As the weather gets colder here in Vermont, and as the gardens throughout the Burlington School District are put to bed, I begin to focus largely on cooking classes with my students. For most of the winter, students and I will work together to create delicious snacks using almost exclusively store-bought ingredients, but for now we’re trying to use every last bit of food produced in our school gardens.
So today, I wanted to share five of the cooking projects we’ve been working on in school that feature ingredients from the final days of our growing season—all those veggies that we’re salvaging from the dying plants instead of throwing them directly in the compost bin.
- Kale Pesto: As we ripped out all our woody, yellowing basil plants we set aside the last of the green leaves— enough to fill almost four ziplock gallon bags! While we could have made a decent amount of pesto using just the basil, we were able to stretch it even further by adding kale, which is still growing in abundance.
- Salsa Verde: There were so many green tomatoes still on the vine when we pulled out the tomato plants last week. Rather than throwing them all in the compost bin we decided to put them to good use. Some we set aside to ripen, but the vast majority of the unripe fruit was combined with the last of the tomatillo harvest and turned into jar upon jar of salsa verde.
- Hot Sauce: Just like with the tomatoes, there were a ton of not-completely-ripe peppers that we harvested just before the plants were uprooted and composted. Some of these peppers were added to the salsa verde, but the rest will be turned into hot sauce.
- Dried Herbs: The day before our first frost warning we pulled all the assorted herbs from the gardens. Students then worked on cutting some of the stems to manageable sizes, tying them in bundles, then hanging them up to dry.
- Seed Saving: Even though this isn’t really a cooking project, it’s a great way to make use of the those not-quite-edible tomatoes or bolted, bitter greens that you’re clearing out the garden. Not sure how to preserve seeds from the plants in your garden? Check out KidsGardening’s Save Your Seed activity plan and Seed Saving Guide to find out!