Zucchini Bread

About this time of year, gardens everywhere begin to overflow with ripe tomatoes, peas on the vine, fresh cucumbers, and... the dreaded zucchini. Now don't get me wrong, I like zucchini. We're real good friends when he's fried in butter with onions and potatoes. But there's only so much zucchini a person can take. Even a couple zucchini plants in the garden can produce a monstrous number of zucchini children.

And oh do those children grow up fast...

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In my neighborhood, zucchini is rampant. We've become so infested with the green vegetable, we'd certainly be doomed if they ever gained sentience and turned on us (zucchini apocalypse, anyone?). I'm not only faced with the problem of having about 10 zucchini too many, but so is everyone else. It's reached the point where we can't even give zucchini away.

Just a few days ago, someone left a bag of zucchini under the mailbox. The poor zucchini sat there for a long time, begging to be picked up, to be loved, to be eaten. It was a couple days before someone took pity on the poor souls and brought them home. You know the infestation is bad when people turn away from garden ripe vegetables.

My parents have a running joke with friends that around this time of year you need to keep the car doors locked and the windows up because someone might just leave a zucchini in your car if you aren't careful. They've even taken it a step further and stashed zucchini in their friend's cars when they weren't looking. I have a hard time imagining my father as a zucchini fairy, but too many vegetables can mess with your mind.

If you happen to have this very same green vegetable problem, zucchini bread is a great (and delicious!) way to use up a few of your vegetables. But, if you still find you have one too many of these vegetables after baking up a storm, you could always find an open car window...

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This Zucchini Bread is moist, dense, and lightly sweetened. The bread has hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and is made with brown sugar, which gives a hint of molasses to the finished product. The best part of this bread is that you can customize each loaf with an extra touch. I made one loaf with chocolate chips and the other with walnuts (though I imagine a loaf of zucchini bread stuffed full of raisins would be a dream). Topped with a thick spread of butter or jam, this bread is perfect for using up all the extra garden zucchini.

Zucchini Bread
Adapted from several sources

Yields 2 loaves

3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, raisins, or chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, brown sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the grated zucchini. Mix in the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Fold in the flour in 3 batches, mixing until the batter becomes uniform. Stir in nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Serve with a thick spread of butter or jam.