Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Italian vegetable garden

Vegetable gardens seem to be all the rage- and let's face it, we veggies deserve it because we are the best. Italians place such importance on vegetable or kitchen gardens that they have a different word from giardino- that is, orto.

What should you plant if you love Italian food? Well, I don't know what climate and soil conditions you have (probably better than Massachusetts), but here are some general considerations.

First of all, herbs. You don't even need a plot for these, you can have them all in pots. The queen of Italian herbs (erbe aromatiche) is parsley- flat-leaf only. After which you will have basil (prefer Genoa), sage, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and others (as long as you don't include the despicable cilantro, which tries to pretend it's parsley so someone will eat it).

Continue with garlic and onions. One or more salad greens (include arugula), tomatoes, of course. Bell peppers, perhaps hot pepper (peperoncino)- not essential though. Zucchini and eggplant (natch). Carrots and celery to make the soffritto along with the onions. Fennel (Italians often use raw fennel in salads). Beans, peas, asparagus, artichokes. And others you may personally like.