Friday, October 8, 2010

Zucchini Extravaganza! (Pizza & Bread)

I love my city Farmer's Market. Every Saturday, the farms surrounding my city haul in loads of beautiful veggie booty for us nature-starved children, just a few blocks from my apartment building. That and the park mean so much to me--I honestly don't know how this tree-hugger could have survived city living all these years if not for those two heaven-sent places on my local map.

Last weekend, I loaded up on some beautiful zucchinis and got down to it. You may have read in previous posts that I am an outspoken foe of most preparations of zucchini, miserable little cucumber-like slices of soggy sadness. No thanks! But bake it, roast it, grill it, shred it up, and I am a forever friend of the jolly green giant (or elf, depending on what was available at the farmer's market that day).

Someday, in a land far, far away from this city (or perhaps in the land of my own imagination), I see myself in a beautiful, thatched-roof cottage, with lots of wild flowers growing 'round, puppies playing in the sunlit yard, pies cooling on the sill, and of course, my very own veggie garden, chock full of pretty bounty... Until then, I'll scout the local farmer's market for the freshest picks of the freshest soil, in the freshest air just a few miles away. And I'll bake...

Which brings me to the recipes...

ZUCCHINI BREAD

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (or allspice or cloves)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans, liberally. (See those pictures of the cakes inside their non-stick pans? Yup, they’re pretty much hanging out in there for the time being.) Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.

Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Note: These loaves will mellow and actually get better sitting at room temp wrapped in foil on the kitchen counter over the course of the week.


ZUCCHINI-CRUSTED PIZZA
(adapted from Mollie Katzen's recipe)

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups grated zucchini
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 pinch basil or 1 pinch marjoram or 1 pinch rosemary (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil

TOPPING SUGGESTIONS:
Extra olive oil
2-3 cloves sliced garlic
sauteed mushrooms
1 large sliced tomato
extra mozzarella (sliced or grated)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Generously oil a 10 inch pie pan or a foil-lined baking sheet, and coat lightly with flour or cornmeal.
3. Combine zucchini, eggs, flour, mozzarella, parmesan, herbs and 1 T olive oil in a bowl and mix well.
4. Spread into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
5. About halfway through the baking, remove from over and loosen the crust a bit from the pan with spatula so it won't stick later. Then brush with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
6. Remove from oven.
7. When it has cooled for about 10 minutes, use a spatula to loosen the crust from the pan so it won't break later.
8. Top with your favorite pizza items and bake at 400 F until heated through.

Stay tuned for upcoming seasonal recipes.....up next...PUMPKIN!

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