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Toasted Squash Seeds

Seeds are the “free gift with purchase” when you have a squash. Turn them into a tasty snack with this recipe.

  • Seeds from one winter squash (pumpkinbutternutacorndelicata, etc), separated from pulp
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable, canola, or olive oil
  • 1 large pinch salt
  • Spices of your choice:
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet and cook for about 30 minutes. Every 10 minutes or so, stir the seeds around a bit so they cook evenly. Seeds are done when they are crisp and golden brown.

Note: some seeds (especially from acorn squash) may begin to pop. Once they’re popping in the oven, they’re done.

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Roasted Squash Puree 

Roasted squash puree can be substituted for canned pumpkin in any recipe. You can make a large batch and freeze it to use whenever you need.

  • 1 winter squash, any variety (butternut, acorn, delicata, buttercup, hubbard, red kuri, cushaw, etc)

Preheat oven to 400. Slice the squash in half in whatever way is easiest. Using a large spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp. Save the seeds for toasting.

Place squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast until completely tender, about 90 minutes (timing will depend on the size of your squash). Allow to cool.

When cool, scoop the squash flesh away from the skin and place it in a bowl. Using a fork, mash the squash until it is fairly smooth. If desired, you could use a food processor, but a fork usually does the job well.

Use as you would canned pumpkin. Freeze for later use if desired.

Canning Recipe: Marinated Roasted Bell Peppers
adapted from Simply Recipes

This recipe makes your roasted peppers even more delicious and preserves them to eat all year round. If you don’t want to can, you can stop before the processing step and store your peppers in the fridge to eat within 3 weeks.

  • 1 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 pounds bell peppers, roasted (see instructions here)
  • 3 pint-sized canning jars

Heat a large pot of water for canning (water should cover the pint jars by at least an inch). While it heats, prepare marinade: in a large saucepan, combine lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Bring to a boil.

Dip jars and lids in boiling water to sanitize. Distribute the roasted peppers evenly between the sanitized jars. Pour the hot marinade over, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims clean, then place on lids and rings (do not tighten rings too tight).

Place jars in the boiling water for canning. Boil for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool in pot for a few minutes, then remove to cool completely. Jars lids should pop down, showing the can is sealed. Sealed cans can be stored at room temperature for a year. If any jars fail to seal, place in the refrigerator and use within 3 weeks.

Makes 3 pints.

Roasted or Grilled Eggplant and Variations

Roasting and grilling eggplant are two of the simplest, most delicious ways to cook it. Once you’ve cooked your eggplant, you can use it for so many different things – check out the variations below.

  • 1 large eggplant*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or use a neutral oil)
  • 2 pinches salt

Preheat oven to 400 or prepare grill.

Cut eggplant into slices or chunks (see variations below to help choose). Drizzle oil over and toss to coat as evenly as possible. It’s okay if some spots suck in more oil than others. Add salt and toss to distribute.

Arrange eggplant pieces on baking sheet or on grill. Bake or grill until eggplant is tender inside, about 20-30 minutes (although that will depend on the size and shape of your pieces, so check them).

Roasted Eggplant with Herb Sauce: Cut eggplant in slices or chunks to roast. Once out of the oven, lay eggplant on a plate and top with pesto or salsa verde (see herb recipes for details).

Roasted Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Basil Rolls: For this elegant appetizer, cut eggplant into long, flat, 1/3″ thick slices. Once roasted, place a chunk of mozzarella cheese and a large basil leaf on the slice. Roll up and secure with a toothpick.

*Eggplant can be grown in your garden.

Salsa Verde – Italian Herb Sauce

This bold, bright Italian sauce is great on meat – try it with roast pork or chicken. It’s also great on farmers market vegetables – try it with grilled zucchini or eggplant. Salsa verde also goes well on pasta or toasted bread.

  • 1 cup (tightly packed) parsley* OR a combination of 1/2 cup parsley and 1/2 cup mint*, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers, roughly chopped (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Combine chopped parsley (or parsley and mint) and oil in a blender or food processor and pulse to combine. Add lemon zest and juice and capers (if using) and pulse to combine. Try the salsa verde, then add salt to taste.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

*Parsley and mint can be grown in your own garden.

Basic Basil Pesto and Variations

Pesto is a great way to use fresh herbs, and it’s great on more than just pasta. Try your pesto on toasted bread with some fresh tomatoes for a delicious summer appetizer.

  • 2 cups basil* leaves, packed
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt

In a food processor, combine basil, nuts, and garlic. Pulse a few times to combine. Then, with the food processor running, add the oil in a steady stream. Open the machine and scrape down the sides, then pulse to combine again. Add the grated cheese and pulse again to combine. Taste the pesto, and add salt to taste.

Makes 1 cup.

Variations:

  • Walnut or Almond Pesto – Use roughly chopped walnuts or almonds in place of the pine nuts.
  • Any-Herb Pesto– Use the herb of your choice (or a combination) in place of the basil. Parsleymint,chivesmarjoramoreganosage, and rosemary* all work well. Combining strong herbs with parsley makes for a more mild pesto.
  • You can vary the herbs and the nuts at the same time to find the combination you like best.

*All of these herbs can be grown in your own garden.

PRESERVE YOUR HERBS

How do you keep the fresh herb flavor for a long time? Try these tips to keep the taste of summer all year long.

HERB OIL: Herbs in oil can stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 weeks because the oil covers the herbs and prevents them from spoiling. Use herb oil as a starting point to make a vinaigrette or pesto, or just add on meat, vegetables, or pasta for a burst of herb flavor.

To make herb oil (any herb, or a combination you like), roughly chop 1 cup of the herb. Place in food processor or blender and add 1/2 cup olive oil. Pulse to combine

PESTO and SALSA VERDEAs with making herb oil, putting your herbs in an oil-based sauce helps them stay fresh for longer.

FREEZE OIL/SAUCE FOR LONG-TERM STORAGE: Herb oils, pesto, and salsa verde keep very well in the freezer. You can make a large batch, then freeze in ice cube trays or in a thin, flat layer in a plastic freezer bag. That way, you can defrost only the amount you need by taking a few cubes or breaking off a piece from your thin layer.