About Starting A Vegetable Garden
Decide what varieties to grow based on your climate, space and level of expertise. Aim for a mix of easy-to-grow vegetables and crops that offer more nutritional value.
Vegetable seeds can be directly sown in the ground or purchased as transplants from garden centers or online. Seed packets should indicate recommended planting dates. Water new seeds or transplants daily until established, and water mature plants according to soil conditions (a light, well-drained loam needs less frequent watering than heavy clay).
I get excited when I see tomatoes and eggplant at the farmers’ market, and have trouble showing restraint when filling my basket. Sometimes the reality of my week doesn’t quite match up to my cooking dreams and, by Friday, I’ve got some sadder vegetables looking at me from the vegetable drawer. It’s always good to have a few recipes in your repertoire that use these less than perfect vegetables or, if you’re luckier, easily translate garden overabundance into something for the future.
This pasta sauce scales well if you have a lot of vegetables, just be sure to take the time to taste and season accordingly. Add salt before roasting and again after the blend. Freeze in plastic storage containers in the portion size that suits your eaters. Picture your future self, some busy night, pulling out a beautiful sauce that smells like summer. Boil some pasta, toss, and you’ve got an easy, vegetable based dinner.
Roasted Summer Vegetable Pasta Sauce
makes about 4 cups
- 3 large tomatoes
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 reasonably sized zucchini
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- olive oil, salt, pepper
- a handful of fresh basil leaves
- 2 big handfuls of fresh spinach
- 2 tbls. butter
- 1 tbls. red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
- Set oven to preheat at 450F.
- Prepare your vegetables by cutting into roughly equal sizes. Decide if you’re going to peel your eggplants and zucchinis – a potato peeler works well for this, if so. Peel the garlic and set aside.
- Toss the vegetables in olive oil, spread on a baking sheet, and season well with salt and pepper.
- Put the vegetables in to bake. After 5 minutes, remove the sheet and nestle the cloves of garlic in the center of the vegetables. Bake 15 minutes more.
- Add the roasted vegetables, basil, spinach, butter, vinegar, and salt to a food processor. Pulse until it’s the consistency you like. Don’t forget to taste. Add more salt or a dash more vinegar if needed.
- Serve over hot pasta or freeze the sauce in portions for later.
Anne Willhoit is an educator, community volunteer, and enthusiastic baker who likes to create recipes that use from-scratch techniques and are inspired by local, seasonal ingredients. Find her on Instagram at @aawillhoit or drop her an inquiry at FromScratchKS@gmail.com.