If you ask me, I was very lucky to grow up the way I did – a big family, lots of love and good times! Food was a big part of our lives! My dad grew his own garden, and my memories of it are just fascinating! I remember the talks we’d have just walking to it, and once we got there we’d start picking! Many times we’d pick a ripe & juicy tomato, wipe it off on our shirt and just bite into it! M-m-m!! How precious those memories are to me! There were tomatoes, zucchini & peppers…ahh! I wish I could go back in time! But the really neat thing about my childhood is that my parents instilled in my heart the value of home cooked meals! There is nothing better than a house filled with the aroma of fresh, home cooking! What I have learned, is that the most valued resource in an Italian kitchen is not actually in the kitchen at all, but is often very close to it – “the garden!”
Dalla terra alla tavola, which means From the earth to the table, is a phrase that depicts Italian insistence that the produce used to prepare their daily meals is freshly picked!
The Italian garden is characterized by variety as well as abundance! A variety of tomatoes is a must, as well as zucchini, red and green peppers, broccoli rabe, eggplant, carrots, celery, peas, and lettuce galore! Whatever will fit in the gardening area! Of course onions, scallions & garlic are produced in their own separate spaces, along with essential herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, Italian parsley, tarragon, and thyme. Italian gardens will also include, if the space allows, several kinds of beans, asparagus, cauliflower, fennel, and spinach. My father’s garden was not quite this big, but he grew what he could and he grew it with pride! ITALIAN PRIDE!
Lee and I were fortunate enough to travel to Italy on our honeymoon! We’ve wanted to return ever since we got home! Italy is so amazing! I love everything about it – the people, the culture and best of all, my roots are there in Sicily! Lee has become Italian by affiliation!! It’s calling out for us! 🙂
All these delectable garden treasures that I have mentioned above make way for healthy, flavorful meals! And works perfectly with me being Italian! The dishes I make are amazing! And for those who believe that they are not great cooks, or perhaps get lost in the kitchen, then try, try again! Cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables is fun, delicious and nutritious! Become the cook you never imagined you could be! Learn from your own creativeness! That’s what I have done! I have put passion and creativeness together and in return received the ultimate in eating…The ME-gan Lifestyle!
Remember, vegetables are grown with care and it is important that we cook them in such a way to preserve their flavor! Just as with their pasta, Italians also prefer their vegetables al dente! We can do this by steaming the vegetables briefly or sautéing them lightly in olive oil! As Lee and I often do, vegetables can be served as a meal in themselves, or as a side dish! They are superb toppings to pasta, risotto or polenta.
Trust me, once you try fresh vegetables the Italian way, you’ll be hooked! Unfortunately Lee and I find it next to impossible to raise a garden here in Phoenix, therefore we do our best to find local, organic farmers’ markets. The good news is that we don’t plan on living in this desert for too much longer, and once we do get out of here, to a better climate, we will be garden maniacs!! Look out!
Italian or not, get your fresh garden groove on!
I leave you with this wonderful song………RETURN TO SORRENTO!
Baci a tutti!