Monday, May 23, 2011

Fresh Homemade Salsa with Aerogarden crops

T. Poole left a comment on my May 9 post recommending making salsa out of my Aerogarden harvest. I decided to take this advice and looked up a great salsa recipe on Allrecipes.  To my delight, it used lots of tomatoes and lots of cilantro.

So, today was the day I finally harvested my crop of cherry tomatoes, which started in my Aerogarden VeggiePro (now the AeroGarden Extra), and then was transplanted into a big flower pot by the kitchen window. Here's what they looked like:

Next step was harvesting the cilantro. If you recall, I have cilantro growing in two places: the Aerogarden unit...

...and the extra seeds, I planted in the flower pot next to the cherry tomatoes

For those of you keeping score at home, the cilantro in the Aerogarden unit grew at least 2-3x faster than the one in soil.

I took my cherry tomatoes and chopped them.

Next,  I chopped up the cilantro:

I added salt, garlic, onions, lime juice, and chili peppers to the tomatoes and the cilantro into a bowl (I couldn't find cerrano chiles, so I used long red hot chilis I found in my local supermarket). Then, I put it into the refrigerator for an hour.

When it came out, here's what it looked like.

I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting much. But I kid you not, this was the most amazing tasting salsa I've ever had. It was light, fresh, and with a nice kick from the chilis, not at all like the thick gooey salsa you get in a jar, nor even like the over-done salsa you get at those fast food Mexican restaurants.

I almost polished off a whole bag of whole grain nachos in one sitting with this. And it was satisfying to know that half of it was made with things I had grown in my own kitchen.

This was the first, but will not be the last time I make this. Thanks to T. Poole for the suggestion!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seafood Pasta with lots of basil, thyme, and parsley

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know that I'm always on the lookout for recipes which will use up the herbs that keep growing out of the Aerogarden (which looked like this as of last week)

As you can see, it's a jungle out there, and worse, the more aggressive plants like the basil were choking the light from the smaller plants (believe it or not, all the basil you see in the picture is coming out of just one plant!)

Going to good ol' AllRecipes.Com, I found a recipe for Cajun Seafood Pasta. It used 1 cup of chopped parsley (the parsley in the Aerogarden is still quite anemic, but I still have the potted parsley which grew back from last time), as well as a tablespoon of basil and a tablespoon of chopped thyme. 

So, I started chopping. I was pretty liberal with the basil:

As for the thyme, even after giving a major haircut to both thyme plants, I was able to get a whole tablespoon together.

The recipe called for making a cream sauce, using two cups of real cream. I'm always a little amused by dieters who will eschew ice cream, only to eat bowl after bowl of pasta which probably contains more cream! 

Toss with some fettucine, fresh shrimps and scallops, this was a recipe that was really worthy of the 4 1/2 stars it got from 657 AllRecipes users. I didn't really see where the "Cajun" came in, as even with three kinds of pepper I didn't really taste much of a kick. Still, it tasted really, really good.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

I've been writing this blog so long I realize I probably used that line before. But the herb garden is looking very much like a jungle. The basil is growing out of control, and the thyme and the cilantro and sage are all growing so fast they're getting tangled with one another. I've already trimmed the basil twice, as it kept growing into the light. I need to try to find some good herb recipes soon.

Here's something very cool--the chili is growing flowers now! One of the varieties has these little white flowers:

While the other variety has beautiful little purple flowers.

One thing that's a little worrisome is that a LOT of the flowers are just dropping off the plant. I'm not worried yet because there are a whole lot of flowers right now. 

The plants are growing incredibly fast, so much so that one of the plants bent over due to the weight of the leaves. 

You can see it at the left-most plant. The stem didn't snap, but it did bend a lot. I'm leaving it as-is to see if it'll straighten out on its own. 

Remember the cherry tomato plant? Here's how big it's gotten:

It's funny, the original plant (to the left) is really not doing anything, but the one branch to the right has extended and is responsible for over 20 cherry tomatoes now. It's all still being held up in the air by the Aerogarden Trellis Coils.  

I figure in the coming weeks, I will start cooking again. I'm checking to see if I can find a recipe that uses tomatoes, sage, basil, cilantro, and thyme!