BLUE ZONES:Continued garden growth
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for gardeners. It’s the time of the year when the hard work of planting, weeding and watering finally pay off. The time when gardeners can reap the literal fruits of their labor.
For Tekla Wlodarczyk, a Beaver Dam resident who uses the Beaver Dam Community Garden on Judson Drive, witnessing the bountiful harvest of the neighboring garden plots is a bonus to enjoying the sights, smells and tastes of her own harvest.
Though Wlodarczyk defines her raised garden bed as a “salsa garden.” There is no shortage of recipes she can make with what she has grown. For example, she grew zucchinis this year and made zucchini noodles, commonly called zoodles. The spaghetti sauce was also made using ingredients harvested from her garden. She started by spiralizing zucchinis with a spiralizer, a tool that has become popular and is easy to find online and at local stores. It can be used for a variety of vegetables including beets, carrots and sweet potatoes and spiralizing makes each of these vegetables more fun to eat. Spiralizers range in price from less than $10 for a simple handheld version to more expensive electric models. You can also look around your own kitchen for tools you already have that may achieve a similar product such as a mandoline with a julienne blade or a julienne peeler.
Once the zucchinis are spiralized, she focuses on making her spaghetti sauce. Using tomatoes from her garden as a base, she adds her own unique twist on homemade spaghetti sauce by adding chilies, jalapenos and Mexican oregano which has a different flavor than the more common Mediterranean or Greek oregano. Her husband is from Mexico so she likes to take the Mexican flavors and put them into other foods that she is familiar with.
“That way,” she said, “I make foods I am familiar with and my family tastes food that they are familiar with.”
To cook the zoodles, she heats a large pot of boiling water and drops in a portion of zoodles at a time, cooking them for only a couple of minutes before removing them from the water and placing them in a different bowl. The zoodles will continue to cook after being removed from the hot water, so they should still be a little firm when they come out of the water. Alternatively, you can heat the zoodles in a frying pan with a little olive oil. Once heated, she combines the zoodles with the spaghetti sauce and serves them just as you would serve spaghetti sauce and pasta. Zoodles contain fewer calories and carbohydrates than pasta and are often less expensive, especially when you can grow them yourself or pick them up at a local farmers market.
“Spaghetti noodles, like zucchini noodles, really do not have a lot of flavor,” she said. “You still get the satisfaction of twirling and eating. The pasta is just a vehicle for holding the sauce and zucchini noodles hold the sauce well. It is even better the second day when you store the sauce and the zoodles together.”