Grow Your Own Restaurant

By Teresa Iqbal

February 23, 2016 5 min read

Farm-to-table isn't just a trend. It's an incredibly satisfying way to create a meal with the produce that you've worked so hard on and waited so patiently for. Here, you will find some recipe ideas for the veggies already growing in your backyard.

Tomatoes are hearty and grow in abundance, making them a key ingredient in any restaurant-inspired recipe. The tomatoes that you buy in the grocery store are usually picked before they reach their optimum ripeness. Farm-to-table cooking gives you the opportunity to pick and taste perfectly ripe tomatoes, full of flavor. You won't experience that from a grocery store buy.

An incredibly useful recipe to make using the tomatoes from your own garden is a pasta sauce -- throw it on some pizza crust or in a pot of spaghetti. Pasta sauce is a great staple recipe to master that tastes best with homegrown tomatoes.

This recipe from Yummy Yummy Kitchen incorporates fresh tomatoes and just a few other ingredients, but the result is a full-flavored pasta sauce that can be served immediately or frozen. It is perfect to have on hand whenever the mood for Italian food strikes! To add to the fun, grow your own garlic, onion, oregano and basil. Try growing oregano and basil indoors for year-round easy access to these flavorful herbs.

TOMATO PASTA SAUCE

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup red wine

8 cups tomato chunks

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch red pepper flakes

Small bunch of fresh basil

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid has evaporated, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Stir in the tomatoes and a pinch of salt.

Add the oregano and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and cover for 15 minutes. Covering will help the tomatoes to "sweat" and break down more quickly. Then, uncover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for about an hour.

Use an immersion blender to carefully puree the sauce. Add the basil into the blender or sprinkle on top. If you don't have an immersion blender, let the sauce cool and then very carefully puree it in a regular blender.

Zucchini plants produce rather prolifically, so there is an opportunity to try them in loads of different recipes. Try using a peeler (or a spiralizer) to create strips of zucchini to be used as a substitute for noodles in your favorite pasta recipe. This practice has recently been all the rage. Also consider chopping zucchini into sticks, dipping them into an egg batter and rubbing them in a shallow bowl of seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Bake the sticks on a coated baking sheet at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes for a treat that the whole family can enjoy.

Zucchini bread is a go-to recipe for those who are left with an abundance of squash at the end of the season. It is a great gift for neighbors and friends, too!

Check out this easy recipe from Once Upon a Chef to use up your stock of zucchini after a successful harvest.

ZUCCHINI BREAD

3 large eggs

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 cups grated zucchini (one medium zucchini; about 10 ounces)

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour, leveled-off in measuring cup

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted if desired

1/2 cup currants or raisins (optional)

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Set the baking rack on the middle level. Generously grease two 8 x 4-inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar until combined. Add the grated zucchini, melted butter and vanilla extract and stir to combine.

In another large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk the ingredients together.

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix until combined. Add the nuts and currants -- or chocolate chips if desired. Divide the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set the pans on the wire rack and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Turn the loaves over onto rack to cool completely.

The options are endless when it comes to creating fresh recipes using ingredients from your own backyard. The better you become at growing a diverse set of vegetables and herbs, the more recipes you can try your hand at!

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