In-Season Recipe (late August): Tofu-Stuffed Baked Zucchini

Tofu-stuffed zucchini, served with curried sweet potato. Yuuuum!

Tofu-stuffed zucchini, served with curried sweet potato. Yuuuum!

Zucchini are one of my favourite veggies.  Think about it… it’s delicious grilled on the BBQ, in sauces, in curries, in antipasto, sliced cold with hummus, even baked in loaf form alongside chocolate and walnuts! It’s also packed with all sorts of good vitamins and minerals and high in fibre. You really can’t go wrong.

Here is a delicious and fun way to combine your zucchini with tofu for a protein packed dish:

You will need…

From the garden:

These zucchinis complements of Grandpa Frank's garden!

These zucchinis complements of Grandpa Frank’s garden!

  • A couple nice big zucchinis
  • Few cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Fresh basil, oregano and thyme, chopped
  • Two or three tomatoes

From the grocer:

  • 1/2 block of tofu, crumbled
  • Handful of olives (Kalamata or Greek colossal work well), coarsely chopped
  • About 1/2 cup bread crumbs (Gluten free? Try almond flour instead!)
  • About 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Dairy-free? Try nutritional yeast instead!)
  • Dash salt
  • Tablespoon cracked peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. To make filling: Warm olive oil in a cast iron skillet on low-med heat. Add garlic and saute til soft. Add tofu, olives, tomatoes and herbs and allow to cook down til it’s nice and saucy. Dash of salt if needed.
  3. While filling is simmering, cut zucchinis in halve, lengthwise. Scoop out the seedy part of in the middle like you’re hollowing out a canoe. (Tip: Freeze the scooped-out zucchini to make zucchini bread later!) Lay out zucchinis on a casserole dish or baking sheet.
  4. Scoop out the filling into each zucchini.

    Stuffed!

    Stuffed!

  5. In a dish, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and cracked pepper.
  6. Spoon a generous layer of the bread crumb mixture on top of each zucchini. Drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Bake 20-30 minutes, until the bread crumbs are golden brown and the zucchinis are soft but not mushy.
  8. Give each zucchini a squirt of fresh lemon juice right before serving.

    Right out da oven.

    Right out da oven.

Bon appetit!

 

Bolting herbs? Dry ‘em or freeze ‘em!

I don’t know about you, but a number of our herbs are bolting out back. What to do with them? Well, depending on the herb, I would suggest either drying or freezing them. That way you can enjoy your garden herbs long after growing season is past.

Taking a little time to dry and/or freeze your herbs means having garden goodness long after growing season is over.

Taking a little time to dry and/or freeze your herbs means having garden goodness long after growing season is over.

Basil, dill, oregano, mint, rosemary and thyme dry well. To dry basil, oregano and mint, remove the leaves from the stalk, rinse in a salad spinner and then spread out on a drying tray or kitchen towel in a warm, dry place. Let them dry for about a week, or until the leaves have gone crispy. Transfer to jars or freezer bags. Make sure you label because dried up leaves can all start to look the same…

Bolting Thai and Italian basil.

Bolting Thai and Italian basil.

Drying basil leaves.

Drying basil leaves.

To dry dill, rosemary and thyme, cut the roots off the stalks and hang plants upside down in small bunches in a warm, dry place. Once dried you can carefully remove the small leaves and put into jars, or if you’re lazy you can just put the whole thing – stalk and all – into a freezer bag and crumble off the leaves as you need for cooking. This tends to be my approach, as you can see from the above photo.

Parley freezes well in a sealed freezer bag. If you want to wash it first, remove as much excess water as possible before freezing. I also freeze hot peppers, since we don’t use them up fast enough while they are fresh. In the case of both parsley and peppers, you can just trim off what you need for cooking on an as-needed basis.

I don’t particularly like dried or frozen cilantro. In the case of cilantro, we prefer to let it go to seed and harvest the coriander seeds instead for cooking. However, some people totally do dry it.

Helpful herb fact: Thyme and oregano are perennial! Don’t pull up the plant by the roots when you’re harvesting for drying… they’ll come back next spring!

In-Season Recipe (early July): Garlic Scape, Basil & Kale Pesto

Fresh batch of scape, kale and basil pesto. Does it get any more delicious?

Fresh batch of scape, kale and basil pesto. Does it get any more delicious?

It’s scape season! Well, the tail end of it anyway. We have been loving using garlic scapes in place of garlic bulb for the last few weeks. FYI, for those who don’t know, the scape is a long curly stalk at the end of which grows the garlic flower. Scapes are harvested before the garlic actually flowers to encourage the garlic to direct energy to the bulb. And they are delicious. We’ve been putting them in curries, omelettes, stir fries, roasted veg, salads, marinades… you name it!

Curly garlic scapes, ripe for the picking (early July.)

Curly garlic scapes, ripe for the picking (early July.)

But the pièce de résistance has got to be the pesto. We harvested all of the remaining scapes in one big bundle to be sacrificed to the food processor gods to become a few precious jars of garlicy, basily, nutty goodness.

Pesto is a cinch to make. Here’s how I did this batch. (Note that all measurements are approximate… it’s all up to your tastes.)

Put the following in a food processor and blend until smooth:

- 2 cups garlic scapes (chop off the little seed pods first)

- 1 cup chopped kale

- 1 cup chopped basil

- 1 cup lightly roasted pine nuts

- 1 cup lightly roasted walnuts

- 1.5 -2 cups grated parmesan cheese

- 1 generous cup olive oil

- juice of at least 1 lemon (more if you love a lemon zing in your pesto)

- Lots of cracked pepper and dash of sea salt, to taste

This recipe yielded about 6 small jars, but it was so good that Benny insisted on snacking on it immediately with some tortilla chips (as pictured above.) You will too. Freeze what you aren’t using immediately. These small jars make awesome leave-behind gifts if you’re going to a friend’s for dinner or visiting a friend with a new baby.

While pesto is typically made with basil, I used a combination of garden kale and basil in this batch and it worked out famously. We are growing three varieties of kale:

Red Russian and Blue Curled kale (early July.)

Red Russian and Blue Curled kale (early July.)

We have four varieties of basil growing this year, although I must admit that I did buy some basil transplants at the Parkdale Market to supplement the rather meager number of basil seedlings that germinated indoors (from seeds harvested in 2012.) I think we have a Thai, an Italian, a purple leaf and a Greek basil.