Have you ever had one those grocery store moments when you veer away from the trusty list and end up buying something just because it looks great and you’re sure you’ll discover the perfect use for it? Although I tend to be a strict list adherer, my rebellious shopping instinct often kicks in around the produce section, and a few weeks ago, I walked passed a bin filled with zucchinis and convinced myself I needed to take a few home.
Like most foods I buy that aren’t planned for beforehand, those poor zucchinis sat in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator — untouched and unloved — while I worked my way through the rest of the ingredients and recipes I’d already planned for the week. To be honest, I kind of forgot they were in there, until I stumbled across them a week later and realized I was dangerously close to the use-it-or-lose-it point. So what is there to do with three tiny zucchinis that are still usable but no longer at their peak of freshness? A quick zip in the food processor, and my now grated zucchini was ready to transform. Zucchini, meet Bread. I think you two will be fast friends.
Although zucchini bread is definitely an easy throw-it-together-in-a-pinch kind of food, it does take a little forethought to make it great. And a little inventiveness doesn’t hurt either. This bread is an adaptation of a Paula Deen recipe I found while searching the Food Network site. It caught my attention right away because it had such good “bones.” I’ve had a lot of dry, crumbling, not-so-flavorful zucchini breads in my day (as I’m sure you have, too), and Paula Deen’s ratio of eggs to oil to flour to sugar seemed reminiscent of my favorite banana bread recipe. I tweaked the spices a little bit to make things more interesting and took a note from the carrot cake muffins I made a while back by adding a pinch of allspice to the cinnamon and nutmeg combo. The resulting bread is a winner for sure; it’s super moist, has lots of flavor and bakes up to a beautiful golden brown crust atop a soft, cake-like center.
Adapted from Paula Deen
• 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon
• pinch of allspice (about 1/8 teaspoon)
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• ½ cup canola oil
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• ¼ cup water
• 1 ¼ cups grated zucchini
• ½ teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and sugar in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then pour into a standard loaf pan, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife comes out clean.
What spontaneous items have found their way into your cart lately? Any springtime veggies making their 2011 debut in your kitchen?