One of the benefits of having your own garden, is the ability to have fresh ingredients right at your fingertips. This article addresses two wonderful vegetables, zucchini and tomatoes, along with a recipe for each.
This is an easy vegetable to grow, especially from seed. Do not plant until the threat of frost has passed. With your soil, create a mound about 2 feet wide. Place between 5 and 6 seeds evenly scattered on top of the hill. Push the seeds approximately 1/4 inch deep and cover. Sprinkle with water. The seeds will take about a week to germinate. The plants will grow large leaves and you need to be sure you monitor for any pesky beetles or other bugs which can cause damage. Don’t let the zucchinis get too big, they will be tough and not as flavourful.
Recipe for Zucchini and Eggs
This recipe is very easy to make. Zucchini holds a lot of liquid, but it also cooks down rather quickly over a stove – especially when covered. For this recipe, cut the zucchini in thin slices.
Pour about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Scramble your eggs as your normally would. When the eggs are nearly finished, toss in 2-3 garlic cloves which are crushed. This means they are still whole, but are flattened down. Let the garlic cook for about 2 minutes. Next, add in the sliced zucchini plus a pinch of salt. Mix well and let cook. Partially cover the pan with the lid. Check the zucchini in about 5 minutes. Give a good stir. If it isn’t ready, check every few minutes. The zucchini is best when it still has a slight crunch, however if you cook it down further that is fine as well. This recipe makes for a great breakfast or brunch. Serve with a muffin or toast, along with some fresh fruit.
To grow these by seed you must start very early and grow them indoors. It is advised to simply buy your plants at a store, and then plant them when the weather is warm enough. Plant the seedlings in deep soil and try to plant them so the soil is up to the first branch. Their roots grow deep, so if using a container, make sure it will allow sufficient space for the roots. Use a stake to tie the plant to as it matures, to help prevent the weight of the fruit from tipping over.
Recipe for Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Pasta
This particular recipe is rather flexible, and if you don’t have the eggplant but have the zucchini (or vice versa), you will still be fine. Remember, much of Italian cooking is simply using what you have on hand.
Start by chopping and draining the eggplant. Remove as many of the seeds as possible as these are often bitter tasting. Chop about 2 medium zucchinis in cubes and set aside. Chop 3 tomatoes in the same size and set aside as well.
Start by heating 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use a frying pan which has deep sides since this is mostly a one pot dish. Add in the chopped eggplant along with 2 Tablespoons of water and cover. Let cook for 2 -3 minutes or until you notice the liquid from the eggplant begins draining. Add in the zucchini and stir. Cover and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the zucchini begins to drain its liquid as well. Add in 3 crushed garlic cloves. Stir periodically. Add in the chopped tomatoes and mix well. Let cook for 10-15 minutes until a nice sauce begins to form. Do not cook it so high that it becomes dry. We want the liquid.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta of your choice and drain when just prior to al dente, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer the pasta to the pan with the vegetables and toss well until it is well coated. Add any necessary water if the pasta appears a bit dry. Cook for 2 minutes all together and serve. Top with Italian grated cheese such as Romano or Parmesan. Romano cheese has a saltier flavor, so if you use Parmesan add a pinch of salt.
The recipes which you can make from your garden are endless. Take advantage of the summer months and eat your way to a well balanced wholesome diet with lots of fresh vegetables right from your own yard!
This article was contributed by SimpleItalianCooking.com, a resource for quick Italian recipes. They also offer Italian kitchen cookware and dinnerware for those looking for Italian pasta bowls or even an Italian stainless steel espresso pot – an Italian version of a coffee pot.