10 Terrific Ways to Enjoy Your Fresh Garden “Treats”

In October, the word “treat” usually brings to mind sugar-rich candies (and sticky fingers). But this time of year is known for another, healthier kind of treat — an epic, end-of-season harvest.

By now, most gardeners have pulled out their remaining summer plants and either replaced them with cool-weather crops or started growing indoors. And this process often yields an abundance of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and other fresh produce.

What are you to do with it all?

Well, you can start with the following 10 tasty ideas. Tower Gardeners recently shared these recipes in a contest on Tower Talk.

(We actually received more than 10 recipes — be sure to get them all in the updated Tower-to-Table e-Cookbook!)

Ready to make some culinary magic happen? All these recipes use Tower Garden-grown ingredients, which are bolded for easy identification.

Note: Recipes have been gently edited for consistency.


Recipe by Doug Farrar

Asian Kale Salad

This simple kale salad can be ready in as little as 15 minutes and serves four people.

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 8-10 curly or Toscana kale leaves (no stems), finely cut
  • 1 1⁄2 cups green cabbage, shredded and finely chopped
  • 10 mint leaves, chiffonade chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup whole dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 1/3 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Combine dressing ingredients and blend well.
  2. Place greens in a bowl with peanuts. Toss well with dressing and let sit for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

 


Recipe by Lauralee Winslow

Easy Ratatouille

This traditional French dish is as colorful as it is nutritious. Lauralee wrote that it serves six people and is delicious with crostini, rice, pasta, meat, fish, risotto, and more.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried herbs de Provence
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 large yellow onions, quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 1/4 lb), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 14 oz), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 10 whole peeled canned tomatoes, drained
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400˚F.
  2. Warm oil in a 6 quart Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add herbs de Provence, garlic, onions, and bay leaf. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant (about 10 minutes).
  4. Increase heat to high, stir in zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, and season with salt and black pepper.
  5. Uncover pot, transfer to the oven, and bake, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned (about 90 minutes).
  6. Stir in basil and parsley, transfer ratatouille to a serving bowl, and serve warm or at room temperature by itself or over just about anything!

 


Recipe by Terri Stradley

Enchilada-Style Poblano Casserole

This unconventional dish uses peppers, kale, squash, and tomatillos — which all grow well in a Tower Garden!

Ingredients

For the casserole:

  • 4-6 Poblano peppers, cut length-wise and deseeded
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

For the sauce:

  • 1 1/2 lb tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1-2 serrano (or jalapeño) chilies
  • 1/4 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F, and bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.
  2. Boil tomatillos and serrano chilies for 10-12 minutes, or until skins have shriveled slightly and color has turned dull green.
  3. Drain and remove stems, and place tomatillos and chilies in a food processor. 
  4. Add onion, garlic, and salt to processor, and blend until smooth.
  5. Brown ground turkey in a deep skillet over medium heat until cooked through.
  6. Drain grease, add squash, onion, carrots, kale, and spices, and sauté for 10-12 minutes, or until vegetables have softened slightly.
  7. Pour approximately half of sauce into a 9 x 12-inch glass baking dish, spreading evenly over the bottom of the dish.
  8. Place poblano peppers on top of sauce, cut sides facing up, and arrange them to fit and cover the bottom of the dish.
  9. Spoon turkey and vegetable mixture over poblanos, and top with even coat of remaining sauce.
  10. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then uncover and cook for 15 additional minutes.
  11. Serve alone or with avocado or guacamole.

 


Recipe by Jennifer Shuffler

Fresh Peppermint Tea

Herbal teas offer a number of benefits, from relaxation to cold remediation. Peppermint tea is especially useful in aiding digestion and settling an upset stomach — or just warming up on a cool autumn evening!

Ingredients

  • 3­-4 stalks fresh peppermint
  • 1 tbsp honey (optional)
  • 2­-3 cups boiling water

Instructions

  1. Rub peppermint to bruise the leaves. (This releases more of the minty aroma and flavor.)
  2. Boil water, pour it into a pot with the peppermint, and let the tea steep for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Optionally add honey, pour into your favorite mug, and enjoy!

 


Recipe by Carrie Bohl

Simple Roasted Tomato Sauce

If you’ve ever made your own tomato sauce, you know that store bought tomato sauce doesn’t even compare to the vibrant flavor (or aroma!) of homemade. In this recipe, you roast the tomatoes and garlic, which adds even more depth to the sauce.

Ingredients

  • Enough tomatoes (stems removed) to cover the bottom of a 1-inch lipped baking sheet
  • 1 medium head of garlic, whole cloves, peeled
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (or several sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250˚F.
  2. Place the tomatoes on large baking sheet. Add the garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil, coating each tomato.
  3. Top with herbs and season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
  4. Bake for 4 hours or until tomatoes are soft and bursting.
  5. Allow everything to cool before pouring it into a blender. Pulse several times and then blend until desired consistency.
  6. Enjoy as you would any sauce — over noodles and veggies, or as a base in soups. (It can also be eaten as a delicious soup all on its own.)
  7. Pour extra sauce into quart jars or into freezer bags and freeze.

 


Recipe by Susan Wesley

Tomato Mushroom Basil Soup

This robust soup Susan shared is both vegan-friendly and gluten free. It’s definitely worth bookmarking as temperatures turn cooler!

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 3 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 16 oz mushroom, chopped
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Sauté onion and garlic in a stockpot with 1-2 tbsp of water.
  2. Add sweet potato, tomatoes, bell pepper, mushrooms, vegetable broth, and basil, and bring to a boil.
  3. Add salt, sugar, and nutritional yeast, and cook until the potato is tender.
  4. Blend with immersion blender. Thin with water if necessary. 

 


Recipe by Michelle Bailey

Savory Zucchini Bread

Michelle’s intro to this recipe gave us a good laugh:

"Ever feel sad or tired that most zucchini recipes are sweet and sometimes you just don't want a sweet bread? Me neither, but in case you were ever wanting a savory slice to serve a burger with, or even have on the side of a thick hearty soup, this recipe is for you!"

Ingredients

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup zucchini, shredded
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper (dried with paper towel), diced
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil or oregano, minced
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F, and coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Shred zucchini and mix with dry ingredients.
  4. Add peppers, scallions, basil, and cheese, and coat well.
  5. Add milk and vinegar into a glass and stir well. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes until thickened.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix all your wet ingredients, and then stir mixture into dry ingredients until moistened to create a very thick batter.
  7. Scoop the mixture into your pan, level it off, and top with thin slices of tomato and a handful of cheese.
  8. Bake until toothpick comes out clean (about 70-80 minutes).
  9. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto to a rack to cool for a minimum of 40 more minutes more before slicing.

 


Recipe by Karen Hartman

Stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls

We’re big fans of Swiss chard. So we can’t wait to try Karen’s creative recipe! It looks pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and blanch (i.e., briefly boil) the chard for 20-30 seconds. Set aside 1/2 cup of the blanching water for the baking dish.
  2. Immediately transfer the chard to a bowl of cold water and drain.
  3. Cut the chard stalks from the leaves, and dice them to about 1/4 of an inch pieces.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat.
  5. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring until very soft (about 8 minutes).
  6. Add the chard stems and a generous pinch of salt, and cook until the stems are tender (about 5 minutes).
  7. Add the tomato and cook another 2 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant (30 seconds to a minute).
  9. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  10. Preheat the oven to 375˚F, and lightly oil a baking dish large enough to accommodate the chard rolls.
  11. In a large bowl, mix together the rice, cooked ingredients, and fresh herbs to create the filling.
  12. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  13. Place about 2 tbsp of the filling on each chard leaf, and tuck the sides over the filling before rolling up each leaf.
  14. Place the rolls in the baking dish, and pour tomato sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese, over them. 
  15. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, or until the chard rolls are hot and the leaves are tender.
  16. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes, and enjoy!

 


Recipe by Bernadette McCarthy

Tuna Burgers

This recipe allows you to get a little protein in with your veggies. Enjoy it traditionally (on a bun with lettuce and tomato) or as a salad topper.

Ingredients

  • 6 1/2 oz tuna, drained
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried celery
  • 1/8 cup red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup chives, chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (or Dijon mustard)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients, and chill for 1 hour.
  2. Shape mixture into patties and cook in lightly oiled skillet over medium heat until warm throughout (about 6 minutes on each side).

 


Recipe by Logan Nickleson

Vegetarian Lasagna

Since it’s packed with veggies, this filling veggie lasagna is a great way to use your harvests. It can feed about four hungry people.

Ingredients

In addition to the lasagna pasta itself, you’ll need the following:

For the tomato sauce:

  • 2-3 lb tomatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the sauce mixture:

  • 24 oz prepared tomato sauce
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 large bunch kale, chopped
  • 8 oz white button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the cheese mixture:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 16 oz cottage cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

For the sauce:

  1. Heat olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 5-7 minutes (or until onions and garlic are translucent and tender).
  3. Stir in tomatoes, herbs, and salt, and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1-2 hours. The longer you simmer, the thicker your sauce will be.
  5. Optional: Puree the cooked sauce with a blender or food processor for a smoother sauce.

For the lasagna:

  1. Soak lasagna pasta in hot water while you prep the rest of the ingredients. This makes the pasta tender but prevents it from getting too soft.
  2. Set the oven to 375˚F.
  3. Heat olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat.
  4. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 5-7 minutes (or until onions and garlic are translucent and tender).
  5. Add mushrooms, zucchini, kale, salt, and black pepper, and cook until the kale wilts.
  6. Stir in the prepared tomato sauce (saving about a tablespoon), bring to a boil, and then remove from heat.
  7. In a medium bowl, mix egg, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.
  8. Drain the pasta.
  9. Coat the bottom of a 9 x 11-inch dish with the tablespoon of tomato sauce you saved. (This is to help keep the pasta from sticking.)
  10. Place the pasta evenly in the dish, and then cover with the cheese mixture, sauce mixture, and half the remaining mozzarella cheese — in that order.
  11. Add another layer of pasta, and repeat the step above.
  12. Cook covered in the oven for 30 minutes. Then uncover and cook for 15 minutes longer.

Have a Recipe to Share?

We hope these recipes have inspired you to make something amazing using your Tower Garden produce. For more ideas, be sure to download the updated, free Tower-to-Table e-Cookbook — it now includes 33 delicious dishes vetted by Tower Gardeners.

Download the Free e-Cookbook »

If you’ve got a fresh recipe to share, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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