NORTHWOODS COOKS: Make use of the garden bounty

Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Healthy delicious cooked vegetable meal. Breaded fried zucchini with tomatoes.
One way to make use of the bounty of zucchini is to bread it and cook it in the oven or in a skillet on top of the stove. The crispy coating gives it flavor. It may also be served with a variety of dipping sauces.
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Plentiful rains this summer have led to bountiful garden produce. Here are some recipes to make use of the fresh garden pickings.

Disney’s Ratatouille

6-oz. can tomato paste

1/2 onion, chopped


1/4 cup minced garlic

3/4 cup water

4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 small eggplant, trimmed and very thinly sliced

1 zucchini, trimmed and very thinly sliced

1 yellow squash, trimmed and very thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, cored and very thinly sliced


1 yellow bell pepper, cored and very thinly sliced

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, or to taste

3 Tbsp. mascarpone cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread tomato paste onto the bottom of a 10-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with onion and garlic. Stir in water and 1 tablespoon olive oil until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange alternating slices of eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper, starting at the outer edge of the dish and working concentrically towards the center. Overlap slices a little to display colors.

Drizzle vegetables with remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with thyme leaves. Cover vegetables with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside.

Bake until vegetables are roasted and tender, about 45 minutes. Serve with dollops of mascarpone cheese.

Oven-Fried Panko Zucchini


2 large egg whites

1 lb. zucchini (2 medium), cut into 1/3-inch rounds

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Marinara, pesto or ranch dressing for dipping (optional)

Position rack in center of oven. Preheat the broiler to high. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Whisk egg whites in a medium bowl until well combined. Add zucchini and toss to coat well.

Combine panko, parmesan, Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Working in batches, toss the egg-coated zucchini in the panko mixture, pressing both sides to adhere. Arrange the zucchini on the prepared baking sheet. Coat the tops with cooking spray. Broil until golden and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve with your favorite sauce if desired.

Loaded Vegetable Soup

1 medium yellow onion

1 medium carrot

3 stalks celery

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

28-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

8 oz. zucchini (2 small or 1 medium)

4 oz. green beans

10 to 12 sprigs fresh parsley

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

Salt and pepper

Dice 1 medium yellow onion. Peel carrots and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Cut celery stalks crosswise into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Mince garlic cloves.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.

Add bay leaves, thyme, fire-roasted diced tomatoes and juices and low-sodium broth. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Trim zucchini, halve lengthwise (quarter lengthwise if wider than 1-1/2-inches), then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces (about 2 cups). Trim 4 ounces green beans and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup).

Add the zucchini and green beans to the soup and simmer until crisp-tender, about 15 minutes more. Pick the leaves from 10 to 12 fresh parsley sprigs and finely chop.

Add frozen peas and fresh or frozen corn kernels to the soup and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Serve garnished with the parsley.

Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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