Gardening Therapy

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Plant Your Kitchen Scraps – Make Chimichurri Sauce

Garlic Chives – photo by Lorelle Del Matto

I just read, “When the going gets tough, the tough get growing.” (1)

Home vegetable gardening is surging during this pandemic, with people fearing food shortages and taking refuge in the safety of their own backyards (2). Gardening is therapeutic – it gets us out of the house, away from devices, breathing fresh air and working with our hands in soil.

Mint. Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

My garden is waking up. I’m harvesting hearty perennial herbs – oregano, thyme, garlic chives, parsley, and mint. To prolong freshness and make fewer trips to the store, put the stems of homegrown (or store-bought) herbs in water. If the ends of store-bought herbs sprout roots, they can be placed in soil to grow. Green onions will continue to grow when the root ends are in water, too.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

I learned about growing green onions, and more, from a page ripped from Eating Well magazine on how to “Plant Your Plate (3).” I rescued a few scraps from the compost and gave it a try. You won’t feed a family with leaves sprouting from a romaine core, but it’s gratifying to watch food grow, right on your kitchen counter.

Got kids? Windowsill gardening is a fun easy project with built-in science and nutrition lessons. Gratification is nearly instant – sprouts come up in a couple of days. In an apartment or condo? If you have a sunny window, you can kitchen garden.

Here’s how to get started:

Romaine: When you make a salad, save the base of the head and place, leaf up, it in a small dish of water. Set it in a well-lit location, change the water daily and watch it grow.  Harvest and use the leaves. When roots form, plant it outside or in a pot of soil.

Celery: Do the same as with romaine.

Green onions: Place the white part of the stems, with roots, in water. Change the water every day or two and the green sprouts will grow for you to harvest and use. Or, plant  them in potting soil and feed with light and water.

Shallots (and red or yellow onions):  Place in a bowl with water to cover the roots. Cut off and eat the shoots that grow out of the onion, always leaving a few to promote more growth.  Later, plant the shallot in soil, leaving the top of the bulb exposed.

Check out the Eating Well reference (3) for more kitchen garden ideas.

Oregano. Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

I used parsley and oregano from my outdoor garden in one of my favorite green sauces, Chimichurri. Best known for topping steak, I use it on seafood, poultry and veggies, too. The recipe is below, and on my Farmer’s Market post where you’ll find info on the herbs’ nutrition and health benefits.

Grow, cook, eat, enjoy.

Chimichurri

Using fresh and dry oregano gives this sauce a double layer of flavor.  If you like, blanch the garlic briefly to tame its sharpness.

 Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

4 cloves garlic, blanched if desired* and chopped

5 cups fresh parsley leaves

3/4 cup fresh oregano leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons dry oregano leaves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 to 3 tablespoons water from blanching garlic or plain water, optional

In bowl of food processor, combine raw or blanched garlic, parsley, fresh and dry oregano, salt, sugar and crushed red pepper; process until finely chopped. While blending, slowly add oil and vinegar through feed tube. Continue to process until well blended, scraping bowl once or twice. Thin with a few tablespoons water, as desired. Taste and adjust seasonings.

*To blanch garlic, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Add whole garlic and simmer 30 seconds.  Remove garlic from water, reserving water. 

References

  1. Covid 19 Pandemic Spurs Surge in Gardening Activity. Hannah Ray Lambert. April 5, 2020 koin.com
  2. Fearing Shortages, People Are Planting More Vegetable Gardens. Alan Yu. March 27, 20204  ;NPR.org
  3. Plant Your Plate. Eating Well.com

© Lorelle Del Matto 2020

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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