It is finally garden season in the Northeast, which is one of my favorite times of the year. So far, I’ve planted strawberries, kale, bok choy, and romaine lettuce. All of my greens have already sprouted up about half a foot, after being planted a couple of weeks ago and my first two little strawberries ripened today. More will to be planted soon. Are you growing anything this season?
For me, gardening is about more than just growing my own food. There is really something special about seeing something grow from a tiny seedling into a full grown plant. Gardening also gives me respect for the earth and strengthens my connection to my family. My grandpa always had a garden. Each summer he would grow his favorite vegetables in a little dirt patch on the side of his large two family house. All summer long we would enjoy fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, as well as a few other vegetables.
At one point, he enlisted the help of my sister and I. He wasn’t able to bend down and needed help planting. At that time, I didn’t enjoy planting as much as I do now. For each plant we put into the ground, he instructed us on how far deep to dig and how much fertilizer to put in. Somewhere along the line, something went terribly wrong. That summer, the plants did not yield bountiful amounts of tomatoes. Instead, they practically produced anything. My grandpa never enlisted in our garden help again. I think he thought we cursed his garden.
Now I’m growing my little garden in that same spot my grandpa used to grow his. Gardening has become a meaningful part of my life. It is now one of my passions. Through it, I see the food I make come full circle, starting with a tiny plant and ending up on my plate. What are your thoughts on gardening and growing your own fruits and vegetables?
Fresh Herb and Eggplant Sandwich:
*Adapted from Thom’s recipe for avocado, tomato, and coriander on toasted ciabatta, from Don’t Switch Off the Light
1 medium sized eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch slices (across, not lengthwise)
1 tbsp of ground flax seed + 3 tbsp of water
1-2 cups of bread crumbs (I made my plain gluten-free breadcrumbs and added 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, oregano, basil, pepper, and salt to mine)
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 1/2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
1 large garlic clove, diced
1 tbsp of fresh parsley, sliced
2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf of freshly baked whole wheat bread, sliced
1/2 cup of garlic hummus (or the flavor of your choice)
1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and drizzle the tablespoon of olive oil on the pan (and spread around so the pan is evenly coated). Then slice the eggplant. Combine the flax seed with the water and mix it. Let it sit for about two minutes (it should thicken up). Set the bread crumbs in a bowl. Dip each piece of eggplant into the flax egg and spread it over the eggplant. Then, dip the eggplant slice into the breadcrumbs and make sure it’s coated well. Set it onto the baking sheet. Repeat until the eggplant is gone. When the slices are all coated in breadcrumbs, bake them for about 15 minutes. Then flip them and bake them for another 10 minutes or until they are tender and have turned golden brown.
2- While the eggplant is in the oven, combine the sliced garlic, tomatoes, and parsley. Then add the olive oil and spices. Mix and set it in the fridge.
3- Then, slice the bread into 1/2 to 1 inch thick slices. Toast the bread when the eggplant is nearly finished. Spread each piece with a good portion of hummus. Then top with an eggplant slice and the tomato-herb mixture. Serve immediately!