52 Weeks Fresh: End-of-Summer Lovin'

By: Michael Blakeney

Plants worked hard all summer to deliver varied flavors, shapes and colors. Now it’s time to cook your bounty.

A garden row of seedlings at the season’s start should now be a greenmarket. If you’ve been following along this summer, you’ll have everything you need for pizza sauce (tomatoes, basil, thyme, oregano, onions) and salads (lettuce, arugula, red onions, edible flowers and beets).

This is the time to use your fresh tomatoes in lieu of canned tomatoes in any marinara or basic tomato sauce. Try Giada De Laurentiis’ version with carrots, celery and a bay leaf, or make Chuck Hughes’ classic pizza sauce. To make the substitution, use 10 to 12 blanched tomatoes in place of a 32-ounce can.

Once you blanch the large ripe tomatoes, peel off the skins and drain any excess liquid. Crush them by hand and put them off to the side.

Next, proceed as you would with a classic sauce, adding in the herbs, onions and garlic. Simmer the mixture on low heat for a least one hour, then toss it with pasta or use it as the foundation for pizza toppings.

PRODUCE REPORT: Quinoa and amaranth are blooming; harvest time will be later this month. Fresh herbs are in abundance now. Capture the diverse flavors for winter meals by air-drying, freezing and dehydrating them.

EAT WITH THE SEASON: Early fall vegetables are coming in beautifully. Watch for cool weather greens like kale, lettuce and spinach. For a colorful fall salad, combine these with sun-dried tomatoes and edible flowers. Squashes, including acorn and butternut, will be appearing very soon along with the first of the apples. Add diced apples to salads for added autumn sweetness.

Self-taught gardener Michael Blakeney enjoys his Bedford, N.Y., garden all year: working in it, watching it grow and eating it through every season.  A visual artist and arts educator, Mike has been gardening for 25 years. You can find him at mikegrowgarden.com and on Instagram at mikegrowgarden1.

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