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Tag Archives: zucchini

Zucchini and Egg Hash on Brioche Toast

6 Sep

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It is a commonly heard joke that, come the end of summer, you can’t safely answer the knocking at your door without running the risk of being met with an enormous bag of zucchini that someone is trying to trust upon you. If you see a neighbor crossing the street and attempting to flag you down while clutching a suspicious bulge of something or other in the hem of his or her shirt, your gut instinct is to run in the other direction. There is zucchini in that shirt! Run away, before you are made to accept it out of sheer politeness! Except if you are me, of course, in which case you will meet your neighbor halfway across the street, arms outstretched in anticipation of getting your hands on more garden fresh zucchini. Zucchini fritters, zucchini spears with Parmesan, grilled zucchini, zucchini in pakoras, and, of course, all varieties of zucchini bread—I wait all year to have enough zucchini at my disposal that I can cook with it nearly every day.

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We always grow zucchini in our garden, but this summer, what with all of the traveling we were going to be doing, we planted a very small, modest, and manageable garden. This garden consisted of a few tomatoes, a pot or two of herbs, and absolutely no zucchini. When we got back from traveling, I fully anticipated at least one person to begin unloading their garden zucchini spoils on us—in fact, I was very much looking forward to it—but it never happened. I briefly considered turning the tables on my neighbors, knocking on their doors and politely inquiring on the status of their zucchini population, but because I did not want my neighbors to begin thinking of me as, how to put this gently, completely nuts, I quickly abandoned the idea. Thus far, the only zucchini I’ve been gifted has come from my in-laws, two people who know how to grow a great garden.

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My in-laws are also avid cooks, so we often take the opportunity to discuss how we like to experiment with different foods and ingredients. My husband’s mother was telling me about a great way to cook zucchini as a sort of hash, shredded, sautéed, then lightly seasoned. I was immediately interested. I can’t remember who brought up the idea of putting an egg on top of the hash, but I do remember that I was the person responsible for immediately wanting to place the concoction on top of a piece of lightly toasted bread. It only took until the next day before I brought all of the ideas for this dish together: shredded, lightly crisped zucchini with a soft-cooked egg nestled within, placed on a piece of thick-cut brioche, and sprinkled with a generous serving of chopped garden tomatoes. Just in time for the end of summer, it’s the perfect way to celebrate your garden’s crop of delightful excess.

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Last Year: Fruit Crisp Made on the Grill, Grill-Roasted Lemon Rosemary Potatoes, and Pane Coi Sante, Bread of Saints

Zucchini and Egg Hash Over Brioche Toast

2 cups shredded zucchini (from 1 large or 2 small zucchini)

¼ cup thinly sliced onion

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 or 3 eggs (2 if your eggs are large, 3 if your eggs are rather small)

2 slices of thick-cut brioche, lightly toasted

1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped

Place zucchini in a clean dishtowel, and squeeze tightly until a great deal of the zucchini’s juice is released. Alternately, you can just grab small handfuls of the zucchini in your hands and squeeze until the juice runs out, but some people may find this method a bit too barbaric (but not me—you have my full permission to proceed as you wish).

Heat olive oil in a medium pan set over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions, and sauté briefly, about 30 seconds, while stirring. When the onions have just started to lose some of their stiffness, add the zucchini, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium, and sauté zucchini and onion, stirring occasionally, until dry and slightly browned, anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and stir to incorporate. Form two (or three) small nests within the zucchini, then crack an egg into each nest. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low, and allow the eggs to cook until they reach your desired doneness.

Place a piece of brioche toast on a plate, top with half of the zucchini hash (making sure to include an egg, of course), sprinkle over a bit of chopped tomato, and add a touch more salt and pepper.

Serves 2.

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Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

14 May

Today, for the second day in a row, my son went to school wearing shorts.  This has not happened since September.  That’s the way the weather works here, the warm days bookending the beginning and ending of the school year, never to be seen in between.  The school year is drawing to a close, and that means that summer is approaching.  Though it tends to happen rather slowly around here, it does eventually happen.

Summer, to me, means taking trips.  They don’t have to be long trips, but if I can find a way to pack traveling food to take along with us, the trip is, in my mind, complete.  Last summer we took day-long bike rides, me pulling my son in a bike trailer that was nearly too small for him (his helmeted head forming a dome under the trailer’s netting while he slouched in his seat and read books about whales); we took our annual 12-hour road trip to San Francisco to watch some baseball games and visit my family; and we made a few expeditions to the beach, where we sat in the sand and constructed cities with my son’s dump trucks and sand castle toys.  For every excursion, we packed what I like to think of as a prolonged picnic mea: a bit of bread, a bit of cheese, plenty of crunchy vegetables, some sweets, some nuts, and a ration of fruit.  This summer, when our garden is bursting with summer squash, I will definitely find a way to fit these fantastic muffins into the picnic/road trip mix.

We come again to that shadowy place where a cake meets a bread, a bread meets a muffin.  The lines long blurred between the three, it is oftentimes difficult to tell where one might be inclined to be identified as something else.  Not so much a cake, but also not entirely a bread, these are a lovely little snack to take in on an afternoon trip.  They make great traveling companions, and they can survive for several days in an airtight container (presuming that one can resist eating them for that long—we did not, in all honesty, so I suppose I should admit here that my statement on the longevity of these muffins is pure, unadulterated speculation).  Though they boast a great deal of dark chocolate flavor and comforting cinnamon and almond tones, the sweetness factor is at a minimum, and a nice combination of shredded zucchini, applesauce, and vegetable oil in the batter keeps the muffins wonderfully moist without ever devolving into heaviness.  A stop in a grassy place to stretch one’s legs in the midst of a prolonged car ride would be made several worlds nicer with a bit of this satisfying, not-to-sweet treat to go along with it.  All we need now is a destination, and we’re all set.

Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Muffins Recipe

1 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs, at room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

1 heaping cup shredded zucchini (from about 1 large zucchini), squeezed of its liquid

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners, or grease the tin with vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and instant espresso, and whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, combine the vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, applesauce, vanilla, almond extract, and shredded zucchini, and whisk to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.  The batter will not be completely smooth, but there should be no streaks of flour remaining.  Be careful to not overstir, as that will make your muffins quite tough.

Evenly portion out the batter in the muffin tin.  Bake the muffins in the center of the oven for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops of the muffins appear firm and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin emerges with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for just a couple of minutes, then turn muffins out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Makes 12 muffins.

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