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Greens are one of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow in containers. They sprout almost daily—simply pluck the outside leaves you need and find more awaiting you tomorrow. Read on to see what's sprouting in our salad garden.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
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Meet Our GrowersJay and Graham Yelton live near Cooking Light headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. These avid gardeners oversee a yard that's packed with containers of delicious plants and stylish spaces for outdoor entertaining."We have a passion for eating organic, plant-based diets whenever possible," Graham says.This year, the Cooking Light Garden celebrates the joy and ease of growing themed containers. We enlisted the Yeltons' help to make our plans a beautiful reality, then brought their bounty back to our kitchen to create simple, straightforward recipes that will put your crop to delicious use. Grow, harvest, and cook along with us.
- Arugula Yields edible leaves quickly. Harvest leaves from the outside of the plant. The flavor gets stronger as the plant grows, so consider replanting throughout spring.
- Spinach Plant about a month before final frost; leaves should grow quickly. Likes a sunny spot.
- Radishes Pick a sunny spot for planting in well-drained soil; water consistently.
- Turnips To yield top results from your crop, sprinkle soil with coffee grounds soon after planting.
- Microgreens (Tatsoi) These little ones need about four hours of direct sun a day. They're a great option for windowsill gardening, especially if you are located in a colder container climate or don't have much outdoor space.
- Pea Shoots Plant in organic soil that's rich in micronutrients. Water when top of soil feels dry.
Spinach and Arugula Salad with Creamy Parmesan DressingHands-on: 10 min. Total: 10 min.This light but rich dressing meets at the happy place between Caesar and ranch.
1.5 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated and divided (about 6 tablespoons)1/3 cup canola mayonnaise3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice2 tablespoons water1 teaspoon Dijon mustard1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper4 cups baby spinach leaves4 cups baby arugula leaves3/4 cup matchstick-cut or shredded turnip, divided
- Combine half of cheese and next 5 ingredients (through pepper) in a large bowl; stir until well blended. Add spinach, arugula, and half of turnip Toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and turnip.
Pea Shoot SaladHands-on: 10 min. Total: 15 min.Pea shoots offer the crunch of a salad green with the springy sweetness of green peas. They take wonderfully to Asian seasonings like soy sauce, rice vinegar, and ginger. Grating garlic accentuates its pungency.
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint3 tablespoons dark sesame oil2 tablespoons rice vinegar2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger1 teaspoon grated garlic8 cups pea shoots1 1/2 cups thinly sliced English cucumber1 cup very thinly sliced radishes1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and divided
- Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pea shoots, cucumber, radishes, and half of almonds; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with remaining almonds.
Grow Your Own Salad Garden
Fresh, green salads are great when they come fresh from the garden. All great vegetables found in salads are very easy to grow. This garden works especially well when grown in the spring (March) or fall (September) because the leafy greens and root vegetables like cool weather.
Select a container that will hold all the plants that you want to grow. Make sure your container is deep enough to let all of the roots grow. A recycled 5-gallon bucket or foam cooler work well. Make sure that the container is clean before you begin.
Make sure your container has holes in the bottom. If it is a recycled container, you will need an adult to help drill or cut drainage holes in the bottom of the container.
Make sure to moisten the potting soil with a little water to make the soil easier to work with once it is in the pot.
Fill the container with soil until it reaches about 1 inch below the top of the container.
PLANTING THE GARDEN
Carefully sow the seeds of the plants you selected on top of the soil. Seeds should be buried about 1/2 inch below the soil, but no more. You also can use transplants of lettuce or spinach in your garden, but you should use seeds for the root crops. You can use seeds or bulb "sets" for your onions.
If using plants, make a hole in the potting soil big enough for the root and soil to fit in and be covered by the potting soil.
Water the plants well to make sure they feel welcome in their new home.
CARING FOR THE GARDEN
Keep the garden in a location that receives between six and eight hours of full sunlight each day.
Make sure that the garden is watered. The soil should dry out slightly at the top before you water again. Perform a screwdriver test for moisture. Take a screwdriver that is about 6 inches long and push into the soil about 4 inches deep. If it comes out “dirty,” it means that the soil has enough moisture to leave a trace on the screwdriver. If it comes out clean, the soil is dry and needs water. Check the soil every day. Depending on the weather conditions, you may have to water more than one time per week. Water loss occurs more quickly when the weather is hot and sunny, and the plants will require more frequent watering.
Keep an eye out for insects and other problems. If insects start eating your plants, you can remove the insects, if you see them actively feeding on the plant, and remove the plant parts as they turn brown or yellow.
HARVESTING YOUR INGREDIENTS
Remove only the outer leaves of the lettuce and spinach. If you leave the plants in place, new leaves will grow back.
Pull root crops, like carrots and radishes, up from the soil. You can pull them up when they are young for baby carrots and radishes or let them get big.
Snip the tops of onions to use as green onions in salads. You can let the plant stay in the soil and let the bulb get big for sliced onions.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
In the summer, if your garden needs shade, plant a tomato in the middle of your garden. As it grows tall, it will shade the rest of the garden.
Try interesting varieties of vegetables. Lettuce comes in all shapes and sizes. There are even black radishes and purple carrots.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
A large pot, bucket or any other recycled container with holes drilled in the bottom
Enough potting soil to fill the container
Seeds or seedlings for a few of your favorite plants from the following:
BUTTERMILK GARLIC DRESSING
Toss together fresh veggies from your salad garden and serve with tasty homemade dressing.
- 1-2 medium garlic cloves
- 4 tablespoons minced green onions
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup fat-free sour cream
- Large pinch of sugar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Mince garlic mash to a paste with fork or back of knife. Whisk garlic, green onion, vinegar, buttermilk, sour cream and sugar in bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and paper to taste.
Yields: 2 tablespoons per serving (Makes 24 servings)
Carbohydrates: 2 grams
Fiber: 0 grams
Fat: 8 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Sodium: 44 milligrams
John Porter, Former WVU Extension Service Agent - Kanawha County
Reviewed and edited by: Mira Bulatovic-Danilovich, WVU Extension Service Specialist - Consumer Horticulture
- Lettuce: Loose-leaf types are harvested as individual leaves. These tend to be somewhat softer and can range from green to various shades of red or bronze leaves (Figure 2). Heading types include Butterhead, Bibb, and Romaine types, with loose heads. The common “Iceberg” type sold in grocery stores requires a long, cool season, so it is not recommended for South Dakota.
- Spinach: Both smooth-leaved and crinkled-leave types are available. Smooth-types are better for fresh eating and crinkled-types are better for cooking. Spinach will bolt easily under high temperatures and long days, so it is commonly grown as a spring or fall crop. It is very cold-hardy, and it is able to withstand temperatures down to 20°F without acclimation. Some varieties can even survive 1°F if they are gradually exposed to cold temperatures!
- Mustard (Brassica) family greens: Arugula, also known as Rocket or Roquette, has a spicy taste with a nutty undertone. It can be used raw or cooked both leaves and flowers can be used. It will bolt very quickly in warm weather. Corn salad or mâche,Tatsoi, and mizuna are early-season greens that will be sweeter and more tender with cooler nights.
10 Steps to Grow a Salad Garden
Step 1: Site and preparation. Grow salad greens in cool weather plant greens in spring or fall or grow through the winter where temperatures do not dip to freezing. Prepare planting beds by laying down 1 inch (2.5 cm) of compost and aged manure then use a garden fork or spade to turn the soil under to at least six inches (15 cm). Rake the seed bed even before planting when planting in autumn use raised beds to keep your greens above the splatter of autumn and winter rains. You can also grow salad greens easily in containers place the containers where they will get even sun and shelter from prevailing winds. Always locate your salad garden as close to the kitchen as possible.
Step 2: Planting. Sow seed or set transplants evenly spaced across the bed or in the container so that plant leaves will just touch a maturity. This is called intensive planting intensively planted crops will require less overall irrigation and will shade out weeds that compete for soil nutrients. It’s also your best use of space.
Step 3: Water. Salad greens require soil that is evenly moist avoid letting the soil dry out. (Lettuce and salad greens are 80 percent water.) Locate beds or containers close to a hose bib. Set a weeper or soaker hose or drip irrigation line evenly spaced across the bed. Where autumn or spring rains are common, a raised bed or container is the best way to ensure planting beds don’t become too wet. You can place plastic sheeting across the bed to make sure the beds don’t soak up too much water in wet weather.
Step 4: Sowing. Most lettuce and salad greens are easy to grow from seed and seed for salad greens is easy to find. Non-heading greens will be ready for harvest in 50 days or less. Think of the salads you want to serve when you select and sow seed consider greens for color and flavor—some greens will be sweet flavored while others will be just bitter or pungent. Sow seed not more than ½ inch (1.25 cm) deep, firm the soil with the palm of your hand, and mark each crop with a plant tag. For a continuous harvest, plant successive crops every two weeks.
Step 5: Garden map. Keep a simple garden map of the crops you’ve planted and a log of when you planted and when you expect to harvest. You can use your log and map next season to choose and plant the crops you enjoyed most. Note planting dates and days to germination, maturity, and harvest.
Green onions add a tangy flavor to greens.
Step 6: Easy-to-grow crops. Here are easy-to-grow salad greens for spring and harvest planting (after the name of each crop is the number of days to maturity and the amount of space you should give each plant in an intensively planted garden):
- Arugula: 30 days to harvest 4 plants per square foot (0.09 sq.m).
- Chervil: 60 days to harvest sprinkle across bed.
- Claytonia: 40 days to harvest 4 plants per square foot.
- Cress: 30 or so days to harvest cut young sprinkle across bed.
- Loose-leaf lettuce: 40 days to harvest 4 plants per square foot.
- Mache: 50 days to harvest 4 plants per square foot.
- Mesclun (a mix of greens seeds): about 25 days to harvest sprinkle seed across bed.
- Radicchio: 30 days to harvest 4 plants per square foot.
- Sorrel: 20 days to harvest, cut young sprinkle across bed.
- Spinach: 40 days to harvest 9 plants per square foot.
- Carrots: 30 to 40 days to harvest for baby carrots 16 plants per square foot.
- Green onions: 50 days to harvest 16 plants per square foot.
- Radishes: 25 days to harvest 16 plants per square foot.
- Beets: 45 days to harvest 9 plants per square foot.
Step 7: Combat pests. Flea beetles, snails, and slugs are common salad garden pests. Flea beetles can leave small holes in leafs snails and slugs will chew leaves usually from the leaf edges inward. A floating row cover of spun polyester anchored around the edges with boards or soil will exclude flea beetles, snails, and slugs. Rabbits, voles, and birds can be excluded by placing bird netting across the planting bed.
Step 8: Harvest. Harvest salad greens with scissors just above the soil line. Many greens are cut-and-come-again—meaning new leaves will sprout from the same just a few weeks after leaves are harvested. Most salad greens will keep producing until either a hard frost comes in autumn or winter or until extra warm weather arrives in spring. If a hard freeze is forecast, cover your greens with a clear plastic sheeting tunnel to keep them warm and producing if hot weather is forecast in spring, harvest before the heat hits otherwise greens will bolt and set seed—which leaves greens bitter tasting. Where freezing weather is common, protect greens by planting them under the protection of plastic tunnel that way you can grow greens through the winter.
Step 9: Serving. For best flavor serve salad greens the same day you harvest them. Rinse greens thoroughly to wash away soil and grit. A salad spinner is a convenient way to clean and dry greens. Press greens between paper towels to absorb excess moisture before serving.
Grow greens in a plastic tunnel during cold weather.
Step 10: Next season. When the salad greens growing season is ended, add aged compost or aged manure to the planting bed or container to renew nutrients. If you grow salad greens in small containers, it’s probably best to simply use new planting mix each season. For large garden beds, plant a cover crop of buckwheat (sow spring to midsummer), annul rye grass (sow spring through fall), or winter peas (sow in fall or early spring) to return nitrogen to the soil.
18 easy recipes to use up lots of tomatoes
Our list of easy recipes you can make with lots of tomatoes is based on our personal favorite tomato recipes. Individually or collectively, they’ll help you make that pile of ripe tomatoes disappear from your countertop.
To better help you decide which recipes you might want to make, we’ve done our best to order them from easiest to more difficult.
Happy tomato eating… and drinking!
1. Sundried tomatoes (in a dehydrator or oven)
Soft and chewy sun-dried tomatoes. You’ll be amazed at how much a tomato shrinks when dried, which makes sun-dried tomatoes perhaps the easiest and best way to store and use lots of tomatoes.
This might just be our favorite thing to do with a giant pile of tomatoes because: a) it’s ridiculously simple to make, and b) we use so many sun-dried tomatoes throughout the year.
All you need is either a home dehydrator (we recommend an Excalibur) or an oven. Use this soft & chewy sun-dried tomato recipe from Tyrant Farms.
2. Classic tomato salsa
Toss ingredients into a blender and you’re done. Doesn’t get any simpler than that!
Hence why this simple, classic salsa recipe is a go-to recipe for us in the summer. Just BYOC (bring your own chips) — tortilla chips of course.
For this recipe, we used an heirloom tomato that weighed a little over 1 pound to make four servings. However, drier sauce tomatoes (like Romas) are typically preferred since they make a less watery salsa.
*Makes a little over 2 cups of salsa, or four servings.
Blend all ingredients until there’s an even consistency, then serve at room temperature. Or chill first, then serve if you prefer cold salsa.
3. Pico de gallo
Pico de gallo – perfect as a standalone dish with tortilla chips or added to tacos, quesadillas, or other Latin American cuisine.
Pico de gallo is basically salsa without the blender. Same ingredients, same great flavor. Lots of tomatoes put to good use.
The other nice thing about pico de gallo is it makes a perfect topping on tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and other Latin American cuisines, whereas a blended salsa may be too runny.
To make pico de gallo, use the same ingredients and ratios from our salsa recipe (above), but dice them with a knife instead of putting them in the blender.
You can also use different colored tomatoes for more visual interest. (Our pico de gallo picture above was made with a yellow/orange ‘Pineapple’ heirloom tomato).
4. Greek-style tomato cucumber salad
Greek-style tomato cucumber salad is a very common side dish on our summer dinner table.
Greek-style tomato cucumber salad is our favorite summer salad. It takes about 5 minutes to make and also uses up some of those excess cucumbers from your garden.
Plus, feta cheese. Anything with feta cheese in it tastes good.
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup cucumbers, sliced thin and into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, freshly crumbled from block
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- sea salt to taste
Combine ingredients. Chill or serve fresh at room temperature. Stores for
12 hours in fridge before the tomatoes lose their fresh tomato texture.
5. Tomato rosemary kabobs
A rosemary tomato kabob ready for the grill! The rosemary imparts a wonderful flavor to the tomatoes as they cook.
This is a great recipe to use up a pile of cherry tomatoes. The only caveat is that you need to have access to a mature rosemary plant so you can harvest entire sprigs to use as kabob sticks.
Instructions: Cut your rosemary kabob sticks to desired length, punch the sticks through the tomatoes, and grill until just right.
Sprinkle tomato kabobs with large flake sea salt before serving and enjoy!
6. Rosemary pickled tomatoes
Rosemary pickled cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes are skewered on rosemary cuttings.
Pickling is a process, not a recipe — and not all pickling recipes have to involve cucumbers. You can scream this out loud in the pickle section at your grocery store where there seems to be a conspiracy amiss to make people think that “pickles” = pickled cucumbers.
1) This recipe is best with cherry tomatoes, rather than chopped up large tomatoes. For visual interest, we also recommend using a colorful mix of tomatoes rather than just all red tomatoes.
2) We recommend using rosemary sprigs to spear (kabob style) your tomatoes, like in the rosemary tomato kabob recipe above. This does two things: a) allows the brine to penetrate the skin of the tomatoes, and b) adds a wonderful rosemary flavor to your pickled tomatoes.
Don’t have rosemary? Just poke a hole through each tomato with a toothpick or skewer.
*When you’re done with your pickled tomatoes, add some of your left over brine to tomato sauces or Bloody Marys (recipes below)!
*For one quart jar of pickled tomatoes.
- 6 rosemary stem cuttings
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes
- 2 garlic clovea for flavor
- 1 tablespoon pepper corns
- tablespoon honey or sugar (optional)
- Whisk to dissolve salt and (optional) sugar in water using saucepan on stovetop.
- Put garlic cloves and peppercorns in bottom of quart jar.
- Cut rosemary sprigs to height 1/2″ below quart lid surface. Punch rosemary sprigs through tomatoes, then place in jar. Pour vinegar plus salt water mix over top of tomatoes, then refrigerate. Make sure tomatoes covered – add more water and vinegar in 1:1 ratio if needed to fully cover.
- Wait at least one week before eating, but can be stored in the fridge for months.
Gazpacho – a classic cold soup made from raw veggies.
Gazpacho is a cold veggie soup that originated in Portugal and Spain.
From July through the end of tomato season, it’s rare to open our fridge and not see a big jar of gazpacho inside. There is no single gazpacho recipe, and you can pretty much add any ingredient from your garden (including soft-leaved herbs like mint and basil) to your blender to make your own original gazpacho.
On Tyrant Farms, we share our watermelon gazpacho recipe which uses more watermelon than tomatoes, but you can easily jigger this basic recipe to make it more tomato-forward instead.
Tip: serve gazpacho with a dollop of sour cream or milk kefir on top.
8. Savory tomato soup
A grilled cheese sandwich sliced to dip into homemade tomato soup tastes like childhood. Instead of using low quality ingredients, you can up your adult game by using homemade whole wheat 5-minute bread, grass-fed cheddar cheese, and tomato soup made from your own garden tomatoes.
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes
- 1 large onion
- 1 cup chicken or veggie stock
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt to taste
- Dice onions then saute in pan with olive oil until lightly browned. Put onions in blender with chopped tomatoes and blend until smooth. Keep the skins on your tomatoes – a little extra fiber is good for you!
- Place onion-tomato blend in sauce pan and add stock. Bring to boil, stirring to make sure soup doesn’t stick. Then turn to low and let simmer until enough water has evaporated for soup to be desired thickness. (This will vary depending on the water content of the tomato varieties used.)
9. Tomato paste
Tomato paste is a very efficient way to use and store a LOT of tomatoes. That’s because tomatoes are 94% water and almost all the water is cooked out to make tomato paste.
Plus, tomato paste is a basic ingredient in lots of sauces and dishes.
The other good news: tomato paste is basically tomato soup that’s been cooked down even further. You can use our tomato soup recipe (see above) to make your own tomato paste. Just keep cooking on low until the tomatoes reach a paste consistency.
If you’re uncomfortable with the process of canning your tomato paste, you can always freeze it in ziplock bags for later use.
10. Tomato shrub
Tomato coriander shrubs are delicious on their own as non-alcoholic beverages or fortified with spirits.
In case you’ve never heard of them, “shrubs” are old-fashioned non-alcoholic drinks, which would fall into the “mocktail” category today. They’re somewhat similar to kombucha.
Shrub recipes and ingredients are as diverse as alcoholic beverage recipes. They’re basically interesting combinations of fruits, veggies, herbs, sugar, and vinegar. (Vinegar is also as diverse in flavor and ingredients as alcohol.)
A few years back, my wife got the book Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times. One of our favorite recipes in the book is a tomato, cilantro, coriander shrub, which we’ve since tweaked to our flavor preferences…
- 2 lbs tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 cup cane sugar or honey
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons muddled green coriander seeds (young immature seeds)
- 1 tablespoon toasted dried coriander seed (mature seeds)
- 2 tablespoons smoked red pepper flakes
- Cut tomatoes into 1″ chunks. Place in bowl, then stir in sugar and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours.
- At same time, put muddled green coriander seed, *toasted mature coriander seeds, and pepper flakes into bowl with vinegar. Cover and leave at room temperature for 48 hours. (*To “toast” your mature coriander seeds, put them in a pan on medium heat and stir them around until they become aromatic and show tinges of browning on the surface.)
- After 48 hours, combine ingredients into single jar, and refrigerate for at least one week before using. Strain enough shrub as-needed for the desired amount of drink. Add a few of the tomatoes and coriander seeds into each serving glass as interesting additions to each drink.
11. Fire-roasted (or oven-roasted) tomato sauce
Oven or fire-roast your tomatoes to give your tomato sauce a more nuanced flavor. Side note: if you have a bunch of roasted tomatoes on the ready in your fridge, they make a perfect addition to omelettes, frittatas, pizzas, and other dishes.
Oven-roasting tomato sauce has a more nuanced flavor than tomato sauce that’s simply been cooked on a stovetop. And it uses a lot of tomatoes!
For this recipe you can either roast your tomatoes in a conventional oven or over a grill.
- 5 lbs fresh tomatoes
- 2 large yellow or white onions, diced
- 10 cloves garlic, diced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 5 tablespoons fresh diced rosemary
- 5 tablespoons fresh diced thyme
- 3 tablespoons fresh diced oregano
- 3 tablespoons fresh diced basil
- 1 tablespoon sea salt or to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F. (Or get your grill hot, if you’re going with fire-roasted tomatoes.)
- Slice tomatoes in half then face them sliced-side up on a covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt. If using a grill, just place tomatoes face up on grate.
- Bake until skins and tops have begun to brown/caramelize. Remove from oven then let cool.
- In sauce pan, saute onion in olive oil until translucent, then add diced garlic (garlic cooks much more quickly than onions so don’t add at same time). Cook until slightly browned.
- Put garlic/onion mixture plus roasted tomatoes into blender and blend until smooth. Pour into saucepan and add diced herbs.
- Bring to boil, then turn down to low and let simmer 30 minutes. Can or freeze extra.
12. Roasted tomato chips
Follow the same oven- or fire-roasted tomato instructions from the recipe above, but sprinkle on fresh chopped herbs (or dried Italian seasoning) before putting them in the oven or grill.
Once they’re out of the oven and cooled down, put them in your dehydrator on 125 for 24 hours or until crispy (time will vary based on size of tomatoes). Voila, tomato chips which can be stored in a ziploc for months!
If they lose their crispiness over time, simply use them like sun-dried tomatoes in other recipes.
13. Lacto-fermented ketchup
A quick popular meal at our house: pan-roasted potatoes with lacto-fermented ketchup plus duck egg omelette (with roasted tomatoes inside, of course).
We love fermented foods. They taste better and their probiotic properties offer a wide range of health benefits.
Instead of same ol’ same ol’ ketchup, why not make your own lacto-fermented ketchup instead? Here’s how to make one pint of homemade lacto-fermented ketchup:
- 2 cups tomato paste (use the tomato paste recipe above!)
- 1/4 cup brine (best to use living brine from another ferment, like sauerkraut or pickled tomatoes)
- 2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons vinegar (recommend using raw apple cider vinegar or homemade vinegar)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp (optional) dash of cayenne pepper if you like a little heat
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon for additional body and depth
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- Mix all ingredients together, then transfer to jar. Place breathable cloth (linen or paper towel) over lid, held in place by rubber band or tie.
- Stir twice daily for four days, then place lid on jar and store in fridge.
14. Roasted tomato & feta cheese stuffed savory garden green crepes
Feta or other sharp white cheeses add the perfect amount of tang and color contrast to this recipe.
One of our favorite things to do with garden-fresh or foraged greens is make them into savory green crepes. Savory crepes are very versatile and can be used from breakfast to dinner, unlike sweet crepes which tend to be a breakfast-only affair.
Then oven roast your tomatoes (using the recipe above) with a sprinkle of salt plus some of your favorite spices/seasoning sprinkled on top: Italian seasonings, garlic powder, etc. Once done, let them cool down a bit.
Then add a generous heap of oven roasted tomatoes, fresh basil (we used purple basil in the photo), feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar glaze. Wrap up your crepe and enjoy!
15. Duck egg shakshuka
We first heard about shakshuka in Chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s fantastic cookbook Jerusalem. Shakshuka is a North African dish with a tomato-based sauce as the foundation and fresh eggs on top as the protein. (We prefer duck eggs.)
If you have backyard ducks or chickens plus garden-fresh tomatoes, you’ll LOVE this dinner recipe. Here’s Chef Ottolenghi’s original shakshuka recipe.
16. Tomato “Pies”
Wood-fired pizzas from our cob oven. There’s no right or wrong ingredient on pizza, but these ones used lots of tomato sauce.
Ok, this “recipe” is intended to stimulate your imagination more so than to give you a single recipe. “Pie” is a broad term that can mean different things depending on the culture, region, or person.
For instance, tomato pie can include any of the following:
- , which is sort of like a cold focaccia slathered with tomato sauce and other toppings. which is pretty much what you’d expect from us southerners, right down to the addition of mayonnaise.
- Classic pizza-pies, which everyone knows and loves (and fights over about favorite toppings).
- There’s also tomato (or sun-dried tomato) quiches and frittatas which are arguably pies as well.
Each tomato pie recipe you can find or dream up will help put tomatoes to their highest and best use. And if you want to take your pizza game to the next level, make your pies in your own wood-fired cob oven.
17. Bloody Mary
The classic breakfast or brunch adult beverage that’s healthy enough not to induce guilt. Yes, you can choose to drink your extra tomatoes if you’re into Bloody Marys.
Here’s how to make two glasses of Bloody Marys using garden-fresh tomatoes:
Place the following ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth:
- 1 pound of tomatoes (drier sauce tomatoes like San Marzano work best),
- 1/4 cup diced sweet Vidalia onion,
- 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (preferably Meyer lemons, which you can use skin and all).
Then add the following ingredients to taste:
- sea salt,
- ground pepper,
- hot pepper flakes (or a hot pepper from your garden),
Pour in glasses, then add one shot (or be more aggressive) of your favorite gin or vodka. Garnish glasses with celery or miscellaneous pickled veggies (like your pickled tomatoes from higher up this list!).
18. Homemade V8®
V-8, one of the most popular drinks ever created, is tomato-based. It’s a registered trademark of Campbells and nobody knows the exact recipe.
However, people have come pretty close to replicating V8 in their own kitchens. It’s actually somewhat difficult to make a good homemade V8, but this recipe will help you make a go of it.
Still have too many tomatoes and don’t want to become a farm?
Trade with your neighbors. For instance, maybe you have a beekeeping or home-brewing neighbor who’d be willing to trade a few jars of honey, beer, or mead for a basket of your beautiful tomatoes.
How much honey or home-brewed beer is this pineapple tomato worth? If you have interesting neighbors, start bartering!
Share with your poultry children. If you have backyard poultry like we do, share the tomato abundance with them. Our backyard/pet ducks absolutely LOVE tomatoes.
Got a giant pile of unripe GREEN tomatoes? You’ll love this green tomato marmalade recipe from Tyrant Farms.
Summer-Lovin’ Salad Greens
I’ve often wondered why lettuce and spinach aren’t summer crops. Whose idea was it to give us all those sweet, juicy tomatoes and fresh, crisp cucumbers in the summer, but no lettuce or spinach to go with them?
Sure, there are ways to extend the life of your spring greens by giving them more shade or less sun. But… come summer, they’re well on their way to bolting.
For those of us longing for leafy greens even when it registers 90°F outside, all is not lost. You can still grow a summer salad bed without any tricks!
Edible Red Leaf Amaranth
Also known as Chinese spinach, edible red leaf amaranth grows quickly — especially in hot, hot weather — and can be harvested a month after sowing. It’s a cut-and-come-again crop that can grow over 6 feet tall and produces all season long for me. It also packs a nutritional punch, beating out beet greens, spinach and chard in calcium, niacin and iron content. As my favorite summer salad green, it tastes like a very mild kale. The deep red color is also beautiful against all the other greens in a salad bowl.
The name alone gives a good clue that this vigorous leaf is long-lasting. But the name is also misleading, as perpetual spinach is not a spinach at all — it’s actually a member of the beetroot family known as chard. (Chard produces the same leafy tops as beets, but does not form a swollen root.) However, it tastes more like spinach than it does chard. In mild climates, perpetual spinach grows all summer long, over fall and winter, and even through the following spring. It’s a versatile green that should be a staple in everybody’s garden!
This variety of chard is also called rhubarb chard because of its red ribs and stems. While not as long-lasting as perpetual spinach, vulcan chard can tolerate summer temperatures up to 85°F. It’s a highly prolific vegetable and I can never seem to keep up with the amount of leaves my plants put out every week! Even when the leaves are fully mature, they’re still tender and delicately crisp.
This Japanese leaf vegetable is related to the common turnip and is sometimes called mustard spinach (again, not a spinach… who comes up with these names?). I actually grow komatsuna year round because it does equally well in the warmer days of summer as it does the cooler nights of winter. It’s one of the fastest growing greens in my garden, reaching maturity in just a few weeks and producing for several months. The leaves have a mild flavor when young and become a bit more bitter as they become larger. Komatsuna is also great for pickling.
You’ve probably guessed by now that malabar spinach is, of course, not a spinach. It is a tropical perennial vine with bold red stems that loves to climb… and climb… and climb. My malabar spinach actually doesn’t seem to take off until it’s hot and sunny — long after my real spinach is wilting in the garden! The fleshy leaves are slightly rubbery to the touch and are popular in Asian cooking. They add a nice bite to a salad and taste somewhat like mild beet greens.
As a Japanese version of Chinese cabbage, Tokyo bekana is a type of mustard that looks like lettuce. Confused yet? It’s a cut-and-come-again crop that grows quickly and can be harvested in the baby leaf stage, or left to grow into large, frilly leaves. The flavor becomes more brassica-like as the leaves mature, so if you prefer a milder mustard taste, use them as baby greens. Tokyo bekana grows best in mild summer climates.
This mustard green, part of the Chinese cabbage family, looks a lot like tatsoi but with savoyed (garden speak for wrinkled crinkled) leaves. It’s not the type of green you would think to put in a salad, but the young leaves (stems and all) are delicious raw. Because of the cucumbery/mustardy flavor, yukina savoy pairs well with citrus. It seems to favor any type of growing condition from warm to cool, and lasts all summer long in my zone 10b climate.
Despite being a Japanese mustard, mizuna is neither hot nor bitter. The saw-toothed leaves and tender stems have a slightly tangy flavor when young, and a mildly peppery flavor when mature. Harvest baby mizuna (about 20 days after sowing) to make your own mesclun! Mizuna is technically a cool-season vegetable, though it grows steadily year round for me from 90°F summer afternoons to 40°F winter evenings.
As a member of the sorrel family, it’s also called bloody sorrel, bloody wood dock, bloodwort, or if you prefer a less macabre reference, red-veined dock. Bloody dock is actually a perennial herb that tastes like a tangy spinach. It produces a rosette of green leaves that look like they have little blood vessels running through them. Since the red stems do bleed a bit of color, I use the individual leaves more as an accent in my salads. For being a warm-region plant (hardy from zones 5 and up), bloody dock prefers rather damp conditions, so it’s well suited for areas prone to summer storms.
Butterhead Speckles Lettuce
And if you don’t believe a salad is a salad without your beloved lettuce, you can try any number of heat-tolerant lettuces from my list, such as the Butterhead Speckles variety. I’ve had success growing a few different heat-tolerant lettuces in summer by starting them in late spring (before the weather turns too hot), and keeping them mulched and moist through most of summer.
Do you grow another summer-lovin’ salad green in your garden? Please share!
I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is. Read more »
What You Will Need To Grow Simple Salad Indoors
For this project I am using items I have on hand and I encourage you to do the same. Any clean container that is safe for edible plants will do. Try to use a container no bigger then 3″ round. Below you will find the list of what I use:
- 3″ terra cotta container
- rubber band
- plastic cling wrap ( about 5″x5″ ) or seed starting mix
- about 10 SimpleSalad Mix Wonder Wok Seeds
How to Grow Spring Salad
Spring Salad is also called mixed baby greens. You can grow this easily in just about any space you have, by scattering a pack of mesclun mix over the soil in a large container. Plant it densely and harvest liberally when the leaves are 2-3″ long. As you harvest, sprinkle more seeds and new seedlings will emerge to replace the cut plants.
You can buy a pre-mixed mesclun salad blend or create your own. To make your own salad mix, choose greens that have variety in color and flavor such as a deep red lettuce, a lime green oakleaf lettuce, and arugula for a little spice. Choose a number of leaf salad greens as opposed to head lettuce.
Or start the seeds indoors in a large plastic garden tray. I simply sprinkle a whole pack of seeds over a tray of soil and when the plants are large enough, I transplant them to the garden in clumps. They will spread like crazy and feed you a ton of nutritious, yummy greens.
For a cut-and-come-again garden, snip the greens you want from an area of your salad garden and sprinkle some new seeds on top of the soil where you just harvested your leaves. Before you know it, new salad greens will be growing up again.
For convenient storage, harvest your greens, wash them, spin them in a salad spinner, and keep them in the fridge right inside the salad spinner. This will keep them fresh for longer than a regular plastic container.
See my best tips for growing a salad garden in these posts:
Salad Garden Kit with Leafy Green Plants
Salads to savor! Simple salads taste even better when you harvest your own leafy greens. Our Salad Garden is curated and matched to grow our cool leafy greens and companion herbs along with the plant nutrients, plant feedings, custom compost and Grow Pro Support to make growing your own flavorful salad garden easy and accessible.
If you have a location outside that receives six or more hours of daily sun, your garden is positioned for lush growth. As the seasons change, so do the plants in the collection. Specific plants that have been tapped to be part of the collection based on your climate and what matches to your zip code. With assorted leafy greens and herbs, salad creation ideas are endless.
If you have a location outside that receives six or more hours of daily sun, your garden is positioned for lush growth. The Salad Garden comes with everything you need for a complete, healthy garden. Just add sunshine, and water. We are all about gardening success, and a square foot, mobile garden is a great way to get started.
Burnet clumps can be divided in spring or fall to make new plants. Separate root clumps into pieces that each contain some foliage, then replant at the same depth.
It takes 70 to 100 days for burnet to reach maturity from germination. However, young, tender leaves have the best flavor and you can start harvesting them when the plants reach about 4 inches tall. The plants can bloom anytime from spring to fall, and may not flower at all if you keep cutting them back to harvest.
Harvest leaves as you need them, but don't remove more than about one-third of a plant at one time if you want it to continue re-growing. The young, tender leaves have the best flavor. Harvesting the outer leaves of established plants will encourage new growth. Strip the leaves and discard the tough stems.
Use burnet whenever you want to add a cool, cucumber flavor to leafy salads. They are also good on sandwiches, either in place of or along with lettuce. They also make a nice addition to cold drinks, such as lemonade and wine spritzers. Use salad burnet to flavor dips and bottles of vinegar. Toss leaves into soups, eggs, and other hot dishes at the very last minute.
The flavor of burnet does not hold up well when the leaves are dried, but you can freeze leaves and use them in hot dishes.