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Garden Gifts In A Pandemic Summer - Tomato Conserva & Zucchini Chips

Since I started writing this column over 6 years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to have received a number of gifts and feedback from readers - usually a shared favorite recipe, a bottle of interesting wine or a spice blend for me to try, and it makes me so happy to connect with you all that way.

I suppose it’s a sign of the times that this week, I received a pretty little watermelon seed mask from Shirley St. Jean, reminding me of the garden. Her daughter started mask-making when the pandemic began and now has a thriving business doing so.

And while I plan to keep this little garden goodie for a long time, there are many things in my abundant back yard that won’t last long without some intervention. Time to “put some food by,” as they say - saving today’s bounty for later.

Tomato Conserva


4 lb. ripe, meaty tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence (or your favorite herb blend)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Position your oven racks to divide the oven into thirds.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper.

Brush both sides of the tomato with olive oil and place them on the parchment.

Sprinkle some of each seasoning on each slice and place in the oven.

Turn the oven down to 225 and cook for approximately 6 hours, turning the pans halfway through the cooking time.

When the tomatoes are done, place them in a jar and cover with a good olive oil.

These moist tomatoes resemble the concentrated flavor of sun-dried tomatoes, but are much better. You can use them chopped on top of pasta, chicken, Caprese salad or even bruschetta.

Zucchini Chips


1 medium zucchini

1/4 cup olive oil

Any spice blend (I used Creole seasoning for one batch and Ranch dressing seasoning on the other)


Using a mandoline if possible, slice the zucchini in thin pieces, about 8 to an inch.

Preheat the oven to 235.

As with the tomatoes, line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.

Brush the slices lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with your spice blend.

Cook for 2 hours, and test the chips - they should be browned and crispy. If they still have whitish green in the center, they’ll be too soggy, so put them back in the oven for 15-minute increments until they crisp up.

Dry the chips on a rack and when cool, keep them in an airtight container at room temperature. Snack away, with no guilt. What a gift.

Speaking of gifts, why don’t you reach out to the and get a pandemic summer gift for someone you care about?

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