willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

What to Do with the Bounty of the Garden

Time in the garden at this time of year is so incredibly gratifying. Even as your time is often spent continuously tugging on the weeds that alongside their much more admired and loved “production” plants, are all growing like gangbusters. The yields are often bountiful and the menus that you can concoct are filled with freshness and produce that at other times of the year lack in their flavors. I love living by the seasons and you won’t find a pumpkin on my doorstep until the week of Fall’s official arrival. You’ll find them a plentiful in the shipments that we have received in the barn so that we may bedeck the barn for our Fall Barn Sale which takes place the first weekend of Fall, but up until then, our kitchen… and our house will still be living in the summer season! So until then, I share with you a summer menu that utilizes the flavors from the garden that are bountiful right now. It is light in its composition but not light in it’s flavor. 

Most of the ingredients have been plucked directly from the garden and you can also readily find them at your local farmers market, where they seem to be the freshest. 

Combined with fresh herbs, also from the garden, and pantry olive oils and vinegars, they can be tossed together in no time to create meals that sit well with the heat of summer. 

Tonight’s menu is a “Make Your Own Salad Bar”

~ BUT ~

  this is not your ordinary make your own salad bar. I made a few “topping” salads of which the diners could layer their selections on their plate of lettuce as a base.  The “topping” salads center around a…

Tomato and bean salad with garlic-chive blossoms.

Serves 4

1 small shallot, minced

1 Tbls red wine vinegar

2 Tbls garlic chives, finely chopped

6 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. coarse salt, plus more for seasoning

12 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved (I used green, yellow and purple)

12 ounces orange cherry tomatoes, halved ( I used red cherry tomatoes from the garden)

12 ounces yellow pear tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup garlic/chive blossoms

Freshly ground pepper

  1. Prepare vinaigrette: Combine shallot, vinegar, and garlic chives in a small bowl: let ingredients macerate 10 mins. Add olive oil slowly, whisking until emulsified. Set aside.
  2. Prepare an ice bath: set aside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil: add 1 tsp salt. Add green beans; cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking. Drain in a colander, and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Combine green beans, tomatoes, and garlic-chive blossoms in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette, and toss to combine. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and coarse salt.

 Watermelon, Cucumber and Melon Salad with Basil (this salad is a sweeter “topping” alternative)

This recipe is super easy and the most time is spent on cubing or cutting the melons.

For one serving 

cut cucumbers into thin slices that equal a 1/2 cup

cube or use a melon baller to cut up 1/2 cup watermelon

cube or use a melon baller to cut up 1/2 cup of cantaloupe (I used honeydew so the salad is not as colorful)

Toss together and drizzle with 1/2 tsp each extra-virgin olive oil and 1/2 tsp lemon or lime juice.

Season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper; stir to combine. Garnish with torn fresh basil leaves.

The last “topping salad” is equally as simple as the previous one. 

Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Ciliegine (cherry size)

Cut up a variety of cherry tomatoes and add to a bowl of the cherry size fresh mozzarella balls.

Top with extra-virgin olive oil,  a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, torn fresh basil leaves and coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

Once you have constructed the three salads above, you can add any other toppings that you want or you know that your family enjoys.  For a protein, I added shelled pistachios and freshly made egg salad to this meal. I had just gathered the eggs from the chicken coop and they were calling my name! Serve with a side of  Crispy grain crackers, which are a Norwegian cracker from Trader Joe’s, and you have a light but filling and flavorful summer meal. In place of the egg salad, you could add grilled chicken, meat or shrimp and that would be delicious as well. I also added a bowl of freshly cut but undressed melon and tomatoes for my finicky eaters who did not want the dressing on the salads. There is dressing on all of the salads but it is light so you could add a splash of your favorite dressing if you so desire.

Stay tuned to the blog for I will have more summer recipes from the garden and ways to utilize the beauty of it’s bounty in all of the posts up until Fall’s arrival. Isn’t it ironic that the garden is practically spilling over with tomatoes, peppers, corn and the likes as summer days begin to wane? Maybe it’s the earth giving to us what we would have needed, before modernization, to keep us alive in the long winter months ahead, as the heat of summer rolled into the cool of fall and then onto the frigid winter where nothing grew. There might be something valuable in getting back to that kind of living…but first we need to find the time…that is a topic for another post.


“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.”

— Joel Salatin

Faithfully in the garden







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