The Harvest: ML’s Starter

I’m always on the lookout for a good and easy recipe.  I’m lucky that Brian loves to eat, and he’s not picky.  So if I make something that’s a flop, he’ll still eat it.  I know him so well though, that I can tell if I should never make something again.   I also know when it’s a hit.

My friend Marilou recently shared a recipe that she makes every year from ingredients from her garden.  It’s called ML’s Starter – ML for Marilou.  She’s an impressive gardener, and has figured out a way to capture the taste of the fresh ingredients, and then enjoy them all winter long.

                                                            Marilou’s garden

She shared her recipe with me, and with her permission, I’m passing it along.

ML’s Starter

Small Onion

½ Bell Pepper

2-3 Garlic Cloves

Basil and Oregano

—Sauté these items

—Then add cut up tomatoes and cook down.

I know this is a little vague, but you really can’t go wrong with this base.   Marilou makes large batches and cans them.  (I have to admit, I’ve never canned, so I plan make this base and freeze it)   Then during the winter, when she’s looking for something easy and tasty, she cooks chicken, hamburger, or sausage, then adds the ML’s Starter, and serves over pasta or rice.

I made this recipe last week.   Because we were going to eat it for dinner that night,  I sautéed fresh cut-up green beans, hamburger, ground pork, and sweet Italian sausage, and added it to the base.  I also added onion powder, Adobo All Purpose Seasoning, Delmonico’s Italian Steak Seasoning, salt and pepper.   I pureed some of the tomatoes to make it a little soupy.  I cooked it for a few hours, and towards the end, I added sliced up yellow squash, zucchini, and red kidney beans.  I served it over ditalini.  WOW….it was really, really good!  Brian used the word “Outstanding”.

So, right now is the perfect season in upstate New York to capitalize on garden harvests.   You can add ANYTHING you want.   Marilou suggests cauliflower, and I thought of broccoli and corn.  I’m afraid my freezer won’t hold all of the things I like to freeze this time of year, like 15 pounds of blueberries, corn from several dozen ears, 90 pounds of pureed tomatoes for making spaghetti sauce throughout the winter, and now several batches of ML’s Starter.   But, I will find room!

One other thing:  Marilou also uses ML’s Starter as a hot or cold dip by simmering it until it’s thick, and then adding cilantro.  I guess this can be used in whatever way your imagination allows.

If anyone has an easy recipe they want to share, as I said, I’m always looking.   Post it here, or send to my email:

I will be eternally grateful.

Happy Harvesting!

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2 Responses to The Harvest: ML’s Starter

  1. Jill says:

    I can attest to how good it is!!! I called Diane the other day, needing her help on something, and she said to come right over (not a surprise…she’s always there when you need her!) And, just like her grandmother, when you get there, she wants to know if you’re hungry. If not, it doesn’t matter…You HAVE to try this! She gives me a bowl of ML’s starter. OMG! It was excellent! Lots of veggies, meat and flavor. Definitely going to make it!

  2. Diane Fiore says:

    JJ, You survived and are living proof of the goodness of this recipe. Thanks for the vote of confidence…..and for being brave enough to try my cooking!

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