If I could use one word to describe the planting of our garden this year, it would be quiet. In previous years, it’s been a fast and furious effort involving the whole family. Beds were added and a fence installed. Shawn even made a special gate for the garden last year. But this year, it’s been a slow and quiet process. We haven’t added any more planting space or moved the fence. And it’s fine — for now.
In terms of preparing the garden for planting, that’s been mostly on me — with a bit of help from the kids. I’ve turned the soil, added compost and dealt with garden pests. (I hate bugs. All of them. Seriously, seriously hate them! *cringe*) And planting? It’s been a slow and quiet process as well. Weeks of rain have delayed the progress. Much like farms in the area, our plants went in late this year due to the weather and some are still waiting. Parts are looking withered, and I don’t know if they will survive. But the tomato plants are thriving. So are the herbs, and the broccoli.
This planting season has been so different, but I guess that’s to be expected. Over the past few years, I have learned that no two growing seasons are alike. Two years ago, we struggled with a month of rain in June that gave way to late blight. The blight meant that there were virtually no fresh tomatoes all over the northeast. That was hard, since tomatoes are the crown jewel of summer crops here. Last year, the season was so early that by the time we tried to pick strawberries in late June, there were nearly none left. This year, the strawberries are right on time … but we’re holding our breath a bit to see what the up and down weather will mean for gardens and farms this year. No one is quite sure yet.
For now, I am happy the herbs are doing well.
I called these Summer’s First Harvest, but this really isn’t my first harvest this season. I’ve used a little mint (which I grow on the edge of the property where it’s free to be as invasive as it likes). And I’ve picked a few herbs here and there. But these Herbed Grilled Red Potatoes are the first dish where my homegrown herbs really star this year. It’s a spectacular thing to be able to walk into the backyard with scissors and come back with enough herbs for a dish that hits the table about 30 minutes later.
When I was working on this side dish, I wanted to make it easy as can be. So, I skipped the mincing of the herbs. Instead, they are rinsed and left wet, which allows them to steam in the center of a pile of potatoes inside a foil packet. They lend fresh summery flavor to the sweet, tender, buttery red potatoes. But it only takes less than five minutes to toss this all together and about 25 minutes to cook. It couldn’t be easier.
Shawn wished they had the crusty outside of roasted potatoes. This just isn’t that type of potato dish though. They’re fork tender with bits of caramel-colored richness, making them easy for kids to eat with little help. I didn’t have to cut them up for my 3- and 5-year-old, which was great. And the flavor? It can’t be beat. I love the way the herb flavors permeate the potatoes like wisps and whispers. They don’t overpower the natural sweetness of the red potatoes, but rather complement it.
What are you grilling up these days?
Herbed Grilled Red Potatoes
1 1/2 lb small red potatoes
2 large sprigs parsley
2 sprigs thyme, divided (break the little steams off from each other)
1 sprig sage
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
sea salt, for finishing
Heat the grill on high heat.
While the grill is warming up, wash and cut the potatoes into one-inch chunks. Set out a long (18-20 inches) sheet of aluminum foil. Pile half of the red potatoes on top.
Wash the herbs in cool water, and shake lightly to remove some (but not all) of the water. Arrange the herbs in a single layer on top of the potatoes. Top with the remaining half of potatoes.
Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes, then season with salt and pepper. Cover with a second sheet of aluminum foil, and fold and press the edges to seal.
Reduce the grill temperature to medium and place the foil pack on the grill. Grill for 10 minutes. Then, carefully (without piercing the foil) flip the foil packet. Grill for another 10 minutes.
Remove from the grill. Let sit for a few minutes and then very carefully cut open. Beware! Hot steam will escape, so be really super careful.
Serve immediately with a sprinkle of sea salt.