Readers share recipes that start in their own back yards

For those with a green thumb, garden vegetables bring a bounty to the table, and Mirror readers recently answered the call for recipes embracing the freshness of one’s garden.

Carole Pipetti’s Altoona garden includes tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, garlic, parsley, Swiss chard and beans.

Pipetti, who has been gardening about 26 years, took over the family garden after her father passed away, but her brothers pitch in, too, she said.

“One rototillers and the other one helps me do the plants and then I take care of it the rest of time, the weeding and the harvesting, and we all share in the harvest,” she said.

She enjoys cooking from her garden because it’s fresh, she said. She gives some of her garden bounty away to friends and family, and freezes or cans some of it for the winter.

Pipetti shared a recipe for cheese-stuffed zucchini.

She has been making the recipe she found in the “Polly-O Cooking with Cheese Recipe Book” for about 20 years, she said.

Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini

4 large zucchini

6 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced

1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced, or one 4-ounce can

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sweet basil

2 or 3 tablespoons grated parmesan or romano cheese

salt and pepper to taste

a pinch of nutmeg

2 tablespoons olive oil

seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut ends of zucchini, wash and scrape lightly. Cut in half, lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds lightly and then scoop out pulp down to about a half inch.

Blend pulp with mozzarella, mushrooms, parsley, garlic, sweet basil, parmesan or romano cheese, salt and pepper, nutmeg, and olive oil. Fill zucchini cases with mixture.

Arrange side by side in oiled baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and drizzle a little olive oil over them. Cover with oven-safe lid or aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking an additional 15 minutes.


Shirley Kurtz-Flaugh of Williamsburg has a recipe popular among relatives and friends for cucumbers: Refrigerator Pickles.

“I have been making this recipe for years; my sister-in-law gave it to me when I was first married and I adjusted it according to my taste,” Kurtz-Flaugh said in her submission.

“The recipe has been copied and given to many of my friends and family members along with a supply of cucumbers. I can say that it has become a community favorite. It is simple to make, but very tasty, and a great way to use produce from the garden.”

Refrigerator Pickles

6 cups thinly sliced unpeeled cucumbers

2 cups thinly sliced onions

2 cups distilled white vinegar

4 cups white sugar (Be sure the sugar is dissolved; can place over heat for dissolving and then cool)

1 teaspoon turmeric (optional)

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon alum

Wash and scrub cucumbers and clean the onions. Cover the cucumbers and onions with 1/2 cup of salt and water. Let set for three hours, then drain.

During the three hours combine the white vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed and alum. Put the drained cucumbers in a gallon jar and pour the liquid over the cucumbers.

Place in refrigerator overnight. Ready to eat in 24 hours. Keeps for months in the refrigerator.


Sonia Gildea of Dysart, who used to have a bigger garden but still plants some vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers, submitted several recipes for the garden, including the End of Summer Vegetable Bake below.

She wasn’t sure where the recipe originated, but it was passed down to her from her mom, she said. She serves the bake as a side dish.

End of Summer Vegetable Bake

1 head (five cups) cauliflower, broken into small florets

1 medium (4 cups) broccoli, cut into small florets

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon butter

2 medium tomatoes chopped

3/4 teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano and salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, optional

4 eggs

1/3 cup half and half cream

1 1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place cauliflower and broccoli in a saucepan with a small amount of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet saute onion and garlic in butter until tender. Stir in tomatoes, seasonings, cauliflower and broccoli. Cook, uncovered, until heated through, about four minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and cream; stir in one cup of the Swiss cheese, parmesan cheese and the veggie mixture. Transfer to a greased shallow 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Swiss cheese on top.

Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.