Produce “Seconds” – Are They Worth It?

I just bought 60 pounds of apples from my co-op, all seconds. Yes, 60 pounds!! “Seconds” are less than perfect produce sold at a discount. Occasionally you’ll find them at a grocery store—very ripe bananas marked down, for instance. Most times you will find seconds at a farmers’ market or co-op. They’re often miscellaneous amounts or large amounts—5, 10 or 20 lb bags of produce.


In my experience, it has always been worthwhile to buy seconds. However, all seconds are not equal and it’s helpful to find out why the seconds are marked down before you decide to make a purchase. Some reasons why seconds may be labeled as such are that they:

  • Are a very small size
  • Are malformed or an odd shape
  • Have blemishes or spots
  • Have worm holes, splits or other damage
  • Are very ripe

Seconds are normally heavily discounted, which is why I rarely pass them up. But the most important thing to consider before you seconds is are you able to process the produce immediately? If the produce is very ripe, waiting even a day or two can cause many to spoil. If the produce is damaged or bruised, it’s much more prone to developing mold or rotting quickly.

So, why did I buy SIXTY POUNDS of apples? And what the heck am I doing with SIXTY POUNDS of apples?!? I’m sure you’re wondering.

I bought 60 pounds of apples because my co-op was offering 20 pound boxes of organic apples for $16 each. That’s a steal! I stocked up. Apples are known for keeping well in cold storage. I have an extra fridge in my garage just for this purpose—storing extra produce.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with these seconds, but when they arrived I saw that all of them were small apples. Some, very small apples. While that may not be for everyone, with two preschoolers in the house, that’s actually a great thing for me! They can easily eat a whole small apple. I don’t have to cut or prep it for them, and they finish it completely because it’s quite small. I filled our fruit bin in the kitchen fridge with washed apples, and it’s easy to send the littles there to get themselves a snack. About half the apples were perfectly fine except for their small size. All of those I washed for fresh eating. With four kids, it really doesn’t take us but a few weeks to go through 30 lbs of apples.

The other half of the apples were small as well, but they also had splits near the stem, blemishes on the skin or some had what looked like an old dried out worm hole. These apples I washed and stuck out in the garage fridge to be used for cooking. And again, it doesn’t take that long to go through 30 lbs of apples. One large apple crisp can use 4-5 lbs.

So this month, we are eating a lot of apples, but we don’t mind—it’s fall after all! If you’re still wondering how we’ll actually consume so many apples without getting tired of them, here is a list of just some of what you can do (and we will do) with apples:

But really, that’s just a short list. Apples are super versatile!

Join The Conversation

So what are you favorite apple recipes? And what is your experience with purchasing seconds? Have you found them to be worthwhile? 


It’s the LAST DAY for this amazing bundle!

Yes, the day has come. Today marks the end of this year’s sale of The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. Don’t let this opportunity slip away from you!

What is this bundle all about?

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, of which I am a proud contributor and affiliate, is a comprehensive resource of 94 eBooks and eCourses covering pretty much any and everything you might want to know on how to keep yourself and your family in the best of health. These topics include:

  • Cookbooks full of real, whole food recipes your family will love
  • Allergy friendly cookbooks, including ones grain-free and paleo diets
  • Strategies and tools to make meal planning easier
  • Keeping fit
  • Essential oils and other natural remedies
  • Natural skin care
  • Natural home care
  • Gardening and homesteading


Maybe you’re like me and look at 94 resources and think—that’s crazy! I’ll never use it all.

And just maybe you’ll be like me and—ahem—choose to not buy the bundle, like I did the first time I saw one. (Ugh!) It was simply too overwhelming to me. And because I’m very intentional with my money, I did not buy the bundle because I knew I’d never utilize every resource.

But, then, maybe you’ll be like me and change your mind about all that.

What changed my mind?

I came to realize that while it’s true—I will never use all the resources—the reality is that I will definitely utilize enough of the resources to make it worth my money. At $29.97, it just doesn’t take utilizing that many resources to make it worth my money. In fact, each year, once I take advantage of the bonus offers I’m interested in (this year it’s Plant Therapy’s free essential oils and Craftsy I’m most excited about!), I’ve already made back my initial investment. And I haven’t even read a single eBook yet or taken an eCourse!

If the sheer amount of content is overwhelming to you, here are two strategies to make the bundle effective for you:

1. SCAN.

I like to begin by scanning the list of eBooks/eCourses and note the titles that stand out to me. I start there. In fact, I go to all the cookbooks first, because as you know I love food and I love to cook! I am always looking for new recipes. We love variety here at our house, so I’m forever trying new recipes. Even though we aren’t grain-free or paleo, I even enjoy choosing recipes from those categories. Why not? They’re all still delicious, real, whole food recipes!


You can also use the unique Quick Start Guide that’s included in the bundle to help you pinpoint exactly which resources are the best fit for you right now. It’s a great feature that can help you find your personal gems in this bundle.

And don’t forget that there is a 30-day money back, no fuss guarantee. So if you buy and it’s just not working for you, you are able to get a refund.


So what am I especially excited about this year?

I already told you I’m most excited about the Craftsy class, the free essential oils and lots of new recipes. But I’m also eager to dive into the eCourse on urban farming with kids. We’ve got a bit of land now, so we’re not exactly urban, but I know I’ll pick up some good ideas on how to garden more effectively with my kids. I really want them to become more involved with our garden. And in this same vein, I’ve earmarked the food preservation eBook. Our garden is growing, and as it grows each year, I want to take advantage of that by preserving the excess. …And chickens just may be in our future too! I guess I’d better read up, right?

(Oh lookee-there! It’s my new eBook The Simplest of Gardens!)

I’m always gathering more resources and reading more on natural remedies, as that’s an area I want to ever be learning more about. So I’ve tagged a few of those eBooks and eCourses for future reading/completing.


I’m also eager to check out the Healthy Moving Workshop from Jen at Stay At Home Yoga. I really enjoyed her online yoga classes last year. While I’m currently taking yoga and pilates at my local gym, I’m still going to check out her workshop for the days I’m not at the gym. She does restorative yoga, which has a different emphasis than most gym yoga classes. You feel really good afterward!

And I know I’ll be looking at the natural skin care recipes. I’m itching to try a few new recipes. I’ve been making my own lotions, sunblock, bug spray and more for years now. If you’ve never tried making your own skin care or bath products, you should. Most are quite simple to make, and they’re just a lot of fun too! They make great gifts as well…pssst! the holidays are just around the corner!

If you’re wondering if the bundle can make a difference in your life, go here (just scroll down a bit) to watch these short clips from real people, just like you and me, who utilized the resources in last year’s bundle to effectively change their lives for the better. It’s quite inspiring and encouraging!

And if you bought the bundle last year and think it’s just the same thing, think again. It’s not. The resources are different. They’re fresh, new and inspiring! At just under 30 bucks, The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is a really great deal!

But really great deals never last forever, do they? Like all good things, this bundle is only available for a short time. The bundle will be for sale until September 14th. That’s just a few short days away, so make sure you don’t miss out on it!

I hope you buy The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. I hope you love it. I hope you learn from it. And I hope you make positive changes as a result!

3 Great Essential Oil Offers!

Hey, ya’ll! I know I mostly stick to whole foods related posts on this here blog, but occasionally I will break away with something I think is of interest to you guys. And today it’s essential oils.

Essential oils are really hot these days, aren’t they?


I love essential oils, but I’m also cautious with them. Just because something is natural doesn’t automatically make it harmless or safe. As I like to say (and if you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve probably heard me say it), even hemlock and poison ivy are natural! Essential oils are intense concentrations from plants. They’re strong and potent. That’s good, because it’s part of what makes them effective. But it’s also something we shouldn’t take lightly, especially when it comes to our children or when you’re pregnant or nursing.

So I was REALLY excited to hear that The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle includes three really positive things related to essential oils:

  • free essential oils
  • a course on essential oils
  • a live webinar with a certified aromatherapist

Say what?!? Yes, for real! I’m so excited about this part of the bundle! So here’s the scoop…

FREE OILS: One of the bonus offers attached with the bundle is for three free essential oils from Plant Therapy. (You just pay a minimal shipping fee!)

COURSE: One of the courses included in the bundle is Essential Oils for Families by Jessie Hawkins at Vintage Remedies. If you’re not familiar with Jessie Hawkins, her bio is pretty amazing. She is currently earning her doctorate in public health promotion with an emphasis on integrative family health prevention. Beyond that she has diplomas and certifications in clinical herbalism, aromatherapy and aromatic medicine, among other areas. The course is for serious learners.

LIVE WEBINAR: (I think I’m most excited about this!)

  • This is a special bonus for you ONLY if you purchase The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle today (Friday) or tomorrow (Saturday). 
  • The webinar will be held on September 28th to ensure that you have time to redeem your bonus essential oils offer from Plant Therapy.
  • The webinar will include the participation of a certified aromatherapist who will instruct you on the safe and effective use of your three free oils.
  • It will be held live in order for you to be able to ask the aromatherapist questions that you personally have.

I so hope you take advantage of this special offer today! (Practically) free oils followed by a webinar designed to teach you specifically how to use them effectively and safely. If this was the ONLY thing you took away from The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, then it would be worth your $29.95 right there! But I promise, it won’t be the only thing you take away. There are just too many great resources in this bundle to pass them by!

Want to learn about essential oils?

Need some fresh menu ideas?

Need some paleo or grain-free/gluten-free recipes?

Want to remove toxins from your home?

Need help gardening or homesteading?

Want to make your own natural, beauty products?

Want to raise healthier kids?


Living Naturally in an Unnatural World

I want to eat pure, real food…but so much of our food supply is tainted.

I want to live without chemicals…but they seem to be all around me.

I want to treat minor sickness naturally…but don’t really know how and often others disapprove.

I want to grow my own food…but I don’t live on a farm, let alone have the knowledge to do so.

Does any of this resonate with you?


It can be really hard to chart a natural course for life in the unnatural world in which we now live. In the past there have been times when I have felt like I just wanted to give up and forget about it all. I’ve been tired of fighting a seemingly uphill battle. Have you ever felt this way?

Yes, we live in a very unnatural world. It’s just the reality of the times in which we live.

HOWEVER, that’s not the end of the story!

There are so many things we CAN do to live a natural lifestyle. And that’s where I like to keep my focus: What I CAN do.

There are many things out of our control, but there are many things within our control. You can probably live a far more natural lifestyle than you think you can! And that’s good news, isn’t it?

I want to share with you 5 approaches I’ve taken that have enabled me to live a very natural lifestyle. They’re simple and straightforward, and anyone can do them. 

1. Start somewhere. You don’t have to be an expert or know a topic thoroughly before you can begin to implement it on some level. Maybe you don’t know much about cooking from scratch but you can make one dinner a week from scratch. Start there. Maybe you can’t bake a loaf of sourdough bread yet, but you do know how to make sourdough pancakes (they’re much easier!) Start there. Maybe you don’t know anything about essential oils, but you could begin by taking a course on essential oils from a certified aromatherapist so that you can learn how to safely and responsibly use essential oils to assist your family’s needs. Start there. “Every journey begins with one small step.” Very cliche but it is heavy with truth.

2. Try something new. Always be willing to try something new. Don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll try some things and they just won’t work for you, and that’s okay. Other things you’ll try and they’ll click. You’ll keep up with those. Making kombucha never really worked for me, but making water kefir does. Trying new things helps you branch out, discover what works for you, learn new skills and improve your lifestyle one piece at a time. You don’t have to do everything. Find what works well for you, your lifestyle and your family, and then run with those.

3. Find the simplest things to change that have the most profound impact. Don’t waste time on the piddly things, go for the big ones! Not necessarily the hardest things but just the ones with the biggest impact. One example for us was our hand soap. We wash our hands all day long, so soap is something we are regularly exposed to, something regularly going on our skin. Changing our soap was one of the first steps I made. In this same vein, I changed our laundry detergent as well. I’ve been using Naturoli soapnuts for years. (And, by the way, Naturoli is offering a great bonus for those who purchase The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle that I mentioned yesterday. See below!) Both of these changes were simple ones to make, but they had a wide-reaching effect. This principle can be applied to food as well. Do you drink a lot of milk? Find a quality source for your milk. Do you eat out or bring home dinner a lot? Start gathering real food recipes that you can utilize for packing lunches and for quick, easy dinners instead.

4. Make a plan. Set some goals for yourself. Maybe you decide to make one new change each month. Or maybe you have a list of changes you want to make, so you need to strategize how to effectively implement them. Maybe you’re not sure how you need to change—if so, gather resources to read so that you can learn more in order to implement change in your life. But you won’t get anywhere without a plan, so make one!

5. Lastly, learn from those who’ve gone before you. Don’t reinvent the wheel! (I’m guilty of that.) Most often it’s just a big waste of precious time. Many people have already researched and studied topics related to natural living and are sharing that information with you. Read blogs, read books, take courses. Learn from the experts! We live in a wonderful time where resources and information is literally at our fingertips. Take advantage of it. The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is one way you can do just that. It’s a compilation of resources from experts, authors and bloggers who have done the hard work for you. If you’re still unsure about how this bundle can help you, listen to these stories of real people, just like you and me, who have changed their lives for the better by being empowered with the knowledge and resources from last year’s bundle.

There you have it! Five simple things YOU can do to live a more natural lifestyle.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and make a difference in your own life for the better! 

Five Ways to Fix Eggplant

Do you remember my eggplant story?

(This post contains affiliate links.) 

Their comeback has been impressive, and I’ve been inundated with eggplants. So far I have:

  • Made eggplant parmigiana
  • Roasted eggplant with other vegetables like potatoes and zucchini
  • Made my husband’s favorite roasted eggplant dip from my cookbook Whole Foods for the Everyday Cook
  • Dehydrated eggplant for future use
  • Made my grandma’s mock meatballs (which are actually…you guessed it–eggplant!)

Needless to say, we’ve eaten a lot of eggplant lately. The bounty is a blessing for sure. But I currently have 12 eggplants in my fridge with 20 more soon to be picked, and I’M OUT OF IDEAS!!!

Can you help me, please?? Share your eggplant recipes with me below. My family will be so grateful!

And don’t forget to check out my NEW eBook on gardening and this incredible deal!! (

My New Book and a GREAT deal for you!

I am happy to tell you that TODAY marks the release of my new book The Simplest of Gardens. My book is just the thing for you if you…

  • Are a newbie gardener
  • Have failed at gardening in the past
  • Want to try your hand at gardening
  • Don’t have any space to garden (yes, you can garden without a yard!)
  • Want to grow in your general knowledge of the basics of gardening.

My book is being released within a fabulous bundle of eBooks, eCourses and bonus offers!

This bundle, of which I am a contributing author and affiliate, is called The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. And “ultimate” is no exaggeration! This bundle contains 75 eBooks, 3 printables, 13 eCourses and 3 membership sites. Wow. Ultimate indeed.


The idea behind The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is to save you time and money.

The founders read and screened a whole lot of available books, courses and resources covering a wide range of  topics related to healthy living. They then chose a well-rounded grouping of the best of the best—knowledgeable resources and products that support you living a healthy lifestyle—and are now offering you a ridiculously low price on it all!

If purchased separately, the cost of the eBooks, eCourses, printables and bonus offers included in The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is over $2100. But if you purchase them all together in this awesome bundle, you will only pay $29.97. Pretty amazing!

But as with all good deals, they do come to an end. This impressive sale ends at midnight on September 14. So go grab it while you can!

Over the next few days I’ll be sharing more about this bundle with you and why you should buy it. Whether or not you’re sure this bundle is for you, you should at least just go over and take a peek at it. It’s a pretty incredible collection.


Best Friends: Tomato & Basil

Tomato & Basil. Basil & Tomato. A happy combination and one of my summer favorites.


(Affiliate links below.)

Perhaps it is the Italian in me, but I have ALWAYS loved basil. I have grown it for years in pots and in my garden. Pair basil with a rosy, garden-fresh tomato…wow! Can’t be beat! In fact I rarely buy tomatoes from the store because, in comparison, they are very bland and tasteless. But come summer, I grow tomatoes and hit the farmers’ markets in search of tomatoes, and we eat fresh tomatoes all season long.

As summer is coming to an end, I am picking as much basil from my plants as I possibly can, determined to squeeze the last yummy drops out of summer.

So how do we like to eat our fresh tomatoes and basil?

On sandwiches


Double Bean & Veggie Salad - colorful and delicious and very summery!

A fresh tomato sauce with torn basil overtop

This velvety-smooth summer soup of tomato & eggplant, topped with fresh basil.

The classic caprese salad of sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves. (Add some naturally preserved salami, glass of red wine and sourdough bread and you’ve got a meal!)

The Summer Garden Lasagna I recently shared with you.


And on pizza. There’s nothing like a good homemade pizza!

Join The Conversation

It’s your turn. How do you like to eat tomatoes and basil? Share your favorite ways right here with us!


Some Big News…

You may recall that last year my cookbook was included in a fabulous book bundle on healthy living. Well, this year (coming up very soon in fact—stay tuned!) my brand spankin’ new ebook on gardening will be released in an all-new book bundle full of healthy living resources! I’m really excited to release my new book, and I’m really excited about this upcoming bundle of awesome resources for living a more natural life.

simplegardens coverWM

But before I share more about my new book with you, I want to share a wonderful FREEBIE with you! When you’re on a budget, free is always good, right? I know so many of you are interested in not just healthy eating but living a healthy lifestyle that includes natural remedies and more. There is a 4-part audio course that I’m promoting and am an affiliate for that’s available for downloading for FREE until September 6. It’s called The 4 Essential Habits of Healthy Families. With content from 4 top bloggers, it covers self-care (which moms seem to especially need reminders of, myself included!), keeping your whole family fit, healthy whole food/from scratch cooking, and natural remedies.

This is a great download to grab while it’s available. I like to listen to audio like this when I’m folding laundry or picking up in the evenings. I hope you take advantage of this mini e-course and snag it while it’s here. I think you’ll benefit from the content. Let’s all continue to study, learn and grow and be lifelong learners! It’s easy to download your own copy right here.

*** UPDATE: The freebie audio course is no longer available, but this healthy living library is available: Over $2000 worth of resources and products for just $29.97! Be sure to check it out! ***

Now back to my book! I’m really excited to share this new book with you! It’s been formulating in my head for a long time, and this spring it finally came to fruition.  As I’ve interacted with you readers and others in my life, I’ve noticed a common theme. Many of you love the idea of gardening but don’t know how to garden. Many of you long to garden but don’t think you have the space (namely, because you don’t have a big backyard). Many of you want to try your hand at gardening, but you’re overwhelmed with all the information or work involved and don’t know where to begin.

Well, The Simplest of Gardens is my attempt to help you. You don’t have to have a big yard. You don’t have to know a lot. In fact, you don’t have to know anything! While gardening can be very complex, it can also be very simple. And that’s where my book comes in. I walk you, step by step, through building your own small container garden of herbs and lettuce. The simplest of gardens.

Why herbs and lettuce?

  • Because they are some of the easiest garden plants to grow!
  • They grow quickly, which is always encouraging for any gardener.
  • They are healthy for you—more good for you greens!
  • Growing your own herbs and lettuce is also great a money-saver. Did you know that in just 3 pots you can easily grow $100-150 worth of lettuce and herbs over the summer?

And for you plant-killers out there who can’t keep anything alive, this book is for you too. Yes, it really is! Believe it or not, I was once a bonafide plant-killer. In fact, in the book I share with you the story of my transformation from plant-killer to plant-lover and grower. Trust me when I say this: if I can learn to garden, so can you!

One special feature of this book is that I included a section containing ten of my favorite recipes featuring lettuce and herbs, complete with photos. I always want to leave you inspired, so I hope these photographs and recipes do just that. We accomplish so much more when we are inspired!

So, stay tuned for more information about the upcoming healthy living bundle which will include the release of my new book! I’ll be giving you all the scoop in the days ahead. Oh, and if you download the free audio course I mentioned above, you will get the chance to be the first to snag this new bundle (and my book) in a private sale before it’s shared with the public. Pretty cool!


Gourmet Food and Home Again

My husband and I were able to sneak away on a last-minute road trip to Charleston. It was short but sweet. We didn’t have much time there, but we knew we wanted to hit up some really good food.


While we intended to go elsewhere, we ended up wandering into McCrady’s in downtown Charleston for dinner. We did not know the gem into which we had just stumbled (one of Sean Brock’s restaurants) and ironically almost walked out! But our waiter began to tell us why we should stay—and props to him for the convincing. The menu ever changes since it is a farm to table restaurant; the food there is cutting edge in its uniqueness, top notch in its quality and deliciously gourmet. We had one of our best meals ever! For us McCrady’s tied with L’Auberge Chez Francois in VA, edged out Restaurant Nora in DC and beat 1789 in Georgetown.

The next day we went to their sister restaurant Minero to get some casual Mexican fair, and we about fell out of our chairs. The best ever! I was fascinated by the fact that the staff there tasted over 40 varieties of single strain corn, chose their top 3 varieties and from those make their own nixtamalized tortillas and chips in-house. It’s so exciting to see top chefs passionate about the quality of food, reviving heirloom varieties and saying “no” to GMOs. There is such a wealth of flavor, texture and beauty to be found in heirloom produce!

I left Charleston inspired to try some new cooking techniques, sauces and food combinations. I want to make my own tortillas, grinding my own corn of course, sourced from the same companies as Minero (here, here and here). Sounds amazing! Sigh.

But we came home to real life—four kids, jobs, food budgets, the scurry of school getting ready to start, a crazy garden, the last remaining unpacked boxes from our move…and freezer meals. Yes, freezer meals.

We are definitely not at Minero or McCrady’s! We are at home. Real life. Real, every day food. A previously prepped freezer meal cooked in the slowcooker is definitely not my preferred method of cooking. When I do something I like to do it right. I like to start with my garlic or my mirepoix, add the spices at the beginning, the herbs at the end. I love to cook with just-picked, fresh ingredients. I like to deglaze my pans. I love to experiment and perfect recipes. I like to make everything from scratch.

But real life sometimes calls for real, practical solutions. Like my own self-prepped freezer meals to help us get the school year off to a peaceful start. Gourmet meals will have to wait. And while they’re not an amazing taste explosion, as we eat our humble freezer meals, I’ll still give thanks for them. Each is simple but tasty. Each is made with healthy, whole ingredients. Each is nourishing our bodies and filling our bellies. They’re everyday meals. And everyday meals are, after all, simply whole foods…on a budget.

Summer Garden Lasagna

Summer veggies—tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant. I love them all, don’t you?! The other day I picked fresh basil, yellow squash and eggplant from my garden, and I had just purchased fresh zucchini from the farmer’s market. Originally, I had a completely different meal planned for dinner that night, but when I was in my garden picking the eggplant, inspiration hit—I had to make this lasagna for dinner!


This post contains affiliate links. 

I first made this garden lasagna years ago because I thought it was a fabulous way to sneak a whole lotta veggies into my young children. It was. But my husband and I fell in love with the rich vegetable flavors. That first time I made Summer Garden Lasagna for dinner was well before the zucchini noodle craze. So if you’re not a zucchini noodle fan, you’re in luck here, because this it not a “zucchini noodle” recipe. This is simply a creative, vegetable take on lasagna.

Please don’t expect this to taste and be just like classic lasagna. This is a recipe all to its own. It’s definitely reminiscent of lasagna, but it’s rich in summer flavors and a bit less filling. The vegetables blend together to give this dish amazing flavor, and every bite bursts with summery, garden goodness. While it’s not classic lasagna, it’s really, really good in its own right. And, believe it or not, it’s delicious cold the next day. Do you eat cold pizza? Yep, me too. So, the day after you make this, remove the leftover lasagna from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes just to take the chill off. Then try it cold. I bet you’ll love it.


The basic idea for this lasagna is to slice zucchini, eggplant and yellow squash into long, flat, thin slices and use them like lasagna noodles. A mandolin is super handy for this. But if you don’t have a mandolin, you just need a good sharp knife and a steady hand…or you can take the easy (safer?) road and just slice the veggies into thin rounds. You really won’t notice a huge difference—I’ve made it both ways.

One note about the vegetables: you can use any combination of the vegetables—all zucchini, lots of eggplant, no eggplant, a variety of summer squashes. Personally, I prefer the depth of flavor that comes from using equal amounts of zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant, but to each his own. And in a pinch, it’s good to know anything works!

Summer Garden Lasagna

Serves 8-10

  • 2 small-medium yellow squash
  • 2 small-medium zucchini
  • 2 small eggplants
  • 1.5 lbs. ground beef
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano (or 2 T fresh oregano)
  • 1 (16 oz.) container of ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb. mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 (24 oz.) jar tomato sauce
  • Fresh basil (the more, the merrier! I love to use a huge pile of it.)
  • Coarse salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.

Slice the vegetables into long strips using a mandolin set to 1/8″ (or slice as explained above). Lay the vegetable slices out on cookie sheets and sprinkle with coarse salt. Leave for 10-15 minutes and allow the salt to draw out moisture.

While the vegetables are resting, mince the garlic and add to a skillet with the ground beef. Cook over medium heat until the beef is nicely browned and crumbled. Part way through cooking, add the oregano. When the meat is browned, set aside.

Mix the ricotta with the eggs and stir until combined. Set aside.

Slice or tear the fresh basil. Set aside.

Return to the vegetables and blot the excess moisture off with a paper towel or clean cloth. Wipe away the salt, as well, to keep the lasagna from being too salty.

In the bottom of a large glass (or ceramic) baking dish (10×15″ or 11×17″), spoon 1/3 of the jar of tomato sauce and spread evenly. Lay 1/3 of the vegetable slices over the entire bottom of the pan, overlapping slightly. (Be sure to intersperse the different vegetables. You want every slice of lasagna to have all three delicious vegetables!) Next, sprinkle 1/2 of the meat over the veggies. Gently spoon and spread 1/2 of the ricotta-egg mixture over the meat. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella over top. Sprinkle 1/2 of the basil over top. Add a little pepper if desired.

Repeat this once more: 1/3 of the sauce, 1/3 of the vegetable slices, 1/2 of the meat, 1/2 of the ricotta-egg mixture, 1/3 of the mozzarella, 1/2 of the basil, a sprinkle of pepper.

Top the lasagna with the remaining 1/3 of the vegetable slices, and pour the remaining 1/3 of the tomato sauce over top. Reserve the remaining 1/3 of the mozzarella.

Bake in the oven uncovered for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and tender and the sauce is bubbling. At this point, remove the lasagna from the oven, sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the mozzarella over the lasagna and return it to the oven to bake 15 minutes more. Remove the lasagna from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving. This helps the lasagna remain more solid when served.