They're coming. In a month, or maybe even a few weeks. Soon, everyone will be inundated with them, and we will be powerless against their deliciousness. Of course, I am talking about the "Attack of the Free Tomatoes." And cucumbers. And peppers. And zucchini.
As soon as vegetable gardens all over the Mahoning Valley begin ripening and offering their delicious bounty, friends and relatives will also be the recipients of bags and bundles and bushels of extra veggies. Gardens have an unconscious agenda to produce mountains more crop than the grower can actually eat or can or pickle in a season, thus perpetuating the fine tradition of sharing your garden's goods with others. I myself, whose personal vegetable garden is limited to a Chia Pet, am always glad to get a bunch of tomatoes or a few ears of corn from a gardener with a greener thumb than mine.
Not that I don't enjoy gardening. I've gotten down and dirty in the community garden by my house, and I planted a few potatoes and tomatoes and carrots last year. But this year, there was too much rain and not enough motivation. So I will be accepting any leftover yields with open arms and oven doors.
Tribune Chronicle photos /?Sarah Sepanek
Make good use of the inevitable coming of leftover veggies with these simple zucchini patties made from bread crumbs, cheese and basically anything else you have in the kitchen.
The mixture for zucchini patties resembles that of meatloaf. Mix all the ingredients by hand or with a potato masher.
There are so many good recipes for garden veggies, but I always had luck with zucchini. Zucchini bread is a thing of beauty. I also found accidental success with zucchini lasagna. This year, in preparation for the armies of garden growers who will soon be ringing doorbells all over town, I offer a recipe for zucchini patties that can be tweaked and customized to anyone's taste.
You get a nice, fresh zucchini from your neighbor or aunt or whoever, and grate it into hash brown-sized shavings with a cheese grater. Then, you add bread crumbs, cheese, a bit of garlic salt, pepper and an egg, and you basically make a veggie meatloaf. If you're squeamish about squeezing mushy mush with your hands, I am told a potato masher will also do the trick. Form the mixture into hamburger-sized patties, fry in a dollop of olive oil to browned perfection, top with whatever condiments you deem yummy, and enjoy.
I paired my patties with a dried cranberry and pine nut salad, and ate the patties plain, topped with sour cream, balsamic vinaigrette and mozzarella cheese. They came out pretty good, with the fresh taste of the zucchini paired with the smoothness of the cheese and crunch of the breading. Adding dressings and toppings only made them even better.
2 cups grated zucchini (peeled or unpeeled, according to your taste)
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Mix grated zucchini with bread crumbs, cheese, salt, pepper and egg. Form into hamburger-sized patties. Heat olive oil in medium skillet. Fry patties 1-2 minutes per side until lightly browned. Top with favorite toppings, condiments and serve.
The zucchini patties can be customized with red pepper flakes, various herbs and spices, hot sauce, peppers or whatever you want. However you decide to do them up, zucchini patties are a fun way to make use of the coming bushels of garden goods that will soon arrive on your doorstep.