It’s now mid-July and my garden is flourishing! I harvested my largest bounty yet this week, which made me excited to not only cook some of my favorite fresh-from-the-garden dishes but also, prep for the winter months. Last year I gave canning a try for the first time and just loved being able to enjoy my fresh, organic garden veggies in the frigid dark cold months of winter!
So this morning, in addition to canning diced tomatoes, I blanched and vacuum sealed ten zucchinis! I persevered a variety for off-season use, chopping some and spiralizing the rest. Zucchini is so versatile!! It is by far, my favorite vegetable to grow. I use it in breads, soups, sautés and as a substitute for pasta in many dishes. Last week I even used it in my family’s pizza casserole recipe. It was a huge hit and eliminated any carb-laden pasta from the dish!! Recipe Below!
I have been babying my zucchini plants this year. Last year I returned from our family vacation to find them completely wiped out by a bug infestation. I don’t know what critter is responsible but I wasn’t there to treat the first sign of the problem and within days the plants were eaten and withered up. It was so disappointing!
This year I check them daily and look for any signs of concern. I noticed some early rotting a few weeks back and identified a calcium deficiency as the culprit. Adding some crushed eggshells to the soil really helps rectify (and even better, prevent) this issue. Next year I plan to add crushed eggshells to each plant hole before planting. I want to do this with my tomatoes as well. Now that we have chickens who are laying (quite well, I might add!) we are in no shortage of shells around here!
With eggs and veggies in surplus around our stead I am in the kitchen a lot! There is nothing sweeter to me that cooking up something fresh I grew and cared for. Watching my family enjoy every bite, is icing on the cake. My boys, in particular, are big fans of the double chocolate zucchini bread. I bake it quite often as a sweet treat that includes a dose of veggies! If you grow zucchini (or want to purchase from a local farmer), I recommend these two as a couple of my favorites! Simply Enjoy!
Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
½ cup sugar (or truvia blend) 1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup brown sugar ½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup oil 1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla ¼ tsp baking powder
2 eggs ¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups shredded zucchini ½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup of chocolate chips (or more, if you’d like)
- Preheat oven 350 degrees.
- Grease loaf pan
- Combine oil, sugars and vanilla in a large bowl
- In separate smaller bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon
- Add dry ingredient to wet ingredients and blend
- Fold in chocolate chips
- Pour into pan, top with a few more chips and bake for about 45 minutes (or until center is cooked through).
Zucchini Pizza Casserole
3 Medium Zucchini, unpeeled and shredded
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp. garlic
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1 can pizza sauce
Cherry or small tomatoes sliced/halved
- Preheat oven 400 degrees.
2. Shred three zucchini. Spread on paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Mix shredded zucchini with eggs and half of each cheese. Spread in a greased 9X13 casserole dish. Bake 20 minutes.
3. Coat a large skillet in olive oil. Cook onion and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add turkey and break up, cooking until done.
4. Once done, drain any fat if needed. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, pizza sauce and several dashes of Italian seasoning. Mix and simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat.
5. Remove baked zucchini mixture from oven and top with meat mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheeses on top. Bake 10 minutes.
6. Slice tomatoes. Top casserole with tomatoes and bake an additional 10 minutes or until warmed through.
Let the casserole rest and thicken for 15 minutes or so and then slice and enjoy. Serve with warm Italian bread and salad!