It’s that time of year again when gardeners everywhere are seeking out creative ways to utilize the abundance of zucchini and summer squash coming out of their garden.
Of course, here at Seed Savers Exchange we can’t help but to encourage you to try your hand at saving seeds for next year’s garden (scroll down to find a how-to guide for saving zucchini seeds). If you’re interested in maintaining the characteristics of your variety in the next generation, you’ll need to make sure your plants weren’t cross-pollinating with other varieties. Of course, it can be fun to have a little backyard hybridization, too. Select one or two zucchinis to leave on the vine and save their seeds, then have fun with the rest! Make zucchini breads, cakes or soups that can be frozen and enjoyed later; Donate to a local food pantry or drop some zucchini on a neighbor’s porch.
Courtesy of Joanne Thuente of Seed Savers Exchange, here is a casserole her family loves:
Mom’s Zucchini Casserole
- ½ pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 cups zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices
- 3 cups canned or fresh tomatoes, including juice (or 3 cups tomato juice)
- 1 cup uncooked regular rice
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (or cheese of your choice)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Brown and season ground beef; set aside. (Omit beef for vegetarian option). Sauté onion and sliced zucchini in the olive oil for 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes; simmer for another 10 minutes.
In a large buttered casserole dish (2½ quart), layer the ingredients in the following order: half of the vegetable mixture, half of the uncooked rice, all of the ground beef, the remaining rice, and end with the remaining vegetable mix. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover, sprinkle the grated cheese over the top, and return to the oven, uncovered, for a few minutes, just until the cheese melts.
Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and promoting America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.