Cheap, Sustainable, Delicious: Early Summer Veggie Bundles

When produce is at its best, it doesn’t need anything more than a quick boil and a simple, tart sauce.

How to cooks summer vegetables

The best way to enjoy the season's harvest. (Photo: Ian Knauer)

Ian Knauer worked for ‘Gourmet’ and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook ‘The Farm.’

I know you’ve been to a grocery store, but have you walked through your local farmers market or garden recently? That time we’ve been waiting for all year—when the garlic scapes twirl around themselves snake-like, when carrots just the size of your thumb come in the colors of sunsets, when green beans taste greener than any other time—it’s here.

This year I tried something new in my garden. I read an article in The New York Times about growing veggies in a straw bale and thought I’d give it a shot. I fertilized and soaked some still-tied-together bales of straw (not hay—hay has seed in it, which means you’ll get weeds; straw does not have seed in it which means...you won’t have to pull weeds—hallelujah!), then let them start to compost for a couple months before planting in them.

I spread a layer of top soil over them (just a couple inches deep) and placed my seeds in the top soil. By the time the roots reached the straw, it had already started to compost.

This has been a huge success. The bails keep the veggies two feet off the ground, so, no rabbits or groundhogs. And not needing to weed means I actually like walking through the garden to find prefect baby carrots, ripe green beans, and tender young spring onions. They are the best they will be until next year.

Early Summer Veggie Bundles with Scallion Mayonnaise

Serves 4

4 orange or purple baby carrots

12 green or wax beans

4 thin asparagus stalks

4 scallions

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons vinegar

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Peel the carrots and drop them in the water, boiling them until they are just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge them in a bowl of ice and cold water. Drop the beans and asparagus in the boiling water and cook until they are tender, 3 to 5 minutes, then place them in the cold water with the carrots. Cut off the scallion greens and drop them into the boiling water until they are bright green and tender, about 20 seconds, then place them in the cold water with the rest of the vegetables. Drain all the vegetables and pat them dry. Tie 4 bundles of 1 carrot, 1 asparagus stalk, and 4 beans together with a scallion green.

Finely chop the scallion whites and stir them together with the mayonnaise and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the vegetable bundles with the scallion mayonnaise.

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