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Garden surplus?

Garden surplus?

Your excess veggies can be turned into plenty of tasty dishes

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It's an exciting time of year for gardeners.

Tomatoes are growing overnight and zucchini are magically appearing under those giant leaves.

But what do you do with all that pro-do with all that produce? Especially if you are a firsttime gardener?

We asked several veterans to share their favorite recipes, only to learn that several have never worked from written instructions for their go-to dish! It's just a pinch of this and a teaspoon of that, adjusted through the years.

Here's our handpicked selection. We hope you find one that tickles your taste buds, too.


A neighbor made this for Holly Barstow and her husband, Bruce, and she says she's addicted. "You wouldn't think tomatoes and peaches would be such yummy partners, but they are sweet and savory heaven, with the creamymozzarella and peppery basil providing more punch," Barstow said.

Peach Caprese Salad


2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella slices

2 large peaches, sliced

2 tomatoes, sliced

Basil leaves

Flaked sea salt


Whisk together vinegar, mustard, honey, shallots, salt and pepper until emulsified.

Arrange mozzarella, peach and tomato slices on a handful of fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with the dressing, sprinkle with flaked salt, and serve.

Holly Barstow, Omaha


Calandra Cooper has made this dish often, but always from memory.


6 large tomatoes, various varieties and colors

Prepared pastry

Sea salt


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Basil, fresh

Oregano, fresh

Parmesan or other crumble cheese of choice

1-2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Sweet apple cider vinegar, optional


1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Roll out prepared pastry onto a cookie sheet or round baking pan. Lightly butter pastry.

3. Layer sliced tomatoes over the pastry and lightly sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until tomatoes are tender.

5. Sprinkle on basil, oregano, garlic and cheese. Return to oven for 5minutes or until tart is lightly browned.

6. Let stand for 15 minutes; serve warm with a drizzle of sweet apple cider vinegar.

Calandra Cooper, Omaha



6-8 medium-sized green tomatoes, firm

2 prepared pie shells

½ cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon set aside

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons flour

Juice of 1medium-sized lemon

2 tablespoons butter, thinly sliced


1. In a bowl, add all of the dry ingredients and combine with a wooden spoon.

2. Slice the tomatoes into wedges and drizzle with the lemon juice. Add to dry ingredients, stirring lightly to coat.

3. Line the bottom of a pastry shell with the tomato slices and dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Seal the pasties together by pinching the top and bottom rims with your fingers or pressing edges with a fork.

4. Using a fork or butter knife, poke breathing holes in top crust. Lightly sprinkle top crust with water and a teaspoon of sugar.

5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until tomatoes are tender and top crust is golden brown. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving warm.

Calandra Cooper, Omaha


This recipe can be made with any type of squash flowers. At the beginning of the season, the plant usually produces a lot of male flowers that bloom and then wilt away. Use these flowers in the recipe while you wait for the female flowers to bloom.


10 zucchini flowers

¾ cup chickpea or garbanzo bean flour or rice flour

¼ teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon cayenne powder

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

Salt to taste


1. Mix all ingredients except the flowers in a bowl. Add just enough water to make a thick paste.

2. Heat 2 inches of oil in a skillet to 350 to 375 F.

3. Dip each zucchini flower in the batter to coat evenly, then drop in the hot oil. Several can be deep-fried together; just make sure you don't crowd the skillet.

4. Fry on each side until golden brown and puffy. Serve hot.

Sarika Kulkarni, Omaha



2 medium or 1 large zucchini


1 egg, beaten

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup Panko bread crumbs


1. Grate zucchini and sprinkle generously with salt; let stand at least 15-20 minutes to purge excess liquid from the squash. Drain well.

2. Add egg, Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Mix with a fork so the mixture stays light. Depending on the liquid content, you may need to add more bread crumbs. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

3. Fry in melted butter and olive oil over medium heat until fritters are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Amanda Pribil, Bennington


This was a seasonal favorite for church carry-ins. No one ever guessed it was rhubarb. It's a must-try for doubters, Carolyn Semin says.


3 cups rhubarb, chopped

1 cup water

1 scant cup sugar

3-ounce package raspberry gelatin

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


1. Mix water, sugar and rhubarb together in pan and cook until rhubarb is tender.

2. Remove from heat and add raspberry gelatin; stir to dissolve.

3. Refrigerate until slightly thickened, then fold in celery and nuts. Return to refrigerator until set.

Carolyn Semin, Kilgore


Carolyn Semin said she and her husband love acorn squash, but it always took so long to bake. "Then one day, I thought I'd try cooking it in the microwave, and acorn squash became a last-minute addition to a meal."


1 acorn squash

½ cup brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons white syrup

¼ teaspoon salt


1. Wash the outside of the acorn squash well. Cut in half and clean out the seeds. Place both halves in amicrowave-safe dish, skin-side up, and add about ½-inch water to dish. Microwave 15 minutes on high.

2. While squash is cooking, prepare sauce by cooking the brown sugar, butter, water, syrup and salt until sugar is melted.

3. Carefully turn squash over in dish and pierce slightly with a fork to check to see if it's cooked. Be careful not to pierce the outer skin when testing. When cooked, fill the cavities with sauce and microwave another 2-3minutes.

4. Remove from microwave and carefully scrape sides and bottom of squash, mixing it with sauce. Serve right in the skin, or remove it and serve in a bowl.

Carolyn Semin, Kilgore


It was a soup day and Carolyn Semin had some leftover veggies, so she began throwing them in a pot (think "Stone Soup" by Marcia Brown). "Addwhat vegetables you have and like and leave out those you don't."


1-1½ pounds hamburger, cooked and well-drained (I wash all my hamburger under hot water; I don't like grease)

1 (28-ounce) can Italian tomato sauce or use your own home canned sauce

1 can beef broth

3 beef bouillon cubes

3 carrots, sliced

2-3 potatoes cubed, or use fresh new potatoes from the garden

1 can green beans or fresh from the garden

1 can corn or frozen or fresh corn

1 can peas or frozen or fresh peas

1 cup cabbage

2-3 stalks celery, sliced

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon onion salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


1. In a large pot, place cooked hamburger, tomato sauce, beef broth and beef bouillon. Heat and add seasonings and all raw vegetables.

2. Cook until tender, and then add canned or frozen vegetables. Continue cooking until heated thoroughly.

Carolyn Semin, Kilgore


Will Birge, chef and owner of Mealbox, recommends these tools for easy prep: a mandolin slicer, a sharp knife, a cutting board, paper towels, 2 gallon pots or larger and a 12.5-by-10.5by-3.25-inch foil steam table pan or equivalent.


8 zucchinis

6 large tomatoes

1 cup garlic cloves

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound grated mozzarella, provolone

1 cup Parmesan

Sprigs of fresh rosemary, basil, parsley

For béchamel sauce:

½ gallon half and half

½ gallon whole milk

2 cups flour

1 pound butter

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Salt to taste


1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Line sheet tray with parchment paper or foil.

2. Lightly toss garlic cloves in olive oil and roast until tender, golden and caramelized. Remove from heat and, with flat side of knife, press cloves onto cutting board to create a paste. Turn up oven to 350 F.

3. With sharp knife, chop herbs finely for garnish.

4. With mandolin set at 1/8 inch orwith sharp knife, slice zucchini along the long side into thin pappardelle strips. Place each slice onto a dry paper towel. Lay side by side and place another dry paper towel on top to remove excess moisture from zucchini.

5. Slice tomatoes as thin as possible on the bias, and set aside.

6. Pour half and half and whole milk into 1 gallon pot and warm on medium heat. Bring to just below boil, 190 F.

7. In a separate 1 gallon pot, add a pound of butter and melt overmediumheat. Once melted, add roasted garlic paste and sauté for 1minute.

8. Add 2 cups flour to pot. Flour will clump and create a thick paste. Cook the roux over low heat until it comes together, 5-10 minutes. Slowly ladle in warmed milk until you feel comfortable enough to pour in the remainder. Bring heat to medium-mediumhigh andwhisk thoroughly to remove clumps.

9. Whisk mixture constantly until boil is reached. Once brought to boil, béchamel should look like a rich, creamy white sauce.

10. Add garlic powder, nutmeg and salt to taste. Do not be shy with the salt, the sauce is your seasoning for the whole dish.

11. Ladle a layer of béchamel into bottom of disposable foil pan. Layer zucchini slices side by side and top with shredded cheese, followed by Parmesan. Next add layer of tomato.

12. Repeat with a layer of béchamel, zucchini, cheese, Parmesan and tomato until you achieve 3-4 layers. Top with béchamel and remainder of cheese.

13. Place lasagna in 350 F oven for 30-45 minutes, or until cheese is nicely melted. If you want to achieve more browning on the top layer, place under broiler for a few minutes.

13. Garnish with freshchopped herbs and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before serving. This will allow the lasagna to set up.

Will Birge



8 cups water

4 cups vinegar (5% acidity)

4 tablespoons canning salt

2 teaspoons sugar

3 heads of dill

2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons of dill seed

10 black peppercorns

6 garlic cloves

4-5 pounds of cucumbers Instructions

1. Bring water, vinegar and canning salt to a hard rolling boil. Boil 2 minutes. Cool to room temperature for crisper pickles.

2. Pour into 1-gallon glass jar. Add the heads of dill, red pepper flakes, dill seed, black peppercorns and garlic cloves to vinegarmixture.

3. Prep the cucumbers by slicing off the blossom ends. Cut cucumbers to desired size, or leave them whole if small. You should be able to fit 4-5 pounds of cucumbers in a gallon jar, depending on how they're sliced.

4. Stir to move the ingredients around and then refrigerate for two weeks to allow cucumbers to season.

Cucumbers can be added up to a week as they ripen. They will keep for months.

Barb Haselhorst, Neligh, Nebraska



1 pound of fresh green beans, ends trimmed

½medium onion, sliced

Seasonings of choice

4 slices of diced bacon

3 tablespoons butter


Double-wrap ingredients and place on the grill for 30 minutes. Turn a few times while grilling, or they will burn.

Barb Haselhorst, Neligh, Nebraska



3 medium zucchini

Mrs. Dash no-salt blend seasoning with yellow cap

Lawry's season salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

Parmesan cheese, to taste


1. Cut zucchini into ¼-inch slices and place on baking sheet.

2. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning, then toss with hands.

3. Arrange slices in pan so they don't overlap. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes at 400 F.

Barb Haselhorst, Neligh, Nebraska


This recipe will work for bread or muffins. You just have to adjust cooking times for each version.


3 eggs

¾ cup oil (vegetable or canola works well)

1½ cups sugar

3 cups shredded zucchini (does not need to be peeled)

21/3 cups flour

½ cup unsweetened baking cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven. Mix eggs, oil, sugar and zucchini in one bowl; dry ingredients in another. Add zucchini mixture to the dry ingredients and blend well with a mixer or by hand.

2. Pour mixture into a well-greased bread pan (about 8-by-4 inches) and bake about 45 minutes, or pour into well-greased muffin tins and bake 20 minutes (until the tops spring back). Can be easily frozen.

Jenny Patterson, Omaha


This is her tried-and-true recipe, Jessica Schafer says, and she makes it at least once a week. It's from the Food Network. "Excellent flavor, simple ingredients we always have on hand. Sometimes I sprinkle the finished grilled squash/zucchini with goat cheese crumbles and pine nuts. Yum!"


2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound zucchini (about 3 large), trimmed and sliced to about ¼-inch thickness

1 pound yellow crookneck squash (about 3 large), trimmed and sliced to about ¼-inch thickness


1. Whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and thyme in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in oil. Spoon 3 tablespoons of marinade in a bowl and set aside, covered.

2. Add zucchini and squash to the rest of the marinade and toss to coat. Transfer to a 13-by-9 baking dish. Cover and marinate 3 hours at room temperature. Can refrigerate for one day.

3. Prepare barbecue at medium-high heat. Grill veggies until crisp, tender and brown, turning occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Drizzle with remaining marinade and serve hot or at room temperature.

Jessica Schafer, Elkhorn


This recipe is packed with fresh garden veggies and herbs. Julie Maben, the owner of Grecian Gyros in Papillion, says it's a popular dish in Turkey. "Serve in a bowl with grilled pita bread, watermelon slices and Turkish tea for a perfect lunch for a hot day."


1 pound tomatoes, diced

¾ pound cucumbers (1 European or 4 Persian), diced

1 green pepper (preferably a long green Italian frying pepper, seeded and diced

½ small red onion, sliced, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, drained and rinsed

¼ cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped dill

2 tablespoons chopped mint

1 teaspoon sumac

½ to 1 teaspoon of Turkish or Aleppo pepper

Salt to taste

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


1. Prepare all of the vegetables, then top with olive oil and feta cheese (optional). Blend well.

2. Add a few scoops of the shepherd salad to a bed of romaine lettuce and enjoy.

Julie Maben, 402-444-1034,

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