Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Healthy Recipes to take advantage of your garden's abundance

Too much Zucchini? No worries. You have a few options.

Option 1: Slice and Freeze
Slice the Zucchini into bite sided rings or cubes and freeze in an airtight container. They can be taken out and used in pasta sauces and soups all winter. If you like the recipe below, you can always package 1 1/2 cup portions (or multiples of that) for future bread making and enjoy your home grown zucchini all winter!

Option 2: Make Zucchini Bread
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan or, if you wish, line muffin tins and make smaller portions. They freeze well! Loafs cook for about 45 minutes, or until they test done. Muffins about half the time, they need monitoring after 15 or 20 minutes depending on how full they are.

Combine DRY ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour (I like to use whole wheat or a combination of whole wheat and oat flour but white flour is traditional)
1 1/2 - 2 TSP ground cinnamon
1/2 TSP salt
1 TSP baking powder
1/2 TSP baking soda

Fold the dry ingredients into a well beaten "WET" mixture of:
2 eggs
1/2 to 1 cup sugar (the riper the zucchini the less sugar you need)
1 1/2 TSP vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups zucchini (thin slices, small cubes or shredded)

OPTION: Adding Nuts or Raisins or Cranberries

HINT: A Healthier Option is to go with the smaller amount of sugar and larger portion of the cinnamon

HINT: Shredding the zucchini brings out the moisture if you prefer a moister bread/muffin.

Option 3: Stuff the Zucchini
If your zucchini has grown to a large size you can slice it lengthwise, hollow out the center and stuff it.

This can be made vegetarian or with ground meat. STEP 1: WASH the Zucchini or Squash as the exterior is EDIBLE!

Meat Version:
Sautee ground meat (turkey is a lean choice), onions and garlic (or shallots). Add sage to the mixture as it cooks. Other spices can be used if sage is not one you feel comfortable working with. Basil or oregano would give it an Italian flare or rosemary a rich and deep flavor.

Add chicken broth (reduced sodium is a healthy choice), chopped bell peppers (your choice of colors), raisins or cranberries and barley. The easy measurement trick is 2 parts liquid to 1 part barley. The dried fruit absorbs moisture plus adds sweetness. Add to taste. Hollow out the zucchini or squash, being careful to keep the shell intact (easier with hard shelled acorn or butternut squashes in the winter), chop and add to the pan.

At this point turn on the oven to 350 and line a baking dish or cookie sheet with foil (depending on size of the zucchini). Place zucchini on foil and salt and pepper the shells.

Cook until liquid is significantly reduced.

Add mixture from pan into the zucchini shells and cook until shells become tender, about 40 minutes depending on the size of the zucchini. Option: add cheese to the top.

Vegetarian option:
Instead of meat add carrots (chopped small) and white or pinto beans and/or potatoes sliced or cubed into small bite sized portions. This adds protein and a variety of textures.

Enjoy the abundance in your garden!

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