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Jessica’s Garden: First Harvest — Hard Work Pays Off

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I’m calling it official—we have had our first harvest out of the summer garden by my standards. For many weeks, we have been able to harvest fresh herbs abundantly and the cutting garden started flowering around two weeks ago.  But I have officially harvested and cooked the first vegetables out of the garden.  While we are patiently watching tomato blossoms turn into tiny fruit, we are still waiting to enjoy a vine-ripe tomato. However, the squash are beginning to perform prolifically. We have harvested several green zucchini and our first patty pan squash and we dumped our first bucket of Yukon Gold potatoes. Our yellow summer squash are adorned in baby yellow fruit, as are the round zucchinis.

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It’s always rewarding to pop out to the garden early evening and pick something fresh for supper that night. Some nights, we only slice the zucchini into 1/4″ discs and sauté with some fresh gardens herbs, garlic and a sliced red onion.  Other nights, when there is more ambition and time, I try to use it creatively so we don’t become jaded by this abundant vegetable.  Over the last few seasons, I’ve been developing a few recipes to make it a little more exciting.

Last year, I posted a recipe I developed for Summer Squash Cakes, in which you can use any summer squash that is available (click here for the recipe).  This year, I have recently started a new spin on that same recipe.   These cakes are a bit crunchy, filling, have a pleasant texture, include a great grain and protein, are vegetarian and can be made gluten free; great for Meatless Monday Meals.

Crunchy Quinoa Summer Vegetable Cakes
Serves: 6-8

1 C Dry Quinoa
2 Large Eggs; Beaten
2 Medium Sweet Bell or Green Peppers; Grated
1 Red Onion; Grated
1 Zucchini; Grated
2 Tbsp Salt
1/2 C Parmesan Cheese
1 C Breadcrumbs
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme
2 Tbsp Olive Oil; For Cooking
Cracked Pepper to Taste

Prepare quinoa per package instructions.  Grate all vegetables and add salt.  Set aside and let sit 30-60 mins. Rinse vegetables in colander thoroughly.  Transfer grated vegetables to clean tea towel and ring out until as much water as possible; discard water.  In mixing bowl, combine vegetables with all other ingredients, except olive oil.  Gently form mixture into 3-4″ diameter patties.  Over medium heat, cook in olive oil until brown and crispy on both sides.

Tips: Do not flip patties often; at most, twice on each side. It’s better to let them cook as undisturbed as possible to avoid crumbling and cracking the cakes.  If mixture is still a little wet, add more breadcrumbs gradually until patties form easily.  If you have a food processor, the grating/shredding attachment will make light work of grating vegetables.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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