By Kathryn McLean

Did you plant a vegetable garden that’s still growing strong into September? Maybe you have a lot of produce and are sharing with friends and neighbours.Or maybe your crop is slowing down and you don’t want to waste those last tomatoes and peppers but are at a loss for how to use them up. Here’s a list of some popular homegrown vegetables and herbs with some suggestions for you.

Tomatoes: Sure, you can put tomatoes in salads or add them to sandwiches, but consider making the tomato the star. A tomato salad, with mixed types of tomatoes if you have them is great with a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing. Go ahead and add sliced cucumber or herbs, but garden-fresh tomatoes make a great salad on their own.

Or a toasted tomato sandwich: toast some bread, add butter and/or mayonnaise and thick slices of ripe tomato. Don’t forget the salt and pepper.

Zucchini (and summer squash): Zucchini often gets grated and baked into loaves and muffins, but try grilling or roasting zucchini slices or  tuck the slices into a sandwich or omelette. Add the slices to pasta sauce or include them in a pasta or grain salad.

Sweet Peppers: Peppers are versatile! Use them raw in mixed salads or add them to grain or pasta salad. Serve them raw with dips such as hummus or creamy ranch. Grill or roast your peppers and add them to salad, pasta sauce or soup.

Add grilled or roasted peppers to a cheese board, sandwich or homemade dip. Cook peppers on the stovetop in a pan with a little oil until they soften and the edges start to brown, then add shrimp for fajitas. Or add beaten egg and make an eggs-and-peppers meal. You can include sweet peppers in a stir fry or fried rice.

How about stuffed peppers? Carefully scoop out the stem and seeds, and fill peppers with a seasoned mixture of grains, meat or beans, veggies and herbs, then bake them until soft and enjoy alongside a crisp salad.

Hot Peppers: If you usually enjoy your spicy peppers included in hot (cooked) dishes, think about adding some raw peppers to your dishes, too. Include sliced raw peppers in salads, such as tomato-cucumber or potato salad. Top pizza and sandwiches with a few slices, or finish egg dishes with them. Have you tried pickling a small jar of hot peppers?

Fresh herbs: Fresh herbs can be added to just about any dish. Use them in a marinade, then add more chopped herbs after cooking. Mix chopped herbs into yogurt or sour cream to make a dip for veggies or a creamy condiment to serve with dinner. Salads love fresh herbs, whether garden salads, pasta or grain salads. Add them to bean salads, and include them in homemade dressings, too.

Include herbs when roasting vegetables, and top warm dishes like soups, stews and fried rice with plenty of herbs. How about a herb salad like taboule or a garlicky herb condiment (like chimichurri) to use with a grilled dinner?

Don’t forget to hang some bunches of herbs in the kitchen to dry out, then simply crunch some brittle leaves in your hand when you’re ready to use them.