When you have a Vegehome Jardin or Oasis, you’ll be collecting delicious, nutritious herbs, greens and vegetables year-round — which may, at times, have you wondering about the best ways to make use of your perpetual harvest! From salads to infused oils to, yes, even cocktails, the possibilities are endless. Don’t believe us? We’ve listed some of the best ways to make the most of your Vegehome crop below:
You probably know this one already: the best thing to do with your Vegehome bounty is to, well, eat it! From fresh salads to delicious pizzas and pastas to steamy stir frys, there are hundreds of ways to use your Vegehome-fresh vegetables and herbs in your meals at home. Need some inspiration? Check out our recipe collection! If you’re new to the kitchen, however, don’t fret — we’ve listed three effort-free tips below:
Go for the garnish: If you’re growing herbs such as dill, parsley, basil or marjoram, using your Vegehome crop can be as simple as tossing a few fresh herbs on top of whatever you have planned for dinner. Steamed or grilled salmon or trout goes great with chopped-up dill, while many pasta dishes benefit from a sprinkling of basil. You can even spruce up ready-made or packaged meals: toss chopped-up chives into a bowl of instant ramen, for instance, or dress up frozen perogies with a dash of fresh parsley.
It’s easy being green: Hearty, leafy greens like kale, leaf mustard and chard are incredibly versatile and super easy to cook. Consider mixing these greens into easy egg dishes, like omelettes or frittatas, or simply sauteing them in oil with a bit of salt and pepper for an easy, vitamin-packed side dish.
Keep it fresh: Salad greens, like red lettuce, butter lettuce, or crisp lettuce, are delicious as fresh salad bases. And they’re especially great for leftovers: top a bed of fresh leafy greens with leftover proteins, like grilled chicken, steak or fish, then add some of your favourite chopped vegetables (grilled veggies are great in a salad, too). Toss with your favourite dressing, and voila! A complete, nutritious meal, no cooking required.
Herbs like basil, parsley and dill are fantastic when incorporated into cocktails, as they add a fresh, lively punch to drinks — which can be especially refreshing when the weather outside is chilly, and you’re craving a little taste of summer (and, lucky for you, your fresh herbs will grow year-round).
One of the best ways to incorporate herbs into cocktails is by muddling: add a handful of herbs to the bottom of a sturdy glass or cocktail shaker, along with some sugar, and mash them together. If you don’t have a muddler — which is a long, blunt tool designed for the job — you can do this with the handle of a wooden spoon. Then, add your spirit of choice to the glass, and top with soda water or a citrus-based mixer. Muddled basil, dill and parsley go well with gin- and vodka-based drinks, while dill can also be delicious with vodka or mezcal. You can also use a fresh herb sprig as a garnish.
You can, of course, forego the alcohol! Muddled and fresh herbs add refreshing character to non-alcoholic drinks, like citrus-based sodas or plain sparkling water.
Making herb- or pepper-infused oils is another great way to use up your Vegehome harvest, and it’s one that will allow you to add herbal flavour or a spicy kick to just about anything you cook.
To make an infused oil with delicate herbs like chives, parsley or dill, blanch the herbs (which means cook them quickly — for about ten seconds — in boiling water), then put them immediately in an ice bath. Drain them, and puree them in a food processor or blender along with some olive oil. How much olive oil you use will depend on how herbaceous you’d like your infused oil to be! More oil will mean a less intense flavour. Then, drain the puree in a cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve over a clean bowl. Don’t press into the cheesecloth or sieve — it’s best to let the mixture drain overnight. The next day, pour your infused herb oil into a clean glass mason jar or glass bottle.
You can drizzle your herb-infused oil over pastas, pizzas, egg dishes, grilled meats or fish… really, the sky’s the limit.
To make chili-infused oil, well… check out our recipe here!
Put it on ice
Freezing vegetables is a great way to preserve fresh produce that you can’t eat at the peak of its ripeness. For greens like spinach, chard, and mustard greens, blanch them (see note above!), then drain and cool them completely. Once they’re cooled, put them in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container, and make sure to remove any air. When you thaw your greens, they’ll be ready to eat!
You can freeze tomatoes using the same method, but it’s important to note that they’ll lose their firmness — but not their flavour — in the freezer. This means that, once you thaw them, they’ll be great for sauces, stews or soups.
You can also freeze fine herbs like basil and parsley by pulsing the herbs with olive oil in a food processor, and placing the resulting mixture in an ice cube tray.
Canning is the oldest, most tried-and-true method of preserving food, but it might prove intimidating to first-timers. Don’t worry: it’s much easier than it seems!
To can vegetables, such as tomatoes or hot peppers, first, sterilize your mason jars by boiling them in hot water for ten minutes. Carefully remove them, and fill with your canning mixture — if you’re using tomatoes, you’ll want to blanch and skin them first; if you’re canning peppers, consider adding them to a pickling mixture of salt, vinegar and sugar, plus spices of your choice. Whatever you’re using, make sure to pack the can tightly. To seal the can, screw on the lid tightly and submerge the can again — standing up this time — in a pot of boiling water. You’ll know the can is sealed when you hear the lid pop.