Montgomery Garden Recipes

Scroll to learn about the origins, uses, and recipes using crops growing at the Montgomery Garden:

Vegetables

  • Artichokes
  • Basil
    • Purple and three types of green basil including tulsi basil
  • Chamomile
  • Parsley
    • Curly and Flat leaf
  • Pole beans
    • Marvel of Venice, Greek beans, cobra beans
  • Rue
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Flowers

  • Calendula
  • Cosmos
  • Poppy

 

Artichokes

Artichokes are believed to be a domesticated version of the Mediterranean cardoon. They were first cultivated in Sicily and was developed into the modern Roman artichoke we know today in the coastal area of Rome (Devour 2022). The artichoke is the edible flower bud of a thistle plant and, if left to mature, will actually blossom into a spiky purple flower (Russo 2008).

The popularization of artichokes is largely owed to Jewish Italians who were forcefully displaced into closed ghettos in the banks of the Tiber river in 1555. Within these walls, they developed a rich cuisine which included artichokes, one of the few plentiful foods available. One of the most traditional ways of eating artichokes is Carciofi alla giudia, or Jewish-style artichokes (Avey 2013; Devour 2022).

Jewish-style artichokes recipe (English-dubbed version and recipe in caption) – Deep-fried and eaten whole.

Carciofi alla Romana or Roman-style artichokes – Stuffed with chopped mint, garlic, and parsley.

Basil

Basil originates in Asia and Africa and is important to many cultures and cuisines including Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Laotion. Basil was first brought to Europe from India in the 16th Century and later found it’s way to America in the 17th Century (Sullivan 2009).

The Montgomery Garden is currently home to 4 basil varieties; one purple and three green varieties, including Tulsi basil. This variety is a sacred herb in the Hindu religion, often referred to as the “elixir of life” or “queen of herbs”. It’s native to India and is believed to be a manifestation of the Goddess. Many households grow Tulsi basil in the centre of their courtyards to protect the spirit of the family, and it’s antibacterial properties helps prevent the spread of germs while keeping the surrounding air clean (Indian Culture; Sullivan 2009). 

The most common way to consume Tulsi basil is through tea. Boil a handful of leaves and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes, and add honey or lime juice if desired. 

Adrak Tulsi Chai or Ginger-Holy Basil Herbal Tea

Chamomile

Chamomile’s origins can be traced to Europe and West Asia and like artichokes and basil, it has been used since ancient times. In 500 BCE. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, referred to this “flower” as a medicinal plant while Mathiolus/ Peter Ondej Mathioli described the essential oil of chamomile as a remedy against spasms. Chamomile became a common drug ingredient in the 16th and 17th Centuries in all kinds of medicines from patches to medicinal baths and ointments (Das 2004).

Chamomile is one of the most popular herbal teas in the world where almost a million cups are consumer each day (Das 2004). Chamomile can also be used in salads or soups. 

Spring Chamomile Salad – Grilled tomatoes, radishes, and turnips with a citrus chamomile vinaigrette

Parsley

This herb is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. It was often grown in monasteries and royal gardens. The ancient Greeks associated parsley with Achromous, the Herald of Death, and made wreaths out of it to cover their tombs with (Mahr 2022). 

Parsley is a great addition to any vegetable or meat dish and can found in many cuisines including those of the European, Brazilian, Middle Eastern, and American (My Spicer 2014). One simple dish that celebrates this herb is Lebanese Tabbouleh – a full-bodied tangy salad – from the Levantine region (Amira 2021).

Tabbouleh – Parsley and Bulgur Wheat Salad

Pole Beans

Native to the Americas, pole beans have been cultivated for more than 10,000 years. Along with corn and squash, pole beans make up The Three Sisters, the cornerstone of Native American agriculture and culinary traditions. The title originates from the Iroquois people who refer to it as the “sustainers of life” (Kruse-Peeples 2016). As the name suggests, pole beans need to climb something which has posed challenges to commercial producers and home gardeners alike, however they are extremely generous – producing 2-3 times more crop per unit area than their bush bean counterparts (Harvesting History 2019). 

The pole beans you see here, however, were brought from the New World to the Old World – first consumed in the 9th Century and became commonly cultivated by the 16th Century. These beans were first introduced on pilot farms to restore soil productivity as well as the health of their populations (Casella).

The Marvel of Venice variety is native to Italy, classically used in the tomato sauce based dish, fagiolini al’uccelletto and appear in many summer and fall preparations. The Greek variety is similar to the common fava or broad bean, and in Crete, fresh fava beans are shelled and eaten as companion to tsikoudia, a traditional Cretian alcoholic drink. The Cobra variety, also known as Haricots Verts in France, is the common “green bean.” These beans are often used in the Niçoise Salad, first created in the coastal town of Nice in France (Specialty Produce 2022).

Rue

Rue is believed to be native to the Mediterranean and Western Asian region. It’s found in many Aztec, Mayan, Greek, and Roman medicine records. Due to its chemical composition, this herb has been used for various purposes from improving eyesight and nerves, to treating insect bites, goust, worms, rheumatism, and hysteria, and even as an abortifacient and emmenagogue. The ancient gynecologist Soranus describes a preparation of “3 drachmas of rue leaves, 2 drachmas of myrtle, 2 drachmas of laurel, mix with wine” as an effective abortifacient. Dioscorides, Pliny the Elder and Oribasius all advocate the use of rue, and Quintus Serenus indicates that a preparation of “egg, rue and dill” will serve to induce an abortion (Hurst 2004).

This bitter herb was also used extensively in Ancient Roman cuisine, but has fallen out in today’s cooking traditions. It’s most commonly used today in Ethiopia, particularly as an addition to coffee (Long 2016).

Ethiopian coffee – cut, wash, and add a couple sprigs into your cup of coffee.

Wat – Ethiopan spicy chicken stew using the berbere spice blend, containing rue. 

Sage

Like rue, sage is also known as a medicinal and cooking herb. It can be cultivated in many regions, but its origins are found in the Dalmatian (Croatian) coast. The Dalmatian karst, specific soil, and Mediterranean climate created the perfect environment for this herb to thrive, and it can still be found there growing wild. Sage is used in many cultures to ail stomach, digestion, and nervous system issues, as well as in several food preservation techniques (Salvia). It’s antimicrobial properties as well as its pleasant smell also make it a popular herb to perfume and cleanse homes. 

Lamb peka, a Croatian national dish, traditionally cooked with hot embers but modified in this recipe to a slow-cook in the oven.

Thyme

This herb is native to Greenland, the temperate and subtropical areas of Euroasia, and Northeast Tropical Africa. The word “thyme” may have been derived from the Greek word “thumos” (courage) – records even suggest soldiers sewed sprigs of this herb into their clothes before battle – or “thymos” (perfume) due to its distinct aroma (NC State Extension).

Chermoula, an herby marinade or condiment native to Morocco. “There is no one recipe for charmoula,” writes the James Beard award-winning cookbook author Paula Wolfert in The Food of Morocco. [Clearly, there is no one spelling, either, since it’s a transliteration of an Arabic word.] “In Marrakech, a cook might add some ginger to the spice mix. In Agadir, creamed onions are often added. In Tetouan, a little hot red pepper oil, and in Tangier, our housekeeper always added a little thyme.”

Layered thyme and strawberry cake, three layers of vanilla sponge cake, infused with thyme syrup, and sandwiched with strawberry cream cheese frosting.