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Monday, July 22, 2013

Overrun by Zucchini

I didn't count on just how prolific a zucchini crop can be.  I've never even thought much about zucchini.  In fact, I'm not even sure I like zucchini.  It's a fine vegetable, but certainly not sexy like, say, brussels sprouts.  Or beets.

Back in the olden days, when I was growing up, I thought zucchini was a soft and mushy vegetable.  In fact, I thought all vegetables were soft and mushy.  My mother cooked the hell out of everything she touched, and vegetables were no exception.

Zucchini came into vogue back when I was growing up, and my mother jumped on the zucchini bandwagon with true enthusiasm.  All of a sudden zucchini was her go-to veggie.  One of her favorite recipes involved cutting the zucchini in half lengthwise, and slathering it with butter/margarine (depending on whether we were in a "heart healthy" mode or not), and Kraft parmesan cheese from the green shaker can.  (Oh, don't look so offended.  You probably had a can in your refrigerator as well).  This whole assembly was then put into the oven and cooked until the top was crusty and the zucchini had completely lost its shape and any resemblance to what it once was: firm.

Needless to say, I ate the crusty cheesy part off the top and left the rest.  We all did.  Even my mom, I think.

But I digress.  Every week, in my CSA basket(s) I receive zucchini.  Not just one zucchini, but lots of zucchini.  Big ones, little ones, fat ones, skinny ones.  I have zucchini crowding my refrigerator and interrupting my sleep.

What the hell am I going to do with all this zucchini?

Well, here's one recipe I tried, and I have to say it's quite delicious.  I'm not usually one for vegetable breads, but this one has a lot of chocolate in it, thus obscuring the zucchini-ness of it.  I think the zucchini mostly keeps the loaf very moist without being gummy, and that's a good thing.  Kate loves it, which is also a good thing, because she doesn't fret about calories and fat the same way I do.

Tomorrow I'm going to try something another zucchini intensive recipe.  I am on a mission to use up some of this zucchini, and maybe learn to love it in the process.

Recipe:  Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe
(Simply Recipes)

This recipe makes 2 loaves; you can easily divide the recipe in half to make just one loaf. 


4 cups grated zucchini (from about a pound and a half of zucchini)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (use natural unsweetened cocoa, NOT Dutch processed)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup unsalted butter (12 Tbsp or 1 1/2 sticks), melted
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle. Grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans with baking spray or butter.

Place the freshly grated zucchini in a sieve over a bowl to catch any excess moisture as it drains, while you work on prepping the other ingredients and preparing the recipe. If for some reason your zucchini is on the dry side, hydrate the shredded zucchini by soaking it in water first, and then place in sieve.

Vigorously whisk together the flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk until there are no more clumps and the ingredients are well combined.

In a separate large bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until smooth, about a minute. You can do this with an electric mixer on medium speed, or by hand with a wooden spoon. (I'm lazy and use a mixer but it's easy enough to do by hand.) Add the melted butter, instant coffee granules, and almond extract and beat until smooth.

Mix the shredded zucchini into the sugar egg mixture. Add the flour to the zucchini mixture in 3 additions, stirring to combine after each addition.

Work quickly, and divide the batter between the two prepared loaf pans. (Work quickly because once the dry ingredients have mixed with the wet ingredients, the leavening has begun.) Place into the oven. Bake for 50 minutes at 350°F, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and easily. Remove to a rack. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the edges to separate the bread from the pan. Remove from the loaf pans and let cool completely on a rack.

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