Now that we are in the heart of fresh summer produce, you may have encountered one of the following challenges:
- You have a CSA and are getting bored with preparing your abundance of vegetables the same way!
- You go to the farmer’s market and want to try new recipes for your favorite veggies, but don’t have any ideas!
- You are still learning how to prepare fresh produce and are looking for easy, quick, and delicious recipes!
Well, look no further; here are 3 unique ways to prepare some of August’s best vegetables – zucchini, beets, and green beans.
I have been in your shoes. I’ve had a fridge full of zucchini from my CSA with nowhere to turn. My kids already caught on that their favorite brownies, muffins, and banana bread, now have a familiar green speckling. Nice try! I have thought that beets taste like dirt and have been clueless how to use them. I have groaned at steaming another pot of green beans that are chewy and tough.
These are my recent favorite ways to use zucchini, beets and green beans this summer:
- Zucchini Noodles (also called “Zoodles”)
- Beets in Balsamic Vinegar (a quick an easy alternative to pickling)
- Roasted Green Beans
Zucchini Noodles or “Zoodles”
Vegetable noodles are all the rage these days, especially with the popularity of the Paleo diet. Being gluten-free, I was quick to jump on the veggie noodle train. Of course, there are some great gluten-free pasta options on the market (check out my review of Jovial Pasta), but vegetable noodles offer some very appealing advantages. First, who can argue with getting more veggies in your diet? Second, they are super quick to prepare. Finally, no more bloated, full belly after a heaping bowl of pasta. I can eat a giant bowl of zucchini noodles without feeling sluggish and feel energized and ready to go.
So, how are they prepared? Unfortunately, you will need a special tool. You can use a julienne peeler, but it is much easier to invest in a spiralizer. I bought mine on Amazon for $13 and it works great. All you do is press the zucchini into the spiralizer and turn it as the “zoodles” flow out.
After spiralizing, spread the “zoodles” on a layer of paper towels, add a layer of paper towels on top, and blot. This allows some of the moisture from the zucchini to be absorbed, leaving the zucchini noodles firmer and more noodle-like. I let them sit like this for about 20 minutes before cooking.
To cook, heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil in a nonstick pan. Add the “zoodles” and stir-fry for a few minutes, just to soften and add a little bit of sea salt to bring out the flavor. Add to a plate and they are done. I use whatever sauce I would normally use for pasta.
Beets in Balsamic Vinegar
Yes, I agree, beets taste like dirt, but, if you add the right flavors, they are delicious. I especially like pickled beets. The vinegar adds a fantastic contrast to the beets natural sweetness. I can eat them as is or as a topping on a salad. However, I don’t have time to pickle beets, so I have found this quick and easy alternative – just marinate them!
Cooking beets is super easy, but a little time consuming. Make sure they are clean and boil them in a large pot of water until they are softened and easily pierced with a fork. This may take a while depending on the size of your beets. Drain the water and allow the beets to cool. Once cool, gently slide off the skins with your fingers revealing the smooth edible part underneath.
To marinate them, chop the beats into bite size pieces and add to a bowl. Add enough balsamic vinegar so they are partially submerged and refrigerate. Give them a stir 3-4 times over the next day. After one day, they are ready to eat. I have had them in the refrigerator for a week and they have held up very well.
Roasted Green Beans
Nothing says summer more than a heaping bag full of fresh green beans. I love them even raw. However, I used to prepare them by steaming them and adding a little butter. They were fine, but I felt that they lost their flavor and were sometimes a little tough. Then, I discovered roasted green beans! They are so easy to prepare and delicious. Roasting green beans brings out their natural sweetness and makes them super tender.
Prepare the green beans by chopping off the inedible ends and cutting them in half. Layer them on a baking sheet, so they don’t overlap. Add a little olive oil and sea salt to coat and roast at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until they just start to brown. Then enjoy! I love them as a side dish, snack or on top of a salad.
I hope this gave you a few ideas to use up your summer bounty. My thinking is, anyone who doesn’t love vegetables, hasn’t had them cooked right. Here’s to being creative in the kitchen!