I think I've already mentioned my predilection for freezing things. It's how I preserve summer and my favorite flavors on into winter, when I'm less inclined to buy fruits and vegetables out of their New England season. I dole these things out and try to make them last until the end of winter, when I can start buying things like local asparagus and lettuce. Don't get me wrong, this is no Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (which I not-so-secretly aspire to accomplishing...a girl can dream...). I have a looooong way to go before I'm putting by enough vegetables and fruits to get us through winter. But it's like opening precious jewels when I take out a quart of tomato sauce or make blueberry pancakes with the fruits from last summer.
This past summer, I had great luck with green beans and Romano beans, and we're just now finishing up the few packages I put by. I socked away about 2 pounds of roasted red peppers, and 2 quarts of blueberries. I also freeze greens like kale, chard, and collards, and I freeze as much tomato sauce in varying forms as I can possibly cram into the freezers we have.
Another way that I like to freeze things is baked into muffins, scones, quick breads and things like lasagnas. I found a zucchini-orange bread recipe last summer that I LOVE, and I put by about 10 loaves of the stuff. We're down to our last few of those, as well as our last batch of peach-blueberry muffins.
My least successful frozen "treat" would be the zucchini. I followed the guidelines from one of last summer's "Eating Well" issues, but I have to say, the zucchini was a little...er...limp in tonight's dinner. That's okay, though, because the green beans were fabulous, and the stew over all was delicious. Herbes de Provence is a new blend for me to play around with--I'm typically an Italian Seasoning kind of girl--but I enjoyed it and will look for new ways to use it.
by Me (inspired by Rachael Ray)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion (I used red) chopped
1/2-3/4 c chopped carrot
1/2-3/4 c chopped celery
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 medium fennel bulb, cored and sliced about 1/4" thick (I'd increase this to a whole bulb next time, I think)
1 heaping tsp Herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp total salt and 3/4 tsp total pepper)
1 small fresh zucchini, chopped*
1/4 c dry white wine
1- 14.5 oz can low-sodium diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 to 1 1/2 cups water (could leave out if you want it more like a stew)
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1/2 pound, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 to 1 1/2 cups frozen chopped green beans
1 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for grating over top
1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add onion through Herbes de Provence. Sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, and cook another 2-3 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high.
2. Add white wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add bay leaf, tomatoes, broth and water, if using. Bring to a bubble, add chicken, and reduce heat to medium. Add more salt, and some pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 7-10 minutes. Add green and white beans and heat through, about 3 minutes. Serve with grated cheese on top, if desired.
*I used frozen zucchini from last summer's bumper crop (okay, it was the neighbor's bumper crop...). I can't say I'd recommend it, because I like my zucchini to have a bite to it, but if you've got it, add it when you add the beans, and bump up the cooking time by a few minutes to make sure all the frozen things are heated through. From now on, I'll just freeze the zucchini inside my baked goods. :)