Friday, August 20, 2010

My favourite use for zucchini.

Here's another one salvaged from the old blog, because it's perfectly timed with the seasons right now. Sadly it takes me back to days where I could eat zucchini, tomatoes and eggplants without worrying too much about salicylates, but hey, I guess food intolerances are just another joy of getting older...! ;)

From Feb 2, 2010:

I have a confession to make. Yes, it's shameful, coming from someone who is absolutely devoted to vegetables... I can't even begin to tell you how much I love vegetables. Except for one - zucchini. Now, to set the story straight before you begin to feel as though I'm a traitor to the vegetable cause, I don't actively dislike zucchini. On the contrary, I'll eat it in a variety of dishes, and I even voluntarily add it to some - carrot and zucchini fritters is the most frequent use. But I just don't really love it like I love my other vegetables. There just always seems to be another vegetable that can do the job better than the humble zucchini. For example, if I'm after that grilled, melting softness, I use eggplant (which I love). If I want a vegetable to mellow a dish, for subtle sweetness and texture, I prefer pretty yellow button squash. I just don't feel excited about zucchini, and most of the time I seek to grate it finely and incorporate it into a dish to make use of the colour, or of the moistness it can add to a dish, without accentuating its flavour.

All of these reasons are exactly why I love to add it to bread. It brings moistness to a loaf, it absorbs other flavours (marinate your zucchini in some pesto before you add it, for example) and it makes the whole thing look pretty, which is very important when you're baking something as outwardly ugly as my Sundried tomato and Zucchini Bread. This isn't even a true bread - though I've made it as such, using yeast and sugar, and it was remarkably good. But in all honesty, I don't often have the time or patience to allow for kneading or second rises, and this is a recipe that takes all the right shortcuts. I don't even use set quantities; this is a great recipe to use whatever is on hand. I also like to bake this in a loaf tin, so that it's a really squat and flat loaf - but if you like picture-perfect high loaves, then just increase the recipe so that it fills the tin a little more.

You know it tastes amazing when it's gnarled and ugly. ;)

Sundried Tomato and Zucchini Bread:

1 large zucchini, grated
about 300g of sundried tomatoes, chopped semi-fine (mine were the marinated, low-fat variety)
about 1 & 1/2 cups of self-raising flour
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 bunch basil leaves, shredded, or 1/2 small jar pesto
3 or 4 tbsp oregano, finely chopped, or herbs of your choice.
+ enough milk (in my case, soymilk) to bind.

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, if you remember... I rarely do, but it doesn't make a difference. This loaf is unkillable!
2. Put the flour into a bowl, and stir in the zucchini and tomatoes until they're coated in flour. If you don't do this, they don't tend to be evenly distributed in the mix, and sink to the bottom of the loaf.
3. Add the other ingredients, and add your milk a little at a time, until it resembles the consistancy of cake batter. If you like a crusty top on your loaf, make it a little thicker - it will split and become crunchier as it bakes, increasing the ugliness and therefore the flavour!
4. Bake in a lined loaf tin for 45+ minutes. The time really depends on how much moisture you've added through the tomatoes, zucchini and milk - I've had some take an hour before the test skewer comes out clean. If you make muffins, it'll take 25-30mins.
5. Allow to cool slightly, for neat slices that you can drizzle with olive oil, or tear into shreds and slather with butter while it's still hot and crumbly. I think you can probably guess what usually happens to my loaves... ;)

Here's another picture, gnarled and delicious, and tidied up considerably for your sake. These were the last two slices in the loaf, because I ate the rest before I got to take any pictures... I also recommend this loaf sliced and fried in a little butter and oil as a perfect accompaniment to a hot breakfast.

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