Our vegetable garden is doing marvelously well this year.
Boy, is it doing well.
We’ve already harvested rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries (both red and black), lettuces, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, kale, peas, turnips, beets, carrots, radishes and some green beans – many more of those are on the way. We’re about to start harvesting peppers – bell, jalapeno, serrano, poblano – as well as the cabbages; tomatoes will be ready soon, too. The onions are coming along, as are the sweet potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes, and the spaghetti and delicata squashes doing quite nicely. It also looks like we’re going to have quite a few cantaloupe and even a couple of Sugar Baby watermelons.
I think the only things we’re not going to see much of are butternut squash, parsnips and okra, which is sad – Beloved and I both adore them. But, when we’re ready to harvest the late summer/fall vegetables, we’ll be able to plant more greens and cool weather crops; in fact, I think Beloved’s already got a second round of peas going, as well as more radishes, turnips and beets.
And of course, there’s the zucchini and summer squash.
Tons and tons of zucchini and summer squash; not only are our own plants producing like the vegetable version of gerbils, we’re getting an average of six pounds a week from our CSA. (When we pass roadside stands or booths at farmers markets heaped with piles and piles of the stuff, we just shudder.)
We’ve been cooking and eating it several times a week – often for lunch and dinner. Before too much longer I’m going to go on a zucchini bread baking binge, the vast majority of which will be given away to our co-workers and friends; the rest will be frozen and most likely consumed over the holidays (Oldest Son is coming to visit for Christmas! Hooooooraaaaaay!!) In the meantime, we’ve been freezing a great deal of it for use during the winter and early spring months, before we face next year’s Zucchini Invasion.
Freezing zucchini is really quite easy. We simply shred it using the shredding blade of our food processor, then measure it out in 1-cup portions. Those portions are then placed on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and put in the freezer until completely frozen – usually overnight. Then we vacuum seal them with our Food Saver and pop them back in the freezer.
How do you use all of this frozen, shredded zucchini you may ask?
It’s actually a good question; the first time we did this, I was hard-pressed to use it all. But, if you think a little outside of the box, it really isn’t hard.
You can use it in Zucchini Fritters, of course, or your favorite zucchini bread or muffin recipe – I never had much luck making paleo zucchini bread; it always came out heavy and/or gummy – but when I go on my baking binge, I’ll probably use this recipe. However, I mostly hide it in savory foods.
It’s a great addition to meatloaf and meatballs, or the meat filling in stuffed cabbage (especially if you’re grain-free or low carb; it substitutes the rice or bread crumbs quite nicely). It’s easily hidden in many types of casseroles, including the breakfast type, and is also really good in soups and tomato-based sauces – toss it in the spaghetti sauce AND the meatballs, and you’ve got your kids eating twice as much! I’ve even thrown it in omelets and quiches.
So embrace the zucchini. You’ll really be able to eat it all.