People like to talk about seasonal food, but with modern transportation and grocery stores, it’s sometimes easy to forget that most of us do not live in an area where a wide variety of produce grows year-round. And yet even though you can pretty much always get things like lettuce, carrots, bananas, and apples, in my area there are a few staple items that stand out during the seasons. Like zucchini. In the winter you might be able to find a couple of sad looking zucchinis on the shelf, but in the summer it seems like they are growing from every corner! Whether it’s the grocery store, the farmer’s market, your CSA, or your garden, in some parts zucchini seems to be unavoidable in late summer. Personally, zucchini is not my favorite vegetable, but I like it enough and find myself buying entirely too much. Luckily, I have a few go-to recipes to use it up, both for easy meals and some freezer items for those winter days when we actually start to miss them again!
My favorite easy zucchini dinner is as part of a pasta toss – sauté some zucchini in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, and basil…add some grape tomatoes if they’re around…squeeze a lemon over the mixture once it’s soft, along with a spoonful or two of tomato sauce, and add a ladle full of pasta cooking water to make more of a sauce if needed. Serve over whole wheat pasta – so yummy!
But when it comes to storing the zucchini for the longer term, I have two other favorite recipes to share. The first one up is this chocolate chip zucchini bread recipe I came across a few weeks back (hat tip to my friend Amanda at Vintage Savoir Faire!). You might remember me mentioning this as one of our road trip snacks, and let me tell you, it is delicious! Even packed with whole wheat and zucchini, this recipe is definitely a treat – sweet, moist, chocolaty (note that I’ve included amounts for slightly reduced sugar and chocolate if you want to make these a little less dessert like – I’ve tried both variations and the healthier version is just as delicious!). Perfect for preserving some of that summer zucchini, if they last – I just made my third double batch because we just can’t seem to keep these around. I’m going to hide some of these in our extra freezer in the basement to see if we can make them last a little longer this time!
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread/Muffins (Whole Wheat)
adapted from King Arthur Flour
2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey (can reduce to 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup brown sugar (can reduce to 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup vegetable or melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
1/2-1 cup dark chocolate chips (depending on how chocolaty you want it)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional, I omitted)
Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan or muffin tins. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon, mixing with a spoon until well combined. Stir in the zucchini, chocolate chips, and nuts (if using).
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 55 to 60 minutes for bread, or 15-20 minutes for muffins (this will vary depending on what size muffin tins you use!), until bread/muffins are completely set on top, feel a little firm to the touch, and a tester inserted into the center comes out without any batter (a little melted chocolate is ok!).
Cool bread for a few minutes in the pan before removing to a rack to finish cooling completely.
Loaf of bread will keep well wrapped in foil for a few days on the counter, or stored long-term in the freezer. Muffins that will not be eaten within a day or 2 are best kept in the freezer and thawed in the microwave or on the counter.
Makes one loaf, 12 standard muffins, or a lot of mini muffins.