Too many cucumbers? Try keeping a pickle jar

Cucumbers! They’re delicious, but they don’t keep very long in the vegetable bin and the freezer is not an option. Gardeners and CSA members know that the leap from no cucumbers to buckets full is sudden. What to do with all those cucumbers when you don’t (have time to) can pickles? Toss them in a pickle jar.

Buy time with a pickle jar

Whenever you have more cucumbers than you can manage, take a couple of minutes to rinse and slice them (peel if you prefer), then toss them in the pickle jar, shake to mix the liquid and slices, and refrigerate.pickle jar

The liquid you keep in your pickle jar is up to you.

  • If you make pickles, save the extra pickle juice in a jar in the fridge. You can toss cucumbers (or other vegetables) in the jar to make them last a little longer. They won’t last as long as truly pickled vegetables, but the pickle juice will buy you some time.
  • If you’re not the canning type, dissolve about 1 tsp pickling or kosher salt in 1 cup of white or cider vinegar. Again, vegetables tossed in this solution will have a shorter life than canned pickles, but the vinegar solution buys you more time than if you just toss the extra cukes in a vegetable bin. If you want to add seasonings, add whole, not ground seasonings. Peppercorns and mustard seeds, for example.
  • Finally, leftover juice from store bought pickles can be used to buy some extra time. This is a particularly pleasing alternative if you discover a brand of pickles you adore and hate throwing that delicious pickle juice down the drain. Use it!
©Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2017.

Roasted Zucchini and Squash

I haven’t made scientific calculations about how often zucchini and yellow squash are included in CSA boxes, but if you live in the southern US, probably in about 70–80%. This can be challenging even for zucchini/squash lovers. Tonight I made roasted zucchini and squash, with a little tomato and bell pepper from my CSA box. I had leftover French bread, which was perfect for a homemade crouton finish.

Roasted Zucchini and Squash

Ingredients

vegetables
  • 4-6 zucchini and squash, sliced in medallions, 1/4 inch thickroasted zucchini and squash
  • 1 onion, sliced in thin rings
  • 1/4 c. bell pepper, sliced in thin slivers
  • 1/4 c. tomato, chopped
seasoning
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried herbs and spices (oregano and/or thyme with chili powder works well)
topping
  • 1-2 c. cubed bread
  • 1/4 c. Asiago cheese, grated

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 450º.
  2. Toss the vegetables in a Pyrex baking dish. Slice zucchini and squash in medallions.
  3. Blend the seasonings. I use my Cuisinart Smartstick chopper/grinder. Note: I don’t use salt in most of my recipes. If you want to use salt, the seasoning is a good place to add about 1 tsp.
  4. Drizzle about half of the seasoning on the vegetables and toss.
  5. Place in oven, uncovered, and bake 15 minutes.
  6. Place the cubed bread in a bowl.
  7. Drizzle the 2nd half of the seasonings on the bread and toss.
  8. Add the grated cheese to the bread cubes and toss.
  9. Spread on top of baked vegetables.
  10. Return vegetables to the oven and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, the croutons are golden brown and crisp.
  11. Enjoy!

roasted zucchini and squash

Variations

  • Use only zucchini or only squash.
  • Use a different pepper: ancho, jalapeño, or banana.
  • Use more tomato, or none at all.
  • Instead of topping with homemade croutons, sprinkle with just cheese.
  • For a vegan dish, finish the vegetables with nutritional yeast instead of croutons or cheese.
© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2016

Roasted Fig Chicken

What can you do with no time, seventeen figs, and some chicken? Roast! This Roasted Fig Chicken was a pleasant surprise on a busy night. I used very little prep time and what I had on hand: figs from our tree, CSA and garden vegetables, and chicken.


Seventeen Figs and a Chicken (Roasted Fig Chicken)

IngredientsRoasted Fig Chicken

  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 17 figs, 13 whole, 4 chopped
  • 5-6 red potatoes, whole
  • 1 med onion, sliced
  • 1 small bell pepper, sliced (I used bell)
  • 2-3 tbsp c grated Asiago (or other hard cheese)
  • 3-5 cloves garlic. whole
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • Salt/Pepper/Season to taste

ProcessRoasted Fig Chicken

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Saute about ¼ c of the onion and pepper with 4 chopped figs.
  • Prepare chicken (pat dry, pound in seasoning, cut a slit to stuff).
  • Stuff chicken with sauteed onion/pepper/fig mix and Asiago cheese.
  • Arrange chicken in Pyrex dish.
  • Throw in the remaining onion, pepper, and figs, along with potatoes, garlic cloves, and seasonings.
  • Cover with foil.
  • Bake for one hour.
©Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016

Grill to Oven Grilled Snap Beans with Feta

Looking for something new to do with your beans? Grilled snap beans! This is another grill to oven recipe for using up those generous boxes of summer CSA vegetables. You’ll need a grill basket or grill pan.

You may be tempted to eat these straight from the grill, but that extra step to the oven = feta baked into the grilled goodness. Worth it.


Grilled Snap Beans with Feta

IngredientsGrilled Snap Beans

  • 1 lb snap beans, ends snipped and strings removed (I used wax and snap beans)
  • 1 med to large onion, cut in 1/4 inch slices
  • 1-2 whole fresh tomatoes
  • 1-2 whole fresh peppers, sweet or hot (I used bell)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (sub other fresh and dried herbs and seasonings)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I didn’t use any)
  • ½ c feta cheese

Process

  • Prep
    • Preheat grill with the oiled grill basket.
    • Grind garlic and seasonings in olive oil in mini food processor. (Don’t bother cleaning the food processor yet. You’ll use it again.)
    • Toss beans, onions, tomatoes, and peppers in seasoned oil.grilled snap beans
  • Grill
    • Transfer beans and onions to grill basket, careful not to drip too much oil into grill.
    • Place tomatoes and peppers directly on grill.
    • Grill on high to med high for about 5-8 minutes, stirring beans and turning tomatoes and peppers every couple of minutes.
    • Remove beans to a 9X12 baking dish.
    • Place tomatoes and peppers in a bowl and cover with a lid or plastic to allow them to “sweat.”
  • Oven
    • Preheat oven to 350°.
    • Peel skin off of tomatoes and peppers.
    • Remove stems, and de-seed peppers.
    • Grind tomatoes and peppers in mini food processor (OK to chop if you prefer them chunkier)
    • Pour tomatoes and peppers on top of beans and toss.
    • Sprinkle feta on top of beans. You can leave the cheese on top or toss it into the bean mixture.
    • Bake for 20 min.

Variations

  • If you love garlic-heavy dishes, place a head of garlic in foil, drizzle with olive oil, and place on the grill with the vegetables. Grind the roasted garlic with the tomatoes and peppers.
  • If you like beans with slivered almonds or other nuts, add these when the beans go to the oven.

NOTE: Snap and green and string are all the same thing when they’re a bean.

If you like this grill to oven recipe, check out my grill to oven squash and zucchini.
© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 5016

Cabbage with Sausage

What to do with last week’s cabbage?

This week we received the biggest CSA box ever! Luckett Farms is spoiling us and I love it! Snap and wax beans; squash; zucchini; cherry and large tomatoes; cucumbers; red potatoes; white and purple eggplant; jalapeño, poblano, banana, and bell peppers; onions; basil; peaches, and blueberries! But I still had last week’s cabbage, so instead of reaching for the squash or zucchini, I cooked cabbage with sausage and made a peach and blueberry cobbler.

I tried a delicious recipe a few months ago from the New York Times, but the cooking time is 2.5 hours, and it was already 7:30 pm (I’m not a stellar meal planner). This is my tweak on that recipe. Delicious. But also flexible. If you’re in the mood for cheese, sprinkle some Romano or Asiago on top. It was too late when I thought about all the tomatoes from this week’s box. Sliced tomatoes on top would have been great.


Cabbage with Sausage (Express)

Ingredients

  • 1 small/med cabbage (or ½ a big cabbage)
  • 5 links of Italian sausage (delinked) or about 1 lb of loose Italian sausage
  • 1 small to med onion
  • 2 sweet and/or hot peppers (I used pimiento from my garden and banana from CSA)
  • 1 stick (unsalted) butter
  • ¼ c wine
  • ¼ c Panko bread crumbs

Process

  • Preheat oven 350º.
  • Cabbage
    • Slice cabbage in thin layers.
    • Bring a pot of water to boil.
    • Place cabbage in boiling water.
    • Return to boil and boil cabbage 3 minutes.
    • Strain.
  • Sausage
    • Sauté sausage, breaking up as it browns.
    • Stir in onions, peppers, wine, and 2 tbsp butter.
    • Cover and reduce heat.
    • Simmer until vegetables wilt (2-3 min).
  • Assembly
    • Melt 3 tbsp butter in 9 X 12 Pyrex dish.
    • Add 1 layer of cabbage. Toss in butter.
    • Add layer of sausage.
    • Add another layer of cabbage, then sausage.
    • Continue layering, and finish with cabbage on top.
    • Sprinkle Panko bread crumbs.
    • Drizzle with remaining 3 tbsp of butter.
    • Cover with aluminum foil.
  • Cook
    • Cook for 30 minutes at 350º.
    • Remove foil.
    • Cook an additional 10 minute to brown top.
© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016

Baked Chicken with Snap Beans

Snap beans are one of the many perks of summer gardens and CSA boxes. But like zucchini and squash, keeping up with the beans can be a challenge. This baked chicken with snap beans is a delicious one-dish meal. Tweak it to your taste or mood. The possibilities are limitless:

  • Don’t stuff the chicken.
  • Use a different cheese.
  • Don’t use cheese.
  • Use different herbs.
  • Don’t use chicken, just cook the beans!
  • Or maybe, just have a glass of wine and cheese and crackers. Cook tomorrow. 😉

If you are in the mood to cook, this is worth the effort.


Bake Chicken with Snap Beans

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 lb (about 6 c) fresh snap beans* (OK to sub or include wax beans, I used both)
  • 1 fresh tomato, sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • marinade, (I used a tweaked version of my sour cream marinade)
    • Grind the following together in a mini food processor.
      • ½ c sour cream
      • 2 tbsp olive oil
      • 4 cloves garlic
      • ¼ c mango salsa (for sweet and hot)
      • 1 tbsp chipotle pepper adobo sauce
      • 3 tbsp fresh oregano
  • cheese stuffing
    • Grind the following together in a mini food processor.
      • ½ c cheese (I used quesadilla cheese, but you can sub other cheeses: e.g., mozzarella, feta, cream)
      • 1 clove garlic
      • fresh oregano (OK to sub other fresh or dried herbs)
  • bread crumbs
    • Grind the following together in a mini food processor.
      • 1.5 c panko bread crumbs (OK to sub regular bread crumbs but panko tend to be crispier)
      • 1 clove garlic
      • 1 tbsp oregano

ProcessBaked Chicken with Snap Beans

  • Marinate chicken.
  • Beans
    • Remove ends and strings from beans.
    • Steam beans for about 5 minutes (or blanch). This is optional, but I like to do it to make sure I don’t have any tough beans.
    • Prepare cheese stuffing and bread crumbs.
    • Toss strained beans in about 1 tbsp of olive oil.
    • Sprinkle 1 c of bread crumbs on beans, and toss.
    • Arrange beans in a 9X12 Pyrex pan and set aside.
  • Back to chicken
    • Slit each chicken breast to create a pocket.
    • Stuff each breast with 3-4 tbsp of cheese stuffing.
    • Heat 1 tbsp oil in frying pan.
    • Sear chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side, careful to keep the stuffing in the cavity.
  • AssemblyBaked Chicken with Snap Beans
    • Arrange chicken on top of beans.
    • Add tomato slices on top of chicken.
    • Sprinkle remaining bread crumbs over chicken.
    • Drizzle last tbsp oil over chicken.
    • Bake for 30 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown.
    • Enjoy!

*NOTE: snap = green = string: all the same thing.

© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016

Zucchini Straws

Our CSA boxes from Luckett Farms include zucchini for more than half the year. The new-things-to-do-with-zucchini struggle is real, but I haven’t lost a zucchini yet. Zucchini straws make a great crispy side or snack. Quick and simple. Works with yellow squash too!


Zucchini Straws

Ingredientszucchini straws

  • 3-4 zucchini, spiralized
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oregano (OK to sub other herbs)
  • 1 tbsp flour or fine corn meal (optional)

Process

  • Preheat airfryer to 330º (if using oven, preheat to 400º).
  • Grind the garlic with the olive oil, oregano, and salt.
  • Toss the spiralized zucchini in the oil mixture, coating well.
  • If using, sprinkle with flour/meal and toss more.
  • Cook.
    • To airfry
      • Place about a third of the zucchini in the airfryer at a time (don’t overfill)
      • Cook in three minute intervals for 9-12 minutes, tossing every three minutes.
    • To bake
      • Spread zucchini “thinly” on a baking sheet.
      • Bake for 20 minutes, tossing after 10 minutes.
      • If necessary, bake another 10 minutes.
  • Enjoy!
© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016

Snap Beans and Sausage

Not sure what to do with the abundance of snap beans or wax beans in your CSA box? How about beans and sausage?

Sweet Italian sausage is a great go-to meat for prepping vegetables. I use it with greens, cabbage, eggplant, and squash. This and last week, my Luckett Farms CSA box included snap and wax beans. Tonight I combined my big mess of beans with Italian sausage. This quick, one-pot dish can be served as a main entrée or a meaty side.


Snap Beans and Sausage

Ingredients

  • 1.5-2 lbs loose Italian sausage 
  • a mess (about 2 lbs) of fresh snap and/or wax beans, remove stems and “strings” and snap to desired size
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 peppers (sweet and/or hot) chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil (OK to sub other fresh or dried herbs)
  • Season (salt/pepper) to taste.

Process

  • In large pan, brown sausage over med high heat, breaking it up as it browns. If you have excess oil from the sausage, drain. I use a lean sausage and didn’t need to drain oil.
  • Add onions, pepper, and garlic.
  • Sauté until onions are clear, about 5 minutes.
  • Add beans and herbs.
  • Mix and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer until beans are tender (10-15 minutes).
  • Enjoy!
NOTES:
  • I say snap you say string; I say string you say green: they’re all the same bean.
  • I didn’t use any oil, because the sausage produced just enough. If needed, add olive oil to sauté the vegetables.
© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016

Smothered Squash and Zucchini Spaghettis

What to do with all the summer squash and zucchini?

So many things!


Before our Luckett Farms CSA box arrived this week, Kacie, the farmer’s wife, gave a nod to the struggles of members using up the abundance of summer squash and zucchini (the struggle is real!). She wrote about her felicitous purchase of the “veggetti” a couple of years ago.

I decided to invest and looked up the device, only to realize: I already have one! Or something like it. A gift from our nephew and his wife, which I mistook for a German grater that, like the German language, I couldn’t figure out. I grabbed the biggest squash and tried the tool. I hadn’t quite thought that through, but it mostly worked wonderfully.

squash4

Chop the tails, too-fat tops, and other residuals and saute with the rest.

Now that understand my German spiralizer, I have ideas!

  • The usual spiralized squash/zucchini as a substitute for spaghetti noodles.
  • Spiralized squash/zucchini sauteed with sweet Italian sausage, onions, garlic, and peppers.
  • Spiralized squash/zucchini tossed in seasoned olive oil and airfried for a crispy side.

But for tonight I applied my Southern-style Smothered Squash process to the … squashghetti? … spaccini?

I’m proud to note that I used five things from my CSA box: squash, zucchini, onion, bell pepper, and basil leaves.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 squash and zucchini, spiralized. NOTE: You will have some pieces that don’t spiralize for different reasons: the ends, the middle ribbons, too fat. Chop those and saute with the rest. If you don’t have a spiralizer, don’t fret. Slice and/or chop the squash and zucchini.
  • 1 med onion
  • 1 med bell pepper (use hot pepper if you prefer)
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes (or any tomato in similar amount), diced
  • 4-5 leaves of fresh basil (OK to sub other fresh or dried herbs)
  • 1-2 tbsp honey (I use cowgirl “honey,” a byproduct of my cowboy pepper relish, because I like sweet heat.)
  • ¼ c wine

Process

  • Saute onion and pepper 2-3 minutes.
  • Add squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and basil.
  • Continue to cook on high/med high another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add basil, honey, and wine.
  • Stir and cook on high for 1-2 minutes.
  • Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 10 minutes).
  • EAT!
squash and zucchini

Drizzle with honey.

© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016

Tasty Turnip Fries

Turnip Fries

Turnips are a low cal root vegetable, rich in vitamin C. Make turnip fries for a healthier alternative to french fries.

CSA members are sure to receive turnips in their boxes. This is what we did with our this week.

turnip2

It’s simple: Toss the sliced turnips in seasoned olive oil and bake or air fry.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs turnips (4-5 med. turnips) cut into “french fry” sticks (about ¼ in thick)turnip
  • ½ c olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp herbs (I used fresh basil)
  • salt/pepper to taste (I used cayenne, no salt)

Instructions

  • Chop or grind garlic and seasonings and mix with olive oil.
  • Toss the turnip sticks in the olive oil. Make sure they’re well coated.
  • Cook.
    • To bake
      • Preheat oven to 450°.
      • Spread turnips sticks on a baking sheet in a single layer.
      • Bake 30 minutes. Toss/Stir after the first 15 minutes.
      • Turn oven to broil and broil fries an additional 3-4 minutes for crispier fries.
    • To air fry
      • Preheat airfryer to 390°.
      • Place turnip sticks in the basket (2-3 layers okay)
      • Airfry for 10 minutes, tossing after the first 5 minutes.
      • Fry an additional 1-2 minutes for crispier fries.

We love our Luckett Farms CSA. Do you belong to a CSA? How do you use up your CSA vegetables?  Follow me for more CSA recipes.
© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2016