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Attack of the Killer Mutant Zukes, Part VI–Zucchini bread!

I said at the beginning of this series that I would not post a recipe for zucchini bread unless I found one that was a) really yummy and b) used up a heckuva lot of zucchini in the making.  Today I think I hit on one that’s worth posting here–it’s adapted from one I found at recipezaar, but I’ve tweaked it quite a bit. (The original is very yummy too, just didn’t use up enough squash! With a few other changes in the recipe, I was able to double the amount of zucchini from the original.)

LOTZA ZUKES ZUCCHINI BREAD RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar (I used light brown, but white would work)
  • 3/4  cup vegetable oil, or 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini (yes, that’s 4 cups!)
  • 1/3 cup orange juice (I’m sure substitutions would work here)
  • 3 cups flour (I used 2 of white, 1 of whole wheat; your choice. Whole wheat will be denser and not as light.)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (could reduce if desired)
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins or nuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350*.

In large bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

Beat until well blended.

Add zucchini and orange juice; stir well.

Combine flour with next 5 ingredients; Add to zucchini mixture; stir well. (Do not overmix)

Add nuts; stir gently to combine.

Pour into 2 greased and floured 9in loaf pans. (I actually used one loaf pan and one 9×9 baking pan; these were of course a bit thinner, and they baked a bit faster.)

Bake for about 60 minutes; till toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool in pans 10 minutes.

Remove from pans and let cool completely.

Note: If you need to disguise the presence of a Green Vegetable, you might want to peel the zukes before grating them.  The taste is lovely, but the dark green flecks of skin will totally give you away if you leave them there.  (My children, thus far, have been fairly easy to dupe.  My son eats to fast to notice, and my daughter, who’s a little more suspicious, asked me today, “Mommy, is the green stuff made of herbs?” Fortunately, she thinks of herbs as a good thing.) Also, this is a recipe where those old huge tough zukes are probably better than the juicier tender ones–you want a fairly coarse grate and dry-ish pieces, rather than something finer and moister, or the balance of liquids and solids in the recipe gets out of whack.  I was a little nervous about adding so much squash to this, but it did really well and isn’t heavy at all.

My son says: “This is, like, the best spice cake I’ve ever had!” (Spice cake, we call it. Not zucchini bread. Spin is everything.)  And asked for a second slice. I told him casually, “Well, okay, I guess you can have another. See, that’s the good thing about when I give you snacks that have healthy stuff in them, I’m lots more likely to let you have seconds on it, because I know it has good things in it. ”  One day he will examine it more closely and the jig will be up and he’ll realize he’s been eating VEGETABLES in his cake, but until then we’ll leave it alone.

(UPDATE: I don’t know how I missed this before, but there’s a very promising looking recipe on the Enlightened Cooking blog–hers uses less zuke than mine, but also less oil, with yogurt as the partial substitute…)

The full Giant Mutant Zucchini series:  Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part IV.

Attack of the Ginormous Summer Squash, part V: Zucchini Latkes?

Are you getting as tired of reading about zucchini as I am of eating it?

At this point I have a big ziploc bag of grated zucchini in my fridge (courtesy of my food processor’s grater blade), and pretty much any meal I think I can get away with it, I make something I can toss some of it in.  It’s nice to have it there, to not have to haul out the food processor but actually just have the vegetables there and ready to go.  That and the other ziploc with breadcrumbs from a too-hard loaf of whole wheat bread.  It’s amazing how many nutritionally guiltless meals one can make with grated zucchini and bread crumbs.

Fairly soon, though, I think I’m going to give up on the recipes thing and just blanch and freeze the rest, because I’m just getting a little bored here.  However…tonight when I came home I whipped up a completely experimental recipe that turned out to be really nice and probably really healthy too.

Let me be clear here: I am a Nice Catholic Girl from Chicago, you’d have every right to ask “what does she know from latkes?” And I honestly don’t know much.  But these little pancake thingies were really good, and they looked and tasted not unlike latkes (except for the obvious absence of potatoes and the crispiness only they can really give), and after the fact I found several online recipes for almost exactly the same thing under the title of “zucchini latkes,” so I’m going with the title as above.  Please don’t send your made-latkes-for-the-last-50-years-learned-from-her-mother-who-learned-from-her-mother-and-there’s-no-zucchini-in-latkes grandma to beat me up.  Disclosure has been made here–I am anything but a reliable cultural source. I just throw things into a bowl and then a pan and see what happens, and am thrilled when the results are actually edible.

So:

Zucchini Latkes

Mix together in a bowl:

  • 1 cup coarsely grated zucchini
  • 1 small chopped onion (about half a cup)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs (though I wonder if I could’ve gotten away with 1)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or a couple cloves crushed garlic)

Heat olive oil in a skillet, to medium high heat. (For “fried” pancakes, you’d want a good quarter cup; I don’t want that much oil, so I just put a tablespoon or so in.  This sacrifices crispiness for lower fat content, but one must make one’s own choices.)

Drop zuke mixture by spoonfuls into pan; press down to flatten to about half an inch thickness. Let cook a couple of minutes until the bottom is cooked and a little crispy (again, depends on how much oil you’re using), flip, and cook the other side.

Serve with applesauce or sour cream (or yogurt cheese–my favorite healthy substitute!). Munch out.

This made a great late night supper, since I had lunch at about 3 and wasn’t interested in eating before rehearsal tonight.  I thought about just scrambling a couple of eggs, but then I figured, why not try throwing some veggies in there?

This was quick, easy, and not nearly as messy as I expected. I’ll definitely make these again.

–J

The full Giant Mutant Zucchini series:  Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part IV.

p.s. speaking of food processors…I want to know who the Darwin-award-worthy person was whose idiocy about reaching fingers into a spinning food processor caused the makers to feel the need to craft a machine that will only let you feed into the grater things of maybe a 1.5 inch diameter? It’s this elaborate system of plungers and lids and catches that will only permit the processor to turn on when you’ve eliminated any chance of anything not really skinny going in there. That’s a lot of chopping you have to do before you even get near the food processor, and it’s a big pain in the tail. My mom is still hoarding her pre-liability-concerns Cuisinart that doesn’t have this admirable little safety feature, which still works…I’m jealous.

Attack of the Giant Mutant Zucchinis, part IV: Healthier meatloaf

I have always liked meatloaf, but health-wise it’s usually fairly horrific.  The inspiration for the first incarnation of “my own” meatloaf recipe actually came from Susan Powter–remember that crazy woman with the blond crew cut who was hugely famous for 15 minutes about 15 years ago? She published this cookbook called something like “C’mon, America, Let’s Eat!” with lightened up versions of a lot of American “classics.” (These were in the days when All Fat was Bad and All Carbs were Good…so nice that we are all becoming so much wiser.) (That was mild sarcasm, by the way. Food fads annoy the heck out of me.)  There are actually some really good recipes in there.  She had a meat loaf recipe that used a really high proportion of grated veggies to the amount of meat in it, and it was quite tasty…this is sort of a variation on that, only with more veggies than she used, and almost all of the veggies here are–you guessed it–zucchini.  And lots of barbecue sauce.  Because I like barbecue sauce.

Healthier Meatloaf (with barbecue sauce)

In a bowl, squish the following into gross homogenous submission:

  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 chopped onion (medium-sized)
  • 3-4 cloves crushed garlic, or more if you like garlic a lot
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (from bottle or your own favorite recipe)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb lean ground meat

Place into 9×9 baking dish; pour a little more barbecue sauce over the top if you wish. Bake at 350 for about an hour. Take out and let rest for 10-15 minutes (to let the juices re-absorb.)

This will be tonight’s dinner; I’ll come back later with an edit to say how it went.

ETA, edit, later: Okay, it was good.  Very good.  And this is a way to use 3 whole cups of grated squash and only a pound of ground beef and get easily 6-7 servings out of it.  But…there’s something that happens when you use a really high proportion of veggies to meat, and what happens is that you really can’t taste any flavor of the meat in there at all.  The barbecue sauce sort of fools you a bit, but honestly it has very little actual meat flavor. I find myself wondering if a packet of boullion concentrate in there would intensify the flavor a bit, but that’s an experiment for another day.

That said–my husband liked it and wanted seconds.  My kids thought it was gross and made gagging faces and my son tried to wipe the last molecules off his tongue with the back of his hand so as to remove the vile pollution.  But that’s business as usual.  This makes a nice meatloaf.

And I’m only on the second mutant zuke.  This is going to be a long blog series.

–J

The full Giant Mutant Zucchini series:  Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part IV.

Easiest ever veggie burgers (Attack of the Killer Zucchinis, IIa)

Okay, this barely deserves to be a separate post from yesterdays, but I discovered at lunch today that yesterday’s Easiest Ever Falafel single serving recipe is almost seamlessly adaptable to become the Easiest Ever Veggie Burger, with almost infinite substitution potential.

Easy Veggie Burger (single serving: quadruple as desired!)

Combine in a bowl; squish with fingers until well mixed:

  • 1/4 cup hummus or mashed beans (black, cannellini, great northern, kidney, lentil, whatever)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated zucchini (or other grated vegetable)
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro (or basil or parsley) (optional, but it really makes a difference!)
  • 1-2 cloves mashed garlic (also optional, also really difference-making)
  • powdered seasonings to taste (cumin and chili powder, or cumin and coriander, or basil and oregano, or curry powder…use your imagination!)

Stir well, then smoosh into a ball with your hands and flatten into patty shape.  Coat with more breadcrumbs if you wish, then cook over medium high heat till crispy on each side.

This was incredibly easy.  And got a little more zucchini out of the fridge.

Six more behemoths to go.

–J

Easiest Ever Falafel! (Attack of the Killer Zucchinis, II)

So I think I mentioned here,  I am gradually trying to work through a whole mess of giant mutant zucchinis that went from flowers to weapons of mass destruction during our 2 week vacation.  Which means I have a bag of grated zucchini that I’m trying to add to everything I possibly can to see what might work.

So yesterday (due to a combination of the plenitude of zucchini and a loaf of wheat bread that went dry and stale before we could eat it) I started futzing around and happened upon the easiest version of falafel I’ve ever tried.  (In full disclosure here, I should mention that by calling them “falafel” I basically mean “patty involving chickpeas and basically middle-eastern seasonings.” I’ve had real Palestinian falafel before, and this is nothing like it. But it’s still yummy.  And not deep-fried.)

Easy Falafel (single serving: quadruple as desired!)

Combine in a bowl; squish with fingers until well mixed:

  • 1/4 cup hummus (pre-prepared or made yourself; if you don’t have any, use a food processor or blender to attack a can of chickpeas plus a few cloves of garlic, a little lemon juice, a little olive oil, and some tahini or a few drops of toasted sesame oil…that’s basically hummus. And in a pinch, you can live without the lemon juice and tahini.)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated zucchini (or other grated vegetable
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro (or basil or parsley) (optional, but it really makes a difference!)
  • powdered cumin, garlic, and/or coriander, to taste (depends on how seasoned your hummus is)

Form into golfball-sized balls and flatten into patties.  Cook on medium high heat in a little oil till crispy on both sides, flipping halfway through.

Incredibly easy! Usually I make my own hummus, but it works just as well with the store-bought stuff.  A larger batch might be nice to add an egg to as well, but it seems to do well without it.

Easy way to use up a little more of that endless squash…

–J

The full Giant Mutant Zucchini series:  Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part IV.

Summertime (pasta primavera!) and Plenitude of Zukes

It’s clearly summer, the time we’ve been waiting for since planting that god-awful vegetable garden in that god-awful soil…harvest time.  (Guess it must not have been as god-awful as we thought, because here there be veggies!)  The cucumbers are going berserk, and they’ve become my snack food of choice these days.  And I’m remembering why zucchini is something you don’t want to plant too much of, because we’ve already got more than we can eat.

So I sliced a couple of the bigger ones and put them in a ziploc in the freezer to thaw later into pasta sauce makings.  (https://greenmomintheburbs.wordpress.com/2009/05/09/crockpot-pasta-sauce/)  And tonight three more smaller squashes and 3 farmers market tomatoes became part of dinner. (Wish I’d had mushrooms…)

Pasta Primavera

  • boil pasta water in a pot. Just after it boils but before you put the pasta in, drop 3 (or so) tomatoes in for about 90 seconds.  Remove, run under cold water, and slip the skin off. Put in the pasta; everything else happens while it’s cooking.
  • Cut up 3 or 4 baby zucchinis (or however many you want–it’s not an exact science), some green beans, sliced carrots, shrooms, asparagus, pretty much any veggie you like. (I just did the zukes tonight.)
  • Just about when you put the pasta in the water (assuming about a 10 minute cook time): In a skillet, heat a little olive oil.  Saute a few cloves of minced or crushed garlic (or be like me and use the stuff out of the jar…sue me!); toss veggies into oil and garlic, saute gently to let veggies cook to crisp-tender. (Maybe medium-high heat?) Note: if like me you like to avoid oil and thus calories, you should know that actually using enough nice extra virgin olive oil to really coat the bottom of the pan well makes a huge difference in the success of the veggies.  Too little oil and it just doesn’t work as well.  Tragic, isn’t it?
  • While the veggies are doing their thing and the pasta is cooking, take your skinned tomatoes, cut them in half cross-ways, and gently squeeze out most of the juice and seeds. (Messy, but pretend it’s a co-worker you don’t like.) (Did I say that? Actually, at the moment I really do like all my coworkers!).  Coarsely chop the tomatoes.
  • About a minute before the pasta comes out of the water, add the tomatoes plus some (maybe a tsp or so?) dried basil or oregano, or a larger quantity fresh herbs.  Stir around and let heat just enough (medium low or so?) to lightly cook the tomatoes but not enough for them to dissolve. Add a little salt and pepper if you wish.  Do not cover. 
  • Drain the pasta.  Toss with sauce and (if you’re me) a bunch of fresh parmesan.

Seriously easy, and if you time things well it all takes maybe 15 minutes not counting water boiling time.  

I haven’t tried it, but I have to say that the “sauce” leftovers look like they would make lovely bruschetta topping…(EDIT: It’s now several days later, and I have had a few lovely sandwiches based on this sauce.  From grilled cheese with warmed primavera to just a pita with some lettuce and leftover sauce stuffed inside, this is a GOOD sandwich filling!)

peace,

J