This past week, I finished planting my winter garden.
With a couple of raised beds on the side of the house and an approximately 15-foot wide circular plot in the backyard, the kids and I were able to get quite the assortment of plants in the ground.
Going heavy on members of the Brassica vegetable family, which thrive in the winter, we made our rows and planted kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Along a trellis where my summer green beans vines had recently been removed went the sugar snap pea seeds.
Unlike green beans, which are not fond of the winter chill, pea plants can indeed withstand the colder times of year so they’re an acceptable swap for the season.
And, with the air and soil still warm for the time being, the seeds are likely to germinate quite nicely. A few six packs of assorted lettuce varieties, some rainbow carrot seeds and rainbow chard plants took up most of the additional space.
The final item I had yet to plant was one that I’d been carefully selecting from local farmers’ over the prior few weeks: garlic. If you’ve ever planted garlic in your home garden, you are well aware that a fully developed head originates from a single clove.
Garlic is planted a couple of inches below the soil and watered occasionally. It takes about seven months for the head to fully develop and be ready for harvest. So patience is in order.
Conveniently, garlic takes up very little space and can be easily planted in rows between your other crops.
With an array of garlic to choose from, my top pick for the home garden was a variety called “Copenhagen Gold” from Mount Olive Organic Farm of Paso Robles. I took two heads and peeled apart the individual cloves, and in the ground they went. A few other varieties made the cut as well, but this was one that I was most excited about.
The remaining garlic still on my counter top was used to make a roasted garlic crostini. Topped with roasted red pepper, goat cheese, thinly sliced jalapeño pepper rounds and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar, this makes for a nice appetizer.
Roasted Garlic Crostini
2 heads Copenhagen Gold Garlic (or any you prefer)
salt and pepper
2 fresh pimento peppers
4 ounces goat cheese
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced into very thin rounds
good quality aged balsamic vinegar
1 baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick on an angel (makes about 12 slices)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel most of the outer skin off the garlic, then trim about a 1/4-inch section off the top of the head to expose the tip of the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap in foil.
Drizzle your pimento pepper with olive oil and place on foil, but do not wrap. Place both in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven, drizzle the bread rounds with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook until toasted, about 7 minutes.
Peel the skin off of the pimento pepper and remove the stem, seeds and membrane. Cut pepper into small strips.
Prepare your crostini by spreading a couple of cloves of garlic over each bread round, followed by the goat cheese, pimento pepper slices, and a couple of rounds of jalapeño. Finally, drizzle with good quality aged balsamic vinegar.
Yield: 12 appetizer pieces.