The temperature may not scream fall in Southwest Florida, but the fresh produce harvest does. As we enter fall, there are a lot of locally sourced produce choices in our farmer’s market that can be part of some delicious dishes that you and your family will love. One type of vegetable in season is squash. Many of us are using types of squash and gourds as decorations for the fall season, let’s look at some of the ways they can be used in cooking.
Recipes Using Locally Sourced Produce
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services maintains a library of recipes that can be made using fresh, locally sourced produce from our farmer’s market. These tasty dishes help highlight some of the best items that Florida Agriculture offers, as well as how to use them in unique ways. You can find other recipes on their website.
Florida Hidden Vegetable Mac and Cheese
Sometimes it’s difficult to get kids (and some adults) to eat vegetables. But it’s usually not hard to get them to eat mac and cheese. This recipe helps get some vegetable goodness into a delicious homemade mac and cheese dish.
- 8 ounces of your favorite macaroni
- 1 cup cheddar and jack cheese blend, shredded (plus extra as needed)
- ¾ cup Florida yellow squash grated fine
- ¾ cup Florida zucchini, grated fine
- 1 ½ cups Florida milk
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose low-sodium seasoning blend
- ½ fresh lemon, juiced
- Parmesan cheese as needed for garnish
- Cook macaroni in boiling salted water as directed on the package. Check macaroni during this process to make sure it is cooked to just under your desired tenderness. Carefully drain the water from the macaroni.
- Return the drained macaroni to the cooking pot, add the milk and seasoning blend, and return to medium-low heat. Note: At this point, you do not want the milk to boil, it just needs to get hot.
- When the milk and macaroni mixture is hot, add the grated zucchini and yellow squash. Stir the contents of the pan well to incorporate.
- Let everything in the pot come back up to temperature. Slowly add the grated cheese and stir to incorporate over medium-low heat. Add the lemon juice, and taste to adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add extra grated cheese blend to adjust for desired consistency.
- Folding a small handful of grated cheese in the macaroni just before serving it will make it really string cheesy. Serve warm with grated parmesan cheese as garnish.
Stuffed Florida Zucchini and Yellow Squash Parmesan
This tasty dish can be served as a main course or as a side dish to a fish or meat dish, depending on your desires.
- 2 medium Florida zucchini or large yellow squash
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup marinara sauce (your favorite)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
- Olive oil for cooking
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut off the stem side of the zucchini or yellow squash. Cut zucchini or yellow squash evenly in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds from each half to create room to hold other ingredients.
- Preheat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the preheated pan. Season the zucchini or yellow squash with salt and pepper. Place the zucchini or yellow squash skin side up in the saute pan and cook for about 2 minutes on both sides. Remove from pan and place on a cookie sheet skin side down.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine panko, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, chopped basil, and Parmesan cheese. Season ingredients to taste with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Evenly distribute the ricotta cheese and marinara sauce on top of the zucchini or yellow squash. Top the yellow squash and zucchini with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Evenly sprinkle the breadcrumb topping mixture on top of the zucchini or yellow squash.
- Bake the stuffed zucchini or yellow squash for 10 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm.
Florida Chocolate Zucchini Bread
You read that right. Zucchini from our farmer’s market can be turned into a tasty treat that can be a dessert or a fun snack to satisfy a sweet tooth craving.
- 1 small Florida zucchini, grated (do not squeeze out water content)
- 1 small Florida squash, grated (do not squeeze out water content)
- 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- ½ cup 100% unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Next add softened butter, oil, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla and mix until blended (batter will appear dry). Fold in ¾ cup of mini chocolate chips and the grated squash and zucchini until combined (do not overmix).
- Pour batter into a buttered 9-inch loaf pan and sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top. Bake for 50 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Pro tip: This recipe can also be baked in muffin tins.
These are just 3 of the ways you can use locally sourced produce from our farmer’s market to add some variety to your meals this fall. Whatever dish you decide to try, you can find all your ingredients at our Cape Coral fresh market. Stop in and see what Florida agriculture has to offer you and your family.