With the first day of fall here already, it’s time to think about what to do with your bounty of garden goodies. Perhaps you have copious amount of zucchini, peppers or basil, what are you going to do with it all? The solution: freeze them.
In conjunction with today’s Recipe Redux theme: Fantastic Freezer Meals, I am going to share tips and tricks for making one or more freezer meals. It’s the end of the gardening season for some of us; let’s store away that produce in heat-and-eat-from-the-freezer-meals. Show how convenient healthy freezer breakfast, lunches and dinners can be!
Some produce freezes better than others. What I’ve learned with the veggie that I am going to freeze today: zucchini, is that you have to blanch it briefly before freezing it. Apparently, it deactives the enzymes that cause it to get soft and mushy after frozen. Blanching is super simple, just cut up the zucchini and toss it onto boiling water for a minute (no longer than that) — and wha-la! That’s all there is to it. Keep in mind, it should still be firm when you bite into it after blanching.
I like to freeze grains like quinoa, brown rice and millet – as you can make a big batch and then toss it into a freezer bag or container, label it, and put it in the freezer to pop out for a quick meal or side dish. I usually use the 10-minute grains from Trader Joe’s as they cook in no time! Today, I am combining bulgur wheat with zucchini and freezing it as you can add a variety of dressings, seasonings, other veggies and protein sources to it in a snap. Don’t forget to tag it – so you remember when you froze it.
Ancient Grain Bowl: Zucchini, Chive and Olive Bulgur Wheat
Serves 4 (1/2 cup each)
1 cup bulgur wheat, rinsed
2 cups water or low-sodium broth
1 small zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces and blanched
2 tablespoons chives, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
To cook the bulgur, put it in a pot with water or broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Remove for heat and flake with a fork when done.
Blanch zucchini as mentioned above. Let it cool and toss into the bulgur wheat. Stir gently and add the chives and olives.
Spoon into a freezer container or zip-lock bag. Label with name and date and put into freezer. Whole grains can last in the freezer for a long time. Before eating, thaw in the microwave with a touch of water or heat over a low heat in a sauce-pan (one with a heave bottom works best). Toss with a light dressing of olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Serve as a side dish or a main course – add chicken, fish, beans or tofu to it, if you’d like.
Nutrition Information (per 1/2 cup serving): Calories: 223, Total Fat: 5 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Sodium: 459 mg, Carbohydrates: 37 g, Dietary Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 6 g
Enjoy eating simply,