Summer Garden Winter Food
There is nothing better than going to your garden to pick fresh vegetables for dinner. We started our small raised bed vegetable garden in April and it didn’t take long for the plants to grow and the blossoms to appear. We had summer squash, green and red peppers, eggplant, cucumbers plus yellow and green beans. Our vegetables were ready to pick in about six weeks and so delicious as I prepared meals with them. But once they started growing, it seemed like there was no stopping and way too much keep up with the eating! But other than loving the fresh vegetables in the summer, I like to freeze them for the winter. My Summer Garden Winter Food gives me fresh vegetables even when the growing season is over.
Every morning I would go out to our garden before work and see more and more squash and peppers. The eggplant took longer to be ready to pick but once they started growing, they just didn’t stop! I had so many peppers, squash and eggplant from our little 8′ x 8′ raised bed garden that it was time to get them ready to freeze for the winter.
The peppers were quick and easy to freeze, I cut them in slices and put them in freezer bags. Once in the freezer, I shake the bags to keep the pieces from freezing together. When I need peppers for stir fry or an omelette, I just pour the peppers out of the bag and into the pan! I ended up with six large bags of frozen peppers and the last peppers I picked were a few weeks ago at the end of October so I was very happy to have so many peppers.
Besides freezing them all, I made my hubby delicious stuffed peppers and that’s a meal in itself! They are easy to make and so filling. My recipe is at the end of this blog: http://themarthareview.com/stuffed-peppers/
Our summer squash was growing like weeds, I’d check them in the morning and there were some almost ready and when we got home from work, the vines were full of yellow squash! This too is easy to freeze, I cut the squash into thin slices and freeze them on a baking sheet to keep from freezing together. After the individual slices are frozen, I pour in freezer bags and they are ready for stir fry or other meals using baked or fried squash. I now had six bags of squash with my frozen peppers! There is nothing better than a delicious stir fry of squash, peppers and onions, especially when the vegetables are from your garden. This is a blog I wrote last summer with my instructions for freezing summer squash: http://themarthareview.com/freezing-summer-squash/
While the peppers and squash are quick and easy to prepare for the freezer, eggplant takes a bit longer. I usually wait until a weekend and fry up all the eggplant at once. After cutting in slices, I egg and bread it then fry in olive oil. I freeze on baking sheets like the squash and then put in freezer bags when frozen. Since we had an abundance of eggplant even after giving some to neighbors, I ended up with twelve freezer bags full! By having the squash already breaded and fried, it makes a quick dinner after work. I just layer the eggplant, sauce and cheese for a delicious eggplant parmesan. It’s great with a side of pasta, on a sub roll or just the eggplant alone. Check out my instructions for preparing eggplant for the freezer: http://themarthareview.com/eggplant-from-garden-to-freezer/
But what if you have eggplant that is ready to eat but you don’t have time to bread and fry it up? No problem, I came up with a baked eggplant boat! After scooping out the eggplant from the skin, I cut it in chunks and mixed with olive oil, shredded cheese and spaghetti sauce, then put back in the skin shell. I baked it for about an hour and was this delicious! It really didn’t even taste like eggplant, it was more like a lasagna! Here is my pictorial blog recipe for baked eggplant boats: http://themarthareview.com/delicious-baked-eggplant-boat/
Gardening is fun and rewarding to be able to have fresh vegetables in the summer but it’s extra rewarding to have a freezer full of them to last through the winter. Even if you have a small yard, you can make a raised bed garden with landscape timbers or even cement blocks and add garden soil to your frame and you ready to start growing delicious vegetables. http://themarthareview.com/raised-bed-vegetable-garden/
2 people have liked this post!