A Better Bumper Crop

So, you get this great idea to start your own vegetable garden. You see the endless possibilities of fresh produce at every meal, everyone laughing and smiling over your bountiful crop.

The vision of self-satisfaction and the expression of joy from your family and friends send you to your local garden supply store.

Then August comes and you find yourself with so many tomatoes and zucchini, you can’t even give it all away.

What’s a backyard farmer to do?

You’ve tried sauce, salsa and zucchini bread, but now you’re really bored. Here are some options that won’t let your bumper crop go to waste.

Oven-Dried Tomatoes  

Lori Maffei

Photo by Lori Maffei.

  • 12 plum tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for storage
  • Salt

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Toss tomato halves with oil and salt. Lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
3. Cook for 3 hours.
4. Allow to cool completely.
5. Pack into a clean jar with additional olive oil. Store in the refrigerator up to three months.

Nutrition Informatrmation per serving: 25 calories; 20 calories from fat; 0g protein; 1g carbs; 1g sugar; 2.5g total fat; 0g saturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 0g dietary fiber; 580mg sodium; 0% Daily Value calcium; 0% Daily Value iron

Tomato Aspic
Serves 8

  • ¼ cup powdered gelatin (or 1 tablespoon agar)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 4 cups tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 2-3 drops Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

1. Dissolve the gelatin in cold water.
2. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil 1 cup pureed tomatoes, celery salt, bay leaf and salt. Remove the bay leaf.
3. Add the gelatin mixture to the hot tomato juice mixture. Mix until dissolved.
4. Add the Worcestershire sauce, the vodka and the rest of the pureed tomatoes.
5. Place in a mold or a bundt pan. Refrigerate a minimum of three hours or overnight.
6. Serve with crusty bread.

Nutrition Information per serving: 25 calories; 0 calories from fat; 1g protein; 5g carbs; 4g sugar; 0g total fat; 0g saturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 1g dietary fiber; 210mg sodium; 2% Daily Value calcium; 2% Daily Value iron

Gazpacho
Serves 6 to 8

Photo by Lori Maffei.

  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2/3 cup diced onion
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1. Combine tomatoes, onions, celery,
garlic, cucumber, bell pepper, vinegar, salt, pepper and cayenne in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.
2. Remove about half the recipe to a
blender. Puree.
3. Return the puree to the chunky mixture and chill.
4. Add the tomato and lemon juices,
horseradish and Worcestershire sauce.
5. Garnish with chives, red pepper, chopped cucumber, onions or celery, if you like.

Nutrition Information per serving: 40 calories; 0 calories from fat; 2g protein; 9g carbs; 6g sugar; 0g total fat; 0g saturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 2g dietary fiber; 200mg sodium; 2% Daily Value calcium; 4% Daily Value iron

Zucchini Salad
Serves 4

  • 4 zucchinis, sliced thin
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Arugula
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Parmesan, shaved

1. Toss zucchini with olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and pepper.
2. Allow to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, or overnight.
3. Add capers and arugula and toss.
4. Serve topped with shaved parmesan.

Nutrition Information per serving: 260 calories; 210 calories from fat; 10g protein; 5g carbs; 2g sugar; 24g total fat; 6g saturated fat; 20mg cholesterol; 1g dietary fiber; 320mg sodium; 30% Daily Value calcium; 6% Daily Value iron

Zucchini Brownies
Serves 18

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla until well blended.
3. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture.
4. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts.
5. Spread evenly in the prepared
pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched.

Nutrition Information per serving: 200 calories; 80 calories from fat; 2g protein; 29g carbs; 17g sugar; 9g total fat; 1.5g saturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 1g dietary fiber; 230mg sodium; 0% Daily Value calcium; 6% Daily Value iron

Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Serves 6 as a main dish, or 12 as an appetizer

  • 6 zucchinis
  • ¼ cup mushrooms, chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh bread, cubed
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Boil zucchini whole for 3 minutes. Remove from the water and dry. Cut off the ends of the zucchini and slice lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the pulp.
3. Sauté bacon, onions and mushrooms in a skillet over medium-low heat. When the bacon is crisp and the onions are translucent, remove from heat.
4. Mix the mushrooms, onions, bacon, zucchini pulp, bread, milk, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper together.
5. Place zucchini shells into a greased baking dish. Spoon the mixture into each shell and top with cheese.
6. Bake 15 minutes until heated through and the cheese melts.

Nutrition Information per serving: 140 calories; 70 calories from fat; 8g protein; 8g carbs; 2g sugar; 8g total
fat; 3.5g saturated fat; 85mg cholesterol; less than 1g dietary fiber; 250mg sodium; 10% Daily Value calcium; 6% Daily Value iron

Originally published by Garden Plate magazine.

All photos taken by Lori Maffei.

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