Smile Politely

Garden noms

This year my garden is blowing up. I’ve got heirloom tomatoes, chocolate cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, red leaf lettuce, basil, cilantro and Japanese eggplant. It’s only my second year having a garden, so I am pretty proud of myself. My tomato plants look like something out of a Tim Burton movie, and they make it hard to get out the back door, so that’s fun.

You know what else is fun? Grabbing stuff out of the yard to make exciting hor devours for friends. The featured hor devours this summer is cilantro pesto. I picked my cilantro in the nick of time, before it all went to seed. I made a pesto that turned out a little lumpier than I had hoped, but tasted great, especially spread on a slice of 3 Cheese Sourdough Bread from Great Harvest Bread Company and topped with a tomato slice.

Cilantro Pesto

1 cup (tightly packed) cilantro

3 large cloves garlic

½ cup almonds

¼ cup parmesan

¼ olive oil

½ tsp salt

Blend cilantro, almonds, and garlic together until smooth(ish). Add parmesan, oil, and salt. Puree into desired consistency. Will last a week in the fridge, and can be frozen into ice cube trays, and popped out to add to recipes through the fall.


“Well Worth the Wait” Vegan Vegetable Bake

1 finely chopped green bell pepper

1 sliced medium red onion

2 cans Hunts Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes

1 large zucchini, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 eggplant (Japanese or regular — the shape is the only difference), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 bag frozen chopped okra

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon oregano

Heat oven at 325. Mix together tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, okra, vinegar and herbs and pour into a casserole dish. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and add zucchini and eggplant, and stir, being sure to cover with liquid. Cover and bake another hour. Serve with a side of chickpeas and bread. If you cannot live without cheese, sprinkle a tablespoon of parmesan or a ¼ of Colby jack on top. Oh, and did I mention this recipe will feed you for a week?


My New Favorite Wrap

My husband got me Mission Spinach Tortilla Wraps last time he went grocery shopping. He thought they looked bigger than regular tortillas, and since I am always putting way too much stuff in a tortilla and making a mess and having poor table manners, he thought these would be a good thing for me. Well, I have still been pushing the limits of volume when it comes to ingredients, but these tortilla wraps are awesome. A quick, garden-inspired dinner:


1 Mission Spinach Tortilla Wrap

½ green bell pepper

4 slices red onion

½ small can of mushrooms

¼ cup salsa (I prefer the Hot from the Farmer’s Market salsa vendor)

¼ Colby jack cheese

½ tablespoon olive oil

Cut bell pepper and onion into strips. Drain mushrooms, set aside half a can. Heat oil on medium-high heat. Cook peppers, onions, and mushrooms until peppers and onions are at the desired softness. Heat tortilla wrap over a burner for 15 seconds for the perfect amount of warmth and texture. Add vegetables, cheese and salsa to tortilla wrap, fold ends, roll together, and enjoy! I recommend trying this with a side of jicama strips dipped into a combination of salt and chili powder.



Who says vegetarians and vegans can’t enjoy a good summer cookout? Pictured here is a yummy kabob, featuring eggplant from my garden. I marinated the veggies in Kraft Tuscon House Italian Dressing, but for a vegan marinade you can’t go wrong with olive oil, basalmic vinegar, and your favorite spices. Also, I sprinkled strips of fresh basil on the veggies. Yum!

As my tomato plants start to bear fruit, my kitchen creations shall become even more exotic and inspired. Stay tuned!

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