For many, there comes a time at the height of summer when zucchini becomes a dirty word. I get it. Every gardener and his brother grows this prolific summer squash, and the surpluses are not inconsequential. We cook it in every way imaginable, we freeze it, and we give it away to anyone who’s willing to take it.
And still there’s more.
Perhaps worst of all, it has a reputation for being bland, due in part to an unfortunate belief by some that bigger is always better.
Left to grow, zucchini — its name derived from the Italian word for “little squash” — can easily reach lengths of 18 inches or more. Not so little. While it’s fun to see how big our crops can grow, those mammoth zucchini are well past their prime, becoming tough and flavorless. So pick early and pick often. When harvested at a length of 6 to 10 inches, zucchini is not only more tender and flavorful, but frequent picking will also encourage an increase in production.
As someone who spent years harvesting oversized zucchini, this revelation may not have been a game changer, but it made it more fun to play. The “little squash” has a mild flavor, but there is flavor. More than just culinary filler, it improves stir fries, adds subtle flavor to soups and salads, and does more than add density to baked goods.
Zucchini bread is more than just a way to use up a copious crop, although it does a pretty great job with that. In this sweet and tasty quick bread, the ubiquitous vegetable doesn’t take center stage, but it does deliver the moisture you’ve come to expect, a nutritional boost you appreciate and perhaps a mellow undertone to the flavor you didn’t realize was missing.
- 2 cups zucchini, shredded
- 3 large eggs
- 3 cups flour
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix to thoroughly combine.
Pour batter into 2 greased and floured loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely before removing from pan.