You planted the seeds and seedlings. You nurtured them. They grew and now are producing the fruits of your labour. Actually, the “Vegetables” of your labour. And there’s a lot of them! It may seem they are bigger than normal! I “blame” that on the great Worm Casting Compost that our Society sold in May and June which was spread throughout my veggie gardens and sprinkled across my flower beds. It worked very well.
But what to do with all the vegetables? I can’t eat them all, especially the zucchini! And I’ve already given some away to family and friends. What’s left to do with them? Freeze them! It is an excellent way to preserve the colour, taste and texture of your harvested vegetables. I have a lot of Zucchini right now. Here’s what I’ve done with it.
Soup and pasta starter kits.
In July the zucchini started to really grow! I spent time one Friday afternoon cooking up 3 rather large zucchini with onions. I started by adding some olive oil to the pan, and added a large diced onion, cooking it on medium high for a short time. Then I added the larger diced zucchini pieces. I did this in 3 batches – one per zucchini. I could have done them all at once in a stewing pot but I find it easier to handle them one at a time. I find I get less moisture in the mix which needs to “cooked out” to ensure my mixture is thicker. After I added the zucchini I added seasoning – oregano, pepper, and “Tex Mex” (It can found in most grocery stores). After stirring in the spices, I turned the stove element down to “2” (low). After about 15 to 20 minutes, it was done. Then I placed the mixture in small containers – each enough for one soup or pasta dinner - and put them in the freezer overnight. The next morning, I easily took those out of their containers and placed the “chunks” all in one large freezer bag. Now I have 8 "chunks" of soup and pasta sauce as starter kits for winter meals.
Above is a photo of the zucchini, onion mix with 2 of them out of the bag so you see them better. For beef barley soup, I cook with chopped carrot pieces and browned hamburger then add the defrosted starter mixture. After that the only thing to add to make the soup is rinsed barley, a can of tomato pieces with some tomato paste or puree, and some additional spices such as garlic, pepper, oregano, about a half litre of water and/or beef broth, and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes and you have enough soup for several lunches.
Zucchini/Tomato Side Dish
In August, I make the starter kits but now I add the newly ripened tomatoes. These make a zucchini, tomato, and onion mix for usage as a side dish for winter meals. Or you can use these for spaghetti sauce. The process is similar to the last one except after onions and zucchini start to soften, I add the tomato pieces from the larger tomatoes or the plum tomatoes (less acid) growing in my garden. Stir them all together with some seasonings; turn them down with the lid slightly off to help this mixture reduce. It will need to cook longer to get rid of the moisture content. Below is a photo of the zucchini, tomato, onion mix which were put into individual bags just to show you another way to freeze these. This is great over mashed or baked potatoes for a very filling meal or side dish. But it is equally good on its own as a side dish. My brother adds eggplant to his for a ratatouille-like dish which when ready to eat he tops with bread crumbs and some mozzarella.
Sounds delicious, doesn't it? And it is. I picked 2 more zucchinis, washed their outsides then cut them in half down the length of the vegetable. I took out the seeds (a personal choice not a necessity), and barbecued them with a bit of olive oil on the cut sides! Turn these a few times when grilling. You could do thick zucchini rounds or semi-circles by cutting the zucchini across its length and discarding the very top and bottom pieces. If you are going to eat them right away cook until tender. If freezing them, cool them off before putting them on parchment for the freezing process described previously. When you go to use them, put as many as you need on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Place in the oven to heat up. Cook them long enough to thaw them and get their internal temperature right and then top with tomato sauce and cheese and melt that in. Given you are cooking from frozen, these should take about 20 to 40 minutes in the oven – depending on the thickness of your slices or if you bake complete halves. This makes yet another very tasty side dish.
Of course, you could always make zucchini bread or even chocolate zucchini loaves! Yum. Yum...