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COME INTO THE KITCHEN, GARDENER: Eat From Your Summer Vegetable Garden

By Karen England.

Photo credit: Karen England.
Tomato with man-bun and zucchini.

As Sommer Cartier recommends in her bi-monthly column, Grow with Abundance, in this, the May 2021, issue of Let's Talk Plants!

"... summer is the perfect time to cultivate heat loving veggies."

In her article she gives tips for growing three of the more popular summer veggies and here are my tips, tricks and recipes for enjoying your garden harvest from those three vegetables.


Photo credit: Karen England.
Companion planting tomatoes with edible flowers is a great idea. Don't stop there, use the edible flowers, either fresh or dried, to add flavor to the tomato harvest.

In Sommer's article she recommends companion planting tomatoes and zucchinis with borage, lavender, pineapple sage, and African blue basil for the pollinator attraction benefit, but don't just leave it at that! Use those same herbs and edible flowers in your tomato dishes as well, such as in a simple tomato salad.


Dice up a handful of freshly picked tomatoes, dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle with fresh edible flower petals from your garden and serve.

Photo credit: Karen England.
Momotaro tomato and African Blue Basil growing together in Karen England's raised beds.

I have already written about some of my favorite tomato recipes in a previous newsletter and you can read the article here, (

but since you can never have enough tomato recipes, here are a few more!

TOMATO SOUP: Move over Campbell's!

The Google is full of Fresh Tomato Soup recipes and you are sure to find one or two that appeal to you in a quick search. I like Rachel Ray's Summer Tomato Soup recipe which ". . . uses fresh tomatoes and a handful of pantry staples to make this warm weather version of tomato soup (only five ingredients plus EVOO and salt & pepper!)"

Pair Rachel's soup with Ina Garten's Grilled Cheese Croutons for an unbeatable treat.

Ina's Grilled Cheese Croutons (Serves 4 to 6)

4 (½-inch-thick) slices country white bread

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Heat a panini grill. Place the four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with the melted butter, being sure to butter the corners. Turn the slices over and pile Gruyère on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyère, -buttered sides up.

Grill the sandwiches on the panini grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute, and cut into 1-inch cubes.

TOMATO SAUCE - Move over Ragu'!

I like a no-peel kind of tomato sauce recipe since I want to eat ALL of my fresh tomato harvest including the peels and's Easy Tomato Sauce with No Peeling is not only easy it's delicious.

But if you want to make something even easier than a no-peel cooked tomato sauce then you should try Martha Stewart's Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

( where the tomatoes are raw and uncooked.


Sommer says that "Beans taste best when harvested while they’re still relatively young and slender. To ensure a healthy bounty of beans, harvest frequently, allowing the plant to put its energy towards producing new pods."

This Bountiful Snap Beans article by Ruth Lively found on is all the "green bean inspiration" any gardening cook needs. Ruth says, "At my house, green beans are the summer garden’s alternative to lettuce. When the garden is pumping out beans, some version of an easy and versatile bean salad appears at dinner several times a week. But there are many other tempting ways to use a mess of beans."


Since, as Sommer states, "Zucchini is incredibly prolific; one or two plants can easily feed a dozen people. Even the blossoms are edible."

If you have a "zoodle" kitchen gadget which is a vegetable spiralizer, then here's a zucchini recipe winner. Spiralizers are readily available online and at kitchen and some grocery stores.

Photo credit: Karen England.
Zoodle Alfredo.

Three Ingredient Zucchini Alfredo

- Zucchini noodles

– 1 stick unsalted butter, divided

– Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lots

– Olive oil, splash

– Pepper, to taste

– Salt, optional

1. Make a bunch of zucchini noodles called zoodles with a vegetable spiralizer tool. There are plenty of them available online and in stores. I bet you probably have one, but if you don’t have one then cut the noodles with a knife from a large zucchini. Remove the ends, slice the zucchini thinly longways then slice the slices into thin long “noodles”.

2. Sauté the zoodles in a cast iron pan with a splash of olive oil and a little (2T.) unsalted butter until soft and soupy.

3. Toss the hot noodles and all its juice in a bowl with 6 tablespoons unsalted butter that had been blended in a food processor with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

4. Season with lots of freshly grated black pepper. The Parmesan cheese is salty, so only use salt after tasting first.

(The zucchini recipe posted here was inspired by the 3-ingredient Fettuccini Alfredo recipe in the premier issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. This qualifies as a 3-ingredient recipe because olive oil, salt and pepper are considered pantry ingredients and don’t count. Ahh, new math.)

As Sommer says, "Share your surplus with your neighbors. Remember, a healthy garden is a harvested garden."

Editor-in-chief Karen England and some of her tomatoes, are known to wear "man-buns" when out in the garden . . .

You can follow her on Instagram


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