When the peak of summer arrives, our garden typically produces more than we can eat. There are only two of us after all, and you do get sick of eating zucchini after awhile. I distinctly remember one year where Russell made a zucchini chocolate chip rum cake – and that’s how we knew we were done.
So when we pulled a zucchini out of the garden that was bigger than my arm, I was thankful that we were having company that night. 🙂 Our best friends, Rachel and Shayne, who now live in Boston, were back this-a-ways for a visit! I always feed them, it’s like our thing. We eat, we drink, we sit on our butts and catch up. It’s wonderful. Russ and I were on the couch watching TV when Rachel let herself in, and the first words out of her mouth were, “I feel like I’m coming home.” And we both just sat there basically like, “Yep, dear, how was your day at work? Did you eat? Don’t worry, I’ve got a counter full of food ready and waiting.” It’s our thing.
Anywho, we made Parmesan baked and breaded zucchini, two kinds of pizza, and tomato mozzarella salad. I’m also adding to this post a recipe that grandmother used to make. We call it Italian Ratatouille, or just a vegetable bake. My Bubbie had a knack for cleaning out her refrigerator and making something delicious out of whatever she found. I want to have that talent one day. I tried making a cabbage stew she gave me the recipe for once…it did not turn out well…at all. *shudders*
Italian Ratatouille Vegetable Bake
- Banana Peppers
- Sweet Onions (which I totally forgot this time)
- Bread Crumbs
- Parmesan Cheese
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Seasons to taste – oregano, garlic, etc.
I do not make this dish like other ratatouilles out there (which is why the name can be misleading but that’s what my family called it). There is no sauteing of veggies, or sauce. It’s literally a slice and dice, baked casserole. You can use whatever vegetables you want (traditionally eggplant is used). This is what we had, so this is what we used!
- Slice up all your veggies, nice and thin. Chop the onions and peppers, however, if you prefers pieces instead of rings.
- Heat up your oven to 350.
- Drizzle a glass baking dish with olive oil, then lay down a layer of potatoes. I like to add Parmesan and bread crumbs between layers to help everything stick, but you certainly don’t have to. Next layer the tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and sprinkle onions on.
- Repeat each layer until your dish is full. I like to add a little olive oil drizzle between each large layer (of all the vegetables).
- Add seasonings to the top layer.
- Sprinkle generously with the cheese and breadcrumbs, then pop it in the oven, uncovered, for about a half hour. When you take it out, taste test the potatoes to make sure they aren’t hard. Everything could get mushy if you overcook.
- Let it cool before slicing or everything will far apart.
That’s really it. There isn’t anything too special about this dish other than it’s a great way to use up some of your garden veggies if you’re running out of ideas. There also are a million ways to flavor this to your liking. Most folks use eggplant or yellow squash, and red or green bell peppers. It’s up to you and it’s not hard to make, so give it a shot!
Tomato Mozzarella Salad
- Tomatoes (four)
- Mozzarella – shredded works, but I really prefer cubed (as much as you like)
- Basil (I cut this fresh from the herb garden, and used about 6 leaves)
- Garlic (two large cloves)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Dice up your tomatoes, and put the juice and everything in a bowl. Follow with the garlic and basil.
- Mix in enough olive oil to coat your salad. Then, a little at a time (I use a capful), add apple cider vinegar. You can make this as strong or weak as you’d like.
- If you accidentally go overboard with the vinegar, add a little white sugar into the mix. It’ll help sweeten the pucker-sensation.
- The last thing I do is add the cheese, so it doesn’t get mushy.
- That’s it. Taste test as you go. I’ve known people who put onions in this instead of garlic, and add cucumber. It’s a bit of a different flavor that way, but I like the garlic when I’m thinking Italian.
When I was little, I hated tomatoes, but I loved the juice – so I’d dip bread into the remains of this salad. It’s pretty delicious.
Baked Parmesan Zucchini
- A large zucchini
- 1 to 2 cups of Panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- Garlic Salt (a pinch)
- Preheat your oven to 375.
- Slice the zucchini into rounds, about 1/4 thick.
- In a bowl, beat the two eggs. You will use this mixture to dip the zucchini in before coating in breadcrumbs. You can set aside until you’re ready.
- In a different bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, garlic salt, cheese, and pepper, and mix well. You will dip the zucchini into this mixture for the breading.
- Start with a slice – place in the egg mixture to coat both sides, then press down into the breadcrumb mixture. I like to double dip and coat everything twice for a crunchier texture. When the slice is coated, lay on a cookie sheet, and move on to the next.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
- Serve with marina or ranch dressing.
That’s it. And it’s baked, which is better for the ol’ ticker than fried. It was pretty delicious for being oven baked. The coating stuck, which I think the egg helped with.
These are just a few recipes that we make every summer with vegetables from our garden. No need to be all high-class over dinner every night. Sometimes a passed-down recipe is just as good as a four star restaurant.
Do you have any favorite recipes that use garden vegetables? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! We’ve got extra veggies to use up!