Level up that triumphant burst of self-esteem flooding in with the first bite by combining those ingredients into something even more delicious.

Image: Michael Novak

Few things are as emotionally rewarding as eating food you grew yourself. Level up that triumphant burst of self-esteem flooding in with the first bite by combining those homegrown ingredients into something even more delicious.

Start in early June, when the frosty nights are over and it’s safe to sow seeds for peppery arugula and sweet-smelling basil directly into your beds or containers. At the same time, draw out little rows to nestle some fast-growing radish seeds one inch apart. These are particularly fun for new gardeners, since all the action is below the surface, waiting for the day you pull them from the dirt to see what took shape. Skip the seeds when you’re thinking strawberries. Instead, purchase starts well on their way to bearing fruit and get them in the ground before it’s too hot—otherwise these precious jewels have a hard time taking root. Depending on the unpredictable combo of Oregon’s summer sun and heat, sometime in July you’ll be out there with a clean paring knife (it’s less damaging than ripping), ready to harvest all your goods. Slice up the bits that need slicing and toss it all into a bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Finish with a drizzle of Jacobsen Co honey, a handful of toasted hazelnuts (our state nut!), and some crumbles of Portland Creamery goat cheese. Then pour a glass of wine and toast your own salad success.

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