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Ratatouille is a summer vegetable stew with origins in 18th-century France. Stock photo
ColumnsJano's Garden

Search your garden for dinner

Do you Doordash? So many people pick up the phone at dinnertime to order from this food delivery service.

One of my son’s roommates orders from McDonald’s at least three times a week. He is actually a very good cook but chooses to have food delivered to the door.

But my question is how do those McDonald’s chicken nuggets and fries taste after 15 minutes in the delivery car, and what is the price point?

Twelve nuggets, fries and large Coke end up costing over $15. When, in fact, you could make the same meal at home for less than $5!

WHAT HAPPENED TO HOME COOKING?

Mollie Katzen, in her “Still Life With Menu Cookbook,” cited all the reasons those of us who used to cook might not cook as often as we used to.

“Although many of us once paid careful attention to everything we ate — and could afford the time to be conscientious about healthy ‘natural’ eating — we now find ourselves grabbing food on the run or spending way too much money on take-out food.”

HOW TO COOK FROM YOUR VEGETABLE GARDEN

This week, in an effort to create a dinner made exclusively from local garden vegetables, I harvested all of the ingredients from the Pine Street Senior Garden in Carlsbad. Presently, summer squash is emerging, along with peppers ripening on the vine. Our onions and scallions are just ready to pick, and a neighboring gardener contributed tomatoes. I have selected basil, oregano and parsley to add fragrance and flavor.

SEARCH YOUR GARDEN FOR YOUR NEXT DINNER MEAL

After harvesting our vegetables, I was ready to prepare my favorite summer dish, ratatouille.

I discovered this dish in the 1980s when vegetarian cookbooks first became popular, finding it in Deborah Madison’s book, “The Greens Cookbook,” inspired by her work at the Greens Restaurant in San Francisco.

According to the Wasserstrom blog, “This beloved summer stew first emerged as a solution for hunger, as it was invented by poor farmers back in 1700s Provence.”

HOMEGROWN RATATOUILLE

Ingredients

• 2 onions or shallots, chopped

• 5 cloves of garlic, minced

• 3 large summer squash, sliced

• 4 tomatoes, chopped

• 2 green peppers, chopped

• 4-5 tbs. olive oil

• Fresh herbs (basil, oregano and parsley)

• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a large lasagna pan for cooking the vegetables. Layer all vegetables in the order of the ingredients shown, and pour 4 tablespoons of oil over top with 1 tablespoon salt. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. After 20 minutes, remove foil, add fresh herbs. Cook an additional 10-15 minutes until soft. Serve with pasta or fresh bread.

SEARCH YOUR GARDEN FOR DINNER

Now, go to your garden to see what you can create from the vegetables you have grown. You could also share this idea with a friend who has a garden to create a farm-to-table homemade evening meal.

Jano Nightingale is a horticulturist who teaches gardening at the Pine Street Community Garden. Call (442) 339-2650 for future classes. Contact her at [email protected].

 

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