One of the luxuries of growing your own vegetables is being able to pick them at the proper size and maturity for the dish you want to prepare.


It’s no use trying to make a delicate mousse with large, intensely flavored eggplant. Opt for a moussaka or eggplant Parmesan to take advantage of a mature eggplant.


Early in the season, tomatoes are best raw, in salads. Later, when the flavor is concentrated, I make roasted tomato sauces and rich soups.


Pick small squash for quick sautéing and medium-size squash for slower cooking in a casserole. I feed oversize squash, with spongy interiors and big seeds, to my neighbors’ sheep.


Tiny turnips cook through in only a minute or two; I serve them sliced, as a side dish. Large turnips need to be cooked into stews or slowly baked.


Baby fennel is perfect shaved raw into salads; bigger bulbs are better braised.