Gardening Like a Chef

Here are three unusual plants to try in your summer garden this year complete with recipes to try them in.  



1.  Jimmy Nardello Pepper:

What to know before you grow: A sweet, thin-skinned Italian pepper that’s light and fruity when raw, but especially shines when fried. It’s named for the son of Italian immigrants who came to the U.S. with little beyond a handful of seeds for their favorite pepper.  This variety is much more forgiving than bell peppers, which need particularly long stretches of sunlight.  Jimmy Nardello peppers are a wonderful balance of sweet and savory. They are simple to roast or grill.


Recipe to try: Jimmy Nardello Roasted Pepper Salad


1/2 lb. Jimmy Nardello Roasted Peppers

3 ears of corn with kernels removed

3 T white balsamic vinegar

3 T olive oil

1/2 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

2 T chopped fresh basil


Remove the stems and seeds. Preheat the broiler. Put the peppers, skins up, in an oiled, shallow baking pan. If you wish you can lightly oil the peppers as well. Broil them 2 inches from the heat until softened. You do not need to remove the skins after roasting. Cut the peppers lengthwise into 1?4 inch strips. Add the uncooked corn kernels. To complete the salad, toss together the remaining ingredients and let stand, covered, 1 hour for flavors to develop.


2. Watermelon Radish:

What to Know before you grow:  The watermelon radish tastes as great as it looks.  It is  less peppery than other related radishes and is a hit with chefs for its vibrant magenta center. Shave one onto your next salad for a punch of flavor and taste.  The watermelon radish is a terrific vegetable for beginners. Two months after planting, taste a few: If you find them too spicy, wait some more. The longer you leave them in the soil, the milder and denser they get.


Recipe to try: Quick Pickled Watermelon Radish


1/2 cup rice vinegar (120ml)

1/2 cup water (120ml)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar (13g)

8-10 medium to large watermelon radishes, peeled and sliced thinly crosswise


In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar until sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Add the radishes and toss to coat. Lay a clean paper towel on the surface to keep the radishes submerged. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes before serving. Pickled radishes can be packed into a jar with their brine and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.


3. Japanese Cucumber:

What to know before you grow: These cucumbers are long and slender and have minimal seeds.  They are best eaten raw.  Keep a watchful eye on them in the garden. If the ends turn yellow they are overripe and will be bitter.


Recipe to try: Japanese Cucumber Salad



2 medium Japanese cucumbers

¼ cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sesame seeds


Peel cucumbers to leave alternating green stripes. Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise; scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Slice cucumber into thin pieces. Place in a double layer of paper towel and squeeze gently to remove any excess moisture. Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium bowl, stirring to dissolve. Add the cucumbers and sesame seeds; toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

Tip: To toast sesame seeds, heat a small dry skillet over low heat. Add sesame seeds and stir constantly until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.



Krista Numbers

Krista is the founder of Simplify Supper. She is passionate about making family dinner a priority and strives to provide simple solutions to make it happen.

Feb 02, 2014
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