Tuesday, June 23, 2015

From Terrace To Table

After several years of high rise condo living and trial and error, I've learned what grows well on my balcony and what doesn't.  I've tried and failed to grow tomatoes, green peppers, and flowers, but have figured out that I'm really good at growing herbs!

Last year I just grew basil as I wanted to see how herbs would do on my patio, which gets limited sun exposure.  Since it grew so well last year, this year I decided to expand my herb garden and I planted basil, oregano, cilantro, flat-leaf Italian parsley, and rosemary.  I "cheated" a bit and bought the herbs in plant-form versus growing them from seeds as I got a bit of a late start due to my move in May.  Everything has been thriving and I got to harvest my first herbs in early June!

Parsley and basil

Rosemary, a bit more basil, and oregano

I would love to grow my own vegetables as I grew up eating home-grown veggies but you just have to know your strengths, and patio vegetable gardening is not mine.  But it's still really fulfilling to make meals that utilize herbs I have grown myself!  I've already made a couple of things so I thought I'd share some photos as well as links to the recipe.  As Phil said, these meals are "Terrace to Table!"

First up, I used my oregano to make Greek Feta-Zucchini Turkey Burgers.  These tasted great but I'll be the first to admit that they did not grill well.  I think I should have added more GF bread crumbs as they were a bit too moist and did not hold together well  Or maybe I should have pre-baked them?  Further experimentation is needed.  They tasted great but they are obviously not very "presentable."  But in an attempt to "keep it real," I'm still going to share the photo because it's the taste, not the look, that counts...  right?  I served the burgers "naked" because the 2 grocery stores I went to did not have GF burger buns.  Such is the life of a gluten free girl...  The burgers went great with the Greek salad I served them with!


The next night, I used a whole lot of basil to make some lentil meatballs and marinara sauce.  I forgot to take a photo of the lentil meatballs before adding them to the sauce so you'll just have to take my word that they are in fact in there!  I made this dish last year as a vegetarian option at a party I hosted so decided to give them a whirl again.  Last time I made them, people ate them on buns as a sandwich filler but this time around we had them on top of GF spaghetti. 

Different night, same salad.  We love salad!

Not pictured is the cilantro that I used to make a southwestern black bean salad - which we actually ate as a dip with tortilla chips.  I'm currently drying the remaining oregano and the rosemary for future use and I'm still trying to figure out a use for the Italian parsley...

It's going to be a fun summer of cooking as I intend to find recipes that will utilize my herbs, which are growing like weeds thanks to the rain and warm weather we've had lately!





Do you have a garden?  Have you ever grown herbs?  What is your favorite fresh herb to use when cooking?  Mine is a tie between basil and cilantro.

15 comments:

Marlys said...

Nothing beats fresh produce you raise yourself! I miss gardening so much, but just run out of time with two homes and much mowing to do! Maybe when I retire?
Your food sounds and looks great! I saw an interview with a garden center yesterday and they were talking about raising herbs. She suggested you make pesto and keep it frozen for future use, so that could be something you could do with the basil!

katielookingforward said...

Yum! I'm not a fan of naked burgers, but I am a fan of small meatballs, so I would just roll them smaller and bake them.

Nora said...

If you make your own sauce you can throw the Italian parsley in there! Quite delicious when it simmers, I promise :) It's also good on with olive oil/butter/garlic sauce as a garnish for some extra color and flavor. I realize these two recs are pasta-centric dishes but maybe it would be good on the pasta you've made from veggies? End of my Italian input on what to use the parsley for!

I had an herb garden last year and I loved it. LOVED IT. Didn't get around to it this year but I do have a beautiful angel garden growing that makes my heart happy every time I look at it so I'll take it!

missris said...

We don't have a patio but I've been growing two kinds of basil and one kind of cilantro in my window boxes and they are growing like weeds! We use basil a lot of homemade pizza, margherita-style sammies and flatbreads, and tomato sauce. It's so novel to just pinch off a few leaves whenever I need them!

J and A said...

So awesome!! Good job. I love all the things you made with your own herbs!

suki said...

I want a garden! I just haven't invested the time and effort into it...

Stephany said...

This is so, so awesome! I haven't ever tried to grow an herb garden. Where I live now isn't conducive to it, but maybe my new place will be! It would be fun to have fresh herbs to play around with. :)

Stevie said...

Fresh herbs are the best! I don't know if I have a favorite - it depends on what I'm cooking/eating :-)

I have a somewhat shady patio and my herbs have been doing really well, along with lettuces! I planted a bunch of seeds of different lettuce/greens varieties and got a couple of red leaf lettuce starts and they're growing like crazy. I love not having to buy greens at the grocery store!

Becky said...

It all looks so good! I admire your green thumb - I cannot keep any kind of herbs, plants, or flowers alive. The sad fact is if you live in my house and cannot make noise to let me know you're hungry your fate is sealed. Ha!

Jeanie said...

Love, love, love that you are really maximizing your terrace space and bringing it all to the table! I love growing herbs, too. I've had some success with grape/cherry tomatoes in pots but sometimes they need a lot of sun. I dry/freeze and cook with it all summer. So far, harvested oregano and basil for drying and been cooking with the dill, thyme and parsley. I am making the best panzanella and caprese salads ever this year -- the basil is going nuts!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I am so glad that you have grown something that you love to use so much! Herbs are fun and they can even be grown indoors near a window if you do not have a patio. This year I only have basil, mint and rosemary (which grows into a huge bush here). I use a lot of basil, but the other one I like is the mint! It's really great in place of basil in a quinoa salad (with feta, tomatoes, lemon and olive oil) or it is fun to throw in a glass of water in the summer for an added zest.

Amber said...

You have so much basil!! Love it. I have quite a bit of basil as well and I totally forgot about that lentil meatballs recipe. I will have to make it again soon. Let me know what you come up with for a parsley recipe, we have SO MUCH parsley and I have no idea what to do with it all. We just have some flowers and herbs at our place as well but I do hope to have a full garden one day when we move into a house. My mom has one though so we can eat out of hers for now!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

We're growing a bunch of herbs this year (in pots). I'd say cilantro is my favourite herb, but not my favourite to grow; it's difficult. We're also growing peas and beets this year, and they are doing quite well so far :-)

themiddleofthestreet said...

This is great! We also have herbs on our balcony. And one of our easiest and tastiest dinners is pasta with sage and butter. I also had basil until last week. But while I was travelling a serious heat wave just killed it.

San said...

I wish I had a garden to grow my own veggies, but I also just have a balcony to work with.... fresh herbs are definitely a plus in the kitchen though. My favorite is basil and parsely (because I use them most often!)