My garden is outta control.
When my husband Neil’s job took us from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, I insisted on buying a house with adequate space for a garden. In the unrelenting desert, I could barely keep myself alive, much less a plant, but in Salt Lake, the cooler climate would lend itself well to veggie patch.
A little too well, I’ve learned. Thanks to a long growing season, excellent soil conditions, and lots of rain, the plants I put in the ground in April are now producing more than I ever could have expected, both in size and quantity.
That’s my nice way of saying I’m eating a lot of [bleep]ing zucchini this summer.
Eating the fruits of my labor — literally — is a Sisyphean task. Just when I think I’ve picked all my garden has to offer, a dozen more fruits make their presence known with their bright, vibrant colors. The nonstop parade of produce in my yard requires quite a bit of creativity in the kitchen, lest I be doomed to eat zucchini bread all day, or worse — see the fruits and veggies spoil before I have a chance to use them in a recipe.
That doesn’t mean I made a lot of elaborate meals this summer. In fact, because my food was so fresh, I actually preferred to showcase those ingredients by keeping my meals simple and straightforward — no multi-step recipes needed. Here’s how I used my bumper crop for a day.
What I Ate for a Day: Straight From the Garden Edition
My morning started off right with a quick trip to the garden to see what ripened overnight. I came in with a basket full of peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and pattypan squash. I diced up a little of each item, along with some kale, to toss into a scramble. Eggs are a great vehicle for fresh produce — you can make an omelet, scramble, or frittata with almost any ingredient.
My neighbor came over and asked if I wanted to take some raspberries off her hands — like me, she had more produce than she knew what to do with. I happily obliged, on one condition: She had to take at least three zucchini out of my yard.
While over at her house picking berries, she poured me an Arnold Palmer — a mix of iced tea and lemonade – and threw a handful of the berries in. It was delicious.
I wasn’t ravenously hungry at lunchtime, but I was craving leftovers from the night before — zucchini-jalapeno fritters (using this recipe from Pamela’s Gluten Free Recipes) and corn on the cob. The corn was an impulse buy from a roadside stand the day before — and it was a very, very good decision. Is there anything better than sweet corn in season?
Even though I was overflowing with produce, I took a swing through the Salt Lake Farmers’ Market. In addition to locally-grown fruits and veggies, the market showcases vendors who provide great complements to fresh ingredients.
That day, I was specifically seeking out the Grandma Sandino’s booth, because the garlicky goodness of their Sicilian Sauce was exactly what I needed for the dinner I was planning.
While browsing the goods, I noticed a vendor selling popsicles made with garden-fresh ingredients and no artificial additives. When I saw a strawberry-mint flavor listed on their chalkboard, I knew I wouldn’t be able to turn down a frozen treat.
It was hot outside, so I decided to get to higher elevations for my run. Neil and I drove up the mountain to Alta for cooler temperatures and a trail run through a different kind of garden — the amazing wildflowers that grow on the grounds of the Alta Ski Area. At 8,500 feet of elevation, I couldn’t breathe worth a damn, but with this view, I couldn’t really care.
After an hour of running, we were hungry. Luckily, a monster zucchini was waiting at home to fill our bellies, because of course there are more zucchini. It’s like a hydra — no matter how many I cut, two more are waiting to grow. IT NEVER STOPS, PEOPLE.
But when I make zoodles (zucchini noodles), all complaints end.
It’s such a simple meal — fresh zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and fresh basil, all from my garden — yet it’s so immensely delicious. On this night, I tossed the garden bounty in the Sicilian sauce I bought from the farmer’s market. Neil wanted meat with his, so he grilled up a chicken breast to add to his bowl. Zoodles are a great meal for couples with different eating styles, as the plate can be customized to the person eating it.
Do you have a bounty of mutant zucchini in your home garden? How are you using up your harvest? Seriously, I need more ideas! —Susan