Grilled Tomatoes

I grill a lot of vegetables, from asparagus to tomatillos, but I probably spend the most time grilling tomatoes. Not only are they delicious on a skewer with other vegetables for dinner, but they’re also fabulous when pulled off the canning shelf or from the freezer. And the process for grilling large tomatoes is easy: slice them in half, sear them cut side down on a hot grill for a couple of minutes, and then flip and cook a few more minutes until soft.

Those of us with large gardens quickly come up with enough grilled tomato batches for canner loads of salsa, Bloody Mary mix, and pasta sauce. But in recent years, I’ve been running a small batch to freeze in cubes—the perfect size to drop into a soup, spread on a pizza crust, or simply dip into with mozzarella-stuffed breadsticks.
Learn to make Grilled Tomato Pizza Sauce and Stuffed and Grilled Breadsticks

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Asparagus

In our garden, asparagus kicks off the edibles’ season. Only herbs like chives and mint beat it to the mark. With these perennials, there’s minimal work involved once the plants are established. Simply wait for them to start popping out of the ground, and you know it’s time to get to work in the rest of your beds.

Hands down, my favorite way to eat asparagus is grilled. It’s so easy to prepare and is a fabulous accompaniment to anything else you would throw on the grill. It also works beautifully on pasta, in risotto, or over salad greens. We often gobble it all up fresh, saving only a little for refrigerator-pickled asparagus, but sometimes we can’t keep up and the spears get tough. It’s a perfect excuse to turn those spears into a puree that can be used to flavor sauces, soups, and rice dishes after the plants have stopped producing.
Learn to grill asparagus and make Asparagus Puree

Curds and Whey

Once you start making cheese, you’ll quickly realize you’re left with a large quantity of whey—so much you’ll be loath to just pour the yellowish liquid down the drain. Fortunately, whey has many uses. You probably already consume more whey than you realize: it’s popular in protein powders, weight-loss beverages, and even infant formula. Cheese makers have long known the value of this by-product and use it to make more cheese, like ricotta and my favorite gjetost.

Whey is considered sweet or acidic. Hard cheese and Fresh Yogurt give you sweet whey; Lemon Cheese gives you acid whey. Some sources prefer sweet whey for baking, but I love tangy flavors. I use the whey from Lemon Cheese in baked goods, as a cooking liquid for rice, a stock substitute in soups, and a cheese sauce replacement for soups and pasta.
Learn to make Whey Sauce and the Cheesiest Mac and Cheese

Fresh Homemade Dairy

My first experience with making dairy products at home was yogurt. Long before Greek yogurt was popular in the United States, my travel bug had given me an insatiable craving for the thick, creamy fermentation. A hostel owner turned me on to a local maker of sheep’s milk yogurt, which I then ate mixed with honey and topped with fruit almost every morning I was in Greece.

American yogurts paled by comparison, so back home, I searched for an alternative way to get my Greek yogurt fix. I could strain almost any yogurt to approximate the consistency, but only expensive ones got me in the right flavor neighborhood. Then I learned all I needed was a little bit of good yogurt and a gallon of milk: Even with cow’s milk, homemade tasted better and was more affordable than anything I could buy. Which of course led to the question, Could cheese be this easy?
Read more about homemade cheese and yogurt