ZUCCHINI BREAD: IT’S WHAT TO DO WITH THOSE GIANTS FROM YOUR GARDEN!
You’ve heard of "The Year of the Cat"? (Al Stewart song, 1976??) Well, 2020 is "The Year of the Zucchini" in our garden. We must have harvested over fifty fruits, including some HUGE ones! It happens every week or so: we go out to pick a couple nice sized zucchini for dinner, and OMG, there’s an enormous one--I’m talking a foot and a half, or more--hiding among the leaves. In fact it happened twice this week. Yesterday we picked two 13- inchers, and today I found an 18-incher that I'm pretty sure wasn't there yesterday! (If you’ve ever grown zucchini, you know what I’m talking about!). It’s a mystery, for sure.
But what to do with those giant zucchini bats? They can be kind of seedy and watery, and sometimes the skin is tough, but there’s still a lot to work with there. The answer is... zucchini bread!! I got this recipe from my kids’ 4th grade Thanksgiving class project, years ago. Using it, my oldest son actually won a blue ribbon at the county fair—it’s that good!
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup shortening (easiest to use stick shortening)
½ cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
2 cups grated zucchini
3 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350F. Grate the zucchini in a food processor, then put it in a colander to drain for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, beat the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the shortening, sugar and oil and beat until fluffy. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then blend into the wet mixture. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla (and nuts, if using). Bake for one hour in two large loaf pans sprayed with non-stick baking spray. Cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pans. So good!!
-Zucchini has a lot of water, so if it's really wet, wrap it in a towel and squeeze out the remaining water before measuring it. I have a friend who forms squeezed-out, pre-measured zucchini into balls and freezes them on a cookie sheet. Later she transfers them to a freezer bag, and voilà, she's ready to bake (or use them for soup or zucchini pancakes...)
-Use the non-stick baking spray with flour in it to be sure your zucchini bread releases cleanly from the pan.
-A fluted pan makes your final product look even better. Here's one I really like: https://www.surlatable.com/anniversary-loaf-pan/PRO-5193487.html#prefn1=productType&prefv1=HardGood&q=decorative+loaf+pan&start=2
Any finally, for everyone who has an overabundance of regular-sized zucchini,
here are a few of my favorite ways to use them:
1. Sauté sliced zucchini and onions, season with salt and pepper and fold into scrambled eggs or a frittata;
2. Combine ½” chunks of zucchini with sliced red bell and green poblano peppers; season and toss with olive oil and cook in a grill basket on the BBQ. Serve with a protein over rice or as a simple side dish;
3. Make zucchini boats (with or without meat)—there are tons of recipes online for this;
4. In a large saucepan sauté a chopped onion in olive oil. Add a couple zucchinis sliced into ¼” coins and some chopped tomatoes--either fresh or canned with their juices. Simmer uncovered for about twenty minutes; then add salt and pepper, and some basil and oregano. Fresh herbs are best, but dried are fine, too. Be sure to take this off the heat and cover before the zucchini are overcooked;
5. Spiralize your zucchini, then cook and serve as you would pasta.
6. If all else fails, give them to your friends and neighbors (but this only works until, like you, they get tired of zucchini) :)