Too much of a good thing should never go to waste. See our tips for using up surplus fruit and veg at the end of summer – bake them into delicious cakes, make them into condiments and more.
With autumn comes the harvest, but before we enter the realm of pumpkins and parsnips, it’s time to reap the rewards of a summer spent in the garden. As September dawns, it’s time to take stock of those abundant plants – depending on your location and weather conditions, courgettes, marrows, tomatoes, chillies and aubergines all tend to flourish over the summer.
To make the most of these hardy ingredients, try our top 10 ways to use up a garden glut.
1. Autumn salad
Native courgette season comes to an end in September. Pick them while they’re young to ensure plenty of flavour, then serve in this vibrant autumnal veggie salad alongside carrots, broccoli, tomatoes and olives, all drizzled with a zingy saffron dressing.
2. Semi-dried tomatoes
Whether you’ve happened upon some discount plum tomatoes or have a handful of cherry tomatoes from your garden, all shapes and sizes of tomatoes work in this Mediterranean-inspired recipe. Pack the roasted fruit into olive oil then serve on pizzas, in salads and sauces, or straight from the fridge. They'll keep for up to a week.
3. Gingery plum cake
British plums are at their peak between August and October. They come in many varieties, but those that are firm to the touch work best in this moist and spicy traybake, as they'll keep their shape and create a rustic checkerboard-style finish. If you don’t have plums, raspberries could work as a replacement.
4. Slow-cooked marrow
Marrows are essentially super-sized courgettes. This means the flavour is slightly diluted, but as a result, the mild and creamy flesh can handle a range of accompaniments. This comforting veggie stew melds together a mouthwatering combination of greens, herbs and spices that also delivers four of your 5-a-day. The slow cooking process ensures a fall-apart texture, perfect for dunking in crusty sourdough or serving alongside a meat dish.
See our top six ways to serve marrow.
5. Tomato & chilli harissa
The chilli plant is perennial, meaning it lasts for up to two years and can survive winters with a little care. However, if you have a healthy summer crop and want to savour the heat, whizz up a Middle Eastern spice paste. If you cover this harissa with a little oil after each use, it will keep in the fridge for several months.
6. Summer vegetable roll-ups
Use up a handful of different veg at once with these spiral-shaped savouries. We chose aubergines, courgettes and peppers (any colour will work) and layered them with creamy ricotta cheese, pesto and pine nuts. Griddle the vegetables to add a nice smoky char, or if the weather’s good enough, make the most of your barbecue before packing it away for the year.
7. Bramble cocktail
Even if you don't have your own hedgerow, blackberries or brambles can be foraged fairly easily, even in urban areas. They can be frozen or pulped into a coulis, jam or chutney, baked in a cake or even used in drinks. This striking bramble cocktail is injected with a shot of blackberry liqueur and lemon juice for a zingy party tipple.
See more blackberry recipes
8. Cacio e pepe with runner beans
Runner beans are coarser and more flavoursome than green beans, and should be picked in good time – if left for too long they can become tough. If you do let your crop run on until winter, any unpalatable beans can be dried for planting the following year. This classic Italian pasta recipe teams fresh beans with a silky cheese and pepper sauce.
9. Ratatouille chutney
Make your late-summer glut into a chutney for whenever you need a spoonful of summer during the drab winter months. This version is inspired by a classic French bistro dish and features red peppers, aubergine, courgette and tomato. It also makes use of apples and onions, two thrifty and hardy ingredients.
10. Courgette loaf
You can use up your vegetables in sweet recipes too – courgette, carrot, parsnip and even mashed potato can all add moistness and texture to sponges. This loaf cake teams mild courgette with cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts and sultanas.
If you are aiming to impress, you could also try our showstopping courgette, lemon & thyme cake which makes the most of a late-summer courgette glut.
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How are you planning to use up your vegetable glut? Leave a comment below...