So you’ve grown your own vegetables…now what are you supposed to do with them?! While it’s more than fine to just munch on your homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers, and whatever else you have in your garden, you can also incorporate them into your lunch and dinner recipes.
In fact, now’s the time to start planning your recipes around the vegetables that are growing in your garden, not the other way around. Nobody wants to spend all their time in the kitchen during the summer, so these recipes are guaranteed to make your life so much easier.
Not to mention, if you’re thinking about growing your own vegetables, this may be the push you need to do so. Think about the vegetables you frequently purchase from the grocery store and grow them yourself! There’s something incredibly satisfying about being able to enjoy the fruits of your own labor (no pun intended).
Whether you have just one vegetable growing in your garden or you have more than you can handle, here are a number of recipes you can make at home using what you have on hand. Never let another vegetable go to waste again!
There are few things better in life than homegrown tomatoes. I don’t know if they’re actually more juicy and delicious when they come from your personal garden, but if you’re not already growing tomatoes at home you need to start ASAP. They’re super easy to maintain and you don’t need very much space to get them going.
However, if you already have tomato plants, now’s the time to make a delicious Caprese sandwich. Not only is it super easy to make, it truly tastes like summer. I promise you’ll be craving one of these sandwiches every day after you make your first one.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for the perfect sandwich:
- Sourdough Bread
- Salt and pepper
First thing’s first, you’re going to have to make your pesto (or buy some from the store). But don’t worry, it’s super easy to make. All you need is garlic cloves, olive oil, pine nuts, basil, salt, and parmesan cheese. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add your pine nuts and garlic cloves. Once they’re golden brown, you’re going to add everything into a food processor or a blender (besides the cheese). Add the cheese in once everything is blended and you’re good to go!
Alright, once the pesto is made, spread it on two slices of toasted sourdough bread. Add sliced tomatoes (as many as you want) to one side and sliced mozzarella (again, as much as you want) to the other side.
Add your fresh basil and arugula, which you can also grow in your garden, and top it off with a bit of balsamic. You can then either eat the sandwich as is, or you can cook it in a panini maker to make it extra golden and crispy.
Picture this — you’re sitting on your patio eating a yummy garden salsa you made using homegrown vegetables. Sounds pretty nice, huh? Make that dream a reality! Delicious salsa is super easy to make using just a handful of ingredients. Stop buying salsa from the store and just make it using what you have at your disposal!
Now, the beauty of a garden salsa is you can literally put whatever you want in it. There are truly no rules! But, I would suggest adding corn, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and onions. You can also throw in some cucumbers, avocado, and a bit of lime juice. Add a little cilantro on top and you’re good to go.
This is a great recipe to bring to parties or to have on hand if you frequently entertain. Just make sure to always have a bag of chips ready!
Parmesan Zucchini and Squash Spears
If you have more zucchini or summer squash in your garden than you know what to do with, you’ve come to the right place. Squash can grow rampant, especially in the summer, so it’s nice to find a quick and easy recipe that’ll put all your veggies to good use.
And, because both zucchini and squash can get very soggy very quickly, this parmesan baked recipe will keep them crispy and tender at the same time. Plus, it also calls for a few spices you may also have growing in your garden.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Zucchini and/or squash
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic powder
First thing’s first, cut your zucchini and/or squash into spears. While you can cut them any way you’d like, cutting them into spears will actually prevent them from getting too soggy. You also don’t need to worry about removing the skin, it’s perfectly fine to eat!
Once everything has been cut, place the zucchini and/or squash onto a baking tray and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, add your parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and thyme.
In another bowl, add the olive oil. Then, one by one, place your spears into the olive oil, making sure to coat it evenly, and then add it into the mixture (also making sure to coat it evenly). After each spear has been coated, place them into the oven for about 15 to 18 minutes.
Are you having a hard time consuming your vegetables as quickly as they’re growing? If so, this is probably the recipe for you. Now, most people would say to just make a giant salad and call it a day, but not me. Nope, rather than eat a salad, you should throw all your yummy veggies onto a pizza. Because, let’s face it, pizza is always a better option than salad.
Here’s what you need to make a yummy pizza (that you can’t get from your garden):
- Pizza dough
- Marinara sauce (or really any sauce you prefer)
- Cheese (optional)
Once you have all your store-bought ingredients, collect all the vegetables from your garden and slice them up. Roll out your pizza dough, add the sauce you’d like, and throw on all the veggies. Sprinkle in a bit of cheese if that’s something you’re into, or even add some pepperoni or sausage if you want a bit of protein!
Preheat your oven to about 450 degrees and cook the pizza anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes (depending on how crispy you like your crust). And, if you have a lot of vegetables you’re trying to use up, throw a pizza party at your house and make three or four pizzas. Win, win, right?
I don’t know about you, but in the summer I am always looking for quick and easy recipes that don’t require me slaving away in the kitchen. Who wants to bake in a hot kitchen when you can be enjoying the heat outside? So, if you’re anything like me, you’ll love this delicious cucumber salad. Not only can you make it with just the items you have growing in your garden, but it’s fresh, simple, and tastes great.
Here’s what you need to make this salad:
- Cucumber, sliced
- Tomatoes, sliced
- Onion, sliced
- Balsamic vinaigrette
- Feta cheese
Truly all you have to do to enjoy this dish is slice up your veggies, throw them into a bowl, add a drizzle of the balsamic vinaigrette, and top it off with a bit of feta cheese. Keep it in your refrigerator throughout the summer and eat it whenever you’re craving your veggies. It’s also a great recipe to bring to a summer party or BBQ.
The Bottom Line? Enjoy What You’re Growing
So, whether you decide to make every single one of these recipes or none at all, the most important thing is that you enjoy the vegetables you grow. Vegetable gardens are pretty to look at, don’t get me wrong, but they should also be providing you with food to eat. Don’t just grow tomatoes if you don’t like eating tomatoes! In fact, take inventory of your garden and ask yourself if you even eat what you’re growing. If you don’t, it may be a good idea to grow something else instead.
Another thing to do if you notice your garden is growing too fast is to reach out to neighbors or loved ones and ask if they’d like to pick some veggies for themselves. This way you at least know your vegetables are being put to good use and aren’t going to waste.
You could even start a communal garden with some of your neighbors that you all take care of together. This would certainly make things easier for you if you travel a lot or are worried about not being able to take care of your vegetables every single day.
And, if you’re truly at a loss for what to do with some of your vegetables, just throw them in a bowl with a little salt and pepper and enjoy. You can never go wrong with raw veggies, right?