As the weather begins to change and the temperature dips slightly, I find myself welcoming the cool breeze that blows through our open window. It has been a long summer, and I am ready for fall.
We had a wonderful time this year, especially with Anika, planting seeds, building our small garden, and watching the flowers, herbs and plants grow. Every morning, Anika raced out to her garden pots with excitement to find a new bloom or bud. We enjoyed (and found new ways) to incorporate all the vegetables and herbs into our cooking. (We had even more fun visiting local community farms for some picking adventures). Now, however, we feel a change in the air that hints at the awaiting hibernation months, and so it is time to prepare the plants for autumn.
First things first, we weeded and removed the dead plants (the spring and summer annuals). We continue to water our perennials (to prepare for the cold while the soil is still soft, now’s also a good time to cover your perennials with a bit of mulch.) We trimmed down and divided our plants. Next, we harvested the last of our vegetables. We had good luck with our tomato plant, so I am a little sad to pull it out and dispose of/ compost it, but such is the way. We tilled the soil. Finally, we decided which of the herbs need make their way inside, like the rosemary and our potted parsley plant.
I feel herbs are the blessed seasonal bridge between summer and autumn foods. It’s like Mother Nature’s way of easing the end of summer’s culinary delights and reminding us of how herbs are an integral part of our favourite fall (and winter) comfort foods.
Growing up, at the end of every summer, I watched my mother prepare her large garden (with fruit trees, flowers, vegetable and herb gardens) for fall. Harvesting, drying, and preserving all our favourite herbs was a big part of that (and large reward for all her year-round labours). For some great tips on drying herbs (and why you should!) check out this article.
And with that, here is one of my favourite refreshing summer herb recipes, a very simple to prepare parsley and coconut sambol (finely chopped salad) that includes some classic summer garden fav’s: parsley, tomato, and onion. Grab a bunch of fresh parsley and enjoy!
Sri Lankan Parsley Sambol
One small bunch of garden fresh flat leaf or curly parsley ½ small and firm vine ripened tomato (Roma tomato is a nice option), finely chopped ¼ small red onion, or about 5-6 red shallots, peeled and finely chopped ¼ cup of fresh finely grated coconut (fresh, alternatively fresh coconut that has been frozen and sold in packets can be found in the freezer aisle at your local Indian or South Asian food stores) 1 thin green chili (Thai or Indian) or Birds eye (if you really want add some heat!), finely sliced on a bias Salt (to taste) ¼ of lime, use juice only (about one wedge of lime, or to taste)
Finely chop the parsley (avoid using an electric chopper as the parsley may turn mushy or have a bitter taste), and place in a large bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients, onion, tomato, grated coconut, salt, and squeeze the lime over top, and then combine all of the ingredients either by using your clean hands or mix with a wooden or coconut spoon. Season with more salt as desired.
This refreshing fine chopped salad goes great with savoury dishes. Serve with jasmine rice and chicken curry.
If you have a large garden, check out this article for some great tips on how to prepare your garden for the fall.
All images on this page ©Natasha Asselstine