Do you have a surplus of zucchini? Are your neighbors desperately trying to give you giant zucchini from their garden? Looking for something new to do with this tender green that can grow to be the size of a baseball bat?
Zucchini, (also known as courgette in New Zealand, Britain and France) is actually an immature fruit and not a vegetable at all. Zucchini with the flower still attached tend to be the freshest and therefor, the most desirous. Immature fruit of less than 8″ is best for cooking as mature fruit can grow up to 3 feet and are fiberous and tough to chew.
They can be cooked in a variety of ways. Steamed, boiled, grilled, sauted, stuffed and baked and barbequed. In Mexico, the flower is is preferred over the vegetable and is often used in soups or quesadillas. In Italy, the zucchini are often breaded and pan fried. In Rome, the flowers are often deep fried. In France, zucchini is an integral part of ratatouille. Zucchini is popular all over the world and very, very versatile.
I’m not a huge fan of zucchini and have ate probably more than my fair share of it growing up. After all, one single plant will produce enough vegetable to feed a family of four. Unfortunately, my family never seemed to understand that and always planted enough to feed a large army. So, I tend to like to disguise it. Here’s one of my favorite recipes for doing so. It’s a great way to hide zucchini if you don’t care for it and use up any excess you may have.
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat over to 350 degrees F, lightly grease two loaf pans.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs and oil until well blended. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, soda, cinnamon and baking powder.
Add the dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture; mix just until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and the nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.
Yield: 2 loaves