A Request for Recipes, Half Fulfilled (Try the Zucchini Bread)

My friend Ricky is really smart. My friend Ricky is top 1% of smartest, most engaged people I know, which is saying something. My friend Ricky grows things and makes things and has a realllll cute cat and also makes the public healthier and smarter and better able to serve all people.

So when my friend Ricky asks for recipes after I post too damn many instagram food pics, I oblige. It’s my friend Ricky, after all.

Here’s the thing. More now that I’m working from home and with the kids more, cooking is a a rhythm and sometimes a race– a race to keep things from spoiling, to get food on the table, to get something in the oven before nap and out of the oven before charcoal sets in.

Mondays we milk goats. Mondays, then, we make cheese. It’s a simple endeavor– tossing cultures on the still warm raw goat milk, gently warming and throwing in some rennet. Forgetting all about it. Remembering. Draining. Salting. Eating. Maybe some herbs and olive oil and a little Revolution Farms garlic powder because I heard Alex say he has a new batch out, so I’d better use up last season’s.

(Recipe for zuccini bread after the jump, I promise.)

So Monday or Tuesday we have lots of whey. That means it gets used to soak some flour for bread, or to soften some dried fruits for granola, or to soak quinoa for dinner. With the quinoa goes the leftover cup of zucchini soup from last week that no one will eat, and another lone cup of bone broth. Add more zucchini and there’s dinner.

Roast a weird squash. Cook more rice in broth and toss it in there, maybe with beans? Beans work. Get a watermelon on a whim and use your feta and backyard mint for dinner. Jar the sauerkraut that is PLENTY sour from the crock on the counter, and replace with watermelon rind and some brine for pickles.

At some point lose your shit on the children unnecessarily (whyyyyy was there paint at kid level?!) and make tea.

A few years ago our CSA was AWASH with zucchini, so I made lots of zucchini bread. But zucchini bread can be boring, even dry, and I’m not here for that. So I dreamed up a rich loaf, akin to olive oil cake, but with the verdant freshness of summer squash.

I didn’t take any pictures. I hope that’s okay. Make the bread and it will be.

A note: I bake based on ratios. Ratios of dry ingredients to wet ingredients, ratios of fat to not fat, ratios of binders and not binders. It’s weird, like that meme of that lady with equations swirling all around her, but it works, especially because I’m nearly always out of something. So I give you this recipe with that caveat. It works, if you follow the ratios, and if you sub something, note if this will cause you to sub something else to balance. It’s all about balance, you know?


Zucchini Olive Oil Bread

(but really it’s cake. but say bread, it sounds better for you)

3 cups Flour
1.75 cups brown sugar
1.5 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1.3 cups olive oil
2 cups zucchini, grated and drained
0.75 cups peanut butter (sub with 3 eggs instead, if you wanna)
1.5 tablespoon orange zest
0.5 cups yogurt

Okay, so let’s mix it up before we even start. You can add thyme or rosemary to the recipe. Just cook it in the olive oil a little and chop very finely. There’s enough fat and liquid that it’ll plump up. If you don’t have brown sugar, you can sub with some regular sugar and molasses. Or regular sugar and some vanilla, I guess. Or just regular sugar, it’s just bread.

First, grate the zucchini. You’ll want to start with about a pound, maybe three medium zukes. Lightly salt it, then wrap it in a kitchen towel and press the hell out of it. Hang it from somewhere for a while. An hour, maybe two. However much time you have. Press it more. Save the liquid for soup or water your plants with it. Spread the grated zucchini out on the towel to let it air dry some more. The moisture in the zucchini is your mortal enemy. Be gone, water trapped in a squash. I realize we put you there, but we’re done with you.

Cream the peanut butter and sugar (or eggs and sugar if you’re using). Drizzle the olive oil in slowly while the mixer runs. Add the yogurt and orange zest and herbs, if using, and mix until just combined.

Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl. Mix well, lest someone bite down on a clump of baking soda and ruin your rep. Add slowly, maybe a half cup at a time, to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.

The recipe as written makes an incredibly dense, rich bread. If you’d like it a little springier, add up to one cup of additional flour.

Pour into a greased loaf pan (though the grease is a little gratuitous) and bake at 350F for 40 minutes. Test– it may need more time, maybe up to an hour. Apparently I didn’t write that part down.

Serve with a little yogurt, or tea, or coffee.

PS: When I went looking for my recipe, I searched Google Drive for “zucchini bread” and with my calculations, I found the letter of recommendation I wrote for my friend Elise’s co-op apartment purchase, because Elise has always made the best zucchini bread (from the More with Less cookbook) and I thought they ought to know what a cool neighbor they were getting.

elise zucchini bread


Header Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash



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