You’ve heard the saying that good things come to those who wait.
Well, so does zucchini.
I don’t grow it, or buy it at the farmer’s market because I know I’ll end up with some backyard gardener’s extra bounty by July.
And, sure enough, this weekend I was confronted with a whopper delivered by my friend, Paula. It’s fitting, because one of the funniest comedy bits I remember is a decades-old riff by Paula Poundstone on her mother’s reaction to her father’s gardening prowess. The punch line was something like, “You come in here with one more damned zucchini…” My husband and I still say this to each other when zucchini appears at our door in the hands of desperate gardeners.
In this case, the zucchini came from one of the fine gardeners who work at the Gaston County Library. Perhaps one of the biggest perks of being a reader is the free produce that comes with it during the summer. It’s true. No one is more generous than gardeners, so the libraries usually have giant white buckets at their entrances brimming with produce. On a recent trip to the Union Road branch, I picked up a white cucumber and a couple of pattypan squashes as well as the new Ann Patchett book I had been dying to read. The book and the vegetables were all great.
Since the zucchini was such a whopper, we decided it might be a little tough for sauteing, so we made zucchini bread. This wasn’t the dense, oily loaf that makes me feel guilty with each bite, but a light, biscuit-like zucchini-cheddar quick bread. We used dill from our patio, and chives from a pot that has been thriving on neglect for 14 years. (It has moved with us three times and every year we are surprised when the green spikes pop up again.)
The bread is fantastic hot out of the oven and toasted the next day. However, the recipe only uses a generous cup of zucchini, so I shredded the rest and froze it for zucchini fritters this week.
By the time the fritters and bread are gone, I’m hoping another zucchini will land on our doorstep. I’d say the odds are good.
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup whole-wheat or spelt flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 packed cup of shredded unpeeled zucchini
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar
1/4 cup chopped chives
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
3/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/2 stick of salted butter, melted (If you use unsalted butter, increase salt to 1 tsp.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-cup loaf pan and set aside.
Combine the lemon juice and milk and let sit for five minutes.
In a large bowl, thoroughly stir the flours, baking soda, salt and baking powder together. Add the zucchini, cheese, chives, dill and olives and stir to coat them well with flour.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and warm butter.
Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and gently mix just enough to moisten them. The batter will be lumpy.
Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes. Cool the loaf on a rack for 10 minutes before taking the bread out of the pan.