Garden Inspired, Easy Meals
The days may be longer in the summer, but somehow it seems there are still never enough hours. Truth be told, time management has never been my strong suit. And in these summer months especially, when life moves at a more relaxed pace, I struggle to get dinner on the table in a timely manner.
I can’t be the only one who lets the day slip by without a game plan for dinner, can I? Between work, and playdates with the kids, I often find myself checking the time only to find that its already 5:30 and I haven’t even given a thought to what I’m going to feed the family! At times like these, I am so grateful that we’ve planted a veggie garden!
Every year we plant a small vegetable garden in the backyard. We don’t have a ton of space, so we plant what we eat a lot of. Which is mainly tomatoes. Tomatoes carry us through the summer! I love that they are so versatile. Eat them in a salad, on a burger, cook them in pasta or make a sauce or salsa with them! The options are endless. I’m going to share my two favourite easy weeknight meals that utilize my go-to garden staple and only require a couple of pantry items. These dinners are easy to whip up in less than 30 minutes and will surely impress.
Teak cutting board $49.99 (currently on sale for additional 30% off) | Small serving bowl $14.99 (currently on sale for additional 30% off) | Tomatoes $5.00 | Spaghetti $4.99
The first is a summer pasta loaded with blistered tomatoes and fresh basil. Our tomatoes from the garden aren’t quite ready yet, so we picked some up at Anna’s to carry us through.
I love that this dinner comes together in a flash and is loaded with flavour. To begin, boil & season some pasta, I like to use a spaghetti or something of the sort. These spaghetti Chitarra noodles are perfect.
Spaghetti chitarra $4.99 | Dipped wooden spoon and tea towel set $29.99 (currently on sale for additional 30% off)
While the pasta is cooking, grab a big handful of grape tomatoes, cut them in half lengthwise and throw them into a pan with hot olive oil. Season lightly, then once they start to soften (about 3 mins) I like to add in kalamata olives (bonus if some of the olive juice slips into the pan), they add sooo much flavour! Just remember that the olives are salty, so go easy when seasoning. Let the tomatoes and olives cozy up in the pan together until the tomato juices start to release and bubble up. Turn the heat to low and just keep them warm until the pasta is cooked.
Drain the noodles and add to serving bowl. Pour the tomato olive mixture on top. Chiffonade some basil and add that into the mixture. There is already so much flavour in the bowl, all it needs is a little finishing. Drizzle a smidge of olive oil, squeeze some fresh lemon juice and zest and give it a stir. Grate a healthy amount of parmesan on top and voila! Dinner is served!
This is my favourite pasta in the summer! It is jam packed with flavour & guaranteed to satisfy! And I love that you can literally make it, from start to finish in 15 minutes. A win-win for sure, and a saviour on those nights when life happens, and you don’t have a dinner plan.
The next garden favourite meal of mine is a gourmet pesto, tomato grilled cheese!
This requires a little bit of prep to make the pesto, but it’s super easy to do. And if you have a giant basil plant like I do, you can make a big batch at the beginning of the summer to last for months to come! I portion some into small jars and share it with the neighbours and with the rest freeze it in to smaller portions using one of those king cube ice cube trays.
- 2 cups fresh big basil leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ cup of toasted pine nuts
- ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup olive oil (add more as needed though)
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- ¼ TSP kosher salt
Once you have some pesto, the sandwich comes together very easily. To start, get a big, red, ripe beefsteak tomato and slice it into ¼ - ½ inch portions.
Beefsteak tomatoes $2.00
The trick to making the perfect tomato sandwich (for any recipe) is to season your tomato slices, then let them rest on a paper towel for 20 minutes or so. This will help absorb the juices and prevent a soggy sandwich.
For this sandwich I like to use buffalo mozzarella and slice it into ¼ thick pieces. Get a nice, fresh loaf of Italian bread, spread the outside with butter, and the inside with pesto. Add it into a pan on medium-low heat (you want it to grill up nice and slow, so the cheese gets really melty), then layer, mozza, seasoned tomato slices, and more mozza. Add your top slice of bread and grill to perfection.
This sandwich is a big hit in our house, my 8-year-old daughter even salivates when she sees me cutting into this!
These recipes are so simple and so delicious. They aren’t anything fancy, but they are guaranteed to impress, and come together in a flash. Perfect for busy summer days! And I love that you don’t need to turn on the oven, nobody wants to do that on these hot afternoons!
If you have a favourite garden recipe, please share, and give the rest of us some dinner inspiration! I don’t know about you, but I am always looking to add new material to my repertoire.