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Connecting You with Your Food, Farmers and Community

Container Garden Cooking


Herbs and vegetables grow well in containers. If you are looking to get started, check out the Making Herb and Vegetable Containers section of the Successful Container Gardens website through UI Extension.

While I will defer all questions on planting, growing, and harvesting to my horticulture coworkers, I am happy to talk about what to do after you have piles of food from your gardens. See some options below.

1. Eat them

As produce starts growing, add the crop to your usual recipe rotation. Tomatoes are a classic example. Do you make a pasta salad with tomatoes? As your tomato plants grow, start buying fewer tomatoes at the store, and use the ones you grew in recipes.

Use produce as part of snacks too.  Did you grow radishes?  Have some Ranch dip on hand as you start harvesting.  And eat up!

Or try out new recipes and expand your palate.  Try the rice tabbouleh recipe at the end of this post.

2. Preserve them

Got extra tomatoes or other foods? Try your hand at home preservation, from canning to freezing to drying to pickles and more. Use the National Center for Home Food Preservation as a primary resource for safe, tested recipes.

If you need a hand getting started, look for upcoming classes in preservation coming around central Illinois for the summer.  Our website will have a list of class dates and times.

3. Give away

When in doubt, pawn your extra produce off on your friends and family.  We always need more vegetables in our diets.  Also look into donating to local food pantries. Fresh produce is always welcome!

Recipe Corner

Rice Tabbouleh (Serves 5 (1 1/3-cup servings))

Tabbouleh is a great recipe to make from foods you can grow in containers. Watch how to make this recipe on our YouTube page.

1 cup dry rice (brown rice preferred)
2 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cups chopped parsley
1 cup chopped scallions (green onions)
1 cup chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 1/2 cups chopped tomato
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Combine water and rice in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Continue cooking about 25-35 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Move rice to a shallow bowl and refrigerate until cool.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine oil and lemon juice. Toss with rice, parsley, scallions, cucumber, tomato, and pepper until combined.
3. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 180 calories, 6g fat, 260mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein



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