Zucchini and other summer squashes are best when harvested before they get too big and are about 6 inches long. They have the best texture and flavor then. Don’t forget to check your plants every day because they grow quickly in warm weather.
A bountiful garden is always a good thing but finding new ways to use up your crops at their peak can be difficult. If your crisper drawer or veggie storage is overflowing try this simple soup to use up your harvest, changing up the vegetables to suit what you have on hand.
- Olive oil
- 1 1/2 c. chopped onion
- 2 c. diced carrots (1/2 inch)
- 2 c. diced celery (1/2 inch)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
- 2 c. chopped zucchini or summer squash
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2-15 oz. cans chopped tomatoes (you can use fresh too!)
- 6 c. chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 15 oz. can white beans, drained
- 2 c. cooked small pasta (such as elbows or small shells)
- 1 bunch baby spinach or other green
- Parmesan cheese and pesto for serving
Heat 2 T. of olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme; cook until veggies start to soften (about 8 minutes). Add tomatoes and chicken stock, flavor with bay leaf, 2-3 t. kosher salt and 1 1/2 t. fresh ground pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in squash, beans, cooked pasta and greens. Cook just until heated through and the greens have wilted slightly.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with grated parmesan and a spoonful of pesto for additional flavor.
Need to use up veggies in your crisper drawer but tired of vegetable soup? Give this recipe for Vegetable Baked Ziti a try! The ingredients are easily customizable for any taste and the casserole can even be assembled a day in advance if you know you’ll be crunched for time. The recipe is written to use up what I had on hand but feel free to swap out vegetables as you’d like!
- 12 oz. uncooked tube-shaped pasta, such as ziti or penne
- 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 1 t. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch swiss chard, shredded
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 t. dried oregano
- 2 T. chopped fresh basil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 8 oz. ricotta cheese (I used cottage cheese as I had it on hand but use less salt as the sodium count in cottage cheese is a bit higher than ricotta!)
- 1/4 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese
- 2 c. shredded mozzarella
Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain.
Heat oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and bell peppers to pan, cook for 3-5 minutes until just tender. Add zucchini and swiss chard, cook just until chard is wilted. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
In a large bowl combine the pasta, the vegetable mixture, the ricotta cheese and half of the mozzarella. Transfer pasta/vegetable mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses evenly over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheeses are bubbly.