Sweet Zucchini Relish

DSC_0207.jpg

If you are growing zucchini then you have probably run the gamut in ways to use it all up. Everything from zoodles (spiralized zucchini), zucchini bread, zucchini cookies, and a ton of different side dishes. My mom introduced me to zucchini relish last year when she gave me a jar as a gift. There’s nothing better than relish on a hot dog, but I was a bit hesitant, until we opened it up and had a taste. It was delicious. Now, obviously the recipe plays a key factor in the taste, but what I really loved was just how well the zucchini worked. I honestly felt like it was better than cucumbers. Where has this been my whole life? The zucchini itself is mild, but it holds up to cooking and maintains a nice texture without getting mushy. It also really absorbs the flavors well.

So, now I’ve realized another great use for this garden workhorse and I couldn’t be happier! This recipe was too sweet for my liking at first, so I cut the sugar down. You can tweak it a bit as you go, but even if you like really sweet things like me, the original recipe was truly too in my opinion. I also prefer to dice everything up rather than shred. It takes a few extra minutes, but you get a product that you are used to eating rather than a pickled, sauerkraut type texture. The recipe can easily be doubled, but when I try a new recipe for canning, I like to go small first. Hope you enjoy! Let me know your favorite ways to use zucchini below!

Sweet Zucchini Relish

Ingredients

  • 6 cups finely diced zucchini (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp canning salt
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place the zucchini, onion, and salt in a large non-metallic bowl. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.

Drain the zucchini in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Squeeze out excess water and set aside on a towel or paper towels.

In a large pot, stir in remaining ingredients and add zucchini. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, sterilize jars and get your canner ready.

Add relish to jars, making sure to eliminate air pockets. Fill jars to 1/2-inch from top. Process jars for 15 minutes.

Remove jars from canner and place on a cloth until cool.

Makes about 2 pint jars.

Adapted from Allrecipes

Rice & Pigeon Peas

Rice & Pigeon Peas ~ A classic Barbados side dish ~ The Way to His Heart

When my husband and I honeymooned in Jamaica what we loved the most was trying the local dishes. Having food and drinks being served to us 24/7 was pretty great too! We found ourselves chatting with the locals and staff at the resort. Bringing home spices and recipes and ideas to recreate our own. What I can’t believe is I still have a long list of things I have yet to make almost eight years later. What’s worse is the ones I have recreated I haven’t really shared with you guys. So, that’s going to change!

While this dish isn’t from Jamaica it is from the Caribbean. All Caribbean islands have their own take on rice and beans, but we like Barbados version the most. This is a very easy recipe that uses very inexpensive ingredients but brings a lot of flavor. The freshness of the lime really brings everything together. While you can have this at anytime, we love serving this with a spicy smoked meat, jerk, or pernil.

Rice & Pigeon Peas

Ingredients

  • 3 oz salt pork
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 15oz. can pigeon peas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

In a large saucepan, bring a couple of inches of water to a boil. Add salt pork and blanch for 1 minute. This removes some of the saltiness. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Return the salt pork to empty pan and heat over medium heat until the fat begins to render, about 10 minutes. There should be about 2 tablespoons of melted fat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Stir in rice and cook about 2 minutes.

Stir in pigeon peas, water, and thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, over medium to medium-high heat until almost all the liquid is absorbed, or until the liquid level is just below the rice, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir the rice well, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook (without stirring) for 20  minutes, until water is absorbed. Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

*If you’d like to make this a vegetarian dish, that’s easy, simply omit the salt pork and use 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon of smoked salt.

Serves 8

Source: Hannaford Fresh Magazine, July-August 2012

 

Carrot- Ribbon & Berry Salad

Carrot-Ribbon & Berry Salad ~ Everyone will want to eat their fruit and veggies with this fresh, perfect for summer, side dish! ~ The Way to His Heart

Well, “Hello there August,” can’t say I’m happy to see you. While August is always a fun month filled with my birthday, our wedding anniversary, the warmer ocean and lakes, I’m not happy this year because “back to school” will be here soon and we are just hitting our summer stride. This summer was supposed to be laid back. I promised, or threatened, my kids with a boring summer with no activities planned and the backyard their daily destination. That quickly faded as we had family visits, a slew of birthday plans, and a summer bucket list to attack. We have decided that August is the month for slowing down, as much as we can. For the most part, if it wasn’t on the agenda already, we’re not making any new plans.

What I do have plans for is more cooking. I feel like we’ve been eating a lot of hastily thrown together meals or going out to eat. While I don’t mind either, I do want to take advantage of the summer harvest and create some new dishes and have the time to play around in the kitchen. I do love that during the summer a few raw veggies from the garden equal a satisfying side dish though! Hello carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes! What I love about this Carrot-Ribbon & Berry Salad is that it’s just as easy to make and is so beautiful. My family was eager to dive in and it makes a lovely dish when you’re hosting friends over for a BBQ or bringing something different to a pot luck. With these vibrant colors and flavors most everyone loves, who could resist?

Carrot-Ribbon & Berry Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 large carrots, peeled
  • 8 oz. strawberries, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted if desired
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Using a vegetable peeler, slice carrots into thin ribbons. Place carrots, berries, almonds, and mint in a large serving bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Just before serving, toss dressing with carrot and berry mixture.

Serves 4

Source: PARENTS Magazine May 2016

Pasta Salad with Basil Dressing ~ A fresh approach to pasta salad that will breathe new light to your summer side dish ~ The Way to His Heart

Is it me or is this summer flying by? Here in Maine our summers are short, but sweet and we try to make the most of it before we, or should I say I, hibernate. The fact that my daughter, Caroline, is on her first school vacation and I get to spend time with her before school starts back up makes it seem like it’s flying by. Oh, and have you all noticed that “Back to school” signs are already out at the stores? Groan!

I feel like we’re only just getting started with the grilling season since June was so rainy here. The one thing I am always on the lookout for is a good side dish. I get so bored of some of the staples and a lot of the super good ones aren’t that great for a cookout on the go/potluck scenario. I’m inundated with basil right now so I decided to whip up a light dressing and create a pasta salad that has hints of your typical pasta salad, but a fresher taste. This Pasta Salad with Basil Dressing is going to get a lot of mileage from here on out!

Pasta Salad with Basil Dressing ~ A fresh approach to pasta salad that will breathe new light to your summer side dish ~ The Way to His Heart

Speaking of being on the go this summer, one of our favorite things to do is cookout at the marina. For us, there is nothing better than heading out for a boat ride and coming back and grilling right there. We load up the kids, the cooler, and the sunscreen and make a day of it. If we aren’t at the marina, we’re up at camp or dining out on our deck. I look for ease of use, functional, and quality in my food storage containers because we may decide at a moments notice that we’re eating somewhere else. That means all of our food is stored in containers that can be brought anywhere. This 8 Piece SNAP Glass Round Container Set is the best! The containers are made of thermal shock-resistant borosilicate glass, so they can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer, and they can go straight into the microwave or oven for reheating. The lids are BPA-free and have four locking tabs and a removable gasket which ensures a leakproof seal. SNAP Glass Containers are both nestable and stackable, which means whether they’re full or empty, it’s easy to fit them in your cabinets. I personally love them because I have no problem serving my food in them. They make great serving dishes. Just because we are eating al fresco doesn’t mean I want my food to be served in just anything. Plus, the glass keeps things extra cold!

OXO 8pc Glass Snap Container Set ~ The Way to His Heart

You’ll also notice I’m using the 2-in-1 Salad Servers
Little Salad Dressing Shaker which are very handy to have. I just store them in our bag and they are ready for any dish! I also have my beloved Little Salad Dressing Shaker which I’ve been using for a few years now. This guy is my sidekick during the warmer months.

I received these products from OXO, but as always the opinions expressed here are my own.

Pasta Salad with Basil Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Campanelli pasta (or any fun shape that holds sauce well)
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil, plus some for garnish
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roasted bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 oz Genoa salami, cut into strips
  • 12 Ciliegine fresh mozzarella balls, cut in half

Boil a large pot of salted water and cook pasta until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

In a blender, add basil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, garlic, black pepper and salt until finely chopped. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil until the dressing is smooth.

Add pasta, dressing, and remaining ingredients in a dish and toss. Can be served warm or cold.

The Way to His Heart