Garden Of Eatin'

By Chandra Orr

July 3, 2008 5 min read


Homegrown vegetables can produce memorable meals

By Chandra Orr

Copley News Service

You spent all summer with a green thumb. Now it's time to reap the benefits of your home garden and put all that organic goodness on the table.

How about an heirloom tomato drizzled in olive oil with garden-grown herbs? Maybe roasted herb-infused zucchini, squash and sweet potatoes are more your style.

"There's nothing more satisfying than eating the fruits - and vegetables - of your hard but loving labor in the garden," said chef Virginia Willis, author of "Bon Appetit Y'all: Recipes and Stories From Three Generations of Southern Cooking," (Ten Speed Press, $33).

"Fresh garden produce needs as little as possible to let it shine - a bit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper to bring out the flavor and, of course, garden-fresh herbs."

Her favorite quick fix for a fall harvest? Roasted carrots, parsnips, celery root or turnips accented with warm spices like fennel seed, bay leaves or a touch of nutmeg.

"Fall produce lends itself to roasting. It really brings out the sweetness," Willis said.

Chef Maria Liberati, author of "The Basic Art of Italian Cooking" (Art of Living, PrimaMedia, Inc., $25), prefers sweet potatoes, squash and white potatoes roasted with fresh rosemary then drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.

"When it comes to using fresh organic produce, simpler is better," Liberati said. "You want to let the real flavors come through. The rosemary and olive oil only enhance and do not cover the flavors."

For more savory side dishes, try one of the following recipes with your fall harvest. They're quick, simple and guaranteed to tempt the palette.


Olive oil

4 sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon coriander

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon water

Yields 4 servings.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on flat cookie sheet. Peel potatoes and cut into pieces about 3 inches long and 3/4-inch thick. Grind oregano, coriander and cinnamon with spice grinder. In large bowl, mix cut sweet potatoes with seasoning. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of water to help blend seasoning and sweet potatoes.

Place sweet potatoes on cookie sheet, drizzle another tablespoon olive oil on top and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, turn and bake for 5 minutes or until brown on top.

For crisper potatoes, place under broiler for 3 minutes or until brown and crispy. When done, remove potatoes from oil and let them cool on a plate over paper towels.

- Courtesy of chef Maria Liberati, author of "The Basic Art of Italian Cooking" (Art of Living, PrimaMedia, Inc., $25).


2 ears corn

2 tablespoons Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

1/4 cup crumbled feta or queso fresco cheese

4 lime wedges

Yields 4 servings.

Preheat grill or oven to 400 F. Carefully pull back husks from corn; remove silk. Soak corn in water to cover for 20 minutes so it does not burn on the grill. Drain well.

Combine Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce, butter and lime juice in small bowl. Pull back husks and brush each cob with chipotle butter; fold husks back over corn. Tie top of each husk with a long strand of husk to close.

Grill or cook in oven 10 minutes, turning occasionally. To serve, remove husks from corn. Sprinkle with cilantro and crumbled cheese. Serve with lime wedges.

- Courtesy of Tabasco.


1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon paprika

Pinch of salt

8 ounces baby arugula, washed

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1/2 cup candied pecans

1/3 cup lemon tarragon dressing

Yields 4 servings.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Put squash in large bowl, add olive oil, honey, spices and salt; mix together until squash is coated. Place on sheet pan and roast in oven for 35 minutes or until squash is soft and golden. Remove from oven and let squash cool for 5 minutes. Put arugula into large mixing bowl. Add squash, goat cheese, candied pecans and toss together. Drizzle with lemon tarragon dressing. Serve immediately.

- Courtesy of

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