Too Much of a Good Thing: Big Ideas for Bumper Crops

October 2, 2012 in Cassie L. Damewood, Cooking, Featured Story, Food, Home Gardening

Getting creative with an over abundance of garden veggies

Like many life experiences, vegetable gardening is either feast or famine. You can treat your plants exactly the same year after year, yet one season will yield next to nothing and the next will have you giving away baskets of bounty to anyone who’ll take them off your hands. The next time you have a bumper crop of the most infamous culprits – corn, tomatoes and zucchini – get creative with your overflow.

silky smooth corn soupCorn

Fresh corn on the cob slathered in butter is one of life’s special gifts, but by summer’s end you’ll look at those piles of plump ears with disdain. For a refreshing first course, cut the kernels off the cob and make a cold soup with shallots, onions and chicken broth, transformed to silky smoothness in a food processor. Garnish the chilled soup with finely chopped seedless cucumber and snipped chives. If you have a sweet tooth, get out the ice cream maker and mix up a batch of creamy sweet corn ice cream. Wow dinner guests with toasted bruschetta topped with a delicate, creamy mixture of lobster meat, fresh corn kernels, scallions and shallots. Serve corn salad with grilled and barbecued meats and poultry, a snap to make by mixing corn kernels with chopped tomatoes, onions, and red and green bell peppers. Make the flavors pop with a light dressing of vinegar, oil and freshly grated Parmesan. For maximum flavor, let the flavors marry overnight in the refrigerator.

Tomatoescrispy fried green tomatoes

Since they don’t freeze well, dry thick-sliced tomatoes in a low 180-degree oven and pack them in olive oil or zipper sealed plastic freezer bags. Dried tomatoes have at least twice the flavor intensity of fresh or canned ones and are perfect for making sauces or topping pizzas or hors d’oeuvres. When you end up with a bunch of unripened green tomatoes, dredge thin slices in seasoned cornmeal and fry them for a scrumptious side dish or cut them into bite-size chunks and pickle them in the refrigerator in a brine of salt, garlic and vinegar. They’ll be ready to eat in a week or so but for the most robust flavor, let them cure for a month.

Zucchini rolls stuffed with ricotta cheese and basilZucchini

Making zucchini bread was once the “creative” way to use up extra zucchini at summer’s end, but you can only eat so much bread. Transform it into upscale appetizer by stuffing it with a lightly spiced mixture of whole milk ricotta and chopped basil leaves. Use a mandoline to slice zucchini paper-thin and bake it until crisp for healthy snacking chips. Add a healthy touch to homemade pizza by mixing shredded raw zucchini into the crust. Give stir fry dishes new texture and color with a handful of thinly sliced zucchini thrown in at the end; it gets mushy if you add it too soon.

Whatever bumper crop you have to deal with, think outside the basket to create new dishes. While you can always freeze or can extra vegetables, you can’t beat the taste of garden fresh produce consumed at its peak.

By Cassie L. Damewood

Fried Green Tomatoes with Remoulade Sauce

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By admin Published: October 2, 2012

  • Yield: 4 - 6 servings (5 Servings)
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Ready In: 30 mins

Crispy fried tomatoes are a great way to use up an over-abundance of unripened tomatoes at the season's end. Dip in remoulade for instant yum!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine mayonnaise, mustard, sweet paprika, cajun seasoning, horseradish, sweet pickle juice, hot sauce and garlic together and set aside or refrigerate if making ahead of time. The flavors will blend better if made an hour or two before eating.
  2. Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Combine flour, corn meal, garlic and cajun seasoning.
  4. Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat. Beat the eggs with the buttermilk.
  5. Dip slices of tomatoes into the egg mixture, then coat thoroughly with corn meal mixture. Fry in the skillet for 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown. Set over mesh wire rack or paper towels to cool.
  6. Dip in remoulade sauce and enjoy!

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