zucchini

zucchini peach bread

It’s officially September you guys. I know.

zucchini peach bread | Brooklyn Homemaker

Back to school season. Pumpkin spice everything. Sweaters in store windows…

While some people lament the end of summer and others celebrate the onset of fall, for all intents and purposes, it’s actually still summer. Like SUMMER. Dog days style.

zucchini peach bread | Brooklyn Homemaker

Here in Brooklyn we’re in the midst of yet another record-breaking heat wave. My backyard looks incredibly parched, sad, and droopy; and the heat over the past few days has felt downright oppressive and just generally awful. In fact, the other day many schools in the area announced they’d be letting out early because of a heat advisory, in their first week back!

zucchini peach bread | Brooklyn Homemaker

Trying to take full advantage of the extended summery weather, Russell and I took a trip to the farmer’s market over the weekend. I’ve been really stumped about what to do and make for the ol’ blog lately, because I’m having such a hard time deciding what would be considered seasonally appropriate right now. Last week I posted a recipe for some hot and steamy soup, and then the weather decided to follow my lead and went all hot and soupy too.

zucchini peach bread | Brooklyn Homemaker

I figured I should just go and see what spoke to me, and hoped I’d be able to make a plan from there.

Wandering the stalls of the market I was met with piles of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and bushels of ripe sweet corn, but for some reason stacks of bright green zucchini were what called out to me, along with some seriously beautiful local peaches. But, what the heck could I do with peaches and zucchini in the same dish? I thought about just making a peach crumble or something, and then using the zucchini for dinner later on. I paid up and was on my way, and by the time I got home I knew what I had to do.

zucchini peach bread | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was little I was a big fan of banana bread, especially my grandma’s banana bread. As I got older I started to develop a “distaste” for bananas that eventually blossomed into an intense hatred for bananas and anything banana related.

I usually pride myself in my openness to any food available to me, and my willingness to try anything someone might dare me to eat, but bananas are just an absolute no-no. I don’t know why, but I really can’t stand them. The tiniest piece of banana snuck into a smoothie deems it unfit for anything but the trash bin. Even the smell of them makes me retch, and my co-workers are well aware that eating a banana anywhere near me is absolutely forbidden.

zucchini peach bread | Brooklyn Homemaker

For the past few years there has been a banana bread shaped hole in my heart, but thankfully zucchini bread has stepped in to fill that giant void in my life.

So those bright green beauties fresh from some local farm had a clear and bright future, grated and baked inside a loaf of warm nutty quick bread, along with the tastiest peaches summer had to offer. (Thankfully we recently got a new AC unit so turning on the oven didn’t turn our tiny apartment into a sweltering inferno)

zucchini peach bread | Brooklyn Homemaker

These loaves are every bit as tender and moist and delicious as you could want, with a wonderful crunchy top thanks to the addition of some demerara sugar sprinkled on just before baking. They’re really the perfect transitional food between summer and fall. The zucchini and peaches are bright and fresh and summery, but they’re paired with warm autumnal spices and crunchy bitter walnuts. I never liked walnuts in my breads when I was younger, but I’ve learned to absolutely love the contrasting texture and flavor. I think the bright sweetness from the peaches really calls for the slight bitterness of the walnuts for balance, so I really recommend you don’t skip them.

The peaches aren’t really the stars of the show here, but take a backseat to the zucchini. The flavor is very similar to a normal (albeit really delicious) zucchini bread, with an added touch of sweet peachiness. I personally love the subtle addition of summer fruitiness, but if you’re looking for something with bright peach-forward flavor, I’m not sure this is the recipe for you. I added a little bit of wheat flour to soak up some of the extra moisture, but I fear that adding too many more peaches to the recipe could render your loaves dense and soggy.

zucchini peach bread | Brooklyn Homemaker

Zucchini Peach Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins
  • Print
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup finely diced peaches
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon  table salt
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/4 cup demerara sugar (or other coarse sanding sugar)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Liberally butter and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans. Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar. Add zucchini and peaches and stir to combine.

Combine flours, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and walnuts. Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour egg mixture in. Gently fold and stir just to combine. Do not over mix. Divide the batter into prepared pans and sprinkle each with demerara sugar.

Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If making muffins instead, they should bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing from pans, and cool for at least 30 minutes more before slicing.

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blueberry zucchini oat muffins

I’ve had the same schedule at work for almost three years now.

blueberry zucchini oat muffins | Brooklyn Homemaker

Working in retail means that having both Saturday and Sunday off isn’t really an option, but I do get Sundays off so I still (sort of) get to enjoy the weekends with the rest of the world. The only problem, especially in the summer, is that the only green markets that are even remotely convenient to me aren’t open on Sundays.

blueberry zucchini oat muffins | Brooklyn Homemaker

The green market in Union Square is open on Saturdays and Mondays, but of course I don’t have Mondays off either. This means that Russell, who is off on Mondays, is responsible for any green market purchases for the week, and the remainder of our groceries are purchased at our neighborhood grocery store.

blueberry zucchini oat muffins | Brooklyn Homemaker

Sometimes I have specific things in mind that I ask Russell to pick up for me, but usually he just wanders around until he sees something that looks good and he grabs it. This usually works out just great, but sometimes I get home from work on Monday to find a bag full of really random and disjointed produce purchases that I get to plan around for the rest of the week.

blueberry zucchini oat muffins | Brooklyn Homemaker

If this sounds like a complaint, I assure you that it’s not. It actually kind of forces me to get creative and try to make meal plans and think of blog posts that would work with the items at hand. I am (or at least I try to be) pretty anal about the whole “waste not want not” thing, so it drives me crazy to let our produce spoil before we get to use it up. Sometimes I’ll just come up with some kind of “kitchen sink” recipe like a salad or stir fry to use everything up if I really have no clue what to do. Sometimes these recipes don’t really work out, but they usually do, and sometimes they can really pay off.

blueberry zucchini oat muffins | Brooklyn Homemaker

This is one of those pay off recipes. Russell came home with a bag full of stuff on Monday, including a couple big zucchinis and a pint of some of the season’s first blueberries. On seeing those blueberries I knew pretty instantly that I wanted to make some muffins, but after some thought I decided to throw in one of the zucchinis just for fun.

blueberry zucchini oat muffins | Brooklyn Homemaker

The next morning, as I went to gather my ingredients, I realized that I was dangerously low on flour and wouldn’t have enough for a full muffin recipe. It was pretty early, Russell was still sleeping and I was still in my boxers, and I reeeeeally didn’t want to go to the store. If I don’t have to put pants on on my day off, believe you me, it ain’t gonna happen.

blueberry zucchini oat muffins | Brooklyn Homemaker

For a brief second I was ready and willing to accept defeat and just toast an English muffin for breakfast instead, but then I remembered these cookies I made in March. To give the cookies a really interesting lacy texture, old fashioned rolled oats are turned into oat flour in the food processor, which is then mixed with regular white flour and some whole rolled oats. Not only is oat flour a healthy(ish) whole grain alternative to white flour, it also adds a really warm nutty flavor and chewy texture to anything you make with it.

So, out came the food processor and oat flour happened yet again.
The only issue is that oat flour doesn’t really seem to absorb liquid the same way as white flour, so the batter seemed a bit loose, and the muffins didn’t really rise as much as I’d hoped they would. I ended up making them again a few days later (at Russell’s request) and tried using a little bit more white flour to thicken the batter just a bit, and that seemed to do the trick to get them to rise. This second batch came out slightly lighter in color with a more rounded and crunchier top, but I’m a terrible lazy blogger and they didn’t really look all that different so I didn’t bother shooting new photos. The photos here are of the first batch, but the recipe below reflects the added flour and slightly thicker batter.

blueberry zucchini oat muffins | Brooklyn Homemaker

Look. I understand that I’m essentially asking you to mill your own flour for this recipe, but I swear it’s not a big deal. If you have a food processor or a blender it takes less than five minutes and then the rest of the recipe is basically just stirring.

I promise you that the little bit of extra effort is worth it; these muffins are seriously tasty. They’re just sweet enough with a little bit of extra sweetness and crunch from the demerara sugar on top. They’re soft and tender and moist, but with a really delicate chewiness (and nuttiness) from the oat flour. The zucchini and blueberries complement each other surprisingly well, and Russell keeps saying that these little muffins taste like summer. You may have figured this out when I said that he requested I make them twice in one week, but they’re totally addictive. In theory they’re also pretty healthy(ish) if eat just one or two, but between the two of us half a dozen were devoured less than half an hour after they came out of the oven, so I’m not sure if “healthy” is a word that would actually apply anymore!

blueberry zucchini oat muffins | Brooklyn Homemaker

Blueberry Zucchini Oat Muffins

  • Servings: about 1 1/2 to 2 dozen muffins
  • Print
adapted from Yellow Bliss Road

1 1/2 cups rolled oats, divided
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup demerara sugar or other coarse sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 1 cup of rolled oats in the bowl of a food processor and grind into a fine powder. It’s okay if there are some unevenly sized pieces, but you want it to resemble the texture of whole wheat flour. Transfer oat flour to a large bowl along with the remaining 1/2 cup of rolled oats and all remaining dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and oil together until combined, and then stir in the grated zucchini. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the zucchini, egg, oil mixture. Gently stir together until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the blueberries just until evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Line two 12 cup muffin pans with paper liners and fill the liners about 3/4 full with batter. Sprinkle a little bit of demerara sugar over the tops of each muffin just before they go into the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean, and the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool for about 15 or 20 minutes on a wire rack before removing the muffins to cool completely.

zucchini & mint soup

So we have some dirt, soil you might call it, in the back behind our apartment.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Many people who are lucky enough to have soil behind their homes like to grow things in said soil. Some people even try to grow edible things. I myself would love to grow edible things, but my soil has the unlucky fortune of residing beneath a big horrible mulberry tree that shades it and prevents much of anything green from ever seeing the bright rays of the sun. Hostas and Ivy do okay, but nothing edible wants to have anything to do with my crumby dirt. I have a few measly herbs in pots, but they do more in the way of surviving rather than thriving. A few years ago I put in some strawberry plants. I think that in the two summers that they were alive they produced exactly 3 berries between them. They’ve since given up and made way for weedy clumps of clover and moss.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

It seems that the rest of you don’t have such problems. In the past few weeks I feel like everyone in the world (but me) has been whining about having too much zucchini. It would appear that your soil, and the edibles sustained within, are getting all the sunshine a patch of dirt could ask for.

“Oh look at all this zucchini!”, you say. “Whatever shall I do with all of it? Woe is me!” Oh you poor things! What a burden. I weep for you.

I should be so lucky. My soil wouldn’t spew forth a bounty of zucchini if its existence depended on it. If I want zucchini, I have to buy it at the market like a common chump. Can you even imagine?

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

My zucchini deficit doesn’t mean though, that I’m immune to the wiles of all the drool-inducing photos and recipes that have been popping up all over the internet lately. Even though I’m not actively trying to rid myself of any zucchini surplus, I’m still forced to watch as you struggle and strive to use up all of yours.  I don’t have the ill fortune of all this bounty, but thanks to all of your efforts, I now crave zucchini just the same. Thanks a lot guys.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I thought a nice light soup would be a great way to satiate my appetite for those big green beauties. When I started looking for inspiration though, most of the recipes I found paired the zucchini with basil. I do have a small basil plant in the back, but as if the paltry sunlight wasn’t enough, a little green caterpillar decided to add insult to injury and make swiss cheese of my poor little plant. I was a little worried that basil would be too strong a flavor to pair with mild zucchini anyway, so I tried to think of something else. It didn’t take me long to remember the mint I was given as a birthday gift, which somehow seems to be leading a happyish and healthyish existence.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

So, zucchini and mint soup it was, and boy did it deliver. The mint and zucchini pair perfectly together, and the resulting soup is subtle, delicate, and delicious. It’s an ideal light supper for summer nights and hot weather. It’s just hearty enough to be filling, but isn’t at all heavy and definitely won’t weigh you down.

This soup is unbelievably simple and takes no time to make, but somehow manages to taste rich and complex. I’d definitely recommend using the highest quality chicken stock you can find, and if you have some homemade stock in the freezer, now would be the time to use it. Since the other ingredients are so delicate and mild, the stock really adds something. A good vegetable stock would be great here too if you want to make this vegetarian, and leaving out the yogurt would make it vegan.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Whether you have a stockpile to use up, or you have to pay for it like me, this is the perfect way to satisfy your passion for zucchini. This soup is packed with bright, fresh, clean zucchini flavor that’s amplified and deepened with the addition of fresh mint. It literally could not be more summery. It’s smooth and creamy, and retains just a bit of texture when pureed with an immersion blender. Adding yogurt brings a nice hint of tanginess, but if you wanted to keep it dairy free you could substitute a squeeze of fresh lemon juice instead. Served with a nice crusty loaf of white bread, this soup is a summery little bowl of heaven.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Zucchini & Mint Soup

adapted from Gourmet Traveler

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1 large zucchini (about 6 cups), diced
4 cups chicken stock
½ cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed

To serve:
greek yogurt or fresh lemon, extra-virgin olive oil, and mint leaves

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and stir occasionally until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and zucchini and stir occasionally for another 5 minutes. Add stock, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add mint, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until zucchini is just tender, about another 5 minutes. Process with a hand-held blender until smooth. Alternately, pulse in a blender until smooth with no large chunks, but not completely pureed. Check seasoning and adjust to taste if necessary.
To serve, top with a dollop of greek yogurt (or a squeeze of lemon juice), a drizzle of olive oil, and a few fresh mint leaves.

zucchini “pasta” with chicken, white wine, & tomatoes

You probably haven’t noticed this yet, but I’m not super big on “health food”.

zucchini "pasta" with chicken, white wine, & tomatoes | Brooklyn Homemaker

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I actually do try to eat healthy. In fact, when you bake as many treats as I do, you don’t really have a choice. You definitely need to balance the (delicious) unhealthy stuff with something light and green every once in a while. We try to make a green juice every morning before work, we (almost) never eat fast food, very rarely eat junk food (unless we’ve made it ourselves), and try to eat only whole foods (rather than heavily processed prepared ones). That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re in great shape or anything because, again, we also eat lots of sweets and homemade treats. It also doesn’t mean that we would ever consider ourselves “health nuts” or ever say we prescribe to any fad diets or trends in nutrition.
And then this weird thing happened.

zucchini "pasta" with chicken, white wine, & tomatoes | Brooklyn Homemaker

At work we started getting all of these requests for a hand-held spiral slicer, and everyone asking for it said they wanted to make “noodles” out of zucchini. We had two options for spiral slicers at the time, but both of them are a significant investment, and neither of them are even close to being hand-held. Some people would go with those options, others would choose something else we’d recommend, but most would sullenly walk out empty-handed, after begging that we bring in their requested item. I always assumed these poor souls were on some annoying fad diet that forced them to eat soggy squash “noodles” when they’d rather be eating pasta, but the number of requests we were getting in such a short period made us take notice. After a long search, we finally found one we liked and a few weeks ago we started carrying it. The one we have now is called the “Spirelli” by Gefu, and can it be found here.

zucchini "pasta" with chicken, white wine, & tomatoes | Brooklyn Homemaker

Even after we brought it in, and it started selling really well, I was still a total skeptic. Then one of my co-workers bought one and started raving about it. So, I decided I should probably give it a shot.

zucchini "pasta" with chicken, white wine, & tomatoes | Brooklyn Homemaker

The other night I tried it out for the first time and was shocked at how easy (and kind of fun) it was, and Russell actually requested I make zucchini “pasta” again the next night. I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s pretty great.  The texture of the “noodles” is way better than I expected, not soggy at all, a bit like an al dente pasta. Since zucchini has such a neutral flavor, it absorbs the flavor of whatever else you’re cooking, and doesn’t end up tasting at all “health-food-y”.

zucchini "pasta" with chicken, white wine, & tomatoes | Brooklyn Homemaker

The one problem I had the first night was that when cooked, the zucchini gave off a ton of liquid and made the sauce really runny. I had to take the “noodles” out to reduce the sauce and then add them back in at the end. The next night I decided to try salting the “noodles” beforehand to get them to give off their liquid before cooking. Worked like a charm!
Some recipes I found recommend that you peel the zucchini for a more “noodle-y” appearance, but I don’t think the skins do anything negative to the texture, and the dark green skins have a lot of nutrients that you’d lose if you peeled them. I say leave ’em!

zucchini "pasta" with chicken, white wine, & tomatoes | Brooklyn Homemaker

This method is actually super quick and easy too! You just cut the end off the zucchini and push and twist it through the slicer like a giant pencil sharpener. If you don’t have this tool you could also use a mandoline slicer or another spiral slicer, or even a julienne peeler, to make zucchini “noodles”. The only time consuming step is letting the zucchini absorb the salt and release its moisture, which takes about 30 minutes, but that can be done while you prepare the rest of the dish. If you time it right and work efficiently, the whole meal including prep time can be on your plate and in your belly in well under an hour. Even with frequent pauses to photograph the whole process, it only took me about an hour.

zucchini "pasta" with chicken, white wine, & tomatoes | Brooklyn Homemaker

For this dish I paired the “noodles” with seared chicken and a white wine and blistered tomato sauce. Obviously this recipe could be adapted to be as healthy, or as rich, as you like. As is, it has little more than protein, vegetables, and a little seasoning and olive oil. I can’t believe I’m pushing zucchini noodles on my blog. I never thought this day would come. But they’re so GOOD!!!

zucchini "pasta" with chicken, white wine, & tomatoes | Brooklyn Homemaker

Tender “al dente” noodles, sweet blistered tomatoes, tender perfectly browned chicken, sweet garlicy wine sauce, bright fresh basil… It doesn’t get any better than that!

zucchini "pasta" with chicken, white wine, & tomatoes | Brooklyn Homemaker

Zucchini 'Pasta' with Chicken, Tomatoes, & White Wine

4 medium zucchini
3 Tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 pint ripe grape tomatoes
3 large cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
1/2 cup white wine
handful fresh basil leaves

Wash zucchini and use a spiral slicer (like this one), julienne slicer, or mandolin to create spaghetti style “noodles”. Place “pasta” in a mesh strainer and sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons salt. Toss well and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Gently squeeze out any remaining liquid and discard.
Meanwhile, heat large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat. Season your chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan and sear chicken for 5-7 minutes on either side, or until nicely browned and cooked through. Set aside to rest.

Wash tomatoes and slice each in half, lengthwise. Add remaining olive oil to pan, add tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Cook tomatoes, stirring occasionally for 7 to 10 minutes until they are browning and starting to fall apart. Add garlic and wine, stir well, and cook down until wine is reduced by at least half, about 5 minutes.
Slice your chicken up into bite sized pieces. Arrange basil leaves in a flat pile, roll up into a “cigar” and slice into very thin strips. (this is called a chiffonade)
Add chicken and basil to pan with sauce. Add zucchini and toss to combine. I find this works best with long silicone tipped tongs. Cook until noodles are heated through, about 5 minutes.
Adjust seasoning if necessary, and top with a little fresh basil.