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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Roasted Vegetable Sauce & Zucchini Sticks

Life in the kitchen has been rather busy. There is so much produce, I don't even know where to start and more is coming in daily from the garden! Well all that produce certainly cannot be wasted so preserving it is. I came up with an idea for roasted vegetable sauce to use up some of the produce.

Sauce Ingredients

While only a couple of tomatoes are shown in the picture, this is a tomato based sauce. Other vegetables include zucchini, carrots, onions, celery and green peppers. It is important to me that any vegetable to be preserved be as fresh as possible. Tomatoes were picked minutes before being prepared for the sauce. For this sauce I used Heinz tomatoes, a nice round fleshy tomato with lots of flavour.

The vegetables were roughly chopped and placed in a roasting pan for baking. I added sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and basil along with a light sprinkling of fresh ground pepper and Kosher salt. The vegetables were roasted on the grill. Like my roasted tomato sauce in a previous entry, this sauce is a long cook sauce. It needs that time to develop the roasted flavour that sets this sauce apart from other sauces.

Canned Roasted Vegetable Sauce

Once the sauce was roasted, I used a stick blender to puree instead of passing the vegetables through a food strainer. I did it this way because I wanted a thicker sauce. It will later be used as a pasta sauce or ingredient in meatloaf and other dishes.

The resulting sauce won't be confused with roasted tomato sauce as it has a much lighter colour. The flavour is unique, a bit mellower than the roasted tomato sauce but with an undescribable richness. I pressure canned the sauce by adding 1 tbsp lemon juice to each pint jar then processing 20 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.

Zucchini Sticks

What to do when you have a garden full of zucchini? Aside from enjoying fresh, you can freeze it for later use, add it to sauces you are canning as in the one above, make soup for canning or try these zucchini sticks. I can't recall where I came across this idea but breaded zucchini sticks are often on fried vegetable trays so one day I decided to make my own. Here's how I do it.

Wash and peel the zucchini. Cut into quarters. Cut the seeds away. Now cut each quarter into three sections (two if a smaller zucchini) then turn lengthwise and cut the sections into 2 inch pieces. Put into a strainer and run cold water on the pieces. In a sealable bowl or zip loc bag pour yellow cornmeal, salt and pepper or other spices. I like using Old Bay Seasoning. Transfer the drained zucchini to the bowl or bag and seal. Shake up to evenly coat the zucchini sticks. Now place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for freezing. You want them to freeze individually.

Ready for Freezer

Once the zucchini sticks are froze, vacuum seal them. Yes this is a real trend with me. A vacuum sealer is a must if you are serious about home preserving! To use the zucchini sticks deep fry without thawing until golden brown. For those not wanting to deep fry, you could try baking but I haven't tried this method.

I'm going to play around with the coating. The cornmeal comes out nicely but I'm thinking that panko would make a good coating as well. Panko is a Japanese style bread crumb that is used for coconut shrimp. It maintains a crispiness after frying.

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