This summer, we have been blessed with a vibrant and abundant garden, despite the countless days of smoky skies above. Gratefully, more produce has arrived than we know what to do with and our friends won't take any more zucchini or cucumbers!
I can honestly say that I've never had a garden like this. With such fertile soil and ample space, I just couldn't help myself from exploring so many varieties of vegetables that grow beautifully in our Southern Oregon bioregion (Agricultural Zone 7).
With so much growing in many ways, it's time to get innovative... I have my hands full!
I have found some wonderful recipes I'd like to share and some I've created for preserving the harvest and instant gratification.
The variety we grew is Dark Star, three plants were more than enough and have been producing since July (now nearing mid-September). While grilled zucchini is delightful, we're ready for some zing! Here are some of my favorite and unique zucchini recipes .:.
1. Turmeric Pickled Zucchini (Also, great with radishes!)
-these are delightful; great canned or refrigerated
2. Zucchini Fritters
-like potato latkes, with less starch
3. Parmesan Crisps
-quick, simple, delicious & can be dehydrated for storage
4. Zucchini Bread
-this variation is rich and low sugar; I substitute coconut sugar for the sweetener and apple sauce for the oil
5. Raw Pad Thai with Zoodles (zucchini noodles!)
Raw Pad Thai:
4 c. zoodles (spiralized zucchini; about 2 med/large zucs)
1/3 c. toasted/raw nuts (raw pumpkin seeds are excellent)
1/2 bell pepper, julienned (I like red or orange for color)
1-2 carrots, julienned
3 green onions (roughly chopped)
1 handfull bean sprouts (or sunflower sprouts)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1 lime (for garnish)
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. fish sauce (optional)
1/4 c. peanut butter (crunchy is my preference)
1 thumb fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. honey (sugar, maple syrup, or agave work too)
1-2 pinches of cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
Add ingredients for sauce in a small bowl and whisk together, then set aside. Heat a large pot with 4 quarts water, repare zucchini noodles with a spiralizer or mandolin (be sure to use caution*). Once water is boiling, place zoodles in water to blanch for 5 minutes, tossing occassionally. Strain zoodles, reserving some of the water (approximately 4 tbsp). While zoodles cool, prepare raw veggies and mix together and set aside (reserving sprouts and nuts for later). Next prepare ginger and garlic to get saucy...
Heat a sauce pan on medium, add 1 tbsp. olive oil. Once the oil is hot (testing with a drop of water), add in garlic and ginger and stir frequently until fragrant. Next, add in the rice vinegar, fish sauce, cayenne, and peanut butter, mixing well. Begin to slowly add the reserved water to the peanut sauce until it thins slightly and is ready for honey, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon veggie/zoodle mixture into a bowl and top generously with the warm sauce, fresh bean sprouts and pumpkin seeds. Serve with wedge of fresh lime, if desired, and enjoy!
6. Grilled Zucchini Hummus:
2 lb of zucchini sliced lengthwise 1/4in thick
1 head of garlic (some may be leftover)
1/3 c. tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 c. olive oil (plus one extra tablespoon)
1/2 lemon (juiced, seeds removed)
1/4 c. chopped parsley (optional)
Heat grill to medium-high (or preheat the oven to 350°F) Slice zucchini lengthwise into 1/4in thick pieces and brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Take one head of garlic, chop off the top of the head exposing the cloves, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Once grill/oven is ready, place zucchini strips and garlic over the heat. The garlic may take up to 45 minutes, this is a perfect opportunity to grill other veggies (i.e.: eggplant, squash, tomatoes, onions, etc). Grill zucchini for 5 minutes on each side then place in a bowl and cover with aluminum foil to steam, soften and cool while garlic finishes up.
In a food processor, add grilled zucchini, roasted garlic, tahini, lemon juice, parsley (optional) and as much or little garlic as you like, plus a little salt and pepper. Begin processing while adding in the olive oil-- reserving 1 tbsp. Once the mixture is thoroughly blended, using a spatula scoop the hummus into your serving bowl, drizzle with the remaining olive oil, place a parsley leaf atop for garish and enjoy!
Last year's cucumber crop was quite prolific, so much so that this year I only decided to grow four plants; two Burpee, one Japanese slicer, and one other pickling variety... as opposed to the six from last year. Well, four was still too many and still producing! Here are a few ways I've enjoyed using them apart from the traditional sour pickle and enjoying as a fresh snack.
1. Cool As a Cucumber Salad
2 long cucumbers (or 4 short)
1/2 medium onion; red preferred
1/4 c. red or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. chopped dill (optional)
dash of salt and fresh cracked pepper
Slice cucumbers lengthwise then on a diagonal, place in bowl. Thinly slice onion and add to cucumbers. Toss together, then drizzle with oil and vinegar, sprinkle salt and pepper, and dill. Toss again and
refrigerate, best next day.
2. Asian-style Pickles (lacto-fermented)
1 quart jar (sterilized)
1 tbsp. sea salt
2-3 pickling cucumbers (sectioned lengthwise)
3 star anise
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. coriander seed
1 tbsp. sliced turmeric
1 tsp. fenugreek
1 tsp. fennel seed (or a few flower heads)
1 tsp. lemon grass
1/2 lime, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 birds eye chilis
1 jalapeño pepper, stem/seeds removed
1 carrot, julienned
1 horseradish leaf (grape, nasturtium, or oak leaf)
Place cucumbers, carrots, jalapeño and garlic into sterilized jar. Top with salt then add enough water so there are 2in of space at the top. Add in remaining spices, cover with lid and shake. Top with additional water to cover contents and then seal in contents with fresh tannic leaf (horseradish, grape, nasturtium or oak). Gently closure the lid to allow for breathing, place on plate--to collect any juices from fermentation activity--out of direct light and wait 2-3 days until cucumbers change from bright to dull green. Once change is apparent, seal tightly and refrigerate one week (minimum) before tasting.
3. Cucumber and Tomato Gazpacho (link)
- this is the BEST gazpacho recipe I've found; I doubled the amount of cucumbers for a lighter & less acidic soup
4. Mint & Cucumber Infused Water
-super easy and refreshing; pick mint, slice cucumber (skin removed) and add to water refrigerating overnight or letting it sit a couple hours, enjoy!
Stay tuned for more recipes from the garden and ideas for veggie & herb abundance. My tulsi plants are taking off and filling my dehydrator and drying racks... what's next!? Feel free to comment on what you might like to see. Grow well!