Golden Zucchini Bread + A Slow Re-Entry into Reality

{photo by Sara Remington}

It's the last day of the endless zucchini feast, and my first day back at my desk after 30 days in planes, trains and automobiles. Although I'm vowing to give up my pastry habit that started on our trip to Hungary, and get back to our grains and vegetable routine, today I'm craving a slow re-entry into reality. I want to stand, glassy-eyed, methodically shredding dewy garden zucchini over a bowl with a box grater,  stirring it with my favorite wooden spoon-- the one I haven't seen in far too long--into a luxe brown-sugar and whole-wheat batter. While the batter ribbons out into my bread tins, I'll think about how in the world to catch this site up on all it missed in Hungary and Helsinki and Chicago, and write the day away to the sweet smell of fresh baking bread...


Golden Zucchini Bread

Makes 2 large loaves

{full of goodies} In July, when the garden is bursting with zucchini and the market is practically giving them away, make this slightly sweet bread with just enough veggies to make it good for you. This is divine eaten just a touch warm, with thick slabs of cream cheese spread on for the weekends. Farmer’s cheese or fresh ricotta, both high in protein and much lower in fat, make this a go-to breakfast treat as easy for everyday as it is elegant for breakfast with friends.

4 tbsp/55 g unsalted butter, plus more for the pans, at room temperature
1 cup/200 g lightly packed dark brown sugar
⅔ cup/130 g granulated sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup/120 ml grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups/400 g white whole-wheat/wholemeal flour
1½ tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large zucchini/courgette, grated {about 3 cups/720 ml}
1 firm Bartlett/Williams pear, cored and grated {about 1 cup/240 ml}
¾ cup/85 g chopped toasted walnuts {about 3 oz}, plus more for garnish
¼ cup/40 g golden raisins/sultanas
2 tbsp sesame seeds
½ cup/120 ml farmer’s cheese, ricotta cheese, or cream cheese, for serving
Sliced figs or pears, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas 4. Butter two 9-by-5-in/23-by-12-cm loaf pans/tins. Line them with parchment/baking paper, butter the parchment/baking paper, and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugars in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the oil and vanilla and stir to combine.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda/bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and stir together. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients with a spatula, along with the zucchini/courgette, pear, nuts, raisins, and sesame seeds.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Sprinkle with additional walnuts. Bake until the bread springs back when lightly touched, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry with some crumbs, about 50 minutes. Cool on a rack 10 minutes. Remove from the pan, slice, and serve warm with a thick schmear of cheese and sliced figs.

P.S. Guess what. I finally got it. Two c's, one n. That's Zucchini.


Fried Zucchini. Need I say more?

{photo by Sara Remington}

I'm officially declaring this national zucchini month on the blog, because, well, I love zucchini and there are so many darn good ways to eat it. This is my all. time. favorite. Don't quote me on that because I might say that again when I post another recipe next week. But for today, this is it. The best. It's lighter than it sounds, because I make my batter with wheat beer which keeps the batter thin and crackly, and makes it especially apropos for serving with your micro brew of choice. 

Tomorrow eve, Andras, Greta and I fly to Hungary {during the fireworks, what??} where the fields his parents farm are full of insanely huge szookeeni {note: that's the phonetic spelling, not proper Hungarian spelling} that his mom turns into restorative brothy soups. While we're slurping them and settling into our world over there, I hope you'll be frying up a batch of these babies while the sparks fly overhead. Happy Fourth of July!  


Fried Zucchini

Serves 6 to 8

{light and crisp} In the heart of the summer when markets are practically giving zucchini away, buy a bunch and transform them into summer fries that could turn the heads of even the strictest potato devotees. These zucchini get their light and crispy skin from a beer batter. Use a beer you’d enjoy drinking. Eat them fresh and hot from the fryer dipped in harissa-spiked Spicy Mayo.

Vegetable oil, for frying
2 medium-large firm zucchini/courgette, scrubbed and cut into 2-in-/5 cm-long sticks
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup/120 ml cold full-flavored wheat beer
¾ cup/90 g all-purpose/plain flour
Sea salt
Spicy Mayo

Before you begin, have everything you’ll need handy so you can concentrate when you’re working with hot oil on the stove. Set up a wire rack on a baking sheet/tray lined with paper towels/absorbent paper.

In a large, deep frying pan, heat 1 in/2.5 cm vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F/180°C/gas 4 on a deep-fat thermometer. Decrease the heat to medium-low to keep the oil temperature steady.

Whisk together the egg and beer in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the flour to make a thin batter.

Check the oil temperature again. It should read just under 350°F/180°C/gas 4 and will drop slightly, to about 325°F/165°C/gas 3 as you add the zucchini/courgette pieces. This is the perfect temperature for frying.

Dip vegetable pieces in the batter a few at a time to coat and let the excess drip off before carefully lowering them into the hot oil. Fry until the batter puffs and is crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with a slotted spoon and continue cooking 1 minute more. Be sure to cover the pan with a splatter guard to protect yourself as the zucchini/courgette pops and sizzles enthusiastically {it’s full of water}. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the rack. Sprinkle with salt while it’s still warm. Continue until all the squash is fried.

Serve hot and fresh with Spicy Mayo or all on their own in a basket lined with paper towels/absorbent paper.

P.S. This batter keeps well overnight in the fridge. Use any leftovers to fry okra or onions rings.


Spicy Mayo

Makes about 1/2 cup/120 ml

{from any country}Creamy mayonnaise mixed with Greek yogurt is the perfect, luscious base to tame the feisty heat of a hot red pepper paste. Stir in North African harissa, Hungarian hot red pepper paste, Southeast Asian sambal oelek, or Sriracha sauce to add a fiery streak to your favorite snack or supper.

1/4 cup/60 ml Greek yogurt
1/4 cup/60 ml olive-oil mayonnaise or regular mayonnaise
2 to 3 tbsp hot pepper sauce or paste
Pinch of fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix together the yogurt, mayonnaise, and enough hot pepper paste to make you sweat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on everything your heart desires, especially Baguette BLTs with Spicy Moroccan Mayo. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

My photo
New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.