When I moved to the farm after 13 years of living in the city, my grandmother suggested I start small. You know, small garden, only a few chickens, don’t bite off more than you can chew…I didn’t really listen. Maybe I should have. But now, almost three years into my prairie farm life, I think it might be too late to heed her wise advice…
Spill the beans is a weekly column chronicling my attempts at a self-sufficient life on this small prairie farm.
So, the garden explosion is on-going. And now, the produce starts piling up and one finds themselves trying to figure out if it’s possible to incorporate that zucchini into one’s breakfast oatmeal.
It doesn’t matter if you grow your own vegetables, buy a CSA box or frequent your local farmer’s market. There is always too much. And there are lots of ways to preserve your produce for those desperate winter months, when a pickle or peach preserve is the perfect summer flashback. But that’s for another time.
Let’s chat about what do with that fresh produce. I’ve eaten zucchini for four days in a row. It’s that time of year. They are small, delicious and easy to use in a variety of ways. Here’s what I’ve done:
3 small zucchinis, sliced thinly
1 or 2 small onions, diced (or larger depending on your preference. I always like my onion chunks a little larger so I can really taste them.)
3 cloves garlic, minced or chopped REALLY fine
oil, enough to cover the bottom of your pan (this is not a recipe for your health.)
butter, at least 1 tbsp (but add more if you like)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until soft (the onions should be translucent). Add the zucchini and cook for about 10 minutes. The zucchini should be very soft, but still hold its shape.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over rice, steak, chicken or eat the sautéed zucchini on its own or as a side.
You can always add a handful of mushrooms into the skillet. Also delicious. Trust me.
Roasted Beet Slices
one medium sized beet, sliced thinly
1 tbsp oil
sea salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place beet slices in bowl. Add oil and mix until slices are coated evenly. (Use your hands to mix the beets and oil. It’s the best way to make sure each slice actually gets covered in oil.) Place beet slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet or baking pan.
Sprinkle sea salt and pepper on each slice. Roast in oven for 15 minutes.
Use the beets to form the base of this delicious rice, zucchini, and parsley “salad” or rice bowl.
Cut the zucchini into matchsticks (easy to do if you have a mandolin, not so easy if you don’t – just do the best you can). Mix the zucchini with some salt (2 tsp at least) and place in a colander to drain for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, you can prep your rice, chop up your parsley, dig around in your fridge for that last little bit of feta and at the last minute sauté some onions and garlic, because you know it would taste delicious, despite the fact that the rice is now getting cold because everything has taken just a little longer than you expected.
Have no fear. It tastes great cold, too.
You can add anything you want to this particular dish. If you have a lot of greens in your garden/CSA box/farmer’s market purchases, sauté those and add to the dish. If you have onion greens, chives or mint, add it instead of, or in addition to, the parsley. You can add peas, shelled or snap, chopped green beans, cucumbers or carrots. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have fresh tomatoes already (and I know there are some of you out there), add those too.
These days, I’m cooking breakfast, lunch and supper based on what’s in the garden, although I have yet to add zucchini to my breakfast oatmeal. Sometimes that zucchini just has to go to the compost, despite everyone’s best efforts.
And that’s okay.
I always just think of it as contributing to next year’s abundant harvest.
Jamie Dyck will definitely be making pickles in the next few weeks. Follow her on twitter, @jndyck.