Tag Archives: seasonal eating

Zucchini Abundance: 10 Great Ways to Use It

The great zucchini flood has started! This time of year you’ll find many gardeners and farmers with tables, counters, and cabinets overflowing with a bounty of zucchini and summer squash. The first few of the year always seem so magical but a few weeks in it’s pretty easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume just a few plants can produce. That’s why we’ve rounded up a few ways to use zucchini this season!

Cook It

Breaded & Fried

A simple, quick way to make super tasty zucchini is to bread it and fry it. It may not be the healthiest option but it’s definitely delicious. One of my favorite ways to bread it is with a bit of salt and bloody butcher cornmeal as pictured above. *We’re currently out of bloody butcher seed but you can find pungo creek butcher (a bloody butcher descendant) here.

Stuffed Zucchini

For larger zucchini, stuffing them and baking them is a great option. I  like to use up any fresh vegetables I have on hand, sauteing up onions, garlic, swiss chard, collards, peppers, and tomatoes and mixing them with rice, beans, and spices like oregano, basil, and chili powder. Scoop out the seeds and add this or your own mixture to the zucchini. Top with marinara sauce and bake, covered at 375°F for about 45 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti is a pretty common go-to meal for busy evenings. Next time you make spaghetti use up some of your zucchini by chopping it up into small chunks and sauteing it with onions and garlic before adding it to your spaghetti sauce. Don’t water bath can this type of spaghetti sauce though! The zucchini will decrease the acidity of the sauce making unsafe for canning.

Squash Souffle

Irena’s squash souffle is also a great option for using up zucchini. Follow the link above for this great recipe.

Bake Something

Zucchini’s mild flavor lends itself easily to a variety of baked goods. You can find recipes online for zucchini cakes, muffins, breads, even cookies! I’ve found it makes delicious and moist chocolate cake that can fool even picky eaters.

Preserve It

Zucchini Pineapple

Yes, it sounds super wierd but zucchini pineapple is actually delicious and easy to put up. Basically, all you do is water bath can zucchini in a mixture of pineapple juice, lemon juice, and sugar. It tastes great and can be eaten right of the jar or tossed on a pizza this winter! You can find a recipe over at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Zucchini Chips

Dehydration is a really simple and quick storage tecnique. Zucchini chips are easy to dehydrate and make an excellent snack. All you need to do is slice your zucchini into rounds about 1/4 inch thick, dunk the rounds in apple cider vinegar, and then toss them with spices before dehydrating for 10 hours at about 135°F. Make sure they are fully dry and crisp before moving them to airtight jars for storage.

Fermented Zucchini Pickles

Fermentation is an old and simple way of putting up the harvest. It’s also great for gut health. Fermented foods are full of healthy probiotics. Check out this fermented pickle recipe from Attainable Sustainable to use some of your bounty.

Freeze it

Zucchini is easy to freeze because unlike many vegetables it doesn’t need to be blanched first. For easy use, shred zucchini and freeze in portions for your favorite recipes like zucchini bread.

Other Ideas

Donate it

As a gardener it’s easy to forget how tasty and special fresh, homegrown zucchini is. Even if you’re tired of it there may be people in your area who would love some fresh zucchini. Talk to your neighbors. Maybe there’s someone nearby who’s no longer physically able to garden who would love some. Also, check with local food pantries.

 

Food waste is a rampant problem in the United States. This season try to make the most of all your garden produce. As a last resort chickens love zucchini if you have them or know someone who does.

Spring Greens Ravioli & a Spring Gardening Checklist

Waiting for the bounty of a mid-summer garden can be tough. As the weather gets warmer it can be tempting to reach for supermarket tomatoes, peppers, and melons even though those won’t be ready in most backyard gardens for several months. However, we can learn to slow down and appreciate local, seasonal flavors. This recipe takes the overabundance of greens available this season and turns it into a filling and delicious meal. 

There are so many spring greens available for this recipe. In this batch, I used kale, spinach, chives, lemon balm, parsley, dandelion greens, ramps as well as violet greens and flowers. A note on the ramps: please research sustainable ramp harvesting unless you grow your own! They are overharvested in many areas of the United States.

Depending on where you’re located and what you’ve got in your garden there are plenty of other options. Consider using nettles, chard or beet greens, collards, creasy greens, cleavers, or even lettuce! I also used onion and garlic stored from last season but you could also use leeks or chives.

For the filling:

  • A large bunch of greens (about 1lb)
  • 1 medium size onion 
  • Fresh garlic

Chop up your greens and onion or leeks. Then saute the onion until tender. Add your greens to the pan, stirring them into the onions and place a lid on the pan and turn off the burner. Leave them sitting like this for a few minutes. You just want to steam them. 

For the dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • Spices to taste

Combine the flour, salt, and spices. Then add the olive oil and begin slowly adding water while mixing. Keep adding water and stirring until the dough forms a ball. You may have to work it with your hands a bit. The dough should be smooth, elastic, slightly sticky and easy to work with. If you’ve added too much water you can knead in a bit of extra flour. 

Roll the dough out into four sheets about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Then you can slice it into your desired shapes and add a small spoonful of filling. Press the edges closed with a fork or just pinch them with your fingers. 

Boil your ravioli for 3-5 minutes. Serve warm.

This pasta goes great with many sauces like a spaghetti sauce you canned last season, just a touch of butter and salt, or broth. 

Spring Checklist

  • Amend soil with compost.
  • Sow cool weather crops like kale, lettuce, onions, collards, and peas and thin them as needed.
  • Harden off and transplant spring crops like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Continue starting warm weather crops indoors (depending on your zone).
  • Plant potatoes.
  • Sow or plan to sow multiple successions of crops. 
  • Get creative with the food coming in from your garden and local farmers market. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
  • Mulch garden pathways.
  • Leave dead plant material and leaves as long as possible to provide shelter for beneficial insects and caterpillars. 
  • Watch transplants still indoors for problems and pot them up as needed. 
  • Install key garden elements like deer fencing, row cover, trellises, and drip irrigation.
  • Join the Big Bug Hunt. It’s an international ‘citizen science’ project that tracks when and how garden bugs appear and spread during the growing season. Making a report only takes seconds and they’re close to launching an initial pest prediction service!

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10 Easy Ways to Use Cucumbers

Cucumbers don’t seem to share the notorious reputation of summer squash for its summertime over abundance however they are productive. They’re also not quite as easy to preserve as something like tomatoes which are easily frozen, canned, or dried for delicious meals later on. If you’ve got baskets of cucumbers piling up on your kitchen counter try a few of these easy suggestions to make the most of your summer bounty.

Add them to smoothies.

Cucumbers are cool, mild, and refreshing making them an excellent choice for summertime smoothies.

Pickle them.

If you’re up for a more traditional preservation route there are many recipes for water bath canning pickles. Check out these recipes from Ball:

Kosher Dill Pickles

Bread and Butter Pickles

If canning isn’t your thing, try checking recipes for “refrigerator pickles.” These can’t be kept at room temperature like their canned counterparts but they will keep in the fridge for a long time.

Make frozen treats.

Cucumbers make wonderful additions to homemade fruit sorbets or popsicles. They’re nice and juicy without a lot of intense flavor.

Toss them in drinks.

Cucumbers are an awesome homegrown way to add excitement to your drinks. Sangria, gin & tonics, or even ice water with your fresh cucumber slices is sure to impress your guests.

Make gazpacho.

For those who haven’t heard of it gazpacho is a soup made from blended vegetables that’s served cool. It makes a great summer lunch and there’s tons of recipes to suit everyones’ tastes. Check out this recipe from the BBC, Green Cucumber & Mint Gazpacho.

Ferment them.

Fermented foods are great for your gut and pretty easy to make. Try this recipe for awesome fermented cucumber pickles.

Try a different cucumber salad.

Tossing a cucumber slices onto a plain salad can quickly get boring but their are plenty of recipes if you’re willing to branch out try searching for Asian cucumber sesame salad recipes or check Pinterest for more recipes.

Add them to a stir fry.

It may sound a bit odd if you’re accustomed to only eating fresh cucumbers but cucumbers are delicious in a stir fry or alone. Try frying some with a touch of oil, soy sauce, and ginger.

Make fresh salsa.

Cucumbers can easily be added to fresh salsa recipes like this one for taco night!

Make your own soap.

If you’re into crafts or diy projects or have ever tried soap making you may want to try adding some of your cucumbers. Search “cucumber soap” for recipes.

As is the case with many vegetables cucumbers are actually very versatile. If you’ve got an abundance this season trying a few new recipes can help you eat more from your garden and spend less time in the grocery store. What’s your favorite way to use cucumbers?

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