When parents come to visit the Montgomery School, a private K-8 in Chester Springs, PA, Stephen Schappert, chef, Metz Culinary Management, shows them the well-established garden and explains, “Learning does not stop in the classroom.”
Students tend to the vegetable garden in the late summer and early spring months, and hopefully, a new greenhouse will extend the growing season further.
“I tell them about seasonality, and how the produce is used in a recipe. When we’re out there, I have them taste the herbs,” Schappert says, adding that the herb garden has proved to be a super convenient kitchen tool.
“It’s so nice to not have to worry about ordering herbs,” he says. “It’s right outside the kitchen, and it’s fantastic.”
Earlier this year, Schappert found himself with an abundance of basil (the crinkly leafed Mammoth Basil and Red Ruben Basil—a very cool variation), which led to the creation of Lemon-Basil Chicken, boneless skinless chicken breast pounded thin and slathered with a paste of basil, parsley, olive oil, garlic (also from the garden) and lemon juice. The chicken is then baked for about 10 to 12 minutes, and it’s been a flavorful hit with the kids.
For a teacher-in-service day, Schappert created a more sophisticated dish, chicken breasts stuffed with julienned vegetables (blanched ahead of time for even cooking), basil leaves and mozzarella.
For kids who still may be a little shy around vegetables, using them in a puree for a soup is a great option. Shappert’s Rosemary Chicken Soup uses a puree of carrots, onion and celery with the woodsy, lemony flavor of rosemary in the background.