Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When your garden gives you lemons...

The Conscious Shopper makes the best of a gardening fail...

On the first day of March, I went to my local garden center and bought six broccoli plants, six cauliflower plants, and six cabbage plants. According to the planting schedule I have, I was right on time, but even though I lovingly tended those plants through March, April, and right on up to the end of May, they stubbornly refused to produce any broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage heads.

My plants in March

Finally, I gave up; I needed that space for my tomatoes and peppers. But I'd spent $10 on those plants, and I'm not one to throw money on the compost pile! Luckily, I've learned through years of CSA subscription that quite often more parts of a plant are edible than the part we typically eat. In the case of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, we typically eat the head, but the leaves are also edible. So even if you do get heads from your plants, don't let those leaves go to waste!

With the broccoli and cauliflower leaves, I made cheesy bubble and squeak, a recipe that was traditionally meant to use up leftover mashed potatoes and boiled cabbage. My kids absolutely love it and always ask for seconds.

Cheesy Bubble and Squeak

3 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup cooked cabbage or kale, shredded
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
fresh nutmeg, grated
salt and pepper
flour for coating
oil for frying
  • Mix the potatoes with the cabbage or kale, egg, cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Divide and shape into 8 patties.
  • Chill for one hour. Toss the patties in flour. Heat about 1/2 an inch of oil in a frying pan.
  • Carefully slide the patties into the oil and fry on each side about 3 minutes until golden and crisp.
  • Serve with ketchup or salsa.

Outer cabbage leaves are very thick and reminded me of collard greens, so that's how I used up those. It worked perfectly! Here's my recipe for cooking collard greens without ham hocks. If serving these to kids, you might want to leave out the red pepper flakes. (Although, I did that this last time, and my kids said, "These are pretty good, but I like them better when they're spicy.")

Vegetarian Collard Greens

1 bunch collards
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked sesame oil
2 vegetarian boullion cubes
2 tsp. garlic
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Wash the collard greens in a big sink of water.
  • Cut the leaves from the stems, chop the leaves, and place in a large pot.
  • Fill the pot with water. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. When done, the greens should be tender and dark green.
  • Drain and serve.
Have you creatively used up any garden failures?


Green Bean said...

I wish I could say that I was that resourceful. I usually just feed it to the chickens!

SustainaMom said...

My garden failures usually result in tomatoes with blossom rot. Sometimes I cut off the bad part. But honestly, I'm usually so grossed out that I throw them down through the woods. But thanks for encouraging me to look at "failures" through a new lens before I give up!


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