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A little planning can go a long way to save on waste when you find yourself with more fresh produce than you can eat. Use these tips and tricks to transform your extra summer vegetables and fruit into pestos, sauces, pies, jams, pickles, and more.

How to use up cucumber

Green English cucumber on a white background.

Quick, Easy Cucumber Pickle recipe

Ready to bite into in 30 minutes, this cucumber pickle recipe makes an easy snack, picnic charcuterie board add-on, or crunchy burger topper.

  • In saucepan, mix 1½ cups (375 mL) water, ½ cup (125 mL) granulated sugar, ¼ cup (60 mL) white vinegar and 2 tbsp (30 mL) kosher salt.
  • Let simmer just until sugar and salt are dissolved. While mixture is hot, add 1 cucumber sliced into rounds.
  • Cover and let steep for 30 min. to 1 hr. Discard brine. Chill before eating, if desired.

Love a good pickle? Try our recipes:

How to use up basil

Freezer-ready basil in plastic zip bag

Freeze your basil

Properly preserved, this herb can add a boost to quick pastas and pasta salads. It can also be spread inside a cheesy grilled sandwich or whisked into a simple vinaigrette.

  • Discarding stems, add basil leaves to food processor; pulse to coarsely chop.
  • Scrape into freezer bag. Drizzle with olive oil or vegetable oil, turning to coat.
  • Press flat before freezing. Break off pieces as needed to flavour cooking.
  • Only have a handful of fresh basil left over? Coarsely chop by hand and follow same steps. Freezes well for 2 months.

How to use up asparagus

White plate of asparagus pasta with fresh parmesan and grape tomatoes on table with purple napkin.

Asparagus Pesto

Turn a bunch or two of asparagus into a speedy delicious pesto as well as an easy pasta garnish with this tasty hack.

  • In skillet over medium heat, soften 1½ cups (375 mL) finely diced onion in a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Cut 2 in. (5 cm) off tips of asparagus; reserve.
  • Trim 1 in. (2.5 cm) off tough ends. Chop midsection of spears into ½-in. (1 cm) pieces; add to skillet with splash of water and 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves. Cook asparagus until tender-crisp. Do not cover skillet. Let cool until steam is gone.
  • In food processor, place cooked asparagus mixture, 2 cups (500 mL) loosely packed fresh basil leaves (40 g pack), ¾ cup (175 mL) toasted walnut pieces, ¼ cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan cheese; 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil, 1 tsp (5 mL) salt and freshly cracked pepper. Blitz until coarse. Makes 2½ cups (625 mL). Toss with hot pasta to serve.
  • Garnish with asparagus tips cooked tender-crisp.

How to use up fresh bell peppers

Red bell pepper on a white background.

Roasted Peppers

Roasted sweet red peppers are a very versatile summer vegetable perfect for sauces, dips, marinades, and sandwiches or as an ingredient in a number of dishes, including casseroles, pastas, omelettes, soups, and salads. Learn how to roast them below:

  • Cut off and discard longer stems, then place peppers on foil-lined baking sheet under broiler, turning to char all over. Transfer to heatproof bowl, cover, and let cool.
  • Remove and discard stems, seeds, ribs, and skins. Place peppers in jar and cover with olive oil or vegetable oil. Store in fridge for up to 1 week.
  • To store for longer, press peppers flat in freezer bags and freeze for up to 1 month. Soft after thawing, they're handy for mixing into pastas, sauces, and soups.

How to use up rosemary

bowl of rosemary salt with small wooden scoop at the side

Pan-Roasted Rosemary Salt

Turn fresh rosemary into a well-preserved stash of flavour with this quick hack. You can use it as a finishing salt on grilled steak, chicken, lamb, vegetables, or fish.

  • Spread sprigs onto baking sheets and let air-dry for 2 days or until completely brittle. Store in jars.
  • Using mortar and pestle, lightly pound 4 tsp (20 mL) finely chopped rosemary and 1 tbsp (15 mL) kosher salt until fragrant. Mix in pinch granulated sugar.
  • In small dry skillet over low heat, stir just until rosemary darkens and crisps. Immediately transfer to small dish.

How to use up tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes on the vine on a white backdrop.

Easy Roasted Feta & Cherry Tomato Pasta

Love that viral feta and tomato hack? Here's our take as a way to use up leftover cherry tomatoes.

  • Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Place 4 cups (1 L) whole cherry or grape tomatoes (or tomato chunks) into large baking dish. Toss with drizzle of olive oil, 2 finely sliced garlic cloves and 1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar.
  • Grab 200 g of feta cheese from our Cheese Dept. and tip onto tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 min.
  • Meanwhile, cook about 2 cups (500 mL) dried pasta. After roasting, lightly crush tomatoes and feta. Season with salt and pepper to taste, plus a little extra sugar or honey, if needed. Toss with torn fresh basil and drained hot pasta. Enjoy!

Tomato Jam

Preserve the warmth of vine-ripened tomatoes with this easy tasty Tomato Jam recipe. This sweet-savoury jam can be used on appetizers or burgers. Infused with jalapeños and allspice, it takes sandwiches and cheese plates to another next level. If you prefer to can your crop for a hit of summer in the dead of winter, here's how to can tomatoes at home.

How to use up fresh mint

Mint tea

Mint Pesto

Make mint pesto to add freshness to grilled veggies, potatoes, avocado toast, noodle salads, and lamb.

  • You'll need 4 cups (1 L) mint and 1 cup (250 mL) parsley leaves, loosely packed. Add half of herbs to food processor. Put rest in colander and pour in kettle of just-boiled water, then rinse under cold running water; squeeze out excess water.
  • Add blanched herbs to food processor; add ⅓ cup (75 mL) walnut pieces, zest of 1 lemon and 1 chopped garlic clove (optional).
  • Pulse until coarse paste; transfer to bowl. Stir in ⅓ cup (75 mL) olive oil, 2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice, 1 tbsp (15 mL) grated Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Makes ¾ cup (175 mL).
  • Press flat in freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month.

How to use up strawberries

Fresh whole strawberries on a white background.

Strawberry Vinaigrette

Sweet, tart, and easy to make, this vinaigrette comes together in a snap. In blender, add 1 cup (250 mL) fresh strawberries, ¼ cup (60 mL) white vinegar, ¼ cup (60 mL) oil, 1 tbsp (15 mL) grainy Dijon mustard, 1 clove garlic, and salt and pepper to taste; blitz until smooth. Store any remaining mixture in the fridge.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

For those looking to enjoy summer strawberries in a pie without cooking away the fruit's perfume-like nuances, look no further than our Fresh Strawberry Pie recipe. A blitz of chocolate chip cookies creates the base for a quick cream cheese and brown sugar filling. Top that with mounds of fresh strawberries, glazed with strawberry jam, and you've got a new family summer favourite.

How to use up peaches

Fresh peach pie in white pie plate with a pie server and blue napkin to the side.

Fresh Peach Pie

If you dream of peaches all summer long, here's a lush peach pie recipe with cream cheese in a chocolate chip cookie piecrust base.

Fresh Peach Bellini

Inspired by the Venetian classic, this Fresh Peach Bellini recipe features ripe peaches, lime zest, and ginger ale for a quick and easy mocktail.