CATHI LITZENBERGER: Sharing the bounty


Another month is almost gone, and with it our summer. Sigh!

A high note of this time of year is that there is a generosity that comes with fall. Certain vegetables are magically appearing on people’s doorsteps early in the morning; kind of like in the “olden days” when the milkman would leave bottles of milk on the doorstep. There must be a secret veggie patrol that goes around distributing these excess vegetables. Really, it happens!  Zucchinis, squashes of all kinds, maybe rutabagas, Swiss chard, sometimes tomatoes, and even onions, have been found by front doors in the mornings; no one takes credit, so it has to be a secret service thing, people sneak around in the dead of the night dropping off vegetables on the doorsteps of unsuspecting neighbours. Nice idea, but if you really want to get rid of excess vegetables and help hungry people in the world, try calling the Okanagan Gleaners as they’ll take all your excess and save you the night chill.

Today’s recipes include a baked spaghetti squash and a delicious zucchini chocolate cake.

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes

1 spaghetti squash, (2 ½ lb/1.25 kg)

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

4 cups grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

¼ tsp. hot pepper flakes

1 can (540 ml.) white kidney beans or navy beans, drained and rinsed

3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Halve and seed squash. Bake, cut-side down, on greased baking sheet in 400 F (200 C) oven until flesh is tender when pierced, about 1 hour.

Using fork, scrape strands into bowl; stir in half each of the salt and pepper and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, in 13-x 9-inch (3 L) glass baking dish, toss together tomatoes, garlic, oil, vinegar, hot pepper flakes and remaining salt and pepper. Roast in 400 F (200 C) oven for 30 minutes.

Stir in beans and parsley; roast until beans are heated through and tomatoes are shrivelled, about 10 minutes. Mound squash on platter; spoon tomato mixture over top. Serves 6.

Zucchini Chocolate Cake

2 1/2 cups regular all-purpose flour, unsifted

1/2 cup cocoa

2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup soft butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons grated orange peel

2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini

1/2 cup milk

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Glaze (directions follow)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.

With a mixer, beat together the butter and the sugar until they are smoothly blended. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. With a spoon, stir in the vanilla, orange peel and zucchini.

Alternately stir the dry ingredients and the milk into the zucchini mixture, including the nuts with the last addition. Pour the batter into a greased and flour-dusted 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan.

Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes (test at 45 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to cool thoroughly.  Drizzle glaze over cake.

Glaze: Mix together 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 Tbsp. milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Cut in thin slices to serve. Makes 10-12 servings.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist.