Abundance of zucchini and tomatoes makes fall special

An abundance of fall vegetables provide the resources for creative recipes. | Betty Ann Deobald photo

When harvesting many gardens, zucchini and tomatoes are often found in abundance. A lucky coincidence is that they are complementary in recipes.

One of my favourite ways to enjoy them is to stir fry zucchini chunks, mushrooms and onions together, add some tomato chunks, a little salt and pepper and heat the tomatoes. This is a tasty side or easy hot lunch salad.

Roasted vegetable tomato sauce

This pasta sauce has evolved through the years.

Initially, the tomatoes used were whatever was ripe from the garden, and this still works, but my preference now is Roma or plum tomatoes because they are more meaty and less juicy.

A recent adaptation is to oven roast the vegetables to give them an intense flavour. A whirl in the food processor reduces the vegetables to a sauce and a food mill easily removes the peels and seeds. The carrots and zucchini help to thicken the sauce and increase the nutrients.

Yields about four cups (one litre).

For a larger batch double or triple recipe and freeze for quick meals.

  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 3 lbs. Roma style tomatoes (or a mixture of varieties) 1.5 kg
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 – 8-inch piece of zucchini, seeded
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil 15 mL
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano, chopped 10 mL
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper, fresh ground 1 mL

Slice top portion off garlic head, revealing cloves below. Place garlic, root side down, on a square of aluminum foil, drizzle oil over cloves. Wrap foil tightly around garlic, set aside.

Wash carrots and cut into large chunks. Place in a large bowl, drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Put carrots on a parchment-lined baking sheet, add garlic package and roast in a 400 F (200 C) oven for 30 minutes, to increase browning, turn occasionally.

While carrots are roasting, wash tomatoes, peel onion and cut into large chunks, wash celery and cut into short lengths, seed pepper and cut into quarters, peel zucchini, remove seeds and cut into chunks. Place all vegetables in bowl and drizzle with oil and toss to coat.

Remove carrots and garlic from oven, turn carrots, place tomatoes on baking sheet and scatter other vegetable around tomatoes. Return to oven and roast 15 minutes. Remove garlic, turn vegetables to increase browning. Roast until vegetables are browning about 20 minutes.

Squeeze cooled, softened garlic cloves into a large saucepan. Add other vegetables when roasting is complete. Add oregano, basil and salt. Stir mixture to squash tomatoes, heat slowly and simmer until tomatoes break apart, about 30 minutes, stir frequently to prevent scorching. If using juicy tomatoes, simmer longer to reduce liquid.

Cover and let cool.

Purée in a food processor in batches. To remove skins and seeds put through a small screen food mill.

Add sauce to cooked pasta, serve with meatballs, grilled chicken, or sausage. Garnish with fried mushrooms, Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil. Freeze extra sauce in containers.

Tomato zucchini salad

This is a great way to use up some of the slow ripening tomatoes. My friend, Ruth, makes this salad with cucumber, but zucchini chunks also work.

  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar 15 mL
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil 30 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper 1 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh basil 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped green chives or green onion 5 mL
  • 2 tbsp. green pepper diced 30 mL
  • 1 – 2 c. grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half or tomato chunks 250-500 mL
  • 1 – 2 c. small young zucchini sliced or diced 250-500 mL
  • bacon bits
  • fresh basil

Combine dressing and pour over vegetables and chill. Garnish with bacon bits and fresh basil.

Adapted from Ruth Cressman’s tomato-cucumber recipe.

Zucchini chocolate chip cookies

These traditional style cookies are soft and chewy with the addition of the shredded zucchini. Even those who are not zucchini lovers love these cookies.

Yield two to three dozen, depending on size of cookie.

  • 1 c. zucchini, unpeeled, shredded and blotted 250 mL
  • 2 c. old fashioned or large flake rolled oats 500 mL
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour, levelled with a knife 250 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. packed dark or light brown sugar 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar 125 mL
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup 15 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla 7 mL
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips 250 mL

Lightly blot shredded zucchini with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Don’t squeeze out all the moisture. Set aside or cover and refrigerate for a day. It can be cold when added to dough.

Whisk oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat softened butter and both sugars together on medium speed until creamy, about two minutes. Add egg and mix on high until light and fluffy, about one minute. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Add maple syrup and vanilla, mix on high until combined.

Add dry ingredients and zucchini to wet ingredients, mix on low speed or stir just until mixed. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine. Cover and chill dough in refrigerator for at least two hours or up to four days.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Scoop or roll dough to make one- to 1-1/2-inch size balls. Place two inches apart on baking sheets. If rolling in hands, lightly flour hand to reduce stickiness.

Chill the cookies by placing in the freezer on the baking sheet for 30 minutes. This will prevent cookies from spreading out.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned on edges, but a little under baked in centre. Under bake rather than over bake.

Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet five minutes, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies are extra soft out of the oven, but will become chewier as they cool.

Store covered.

Zucchini can be peeled or unpeeled.

Use old-fashioned or large flaked whole oats, not quick or instant oats. Whole oats provide a hearty, chewy thick texture.

>Room temperature butter is imperative in the creaming step. If butter is too cold or slightly melted, it won’t properly aerate with the sugars. As a result, the cookies won’t hold their shape and will likely overspread.

Maple syrup adds flavour, but it also helps cookies spread out and crisps up the edges. Other options are honey or for a stronger flavour, molasses, or leave out this component completely.

Make ahead and freeze unbaked cookie dough balls, bake from frozen and add an extra minute to the baking time.

Add nuts or raisins instead of chocolate chips. Adapted from sallysbakingaddiction.com and rockrecipes.com.

Using The Garden Harvest

Harvesting the garden and storing the produce for the winter months are common fall activities. Most families have favourite recipes that are particularly enjoyed when made with freshly harvested fruit and vegetables.

We would love to share your family’s favourites. Please send them to Harvest Favourites at team@producer.com or mail them to:

The Western Producer,
1000–3530 Millar Avenue,
Saskatoon, SK S7P 0B6

All entries must be received by November 8, 2021.

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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