Tomatoes and zucchini are both botanically fruit, though culinarily (is that a word?) and nutritionally both are usually classified as vegetables. And both are in season, or at least close to it, this time of year.
Since I am the only one in the house that knowingly eats squash, I did not bother to plant any this year (any friends and family nearby that want to share their bounty, you have my number). I did plant both cherry and a medium size tomato this year in large pots that I could move around to get the proper amount of sun. Neither are doing all that well compared to the two plants I put in my homemade self watering containerlast year. These containers are simple to make using easy to find materials and cost much less than the commercial brand you may have seen advertised on tv or in magazines. Even I managed to do it with my limited carpentry skills. I will be making more once the 18-gallon tubs go on sale again so I can have more produce next year. NOTHING is as delicious as a freshly picked, vine ripened, organic home grown tomato. Tomatoes are the number one reason I got into organic gardening. I was sick of the garbage that my local stores were selling at ridiculous prices. Thank you, Josh Mandel, for sharing your knowledge for FREE!
But, this blog is about cooking the food not growing it so let’s get to some recipe suggestions.
A few simple serving suggestions:
- chop them up into 1″ or larger chunks and sautee with a little olive oil, fresh chopped garlic and Parmesan cheese and serve over pasta, rice or quinoa.
- make a salad with halved cherry tomatoes, sliced string cheese and fresh basil drizzled with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. The string cheese is a nice size paired with the cherry tomatoes compared with the slices of mozzarella and beefsteak tomatoes usually served.
- make bruschetta by chopping into small pieces, toss with olive oil, fresh chopped garlic, basil and Parmesan cheese; put on top of sliced baguette or other bread and broil for a few minutes for a quick appetizer.
Gazpacho was a summer staple in our house as teenagers particularly on hot summer nights since we did not have air conditioning and rarely felt like cooking. Tabbouli really needs the fresh ingredients to make this simple dish spectacular. And here’s a delicious Pasta and Fresh Tomato recipe from a friend of Ma’am’s.
My favorite way of serving zucchini is to slice them on a diagonal, coat with a little olive oil to prevent sticking and grill them for a few minutes a side. Or if you have one of those baseball bat sized monsters that was growing under a leaf on the back of the plant unbeknownst to you – try stuffed zucchini. Slice it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh if you want a bigger trough, use the filling for the stuffed cabbage and then bake it at 350 degrees until the meat is cooked. Or you can do it on the grill over indirect heat (turn off the burners in the middle, or move the coals out of the middle and place the zucchini there).
You can make Zucchini Frittata ahead of time and serve it for dinner or breakfast, but it only uses one medium zucchini. And I found this Zucchini Basil Soup recipe a few years ago in Sunset Magazine, another quick recipe for a hot summer weeknight.
Preserving Your Harvest
I just bought the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving to learn more about canning. I highly recommend that or the website www.freshpreserving.com if you want to learn more on the subject. They have been at it for over 100 years and can offer much more than my very limited experience. I will be detailing some of my experiences as I learn to can better in future blog.
My quick and easy method for preserving these two foods is the freezer. For the tomatoes I puree them in the food processor or blender then freeze in ice cube trays putting the cubes in zipper freezer bags for future use in sauces. I grate the zucchini using either a hand grater or the food processor and freeze it in zipper freezer bags.
Until next time, Happy Eating!