For years, roasted veggies has been a favorite fall and winter food for us. But we’ve never had the experience of roasting vegetables we grew ourselves, until now. I found this recipe for a great roasted veggie marinade and wanted to try it with the day’s harvest. Our son helped me in the garden, and we ended up with a huge bowl full of veggies: potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, and red and green peppers. In addition, I had a couple portabello mushrooms in the fridge, and I always have a big stash of garlic in the cupboard (we didn’t grow our own garlic this year, but it’s on the list for next year’s garden).
I washed and chopped everything, and then whipped up Gena’s marinade, using garlic instead of shallots (what I had on hand), and raspberry balsamic vinegar (again, what I had on hand). The whole house smelled wonderful while they were roasting! Since I had root veggies in the mix, I cooked them for about 50 minutes, but if you’re using mostly softer veggies it will cook faster.
The rest of our lunch consisted of a rice and lentil mixture that I like to serve when the main dish is veggies. Since veggies and rice alone don’t have a whole lot of protein, I often add lentils to my rice when I’m cooking it. I always use brown rice, which takes roughly 50 minutes to cook. I start with rice and water (two cups of water for each cup of rice), add a bit of salt and coconut oil, and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and put a lid on the pot. After it’s been cooking for about 20 minutes, I add washed lentils and some extra water (roughly 1.5 cups of water for each cup of lentils I add), and turn the heat back on high for a couple minutes to get everything boiling again. Then I set the heat back to low and let it finish cooking until the rice and lentils are done. Lentils only take about half an hour, which is why I add them part way through the cooking process, although I’m sure it would be fine to just dump everything in at the beginning and let it all cook together. After they’re cooked, I add whatever seasonings we’re in the mood for.
Organic lentils and brown rice are both things that I buy in bulk from our food co-op. If you have any space at all to store food, these are good things to buy in bulk – they’re less expensive that way, and I always know that I have plenty on hand.
The roasted veggies were amazing. Knowing that they were growing in our garden this morning and on our plates at lunchtime was pretty sweet. Obviously they aren’t free – there’s a lot of work (and water!) that goes into gardening. But for us, it’s a labor of love, and we enjoy every minute that we spend out in the garden. Lately at least half of our meals are coming from our garden, and it’s making all the effort we went through to move here feel very worthwhile. I can’t even imagine how great it will be when our fruit trees get a little bigger and we’re able to harvest our own fruit too.
Next year I want to plant more varieties of squash (we just did zucchini this year, and had a few too many of them!), garlic, and additional herbs (rosemary, dill). We’ve started tearing out plants from some of our beds that are finished for the year, and planting red clover as a green manure crop in those beds. Pretty soon it will be time to put the cold frames over a few beds where we’ll be able to keep growing greens long after it frosts, and the rest of the garden will go to sleep for the winter. We’ll be harvesting root vegetables soon, and storing them in our basement. I like the simple storage ideas described here for root veggies.
So far, I’ve canned 24 quarts of tomato sauce and seven quarts of diced/crushed tomatoes, and there are still a lot of tomatoes that haven’t ripened yet – I think we’ll be set for tomato products for the winter!
All in all, I have to say that our first year of serious gardening has been even more successful that we had expected. Not everything has worked perfectly, and we had a few crops that didn’t do much or went to seed much too soon. We’ve had epic battles with aphids (best thing I’ve found to defeat them is a jet stream from the hose, which washes them off the leaves. They really like to hide under the leaves of curly kale). But overall, we’ve harvested huge amounts of food, and still have lots more to harvest in the next few weeks. And we’ve learned a lot and had a blast in the process.