I enjoy using plants from the garden when making my family’s favorite recipes. Whether it’s the distinctive flavor of homegrown tomatoes or I’m coping with a bumper crop of zucchini, making recipes from garden vegetables always taste better than store-bought produce.
Honestly, I’m a fan of zucchini. No, I don’t have hoodies and hats imprinted with pictures of green squash or even shorts with the “Z” word spelled across my derriere. But I do have plenty of zucchini recipes. That’s because zucchini is a feast or famine crop in my garden. Either I barely have enough for the occasional side dish or my kitchen is a sea of this green squash come harvest time.
What to Do with Zucchini Harvest Overload
As gardeners, we’ve all experienced bumper crops of produce. With most vegetables, this brings joy to our faces. We happily freeze, can, or dehydrate our excess veggies for future use. We donate our extras to food banks or give them away to friends and family. But the rules are different when it comes to zucchini.
By late summer, even zucchini lovers have had their fill of this simple green squash. Offering free zucchini is met with stern rejection. Ask too often and suddenly I find friends and family avoiding me. As the growing season continues, I find myself faced with the grueling decision of what to do with too much zucchini.
Of course, by now, I’ve exhausted my usual stack of favorite zucchini recipes, canned as many zucchini pickles as needed, and have frozen or dehydrated enough zucchini chunks for the winter. Yet, this prolific squash just keeps coming. Day after day, the yellow blossoms of yesterday continue to push out the green veggie rods of today. Pick them now or deal with monster squash tomorrow!
Thus, I have found the copious amounts of zucchini harvest have inspired my kitchen creativity. This versatile veggie happily sizzles in a sauté pan, its shreds add moisture to homemade zucchini bread, and its mild flavor never overpowers other foods. It seems no matter what I do with the squash, the results are not only edible, but delicious.
Zucchini Recipes from the Garden
So, if you’re wondering what to do with zucchini that’s overloaded your kitchen countertop, the answer is simple: Anything. Serve it raw in salads, grill it, roast it, stuff it, or add it to soups and stews. Search the web for interesting zucchini recipes, make up your own, or try your hand at baking homemade zucchini bread. But if you want a true summertime treat, do what I do. Bake a zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting. I simply add a little sugar to my homemade zucchini bread recipe and pour the batter into round cake pans. After it cools, I slather on homemade cream cheese dressing.
One more great one to try – this garden recipe for Zucchini Italiano was handed down to me from my mother. I loved it as a child and each summer I look forward to making it from my own homegrown veggies. It makes a wonderful side dish which can be served with everything from hamburgers to steak. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine.
- 3 medium-sized zucchinis
- 1 large green bell pepper
- 1 medium garden onion
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 2-3 plum tomatoes
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
This recipe works best when using young zucchini with immature seeds and tender skin. Harvest the zucchini when they are between 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm.) long. My favorite variety is cocozelle. They grow straight and don’t seem to bolt into over-sized fruit quite as quickly as other types.
After harvesting, wash all garden produce thoroughly before preparing this recipe. I prefer to rough cut the veggies, as it gives this recipe a heartier texture. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and cut the strips into ½ inch (13 mm.) slices. Chop the green pepper into 1-inch (2.5 cm.) square pieces. Cut the onion and tomatoes into quarters and slice each quarter in half. Peel and slice the carrots into ¼ inch (6 mm.) pieces.
- Coat the bottom of a 12-inch (30 cm.) non-stick skillet with the olive oil. On medium heat, sauté the bell pepper, onion and carrots until they begin to get tender.
- Add the zucchini to the skillet and continue cooking on medium heat.
- While the vegetables are cooking, mix the bread crumb and parmesan cheese together in a medium-sized bowl.
- Once the bell pepper, onion, carrots and zucchini are tender, add the plum tomatoes. Cover the skillet and continue cooking on medium heat until the tomatoes are soft. A small amount of liquid should be present in the bottom of the skillet.
- Turn off the heat and stir the bread crumbs and parmesan mixture into the vegetables in the skillet. Thoroughly coat the vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve this dish hot. This recipe makes approximately 6 cups when cooked.