What the Garden Grows: Get Ready to Cook Up a Storm with the Edible Garden Girl

Article and Photos by Hilary Schwab

Hello! I am Hilary Schwab, a professional photographer who created the Edible Garden Girl blog to illustrate my love of gardening and cooking. My goal is to share my world with you — and hopefully teach you something new.

Note: This project is dedicated to my dad’s memory, Ed Schwab, who in 1978 bought a parcel of land in Stanardsville, VA, and started the vineyard and winery named Autumn Hill. His love of wine, food, and nature has always inspired me.

Check out my new TV Show: I am excited to collaborate here with Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher of Inkandescent Health & Wellness magazine, who has long been a supporter of my work. In the coming weeks and months, you’ll be able to watch regular episodes of my cooking demonstrations on her magazine that will also feature tips on how to make your garden grow — and flourish.

Photo by Hilary Schwab

Produce of the Month: Basil

In today’s episode of the Edible Garden Girl TV Show, my mom and I make one of my favorite herb recipes, Vegan Pesto.

  • Gardening tip: The end of summer and the cooler nights signal the time for basil plants to be harvested before the first frost (in climates where the seasons change). If your beautiful basil plants are located in outdoor containers, they can be moved inside the house to extend their growing season.
  • Cooking tip: In addition to simply sprinkling these delicious leaves on almost any dish you make, I invite you to whip up a healthy heaping of Vegan Pesto. Not only is it easy to make, but it also freezes very well — I freeze mine in 1/2 cup containers and enjoy the taste of summer all year long. Watch the video above to learn how simple pesto is to make!
  • You don’t have to opt for this approach about going vegan, but this recipe substitutes cheese with cashews. First, soak them in warm water and blend them, which will give the pesto a creamy texture. With so many people allergic to dairy or turning to vegan diets for other reasons, this recipe proves that there are many ways to make your favorite recipes fit into anyone’s diet. Of course, if you prefer to use cheese, go for it!

Photo by Hilary Schwab

How to Make Vegan Pesto

You’ll need: 

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves 
  • 4 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 Tablespoons soaked and softened unsalted cashews
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 5 T olive oil
  • Lemon wedge
  • 1 T pine nuts for garnish

Here’s how: Makes about 1 cup of pesto

  1. Place basil leaves in a food processor, squeeze lemon juice over leaves, and blend.
  2. Add pine nuts, cashews, and garlic clove and process with the basil.
  3. Add the olive oil and the salt and process again until the mixture is well blended.

Photo by Hilary Schwab

Hungry for more? 

  • After watching this video, check out my blog ediblegardengirl.com for more recipes and gardening tips, such as making this simple appetizer fresh from the garden: Basil Bruschetta.
  • And stay tuned for more episodes of the Edible Garden Girl TV show on Inkandescent Health & Wellness magazine and my playlist on Inkandescent.tv. You can also learn more about me and my background here: Inkandescent Women magazine. 
  • That’s not all! Coming later this fall, I’ll be selling my new 2021 Edible Garden Girl Calendar so you can have all of my recipes in your hand and keep notes of your own as your watch your garden grow.

Here’s to your health! — Hilary