Remember when I told you about the garden boxes my husband made for me earlier this year?
Back when they looked like this:
Well, now they look like this:
And they are producing like crazy. Since the first of June, we’ve found ourselves knee deep in zucchini, cucumber, and tomato, and our pepper plants are starting to pick up their production. While we’re thrilled to have such a bountiful harvest, we also have had to get creative in terms of how to use all of our crops.
Zucchini are pretty easy to use up. They don’t have a powerful flavor on their own, so you can put them in anything and not really alter the taste of the finished product. I’ve shredded them and added them to every sauce I’ve made over the past few weeks. Spaghetti sauce? Yep. Alfredo sauce? For sure. Bacon Ranch chicken? You betcha, just toss it in during the half hour or so. I made Italian Vegetable Soup, which calls for 3 of them, and then I added some to Italian sausage and white bean soup, which is one of my family’s favorites. (I shredded up the zucchini and added it during the last 15 minutes of cook time.) I tossed some into Tuscan chicken stew. Basically, I put it in everything, but even after all of that, I still had a bunch of zucchini left over.
So, I tried some new things.
Like this Chocolate Zucchini Bread from All Recipes. The 2 cups of shredded zucchini really just serves as a binder, and you can feel good about eating chocolate while you simultaneously up your daily veggie intake.
I don’t know why my breads always crack like this. It’s ugly, I know, but this bread is g-0-0-D, so don’t let the appearance turn you off. My husband taste tested it for me, and he gave it excellent reviews, even eating some that evening as a bedtime snack when he could easily have had ice cream instead. That is a pretty high compliment coming from him.
The process involved icing the pickles for several hours before canning them, which adds additional prep time, but definitely seemed to pay off by adding additional “crunch” to the finished product (we still added pickle crisp to half the batch, just in case, and honesty, it wasn’t necessary. The recipe produced crispy pickles even without the pickle crisp.) Cutting them up and cramming them into jars was the most difficult part of this recipe, which is to say that it was really easy. My husband handled the heat bath component, and got the hang of it really quickly. We have lots of pickles in the pantry now.
Then, I used some of our tomatoes to make tomato, mozzarella and pesto grilled cheese pitas, inspired by a post from An Edible Symphony. This was such a perfect summer meal, and it was quick and easy to make.
Slice your tomatoes and mozzarella, slather your pesto on your bread, stuff your pita/add your toppings, brush some olive oil on the outside of the bread, and grill ’em up until the cheese is nice and melted. I used a panini maker that my dad bought me for Christmas, but you could just as easily do this in a skillet.
Ooooh, this was sooo good. I can not wait to make this again.
I still have quite a few recipes I want to try. Like stuffed zucchini, bite sized mozzarella caprese, Greek Nachos, zucchini tots, Tzatziki sauce, zucchini, carrot, and black bean quesadillas, cucumber salsa, and zucchini crisp (think apple crisp, but with zucchini). There’s also a recipe for a blueberry zucchini bread that a friend is going to email me that sounds like it will be delicious. Hopefully, with this many new ideas to try, I won’t find myself in a rut, and we’ll be able to enjoy all that our harvest has to offer this season.
How is your garden growing? Anything you’re doing that seems to be working? Anything you’re doing that is not working? Tips, hints, warnings? Good recipes that you care to pass along?