can then roast on the grill over whatever heat I’m cooking at for about 30 minutes. When it’s ready the skin slides off, which is so much easier than peeling them raw. Then I chop the beets into chunks, add some fresh herbs and a splash of vinegar and it’s really yummy!
We combine them with other grilled goodies, toss them in a salad, or eat them with our fingers while standing at the kitchen counter because we have no class. One marginally successful combo was when I tossed them with these “baby onions” (aka: onions harvested that were so small I didn’t know what else to do but cook them whole.) I say marginally successful only because the red onions were a bit strong for my taste, but Jon liked them.
My “baby onions” were perfect for skewers!
Another no-brainer is grilled eggplant. To be honest I’m not a huge fan of eggplant but I grow it because I think it’s so pretty. The lush green leaves with their purple veins and pretty flowers are irresistible to me. Then the stupid thing starts making eggplants and after giving away as many as I can I am forced to eat some myself. What’s a girl to do but slice them thin, coat them in evoo, s & p, and toss them on the grill? And a little goat cheese never hurt anybody.
Since I’ve probably beaten my love for grilled artichokes to death I’ll resist posting yet another photo. But I do love them, well and truly and deeply. If you haven’t tried them you should. I promise, it will be worth the effort. And with that advice I am off to the garden to see what I can dig up for dinner.