When I was growing up zucchini was explicitly used for brownies and bread. In all honestly, I don’t think I would have eaten a zucchini if mom had tried to feed us a dish like the one I describe below. Perhaps that is why I didn’t know you could use zucchini for anything else or that you would want to pick them while they are small. We would grow these huge zucchinis in the garden that would be at least two feet long and several inches around. Around here you are lucky to get one that is more than two inches in diameter at its thickest, which doesn’t leave much for shredding once you take out the seeds.
Due to this lack of baking sized zucchini, I started playing with dishes that use it as an actual vegetable, (interesting fact from Wikipedia: it is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower) and have found some really good recipes with pastas or sauteed with other veggies. Needless to say, the zucchini has worked it’s way into my normal dinner menu in many ways. My favorite dish is something following a recipe I found, I think, from Great Food Fast that I have modified and just toss together what I have on hand but it is generally like this:
1 small zucchini cut into rounds
1 small yellow squash cut into rounds
1/2 green pepper and red pepper cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 vidalia onion cut into 1/2″ pieces
(basically equal pieces of each one cut up)
Salt and Pepper
Over medium heat in a large skillet heat oil. Add the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper to you liking. Cook, stirring frequently, until squashes are golden brown.
Depending on what I’m what else is for dinner, I also like to toss in some chicken that has been cubed. I really love this recipe especially since you can add other veggies to mix it up and it’s really quick.
While I was at the farmers market on Saturday in search of zucchini and a few other things, I was very excited to see large (for this area) ones that would be perfect for shredding and baking. I had these two large zucchinis sitting on the counter with the small ones waiting to be used, or until last nights terrible discovery. When I went to grab the smaller ones to mix up dinner, I moved a large one and realized that it was complete mush inside. I was rather upset since I bought them three days before and they seemed fine. I set it a side while I inspected the small ones which were fine but the other large one had mold growing on half of the underside. Annoyed I chopped off the bad half and sent it all to the neighbors compost bin and tried to decide what I was now going to bake with only 1/4 of the zucchini I thought I had and that was semi quick since it was already 9 PM. I found the following recipe in 500 Cupcakes that used a small amount of zucchini, and I modified it a bit to the ingredients that I had on hand. Oddly, while it has Chocolate Chip in the title, the recipe did not have chocolate Chips in it…
Low Fat Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I ran out of all-purpose flour and had to use a tiny bit of wheat flour)
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix the rest of the ingredients except the zucchini together with an electric mixer until combined.
3. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture until just mixed. Add the zucchini.
4. Spoon batter into a greased muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes. (I had to bake them for about 25 minutes)
5. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
You can really taste the pepper in these and it is balanced well with zucchini and the tiny bit of chocolate. They are nice and soft on the inside and perfectly moist. I think that they would be excellent if I had used half all-purpose and half wheat flour. A note for next time.