December 16, 2010

Edibles for Foliage Follow-Up

The fall gardening season is quite long here in Central Texas and I've tried to take advantage of free space between the perennials that will die back during the winter by including edibles.  They will provide some texture and color through the season along with some tasty sustenance.  The foliage of these plants is really quite striking and gets plenty of attention with most of the blooming plants resting for the winter.

The oregano has proven to be a really attractive ground cover as well as being handy for cooking.   It's nice to add to roasting meats, marinades and tomato sauces.

Dill is beautifully textured and will be a food source for swallowtail caterpillars.   Here is a unique, simple recipe that calls for dill that will surprise you with its freshness and ease...Chop some dill and add it to softened butter.  You want to make sure there is a pretty good amount of dill - don't be shy-because this is really tasty...Take a skinny loaf of french bread and slice thinly...Now slice some radishes very thinly and in a shallow dish with a bed of sea salt, layer the radishes on top of the salt.  I know this sounds a little odd but just try it...I was never a big radish fan and a friend served this as an appetizer at dinner and my family (kids included) scarfed it down!  It's self serve:  spread some dill butter on a slice of bread and layer the thinly sliced radishes on top of the butter...delicious!

Beets are a new addition to my fall garden.  They are delicious roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes (test with a fork to see if they are soft)...Saute the beet greens, peel the roasted beets and slice.   Plate the greens, add the sliced beets on top of the greens and sprinkle with goat cheese.  Roast (or buy roasted) pumpkin seeds and sprinkle these over the beets and goat cheese.  Add some sections of citrus (I use clementines) and salt and pepper.  Douse with a bit of citrus dressing...even people who say they don't like beets love this recipe.  I had a salad similar to this in Santa Fe and I've been a beet lover ever since!

This is the frond of bronze fennel.  It is so dainty and delicate that I've had to really protect it from my dog who likes to wander through the flower beds...but it seems to be holding its own.  Fennel is nice roasted with other root vegetables and really tasty when added to tomato-based seafood sauces served with pasta.

This is a volunteer from my Thai basil plant this summer...surprisingly it has survived a couple of frosts.  After taking a Thai cooking class a couple of years ago and discovering the ingredients aren't readily available at the local supermarket, I decided to grow my own.  Thai basil, lemongrass and Kaffir lime trees (which are wintering in the garage) were added to my garden and now it doesn't require a special trip to the Asian grocer to make something we're craving.   The basil is really good in stir fry and soups and once it flowers, bees find it irresistible.

Rosemary is always welcome in the garden and the house.  Here I've used it to add some color and fragrance to my Christmas decor at the kitchen table.  The platter holds green lentils then candle holders are nestled into the lentils.  I found these red and green leaves at Michael's and they are scattered among the candle holders and lentils...The rosemary steals the show with its wonderful smell.

Throw a handful of rosemary in with a pork tenderloin, some onion and garlic cloves and your kitchen will smell amazing and you'll have a meal worthy of company in no time!

Swiss chard was added to the garden this year in a pot because the bunnies seem to think it is part of the buffet...I wouldn't mind if they would just leave a little for us!   I can just imagine the conversations going on between the frog and the far so good though, the bunnies seem content to eat the black-eyed Susan instead!

Chard is delicious added to soups and winter stews made with white beans.  You can see the lemongrass in the of my favorites and very easy to grow...a bit too easy.  Give it some room and hope for a freeze so it doesn't take over.  Although it takes up quite a bit of room, I really like having it on hand to add to the Thai recipes we enjoy.

What Texan wouldn't have cilantro in her garden?  Well, this one is lucky to have it because my husband really doesn't like the point of refusing to eat something if cilantro is a key ingredient.  This is really surprising because he isn't picky at all and eats everything!  So I've made some concessions and always serve it on the side.  Apparently he isn't alone as there is a website called I Hate Cilantro and it has quite a following!  Personally, I like it on just about anything...eggs, in salsa, beans, Mexican food, Asian food...yum.

Flat-leaf parsley is another stalwart favorite. (The parsley leaves look so much like the cilantro leaves that I just went outside to pick both to make sure I didn't confuse the photos!) 

I plant this abundantly throughout the garden as it too will serve as a food source for caterpillars.

*do you sometimes want to scream when you're using blogger?  Sorry to those of you who had to read the skitzo version of this is the corrected version:

Chimichurri is the traditional accompaniment to South American grilled meats and its main ingredient is flat-leaf parsley.  If you grow parsley you know that there is always plenty available! 

Use one bunch stemmed flat-leaf parsley,  8-10 peeled cloves of garlic, 1 medium carrot, grated, 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup sherry vinegar, 1/4 water, 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (more or less to taste), salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.  Combine the parsley and garlic in a food processor and pulse to chop as fine as possible.  Add the carrot, oil, vinegar, water and spices.  Process to mix.  Taste for seasoning; the sauce should be highly seasoned.  This may seem like a lot of garlic but the parsley acts as a breath sweetener and the flavors marry well together.

I marinate flank steak in the chimichurri reserving a cup or so to serve at the table.    Just grill the steak to your liking!

I hope you will try some of these recipes.  Let me know what you think or if you have any to share.  Enjoy!

For more December foliage visit Pam at Digging.  She hosts Foliage Follow-Up on the 16th of every month.  Be sure to stop by as she has a really fun post about keeping Austin weird!

I've gotta get to the grocery store now.   I'm hungry after writing this post!


  1. I can't leave without saying that I love the budda frog. Oh, and of course the plants are beautiful and since I have a brown thumb, I try not to be too envious.

  2. I bought flat-leaf parsley and cilantro today at the grocery store for Xmas cooking. Would have been nicer to pick it from the garden! You have a lot of herbs in your shady garden. Are you growing them all along the back, where it's sunny? It makes for a lovely and unique Foliage Follow-Up post. Great idea!

  3. You have beautiful herbs and I love that they come with recipes --- what a bonus. Foliage AND flavor!

  4. Thanks for taking the time to comment during this busy season...I know time is limited right now and I really appreciate your words!

    I love the frog too lifeshighway! If I can find the time, I'm thinking of using him as a base for a mosaic many projects, so little time!

    Hi Pam, yes, they grow along the back fence...and are relatively carefree. HEB had a bunch of little pots if you want to stick a few in the ground and try them out.

    Laurrie, let me know if you try any of the recipes, I'd love to hear what you think. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. I am so hungry after reading your post. I can't wait to go out and buy some beets. It's funny about cilantro. I crave it so much that I think it must have some important missing vitamin or mineral and yet I have noticed some people violently dislike like it. Luckily my husband loves it. Carolyn

  6. Your butterfly image is so good. I feel bad about noticing it amongst all the lovely shots of herbs and the recipe on Chimichurri. And cilantro is one of my favorite spices to add to a dish. I grow it to along with the flat leafed parsley. I am hungry just reading your post, just like your little munching caterpillar.

    Happy Foliage Follow-Up. It just does not have the ring of happy GBBD. :grin:

  7. I just discovered swallowtail caterpillars on my carrots this summer. Next year I will be planting dill to keep them happy, and thanks to you making dill butter. sounds delicious.

  8. I need to try your dill and radish recipe. It sounds awesome!

    Another use of dill is in mustard. One of the most fabulous mustards I ever tried was a dill mustard, and I eat a lot of mustard. This was Dijon with fresh dill mixed in. You can serve it on fish, on salad with a bit of oil, french fries, etc.

    I also used to hate cilantro, but after eating a lot of fresh salsa, I now love it. And fresh salsa is better than jarred.

    Your chard looks so much like my red veined sorrel that I didn't recognize it! I bet the two would make an nice bushy bed together.

    Anyway, lovely leaves!

  9. Dear Carolyn, You're so lucky that your husband likes it because mine falls in the "violently dislikes it" camp! One of our biggest fights was over cilantro-we don't fight much ;-)
    I hope you like the beets.

    GWGT, don't feel bad about noticing the butterfly - I put it in there because we all need a little summer right about now! Let me know if you try the chimichurri - it's one of our favorites.

    Hi Marguerite, the dill butter is a keeper for sure...enjoy! Look forward to seeing your swallowtail caterpillars on your dill ;-)

    Dear Not So Angry Redhead, Yum, that mustard sounds good. I'd like to try it on some pork tenderloin (I must be needing some iron or something)! And I completely agree about fresh salsa over jarred - no comparison. Do you have a favorite recipe? I like to try all different kinds...

  10. Wow Cat - no 'season of rest' for you ;-) Beautiful shots - I like the dof in your shots, and your commentary is hilarious ! (put a smile on my face)

  11. I've got to try the radish/dill butter recipe. My hubby just loves radishes! I love cilantro. Just wish it grew at the same time as tomatoes! I would love some of your Asian recipes!!! I love beets and beet greens, too. The goat cheese addition sounds great. I always have roasted pepitas on hand for my homemade granola.

  12. Thanks for sharing the uses of those herbs. I have added many of them to the garden lately but have not being putting them to good use yet. Rosemary looks good as part of a decor.

  13. Amazing leafs! They all look great. I would like to try the thai basil, it looks very tasty.
    It would be nice to have some caterpillars on my garden or on my dill too

  14. I love your site-your photos are beautiful! Thanks for the chimichurri
    recipe. I had that for the first time recently and was planning on looking for recipe--now I have it!

  15. Morning Cat! Great post :) Love the dill butter recipe. I grow radishes and I'm *always* looking for different recipes to use them.

    My beets are just about ready to pick and I *will* try this salad recipe.

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Everything just looks too pretty to eat! But yummy, sounds like you have great feasts ahead.

  17. French wife serves radish with dollops of good the frog..

  18. Wow what amazing photos of your foliage! And yummy looking too. I love the one of the butterfly. Its so cold here in NY, it's lovely to see your images. Thanks!

  19. Hi Cat,
    Great idea to feature your herbs for Foliage Follow-Up. I find your info on parsley interesting. So they sort of neutralize the overpowering garlic, eh? Beats having to rely on mints, so I'd better start growing some parsley as I love garlic raw!
    Thanks for the tip,

  20. Excellent read and pictures, as usual. Can I get a more detailed radish recipe? It sounds like something I would like to try. The chimichurri also goes well with a grilled white fish fillet. Yum!

  21. I love this post. I found it to be a very peaceful read. The recipes sound great! Swallowtail caterpillars will devour your fennel this summer. I love beets and am looking forward to trying that tasty salad. :o)

  22. What a wonderful idea, your herbs look delicious. I envy you - my oregano has shut down for the winter and my rosemary is very sad covered in snow.

  23. You are so lucky to have so much still growing in your garden! Your photos are amazing as always! Thanks for sharing your recipes. I look forward to trying your Chimichurri. And, thanks for the tip on using lentils for decorating. What a great idea! Happy Holidays!

  24. Thank you Rick...I hope you checked out the I Hate Cilantro site as it is really funny!

    Toni, I would love to swap some recipes...would like to try your granola.

    Thanks One. Hope these recipes will come in handy for you to use up some of your herbs!

    Hello fer, I do hope you get some caterpillars visiting your dill soon...I would love to see them in your little garden.

    Hi Rebecca, Thank you so much for your nice compliments. I'm glad you found my blog enjoyable ;) It's so nice when stumble across something you've thought of recently! A little gift! Merry Christmas.

    Hello Diane, Thank you...can't wait to see your post about harvesting your beets...I just love your vegetable garden. Still want to make that cabbage. We bought a pork rib roast - I should make the cabbage with that - yum!

    Thanks Meredith!

    Thanks Mike...I love that frog too - he adds a bit of whimsy to the garden!

    Glad to have spread a little warmth and sunshine Kate. Bundle up and stay warm and cozy.

    Thanks Rosie, glad you liked the idea. Yep, you can save a small fortune on mints just by using parsley! May not travel in your purse as well as the mints though ;-)

    Hi Bom, You'll just need to take a 1/2 stick of butter, soften it, chop some fresh dill (3-4 tablespoons) and stir it into the butter. Serve with french bread and sliced radishes. I'll try the chimichurri on the fish - we love fish!

    TS, Remember in the "olden days" when you would read magazines while recovering from surgery? How nice that we have blogs now, right?! I'm glad you found this post peaceful - glad to be part of your recovery reading! I didn't know the swallowtails would like the fennel - good to know! I love to watch them. Feel better soon!

    Hi Janet, You can live vicariously through southern blogs through the's what we do in the summer when we are being blasted by so much heat that nothing wants to bloom - we enjoy your healthy, vibrant looking blooms! Stay cozy.

    Thanks Karin, So glad you enjoyed your visit. Merry Christmas!

  25. Good Morning Cat, I enjoyed your recipes and your photos are lovely. I am so jealous you can have all these growing outside now! Lucky you! Lucky caters too. Lovely post. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.

  26. There was so much good stuff in this post, I'm not going to remember all I wanted to comment on.

    When I first grew cilantro, I didn't know it got more bitter when it blooms. I didn't like it, because of the strong flavor, but then tried it again another time, and the taste grew on me. My husband has grown to like it OK now, too. It blooms so quickly here, that there's a small window of opportunity to harvest it.

    I'm on break at lunch, and our grandson just got here, so I'm going to come back later.

  27. Thank you Carol...yes, we definitely will not be having a white Christmas around here - calling for 82F tomorrow! Best wishes for a lovely Christmas to you and your family.

    Hi Sue, Yes, I learned the hard way that cilantro gets bitter after flowering too! Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment during this busy season.

  28. Chard, herbs, beets, so many things to nurture and love this time of year.

    I too love the bronze fennel. I use the tenderest new fronds in a salad of sliced oranges, shallots, and a dressing of seasoned rice vinegar and good olive oil. It is divine.

    Happy gardening in Austin-one of my favorite towns.

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  29. Ha ha Cat - I checked the web site I Hate Cilantro - and it was quite hilarious. Love that tongue-in-cheek commentary.

  30. Oh great, nice froggy

    Just like to share with you a life quote...

    "I love my past. I love my present. I'm not ashamed of what I've had, and I'm not sad because I have it no longer. " -- Colette

    You can get more life quotes at


Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

Thanks for taking the time to visit!