Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 12, 2013

Foodie with Family: Attack of the killer zucchini

Local columnist

---- — Recently, I’ve become afraid to leave my car unattended.

My peaceful small town existence has been rocked by multiple breaking-and-entering events in my car. It seems like every time I walk into the post office, church or the little grocery store, I come out, find my doors ajar and discover a multitude of femur-sized zucchinis scattered all over my seats.

Some culprits drop them and run while others leave notes like, “Help! I can’t deal with these anymore! I know you don’t waste any produce.”

My Amish friends even get in on the zucchini vandalism by leaving them on top of my car as a joke or stashed on the back bumper of other Amish folks’ buggies. It’s nothing to watch half a dozen zucchinis the size of Mr. T’s arm roll out of the back of a buggy as it slogs up a steep hill. We’re all on high alert.

It’s like the zucchini apocalypse, people.

My friends are right, though, I’m loath to waste produce, so I tuck zucchini into everything like cheerleaders use glitter. My kids cautiously fork through their meals looking for evidence of zucchini. They’re not going to trust me pretty soon.

In the meantime, nobody suspects my double chocolate chunk bread of duplicity, but it is so chock-full of zucchini that my three youngest would die a thousand deaths if they knew how much they’d consumed by way of thick slabs of the deep chocolate cake-like goodie.

These can be baked as muffins, too, making them even more devious. Who would imagine the luscious, moist cupcakes are brimming with vegetables?

Deep, dark double chocolate chunk zucchini bread

(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

2 large eggs

1/3 c. honey

1/2 c. melted coconut oil

1/2 c. brown sugar

1 t. real vanilla extract

1 t. salt

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. baking powder

1/3 c. Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 c. all-purpose flour

2/3 c. white whole wheat flour

2 c. shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed

11/4 c. chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a standard loaf pan or the wells of a standard sized 12-muffin pan.

Whisk together the eggs, honey, oil, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth in a large mixing bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients (except the zucchini and chocolate chunks) and stir until no dry pockets remain. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chunks until evenly combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan or divide between the 12 muffin cups. If baking the loaf, bake for 65-75 minutes or until the loaf tests clean with the exception of a little melted chocolate on the tester. If baking muffins, begin checking them at 18 minutes and bake until they test done (minus a little melted chocolate smeared on the tester.)

Whether cooking the loaf or the muffins, cool in the pan for 10 minutes before gently turning out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing. The muffins can be eaten warm. Leftovers should be tightly wrapped and stored at room temperature.

Now, there’s no hiding the presence of zucchini in the next recipe I’m sharing, but it remains one of my favorites from childhood onward. A plate full of zucchini burgers with crispy edges and tender insides is just about the perfect summer meal in my book. These were my dad’s specialty when I went through my vegetarian phase. Bonus: It’s a way to use up a serious amount of zucchini.

Dad’s zucchini burgers

3 c. super finely shredded zucchini, squeezed over a strainer to reduce liquid

1 large onion, peeled and finely shredded, squeezed over a strainer to reduce liquid

3/4 c. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs

3 eggs

1/2 c. shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese

1/2 t. each garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, dried basil and dried oregano

Neutral oil, such as canola, for pan frying

Optional: Marinara or other red sauce for serving

Combine everything but the oil in a large bowl and stir until evenly moistened. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, preferably cast-iron or a griddle over medium high heat. Pour in enough oil just to cover the bottom of your pan. When the oil is hot, measure 1/4 cup portions of the zucchini mixture onto pan, spreading gently to form a patty shape.

Cook three minutes or until the underside is crispy and dark brown. Using a spatula, flip carefully and cook for another three minutes or until other side is crispy and dark brown.

Remove to a plate covered with paper towel and continue until all batter has been used. Serve hot with marinara sauce or plain.