Skip to main content

Tried and True Recipes for Your Garden's Bounty

Summer has gone by quickly yet again, and now is the time when backyard gardens and supermarket bins alike are overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, and more. That's all fine and dandy from a nutritional standpoint – these vegetables are chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. But when you've got squash "coming out of your ears," what more can you do? You can only eat so much zucchini bread and put up so many green beans.

Try these delicious recipes to take advantage of my favorite garden givers. Who knows, maybe you'll add some new dishes to your summer rotation!


Image removed.Image removed.


Caprese Pasta Salad

University of Illinois Extension

Makes 18 cups



12 oz package whole wheat/whole grain rotini, cooked until al dente

16 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed

2.5 lb plum or Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup lite balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing

1 tablespoon dried oregano or 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped

1 tablespoon dried basil or 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste



Mix pasta, mozzarella, tomatoes, dressing, and spices together in a large bowl. Chill until ready to serve.


Zucchini "Pineapple"

National Center for Home Food Preservation

Yields 8 to 9 pints



  • 4 quarts cubed or shredded zucchini
  • 46 oz bottled or canned 100% pineapple juice
  • 1½ cups bottled lemon juice
  • 3 cups sugar


    Peel zucchini and either cut into ½-inch cubes or shred. Mix zucchini with other ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer 20 minutes. Fill jars with hot mixture and cooking liquid, leaving ½-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process at 15 minutes for altitudes up to 1,000 ft.

    Use to make cakes or quick breads, use as a relish, or just eat plain. Use interchangeably in recipes calling for crushed pineapple.

    Spicy Squash Cakes

    University of Illinois Extension

    Makes about 6 servings



    1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites or use 3 eggs
    4 cups grated summer squash
    1 cup fresh corn kernels, cut from 2 ears
    1/4 cup chopped green onions, tops included
    1 large jalapeno pepper, chopped
    1/3 cup parmesan cheese
    1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or black pepper
    Canola oil for sauteing
    Low-fat sour cream (optional)
    Fresh tomato salsa (optional)



    1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Beat in squash, corn, green onions, jalapeno, the cheeses, flour, olive oil and ground pepper.
    2. Heat two tablespoons canola oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. For small cakes, spoon one tablespoon squash mixture per cake into the hot oil and flatten to uniform thickness. For large cakes, use two tablespoons of squash mixture per cake. Do not over crowd the skillet. Leave about an inch between cakes.
    3. Cook until edges turn golden brown, turn and cook the other side until golden brown, about three minutes total cooking time per cake. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Place in a warm oven and continue cooking the remaining cakes.
    4. To serve, arrange two or more cakes on individual plates. Serve with some of the salsa and a dollop of low-fat sour cream. Sprinkle with salt if desired.

    Fresh Garden Salsa

    University of Illinois Extension

    Makes about 2 cups



    2 large ripe, red slicing tomatoes, cored and chopped
    1 small white onion, chopped
    1 green onion, top included, chopped
    1 to 3 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
    1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
    Juice of lime
    Salt to taste



    Using a serrated knife, chop tomatoes. If using plum tomatoes, add 2 tablespoons water.

    In a medium bowl, toss together the tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro. Squeeze lime juice over the mixture and sprinkle on the salt. Allow to rest 30 minutes before serving to allow salt to draw juice from the tomatoes. Stir again just before serving.

    Today's post was written by Leia Kedem. Leia Kedem, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator covering Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion Counties. She appears weekly on WCIA-3/WCIX-49 and is a biweekly contributor to the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. She also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts where she regularly posts health tips and answers nutrition questions for free.