Jimmy Steal

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BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 17: Tomatoes grow on a vine at a Dutch stand at the Green Week (Grüne Woche) agricultural trade fair on January 17, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Green Week will be open to the public from January 17-26. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Being born and raised in the Garden State, I’ve always enjoyed a fresh vegetable garden from back in the days when my Nana used to plant one, right up through today when my wife and I do our best to keep the plants hydrated in this summer scorcher. It’s just something about Jersey soil that makes certain veggies so damn good! So I figured I’d take bit from the Morning Rat Race’s lettuce, and do my own Top 5…The Jersey Fresh version, if you will.

Coming in at number 5, it’s the Yellow Squash. So versatile, and plentiful. Besides being great grilled or sautéed, they make great baked or fried breaded fritters!

At number 4 the much maligned Zucchini.  People plant these and never think how many they are actually going to get. Then every year you have 50 of them by August! Small ones, big ones.. and really really big ones! You give them to your friends, your neighbors, and make as many recipes as you can think of! Who wants fried zucchini flowers? Yes please! Zucchini bread? Yum!

At number 3, the Cubanelle Pepper. Now I know I could have gone a lot of different ways here. Why not just say “peppers”. Well here is why. the Cubanelle, or frying pepper, is THEEE best, in my opinion for making some Summer Italian Sausage and Peppers & Onions on the grill. Just like I prefer Vadalias for the onions, the Cubanelle is the perfect compliment, grilled or fried for the best sawseege sammich!

Number 2 is the Cucumber.  

It’s crisp, it’s light, it holds a salad dressing like nobody’s business, and let’s be honest, a monkey with a pair of overalls and a fence can grow em all over NJ. That’s not all though, pickling cucumbers is fun and rewarding. I like to grow the Kirby pickles myself. They are perfect for pickling and they go great with some Mozzarella, Balsamic, and our number 1 Jersey garden veg…

The Tomato is Tops! 

How many of us have had to this after a trip to the tomato patch with not enough forethought ?? Use your shirt, your dress, a bag, a bucket. Whatever you can find to grab those ‘maters!

We do a few things right in Jersey. Boardwalks, Porkroll, and Tomatoes. It’s that simple. Go anywhere in the country this time of year and tell them you’re from here and you will be frisked for a tomato. I have friends who have moved away, that come visit and care about seeing how my Big Boys are growing more than how big my boy has grown! Too many recipes and applications to mention here. from sauces to salads and beyond, but for me? Lightly toasted potato bread, a good quality mayo, pepper on the bread, salt on the thick cut slices of Beefsteak, and put it all together. I can eat 10 of em.

Honorable mentions to Corn (easily number 2, but not widely grown by backyard gardeners), and Eggplant. I guess I could have combined the squash and zucchini to fit it, and boy I do like a good Eggplant parm…


Summer in the Street 2022