It’s zucchini season! I am having serious garden envy, with my feed chock full of pictures of the squash bounty people have been getting recently. We don’t have a vegetable garden at this house…yet. I’ve got to figure out what our HOA will allow since we’re on a corner lot and our yard is visible from the street. (Twenty-year-old Lauren just rolled her eyes at very idea that she would belong to an HOA.) I didn’t get my act together to plant this spring, but I have high hopes for next year. In my previous gardens (did I mention we’ve moved a lot?), I always loved the tenacity of my zucchini plants, with their utter disregard for their neighbors in their need to expand and grow to the size of a small elephant. They were always low maintenance, produced huge yields of vegetables, and grew beautiful blossoms to boot. And zucchini are so adaptable! Put them in a pasta dish? Sure. Spiralize them and make them the pasta? Yes! Grill them, roast them, saute them… you get the idea. And bake them in a moist, flavorful quick bread? Zucchini, you are speaking my language.
Today’s recipe is one of my favorite pasta dishes in quick bread form. One of the first recipes I started regularly making myself was a gnocchi dish (we lived near a Trader Joe’s and had access to cheap gnocchi, which I thought was incredibly fancy). It combined the gnocchi with browned butter, shaved zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and parmesan cheese. I love the flavor combination, and wanted to try and recreate it in a snack bread.
Browning the butter brings a rich, complex nutty flavor the the quick bread, and I went minimal on the spices to let the zucchini and brown butter flavor shine.The batter comes together easily, and you don’t need any fancy equipment to make it. I borrowed the parmesan crust idea from a cheese bread recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book, packing half a cup of cheese on the bottom and top of the bread. Then I thinly sliced tomatoes and placed them all over the top of the finished bread. The result is a sweet and savory quick bread that, when sliced and spread generously with butter, is the perfect snack. It has a crispy crust that perfectly sets off the buttery bread. And it has vegetables in it, so I can justify my kids eating two slices each. If you’re looking for a way to use up some of the season’s zucchini bounty, this is one delicious way to go.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup butter (1 stick)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 tomato, thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or oil a loaf pan. Grate the zucchini and remove some of the excess water by either wringing it out in a cheesecloth or kitchen towel, or by placing it in a large mesh strainer and wringing it out by hand, letting the liquid drain. Slice the tomato thinly and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter is browned, about five minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it has a nutty smell. Take off the heat and allow the butter to cool.
- Mix flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder in medium bowl.
- Combine the buttermilk, browned butter, and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the grated zucchini, followed by the dry ingredients.
- Sprinkle ½ cup of the parmesan cheese into the bottom of the loaf pan. Press down firmly with your fingertips.
- Add the batter and smooth with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup of paremsan cheese over the loaf, followed by the tomatoes. Bake for 60 - 70 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then place on a plate or wire rack to cool completely.