Summer Recipe Favorites

The bounty of the harvest will soon be upon us.  People have been filing into our nursery to fill up their carts with vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees.  April is the best month to get your garden started outdoors.  The soil temperature is warm enough to allow the roots take off.  With a little luck and some good gardening practices you will have more than you know what to do with. 

I believe gardening and cooking go hand in hand.  Having good cookbooks in your arsenal is essential in putting your seasonal delights to good use.  I recently stumbled across Pascale Beale’s cookbooks.  She is grew up in England and France surrounded by a family who is “passionate about food, wine and arts.”  Much of her adult life has been spent in California, residing in beautiful Santa Barbara.  Her cookbooks create a quintessential medley of harvest-to-table recipes.  Each chapter is thoughtfully divided by fruit or vegetable so you can cook your way through the book based on the seasonal selection.  We brought in her six cookbooks immediately and they have been an instant hit with our customers.  You can find them in our store or on website (  I am delighted to have Pascale join at our Spring Jubilee on April 9.  She will be doing a demo and book signing at 1pm.  It will be a wonderful day at the gardens.

In the spirit of kicking off spring planting I wanted to share some of my favorite harvest to table recipes.




Tomatoes seem to be the give-them-away vegetable (I know, it’s technically a fruit).  After you make bruschetta, more bruschetta, you then move onto caprese.  With a steady diet of pasta dishes and tomato sandwiches you may sprinkle in some pots of gazpacho, but still have more tomatoes than you know what to do with.  There are a lot of other entertaining worthy dishes out there.  In Beale’s ‘Les Fruits’ book there is an Heirloom


Tomato Tarte Tatin

An elegant and rustic dish to add to your summer table.  This simple, savory dish will round out your meal. 

Serves 8 people




12-16 heirloom tomatoes (cored and halved horizontally)

1 pint cherry tomatoes

Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence

Course Sea Salt

Black Pepper


For the dough

1 sheet puff pastry dough defrosted



  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees

  2. Pour a little olive oil into a 12-inch cast iron skillet or tarte tatin pan.  Place all the heirloom tomatoes in the pan cut-side up.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with half the Herbs de Provence, sea salt and pepper.  Bake for 2 hours.

  3. Place all the cherry tomatoes in a small baking dish.  Add a little olive oil, the remaining of the herbs, salt and pepper.  Shake to coat the tomatoes.  Bake alongside the heirloom tomatoes for 1 ½ hours.

  4. Remove both of the tomato dishes from the oven and set aside.  Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.  The large tomatoes will have shrunk as they bakes.  Fill the gaps with the cooked cherry tomatoes.

  5. Place the dough in the center of a lightly floured work surface and roll out in a circle 13 inches wide and ¼-inch thick.  Carefully roll the dough onto a rolling pin and then unroll the dough over the tomatoes.  Tuck the dough down into the sides of the pan.

  6. Bake the tarte tatin for 25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.  Remove from the oven.  Tilt the pan slightly to pour off or spoon out any juices from the tomatoes.

  7. Place a serving plate over the pan.  Using oven mitts hold the pan and plate firmly together and carefully invert.  Remove the pan.  Serve warm.


Stone Fruit

I believe stone fruit is a truly cherished seasonal delicacy.  A peach plucked straight off the tree still warm from the summer sun is as good as it gets.  If you haven’t been to our fruit tasting event during the summer be sure to subscribe to our email list and keep an eye out for this fun event.  L.E. Cooke brings out an array of peaches, plumbs, plutos, nectarines, apricots, and whatever else is ripe for your sampling.  A simple elegant dish you would find on a table in France, try Pascale’s Peach, Melon and Prosciutto Salad.  This is in her ‘Salade’ book and perfectly highlights the flavors we are blessed to find here in the valley.  Combining the saltiness of prosciutto with the sweetness of peaches and melons creates the best flavor profile. 



Melon and Prosciutto Salad

Serves 8 people



1 Tuscan melon (I have substituted with a Cantaloupe) – halved, seeded, peeled, and cut into thin slices

4 yellow freestone peaches – halved, pitted, and cut into thin slices

4 white freestone peaches – halved, pitted and cut into thin slices

16-20 slices of prosciutto

1 large handful arugula

1 bunch chives – finely chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil – use good, fruit oil

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

4 oz mozzarella, goat cheese or feta cheese (optional)



  1. Arrange all the melon and peach slices on a large platter, alternating the fruit.  Dot the surface with the prosciutto.  Sprinkle the chives and arugula leaves over the top and drizzle with olive oil.  Add a pinch of salt and some black pepper.

You can also serve this with fresh mozzarella, goat cheese or feta.




For my design clients I love incorporating dwarf citrus in pots because it puts the trees in convenient location to pick.  From chicken or fish dishes, to dessert bars or pies, lemons add a brightness to any recipe.  If you came to our Citrus Tasting day in February you probably got a bite of our lemon curd.  So many people asked for this recipe, I would be remiss if I didn’t share it with you today. 



Meyer Lemon Curd

Makes about 2 cups



½ cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

1 tablespoon Eureka lemon juice (a tarter flavor than Meyers)

Grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup unsalted butter

¼ teaspoon salt

3 extra large eggs

3 extra large egg yolks

Serve the curd with scones, biscuits, or croissants.



In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the lemon juices, zest, sugar, butter, and salt. Stir gently over low heat until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.  Whisking constantly, gradually add half the hot lemon mixture into the eggs, then slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the remaining lemon mixture.  Cook over low heat, scraping the bottom constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes.  Do not allow to boil.  Pour the curd through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl.  Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate.  Curd can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook, by Alice Waters




Figs can be a tricky little fruit to utilize.  Many people have a difficult time finding new recipes to incorporate these sugary fruits with a relatively short shelf life.  The next recipe is from Beale’s ‘Les Fruits’ cookbook and delightfully incorporates sweet, tangy and pungent flavors into this starter course. 


Fig, Goat Cheese and Microgreen Salad

Serves 8 people



6 oz microgreens

24 figs – quartered

3 oz goat cheese – crumbled

3 tablespoons pistachios

For the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons chives – chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 grinds of black pepper

Large pinch of course sea salt



  1. Divide microgreen among eight dinner plates.

  2. Arrange 12 fig quarters around the outside of the microgreens.  Dot the microgreens with the goat cheese and pistachios.

  3. Whisk all of the vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl.

  4. When ready to serve the salad, drizzle the vinaigrette over the greens and figs.

Microgreens are tiny herbs and vegetables harvested when they are only 10 days old.  Packed with nutrients and flavor these make great garnishes and salad additions.  We have packs of microgreen seed combinations in our store to start your own little countertop garden. 


Microgreens are tiny herbs and vegetables harvested when they are only 10 days old.  Packed with nutrients and flavor these make great garnishes and salad additions.  We have packs of microgreen seed combinations in our store to start your own little countertop garden. 

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