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Senior garden members at Carlsbad Community Garden, from left, Emilita Moll, Dan Roberts, Terry Sardina and Master Gardener Jano Nightingale. Photo courtesy Jano Nightingale
Columns Jano's Garden

Jano’s Garden: Reap what you sow in a community garden

Sometimes you grow too much of something or in the case of the community garden, people share what they sow.

In the Carlsbad Senior Garden plot located at the Pine Street Community Garden, we often have herbs to share or exchange with fellow gardeners.

This week the basil of all varieties was growing so quickly, that as soon as it was picked, it grew back at lightning speed.

PICKING BASIL

If picked correctly, it will continue to grow more fully as opposed to tall and spindly. When harvesting, don’t pick the leaves from the outside edges of the plant, but cut from the base of one of the stems to the node (which is just above the next set of leaves).

When preparing the leaves for basil pesto, be sure to pick early in the morning before watering, so leaves are dry. Wash quickly in a colander and dry completely with clean towel.

Basil that is too wet will interfere with the blending with the olive oil.

PESTO WITH BASIL

Ingredients

1 cup fresh basil leaves (add parsley if desired)

4 cloves garlic (roasted)

¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

½ cup best quality olive oil

Place one heaping cup of leaves in blender. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over the leaves. Pulse until finely chopped. Next, add 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts, roasted garlic, salt, pepper, ½ cup Parmesan cheese and remaining olive oil.

Pulse to mix all ingredients. This mixture is done when all the ingredients emulsify like a lumpy mayonnaise.

It will keep in an airtight container for over a week or pour into ice cubes trays and freeze.

ZUCCHINI WITH EVERYTHING

We have also found that at this time year, zucchini seem to grow like demons in the night. The question, of course, is what to do with them!

Cooks who are interested in new recipes can utilize a fantastic site on Facebook called Canning Rebels, in which cooks exchange recipes and preservation methods. There a lots of suggestions for preparing zucchini including zucchini fritters, zucchini relish, and zucchini tomato sauce.

I also located a stuffed zucchini recipe from my oldest and favorite vegetarian cookbook, “Moosewood Restaurant” (2000).

STUFFED ZUCCHINI (Adapted from Moosewood Cookbook)

Ingredients

One large zucchini (at least 10 inches)

Filling

One box couscous

One onion, diced

Four cloves garlic, diced

One green and red pepper, diced

¼ c. olive oil

½ c vegetable broth

Assorted vegetables — corn, carrots — diced

One cup feta cheese, crumbled

½ c. seasoned bread crumbs

¼ c. butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise. Score the flesh with paring knife and place cut side down on baking tray. Sprinkle with water. Bake for 20 minutes, until soft.

3. Cook couscous according to package directions. Set aside.

4. While zucchini is cooking prepare filling. Sauté all vegetables in olive oil in large frying pan until cooked.

5. When zucchini is fully cooked, cool and scrape out flesh and chop.

6. Add cooked zucchini and vegetable broth to pan and toss to combine. Add ½ c. feta cheese, and cooked couscous.

7. Mound the filling into zucchini shells. Place rest of feta cheese on top; add bread crumbs and pieces of butter.

8. Bake, uncovered, on baking sheet for 15 minutes or until bread crumbs are brown.

9. Serve as main dish or with other vegetables.

JOIN A COMMUNITY GARDEN

The Carlsbad Senior Garden Club meets weekly for instructional classes; call (760) 602-4650 for details.

There are also numerous community garden sites in Oceanside and Encinitas, which can be located through individual city offices.

Or contact me at [email protected] for further information.

Jano Nightingale is a horticulturist and gardening instructor in North County. As a Master Gardener, she works on numerous sites in the area. Contact her at [email protected].

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