Vegan Sautéed Veggies

I was perusing Instagram the other day when I ran across a post of a fellow gardener pulling baby carrots from one of their garden beds. And I don’t mean baby carrots like the ones you buy in the store that look like toe-nubs (sorry, but they do). The carrots they pulled out of the dirt looked just like a carrot you’d find at the farmer’s market or fine grocery store – green tops and all – just much, much, much smaller. This made me think about how my own forgotten carrots might be doing in my own garden. I had previously given up hope on them, thinking that maybe I’d planted them too late, or in the wrong soil, or just in general did it wrong. I decided to follow my fellow Instagram gardeners lead and see if I couldn’t find some baby carrots as well. Lo and behold, a little digging and whole lot of giggling later, I amassed a fairly big bunch of teeny tiny baby carrots. This led me to also pull out my itty bitty beet babies which weren’t as cute as the carrots but still just as exciting to harvest.

After harvesting, I realized that I wasn’t quite sure what to do next. I had never seen such tiny root vegetables before and wondered what I could with them, if anything at all. First things first, I ate one of the carrots, and WOW did it pack more flavor than it looked like it would. It had that usual carrot flavor but with some serious kick. I guess that’s just how homegrown vegetables are in general. They have the same overall flavor of store bought veggies, but they’re always SO much tastier. What I ended up deciding was to use the baby carrots, the tiny beets and a few other garden finds to make lunch. After all, what’s better than a meal with garden ingredients? A meal made completely and entirely from items harvested from the garden. In addition to the carrots and beets, I had a butt-load of squash, a bunch of kale, several different kinds of fresh herbs and of course the carrot and beet tops. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to make the carrot tops work, so I ended up only using the beet tops in this particular meal. I had never used beet tops in cooking before so it was a fun experiment that turned out to be even more delicious than I could have hoped. The lunch that resulted was filling and flavorful and could also be used as a side to a nice dinner or barbecue. I imagine you could even get more creative with it and throw it on top of some pasta or quinoa for an even more satisfying dish. For me, the ingredients were satiating enough for a lunch dish, so that’s the recipe I will share here.

Overall, this meal was insanely flavorful, super healthy, and all in all just so exciting to make and eat. If you have a garden at home, I urge you to just have fun with what you’ve got. Food doesn’t have to follow rules or recipes and often times I think the freedom makes things a bit more flavorful. I hope you enjoy!

Vegan Sautéed Veggies

1/2 cup carrots, cut into small pieces if necessary

1/2 cup beets, cut into small pieces if necessary

1 small yellow squash, sliced into half coins

1 handful of kale, chopped

1 handful of beet tops, chopped

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

2 Tbsp vegan butter

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat vegan butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once melted add the carrots, beets and rosemary and cover, cooking for about 7 minutes or until slightly tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add squash, and a few shakes of salt and pepper, stir occasionally and cook until squash is tender.
  3. Lastly add the kale and the beet tops, continue to stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the greens have wilted a bit. Add more salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
  4. Serve warm and enjoy!

Gardening in January

Part of my fourth New Year’s Resolution for 2019 is to become more self-sustainable by increasing the size of my garden. As stated in a previous post, I already have two good sized raised garden beds I plan on using as well as an in-ground bed on the side of my house. Last year, I only used the two raised beds and was able to get a decent crop of tomatoes, squash and zucchini, but this year I want to ramp it up a bit by using my side yard bed to incorporate some other crops into my garden. Now you may be thinking, “Gardening in January? What in the world can you get done in January?” Well, that’s what this post is all about.

I’m the kind of person who loves planning ahead. Whether it be groceries, outings or gardening I find great satisfaction in having a plan in place. When it comes to gardening, January is a great time to lay out what I want to accomplish. This gives me plenty of time to figure out what I will need to buy, what will go where and if there are any larger projects I need to finish before being able to move forward. The first thing I like to do is outline my space. Where am I going to plant? Do I have enough room? Do the beds need to be prepared? And lastly, what am I going to plant? The last question is the most fun and can sometimes take the most time depending on how much space you have. I have pretty limited room if I’m sticking to good spatial requirements between plants, so I have to be a little picky about which plants I choose. I also look at planting calendars for my zone (I’m in 9b – northern-ish California) to determine if there are certain items I can cycle in and out of my garden beds. A good place to check for your zone is Garden.org. You can then use your zone to figure out what your planting  calendar is. I’m using this planting guide from Urban Farmer. Their entire site is filled with great tips and tricks.

I know I have three garden beds I want to use for vegetables. From there, I can pretty much determine how many plants per bed I will be able to fit, of course depending on what the plant is. I am probably going to follow a similar structure to what I did last year, since the plants seemed to have enough room to provide a decent crop. The only difference is that I will not do as many tomato plants as I did last year – I had two normal size varieties and two cherry varieties. This year, I’d like to cut back and maybe do one of each in order to make more room for a different vegetable. The larger plants can only fit a couple per bed, so I will be doing a squash and a zucchini plant in one bed together. I’d also like to have a cucumber plant, which I believe is fairly large also, so I’m planning on leaving room in the side yard bed for that. So far that makes for the following plant list: 1 tomato plant, 1 cherry tomato plant, 1 zucchini plant, 1 summer squash plant and 1 cucumber. The other items I’d like to plant, and may have to cycle, are spinach, carrots, green beans and broccoli. A couple of these are colder weather plants (spinach, carrots, broccoli), so I am going to try and cycle these out of the beds as the warmer crops seeds become ready for transplanting.

The next step I’ve been working on is collecting my items for growing my own seeds. This year I want to grow my own seeds because it will cut down on costs but will also ensure that I’m harvesting fully organic produce. I also love the idea of having extra plants that I can give away to family and friends. Originally, I strayed away from wanting to do seeds because I thought it would cost more than just buying the plants, but I have learned that there are several items that I can repurpose to get started. I am going to use old egg cartons to start my seeds, old food trays (like from vegetable party and cheese trays) to hold them together and catch excess water, and I’ve already starting purchasing small terra cotta pots from the thrift store at a fraction of the cost of the home supply stores. This is already saving me a ton of money and makes me feel better about being able to reuse things that otherwise may have just been thrown away. I’ll be sure to document these steps as I go.

Soon, it will be time to start some seeds. In my zone, I can start planting some of my seeds as early as the end of this month, so that’s what I plan on doing. I haven’t purchased any of my seeds yet since I’m still just in the planning phase, but according to my planting calendar, I can get started on my tomatoes, spinach and broccoli seeds this month. I am going to buy all of my seeds at one time once I’m ready (and figure out where I want to buy them), and then start planting them indoors according to my zone’s calendar. I cannot wait to start this process and see how well I’m able to do. This will be my first time starting a garden from seeds and I’m hoping that with enough determination and research that I will have a flourishing garden that I can feed myself and my husband with all year long.

Do you enjoy gardening at home? What are some of your favorite vegetables to grow? And what are some of your favorite vegetables to eat?

MelissaRose