I know God has a sense of humor. If you have any doubts you should come and check out my garden...soon to be re-named my zucchini patch. In case you missed it , in the beginning of the summer some starlings made off with half of the baby plants that I had slaved over for months in my basement getting them big enough and strong enough to move outside at just the right time. Initially I had hesitated to replant straight from seed out in my garden, I wasn't sure there would be enough time to get them going. In the end I did direct sow some seeds in the garden and covered them with milk gallon jugs with the bottoms cut off to give them a sort off a greenhouse effect. After all, what did I have to lose? The squash and the zucchini took off. Now almost two months later I have lost the rows I used to walk down to the squash and zucchini that is now spreading over and saying hello to the vegetables in the parallel beds. I'm just not sure all of those other vegetables were planning on having visitors.
At first it was all good. I have collected all different kinds of recipes for squash and zucchini. I was quite content to can it, bake it, grill it, and saute it. I was keeping up with the influx. But then the inevitable happened. In the middle of the night there came a banging on my back door. Crap...It was the zucchini, they wanted to come in. Like a garden thug they had taken over and were bullying my other plants. I've never had squash and zucchini like this. Taller then my waist and spreading wide, with yellow flowers everywhere. There is a catch 22 in gardening. You want to pick the zucchini when they are small. But maybe you aren't quite ready for it. So you wait a day or two. All of a sudden that cute little vegetable has grown to the size of your arm and that recipe you had won't quite cover that amount of zucchini you now are in possession of. Plus, once you cut it...more will grow. That's just plain rude if you ask me.
In honor of my excessive zucchini plants I am going to dedicate a week to just them. Just them and nothing else. So if you are up to your ears in zucchini and not even your neighborhood can consume it all, this weeks posts might give you some new ways to go through it.
The first two entries in my week of zucchini are going to give you two recipes that I came up with this summer to give a new twist to some classics. The last post will be a roundup of other peoples recipes that I am in love with and are my "go to recipes" when summer squash season comes rolling in.
I think one of my favorite things when it comes to zucchini is a lot of other peoples favorite too...Zucchini bread. It's sweet, moist, and one of the few things I will happily turn my oven on for even on the hottest of days. Besides the taste, zucchini bread does another wonderful thing, it freezes well. So you get to stash a loaf in the freezer for a later date and not feel the need to hoard the one loaf being devoured on the counter.
However, sometimes...I find myself wanting it to be a little different. The cinnamon version is wonderful, and I'll always make it, but I was looking at that slice on my plate a couple of weeks ago and wondering what other flavors I could put in there. Don't say chocolate. Go ahead and make a chocolate zucchini cake if you want to, but don't make chocolate zucchini bread...that's just not right. It's like zucchini trying to be something it's not. My favorite zucchini bread recipe is one I found on Smitten Kitchen. It is the moist, flavorful zucchini bread you are craving when you go to make a couple of loaves. You can get that recipe here. Inspired by that recipe, I was looking out my kitchen window into my herb garden and I saw my rosemary plant. Now there's a thought. So I thought a little more and came up with this:
My New Favorite Zucchini Bread
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen
(Makes 2 loaves)
- 3 Large eggs
- 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1 3/4 cup of sugar
- 2 cups of zucchini; shredded
- 2 tsp. fresh rosemary; finely minced
- Zest of one orange (I used a navel orange)
- Juice from 1/2 of the orange
- 3 cups of flour
- 1 tsp. of baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. of baking powder
- 1 tsp. of salt
- 1 cup of toasted pecans; chopped ( Or pine nuts if you can swing that)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans and set them aside.
- In a large bowl beat the eggs. Mix in the yogurt, oil, and sugar. Then mix in the shredded zucchini, rosemary, orange zest, and orange juice. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and toasted nuts.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- Once the batter is well combined divide it evenly between the two loaf pans.
- Bake the loaves for one hour, give or take a few minutes, until a tester inserted comes out clean. My loaves took exactly one hour and were perfect.
- Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes inside the loaf pan before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
*Get a printable version of this recipe here.
Your kitchen will smell like sweet oranges as the bread is baking. The bread itself has just a background note of rosemary. It's there, but you taste it after the orange. The loaves themselves are lighter in appearance compared to the traditional zucchini bread due to the lack of cinnamon. This makes those little flecks of green from the zucchini bread really stand out visually. The pecans add the right amount of texture. I am in love this zucchini bread recipe. It's just what I need on a hot summer day.