New England summers present me with a challenge: Shall I sail or garden? My solution? Combine them, sort of.
My husband, Billy, and I take long-weekend cruises on Bonnie Christine, our Catalina 380, as well as a two-week cruise each season to any of the fantastic areas within a day’s sail of our home port of Scituate, Massachusetts. I enjoy cooking, and nothing pleases both of us more than using produce we’ve grown in the garden for onboard meals.
Billy scuba dives, so he often supplies an entrée such as flounder, crab, or lobster.
During the summer months, when I’m harvesting, I try not to leave anything behind when we head for the boat. I wash the produce carefully at my kitchen sink and package it so we’ll be able to enjoy it during our cruise.
As we follow the wind and weather from harbor to harbor, I plan our meals around our harvest. Early summer greens become salads or can be sautéed with garlic and onions. Summer squashes and eggplant can be grilled, sautéed, or roasted, then seasoned with herbs and mixed with feta cheese, any small pasta, or rice for a side dish or light lunch. Broccoli and onions can go into an omelet at breakfast. My herbs, simply because they taste so good, get incorporated into almost every meal.
Tomatoes also work their way into nearly everything we eat—and I can never make enough tomato sauce! When the fall weather sets in, I light the oven, and the heady aroma of winter squash roasting with rosemary permeates the air, the chill replaced by snug warmth.
In early November, we haul the boat for the winter. By then, the garden has gone by, so I pull weeds and plant crops for spring harvest.
I lay blankets of salt-marsh hay to keep it warm for winter. The boat, too, is put to sleep; we tuck her in and do the chores necessary to help her through her winter’s slumber.
As the dark season sets in, I take comfort in knowing that, like the garden, Bonnie Christine will come to life again in the spring.
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Feta and Orzo
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced
- 2 medium summer squash, sliced
- 2 medium eggplant, cubed
- 2 red or green peppers, sliced into rings
- 2 large onions, sliced into rings
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped coarsely
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano (optional)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup black olives, pitted
- 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 small bunch basil, chopped
- 2 cups orzo or other small pasta, cooked
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or grill to medium). Lightly coat all vegetables in olive oil, toss together, add garlic and oregano, toss again, and arrange in a lightly oiled shallow baking pan (for oven) or in a foil packet (for grill). Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, flipping occasionally. When vegetables are soft, transfer to a serving dish. Add olives, feta, basil, and cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, if available. Serves 6.