Rewards of the Harvest

Garden boxesMy garden has taken on many looks over the years.  It’s gone from a large garden with a great variety of vegetables, to a pile of weeds (they were the years of too much multi-tasking and not enough tending) to its present state of small and manageable for my current lifestyle.  Although I don’t have the time to can and preserve my harvest for a year’s worth of healthy goodness, my tomatoes gave me some wonderful winter ‘tastes of summer’.

There’s nothing better than the taste of garden tomatoes in the middle of winter.  Here are just a couple of things I did with mine.

Oven dried plum tomatoesOven Dried Tomatoes

Preheat oven to the lowest heat setting (150 – 200 F).

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange tomatoes on top, cut side up. Sprinkle lightly with salt and a little fresh basil cut up.
  2. Bake the tomatoes until the edges have shriveled and the insides are still slightly moist but not juicy. Timing depends on the size of tomato; the drying time will take anywhere between 2 and 6 hours.
  3. Set the pan aside until completely cool and then transfer the tomatoes to a clean and sterilized jar. Add a few sprigs of fresh basil and a clove of garlic, to the jar. Pour in olive oil, thoroughly covering the tomatoes to preserve them.
  4. Store in the fridge for 4 – 6 weeks. Use up the remaining olive oil in dishes that can benefit from the savory tomato flavor.  YUMMY!

In addition to drying the plum tomatoes, I created some homemade gravy (sauce), that I used in this pan of lasagna,  made a tomato gratin, and fried up the green tomatoes to use as sides and sandwich toppings.

Along with the tomatoes came a few zucchini that survived whatever wiped out  the majority of my crop this year.

Even a small garden produced some great meals for my family! I’m looking forward to expanding my garden this year and adding a few more veggies as I move one step closer to eating cleaner and greener.

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