Battle of the Zucchinis

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As any vegetable gardener or farmer knows, at this time of year, it can seem as if the zucchinis are never ending! With all of the sunshine, they often grow so fast that they need to be harvested every 2-3 days, and even so, each harvest yields a few giants.
If you visit our market stall, you’ll find lots of zucchini of all sizes there, and to help you with the dilemma of what to do with them, here are some of our favourite zucchini uses.

Grilled Zucchini

One of the easiest ways to use large zucchinis is to grill them. Here is a Rootdown farm favourite:

  • Start with thick slices of zucchini – for a firmer zucchini, try the Romanesco variety, which stays firm when cooked
  • In a bowl, mix olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper into a paste
  • Brush onto both sides of each slice of zucchini
  • Grill on bbq or in the oven

Zucchini Bread

A popular use of giant zucchinis because the zucchini can be grated and frozen into zucchini bread portions to be used throughout the winter. This recipe is from the cookbook How It All Vegan! by Tanya Barnard and  Sarah Kramer, and is a popular morning snack at Rootdown.

Preheat oven to 350ᵒ.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg or egg replacer equivalent
  • ½ cup sweetener
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups zucchini, grated
  • ½ cup chocolate chips or raisins
  • ½ cup nuts, chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup water (if needed)

Sift together dry ingredients. Add egg, sweetener, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and mix. Stir in zucchini and other ingredients until “just mixed.” Add a little water if dough seems too dry. Spoon into lightly oiled loaf pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Zucchini Fritters

This vegan version has added tasty protein.

  • Grate zucchini and place in colander. Add salt and leave for at least 30 min to allow water to drain out.
  • Boil yellow or orange lentils until ready to eat.
  • Mix together zucchini, lentils,1/2 cup flour, and spices (suggested: salt, pepper, thyme, sage; alternatively, try indian spices)
  • Heat oil, and drop in balls of the batter. Flatten and fry to the desired consistency.

Summer Stir Fry

A simple but tasty dish. Slice zucchini thickly and add near the end to avoid mushiness.

  • chop a variety of in-season veggies, such as carrots, spring onions, garlic (or scapes), zucchini/summer squash, beans, peas, broccoli, kale.
  • Stir fry in a small amount of oil, or water, starting with the firmer veggies such as carrots, and adding the softer ones closer to the end.
  • Flavour with a simple sauce of soy sauce, mirin or sweet vinegar, sesame oil and chilis, or any other favourite sauce.
  • Serve with rice or noodes.

Raw Vegan Spaghetti

For a gluten-free, raw, vegan version of pasta, try zucchini noodles, a great way to use large zucchinis. See this Steamy Kitchen recipe.

 

For other recipes and suggestions for using summer squash and zucchini, see this page from Bon Appetit.

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A Day in the Life

Greens like kale are heat sensitive, and need to be harvested early in the day

Greens like kale are heat sensitive, and need to be harvested early in the day

Do you ever wonder what your Rootdown farmers do every day? Well, you probably have some idea, in the sense that we grow vegetables and bring them to you either at market, in the CSA, at local stores and restaurants, but what exactly occupies us for hours every day?

Well, for certain, it changes with the seasons. But at this time of year – mid-July, full high season – our days have established themselves in a solid rhythm of harvesting, processing, packing, and, when we have time left over, weeding.

Heat Sensitive Crops

Some of our crops are very heat sensitive, and need to be harvested early in the morning, preferably before the sun dries the dew, so those are always our priorities. These same crops also don’t store as well in the cooler, so they must be done as close to the time of delivery as possible.

These sensitive crops are the leafy greens, including our salad greens, kale, collards, lettuce heads, and chard. We harvest these from the field first thing in the morning, get them into the shade of our processing area, cool them down with water, and store them in the cooler as quickly as possible.

Some of these crops, such as lettuce heads, and others like radishes and spinach, do less well in the heat, and radishes and spinach are finished for the season, and lettuce will be struggling in the heat!

Speedy Growers

If left unsupervised, zucchinis can grow to enormous sizes!

If left unsupervised, zucchinis can grow to enormous sizes!

There are a few crops that grow very quickly in this weather, and need to be harvested every couple of days. With crops like zucchini and cucumbers, especially field cucumbers (a.k.a. pickling or snacking cukes), if we aren’t on top of collecting them, they can easily get oversized. And even with our frequent harvesting, a few will inevitably get overlooked in the jungle of the large, leafy plants, and we come across some giants with regularity.

Weeding in our Free Time

While the hot weather and sunshine is great for most of our crops, it is also good for the weeds, and if we don’t keep on top of them, weeds can easily overwhelm our pathways and rows. Weeds also take nutrients and water away from our crops, and so we try to keep on top of removing them, especially from slower growing crops like beets and carrots.

Beating the Heat

With the extreme heat of mid-July (37-39 degrees Celsius this week!), we the farmers, like the lettuce and spinach, can also struggle with the heat. We combat it by starting earlier, keeping coolers of cold water with us in the fields, and occasionally ending the days with a bit of ice cream.

Weeding is good, old-fashioned manual labour.

Weeding is good, old-fashioned manual labour.