At this time of year, there is an overabundance of many things in our garden, especially zucchini and leafy greens. It can be overwhelming to try to eat it all before it rots in your fridge (at least if you’re me). Plus, after this growing season, we don’t get some of these items again for another year. Therefore, it’s important to practice two things at this time of year: creativity and storage.
In the creativity category, it’s important to think every day about how to use garden items in ways that don’t immediately jump to mind. I like to try to use zucchini every day at this time of year. Here is a list of ways I’ve used zucchini lately:
- Zucchini bread: we always have some in the fridge! (You can also freeze it, so that later when you need a snack to take to a party or potluck, it’s ready to go.)
- Fried zucchini slices: I fry it in olive oil on a cast iron skillet with some garlic, then top it with shredded parmesan when it’s done.
- Fried, shredded zucchini: the other day, I shredded a bunch of zucchini and fried it in butter. Then I made nachos with corn chips, kidney beans, garden tomatoes, salsa, etc., and hid the fried zucchini in there as one of the layers. I don’t think my family even noticed they were eating zucchini. You can also make this a way to use leafy greens by turning it into a taco salad.
- Stir fry: make some rice or quinoa, and in another pan, stir fry whatever veggies you have on hand or in your freezer. Just dice them up and throw them in the pan with some soy sauce, or other sauce that you enjoy, and maybe a bit of olive oil. I had zucchini, of course, and also some onions, garlic, green beans, broccoli, and some shredded cabbage from last summer still lounging on the bottom shelf of the freezer. At the very end, I added some peanuts.
- Zucchini cookies: I accidentally made these cookies. I had a muffin mix sitting in the pantry that said it was an apple spice mix, and it called for applesauce. I replaced the applesauce with zucchini. Then I noticed I’d followed the recipe for the apple spice cookies on the package, rather than the muffins! I’d never had zucchini cookies before, but these turned out really yummy! They also had molasses. They were from a Bob’s Red Mill mix.
- Zucchini spears: if you pick the zucchini early enough, it’s great by itself! You can cut it in spears and eat it plain or with hummus.
- Gyro filler: I love making falafel (it’s really easy…just buy the mix from the store and fry it in oil), and wrapping it up with veggies and sauces. You can use cucumbers, but using diced zucchini works just as well.
Now for the storage category. Although I have made all of these literally within the last week, there is still zucchini sitting on my counter. Therefore, some of it gets saved for winter. This is super easy to do, provided you have enough freezer space. You can either slice it or shred it. I like to do some of each. I store it in small plastic bags, placing about 2 cups in each bag. I use the shredded zucchini for zucchini bread throughout the year, and sliced zucchini can go in stir fry or soups.
Then there’s chard, and other leafy greens such as kale and spinach. Although these are excellent, it’s hard to eat all of them at this time of year! Last year, I experimented with blanching some and just sticking others in the freezer, and I couldn’t tell the difference. Also, blanching them takes some of the nutrients out. Therefore, this year I’m not worrying about blanching them. I’m just washing them, cutting them up, and sticking them straight into the freezer. During the winter, I add these to stir fry, egg scrambles, soups, quiche, and all sorts of other dishes. They bring the summer’s vitamin-rich bounty to the rest of the year without much hassle. These photos show you the process: