Zucchini didn't get planted in our garden until mid to late June this year, and for a while it looked like our plant wouldn't have enough time to produce anything worth harvesting. Fortunately, zucchini is as hearty as it is prolific, and I am now faced with the task of finding ways to use all of our bounty, especially those that have grown beyond a manageable size.
Thankfully, this week's Zucchini Apple Bread is not only moist and delicious, but also easy to make - and it freezes beautifully, making it a perfect recipe for this occasion.
Zucchini is mild in flavor, and some would even say it's bland, which is why many people often eschew it in favor of other, more robust vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli. But this characteristic, coupled with its high water content, makes zucchini ideal to use in quick breads, cakes and muffins.
The addition of zucchini results in a super-moist (and somewhat healthier) baked good, without leaving any trace of veggie aftertaste. The skin of a zucchini is thin and delicate so I prefer to leave it to add a touch of color, but you could peel it first and no one would ever suspect that there was a vegetable in this bread.
Apple is also included in this recipe, both for its sweet flavor and to further enhance the moisture content of the bread. When choosing a variety, look for one that is crisp and tart, like Pink Lady, Honeycrisp or Granny Smith, and be sure to peel the apple before grating.
To grate the zucchini and apple, you can use the medium side of a hand grater, or the medium attachment on your food processor. Well-wrapped, shredded zucchini can be frozen for up to a year; simply thaw in the refrigerator and then squeeze out the extra moisture before using.
Before freezing, measure it out into one-cup portions for easy use later, then wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and store in a plastic freezer bag.
This versatile recipe can be altered by leaving out the coconut, adding raisins or chocolate chips, or whatever flavor add-ins suit your fancy. I've also made a chocolate version by replacing half a cup of the flour with a half-cup of cocoa powder. But no matter how I've made it, this quick bread is always a winner.
Zucchini Apple Bread
Makes one loaf
½ cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup shredded raw zucchini
½ cup grated raw apple, peeled (about 1 large apple),crisp and tart, like Pink Lady or Granny Smith
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan with butter or nonstick spray.
Toast the walnuts for about 8 minutes in the oven, or over medium-low heat on the stove, until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool and then chop roughly into smaller pieces.
Use a medium grater or your food processor to grate the zucchini into shreds, leaving the skin on for color and nutrition. Peel the apple and use the same process to grate it; cover the grated apple with plastic wrap immediately to keep fresh.
In a large bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Use the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, or a hand mixer, to mix the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes.
Add the grated zucchini and apple and beat again on medium-low speed for one minute. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Use a spatula to fold the nuts and coconut into the batter.
Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan and serve immediately, or cool completely before storing.
To store, wrap well in plastic and then place in a plastic zipper bag. This bread will keep for several days at room temperature or in the refrigerator, or for several months in the freezer.
Fargo-Moorhead foodie tip
We often receive questions from readers who are looking for a good-quality, affordable extra-virgin olive oil. For the past 10 years or so, we have been buying our extra-virgin olive oil from our dear friend, Peter Schultz (of Moorhead), who imports it directly from Greece once a year.
Peter sells the oil by the case, starting at $129.00 per case (that's just $10.75 per bottle). The ordering period closes on Monday, Sept. 25, and the oil is expected to arrive in December, in time for the holidays.
This is the very best extra-virgin olive oil we have found, especially at these prices. We are sharing this tip because we are huge fans of Peter and his oil, and we receive nothing in return. Orders may be placed online until Sept. 25 at www.peterschultzimporter.com.
"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 12-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello//thelostitalian.areavoices.com.