Labor Day has passed. The kids are back at school. Summer is definitely winding down. And if you're a backyard gardener like me, you are sick to death of zucchini.
Zucchini is a lot of fun early in the season- it grows fast, it's the first to fruit, it thrives in nearly every climate, and it can seemingly withstand all conditions of hardship. It is the viking of the vegetable patch.
It also makes a whole heckuva lot of food.
By late summer, you're drowning in zucchini. They never stop growing! You pick one zucchini longer than your arm and a half dozen smaller ones burst forth nearly instantly. You've steamed them, sauteed them, skewered them, and stir-fried them. You've braised them, broiled them, and breaded them. You've made them into those trendy "zucchini noodles" that really don't pass for real noodles no matter what the health fad magazines say.
Your friends have stopped inviting you over because they know you'll bring zucchini.
What do you do with it all?
Well, personally, by this point in the season I feel I've paid my dues in healthy summer home-grown vegetable eating and I'm ready to mash them all up with sugar and spice and make myself a treat.
It is time for zucchini bread!
If I'm baking for myself, I feel like the stakes are pretty low. (Meaning if it turns out truly awful I can quietly slip it in the compost bin and no one is any the wiser...) So I tend to make my own recipes. This one turned out pretty fab (an opinion validated by my two roommates, who scarfed it down in a day,) so I'm going to walk you through what I did.
The first thing I did was a quick internet search on quickbreads just to get a sense of basic proportions (flour:sugar:fat) commonly used. The I rummaged through my cupboards to see what I had on hand that sounded good in zucchini bread.
This is what I came up with:
Grate 1 cup of the zucchini. Put the other cup in the food processor. It doesn't need to be pureed, but it should be processed down to tiny chunks. Put all the zucchini in a mixing bowl.
Add the oil, milk, molasses, agave, and vanilla extract. Mix it up. Then add your sugar and mix some more. Set this bowl aside for a minute.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. You can sift all this if you want, but it's not crucial to do so. Just mind the baking soda. Nobody likes clumps of baking soda in their snack.
Add the dry mixture to the wet, sugary, zucchini pulp in the mixing bowl. Stir it up until you have a nice batter. Fold in as many chocolate chips and walnuts as fits your taste. I was real heavy on the chocolate chips, but lighter on the walnuts.
Pour your batter into a greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan. I like to sprinkle a little turbinado sugar on top for a little sugary crunch in the top crust.
Bake at 350f for about 50 minutes. I've found over the years that bake times can vary a lot among home ovens, so start checking your bread around 45 minutes. When you can poke a knife through to the bottom and it comes out mostly clean, it's ready.
And there you have your Chocolate Chip Walnut Zucchini Bread!
Not only is this the best zucchini bread I've made so far, but it might be the most delicious end-of-summer zucchini disposal you could hope for.
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