No matter where you look right now, summer fruit and vegetables are everywhere. They’re at fruit stands on the side of the road, farmers markets, and practically bursting out of gardens everywhere.

I know in my garden my zucchini is starting to take over, and I’ve begun my yearly pilgrimage to neighbors’ houses to drop off baskets of them. Peppers are the same. Maybe when I planned out my garden I shouldn’t have put in 10 pepper plants.

But no matter how you slice them or how overrun you are, the amazing thing about summer vegetables is that you can make a new side dish for dinner every single night. Some of them are so good you may just opt out of a main course and stick to your sides.

If you want to take advantage of all the veggies in season right now, check out a few of these sizzling summer sides:

Stuffed Zucchini 

My zucchini crop is bursting this year, and I’ve been making zucchini bread, zucchini cake, and even zucchini pancakes. Out of everything I’ve tried, everyone in my family loves stuffed zucchini the best. I’ve made it with and without sausage, and it tastes great every time.




3 zucchini
1 pound sausage
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Trim stems from zucchini and slice lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and put in bowl. Mix seeds with sausage, garlic, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese. Stuff squash with sausage mixture and place in 9×13 inch baking pan. Pour sauce over squash and cover pan with foil.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until sausage is cooked. Remove foil and cover with mozzarella cheese. Cook until cheese is melted.

Stuffed Green Peppers 

Pepper plants are really easy to grow, so if you want a beginner plant to try in a patio garden, peppers are definitely the way to go. Unfortunately you may be too good at growing them, and end up with so many peppers you’ll have to get creative with how you cook them. You can put them on sandwiches, in sauces, and throw them in the oven for an amazing side dish fit for a crowd.



6 green bell peppers
salt to taste
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole peeled
tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup water
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed tomato soup
Water as needed



Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the seeds. Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain. Sprinkle salt inside each pepper, and set aside.

In a large skillet, saute beef and onions for 5 minutes, or until beef is browned. Drain off excess fat, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, 1/2 cup water and Worcestershire sauce. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C). Stuff each pepper with the beef and rice mixture, and place peppers open side up in a baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine tomato soup with just enough water to make the soup a gravy consistency. Pour over the peppers. Bake covered for 25 to 35 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly.

Avocado Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers, like zucchini and peppers, tend to explode from gardens this time of year. I’ve used them in all sorts of different salads, but I like this one the best. The avocado and garlic gives it quite a kick.



2 medium cucumbers, cubed
2 avocados, cubed
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
1/4 large lemon
1 lime



In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, avocados, and cilantro. Stir in garlic, onions, salt, and pepper. Squeeze lemon and lime over the top, and toss. Cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.


Wondering what to make for dinner tonight? Look no further than your garden or you local farmer’s market and cook up a side dish or two.

If you need a helping hand in the kitchen, check out all of Best Buy’s kitchen appliances. These handy kitchen gadgets can help you out in a pinch:

Slice and dice summer veggies with the BergHOFF Geminis Knife Block

If you want to grind your own meat for your stuffed peppers, the Cuisinart meat grinder is the perfect kitchen tool

No matter what you need to slice, the Chef’n SleekSlice mandolin will slice it to the exact thickness.
Shelly Wutke
Editor TV & Home Theatre
I'm a Vancouver freelancer and tech enthusiast. When I'm not writing you'll find me on my farm with my alpacas, chickens, and honeybees. Visit my website Survivemag