Zucchini can be bought year-round, but summer is when they are truly at their peak. Zucchini has soft, thin green skin with firm, very mild-tasting flesh, making it versatile for both savory and sweet applications. Because of its mild flavor, it can be used in everything from breads and brownies to stir-fries and casseroles.
Now that summer is coming to a close, you’ve likely noticed that zucchini is piling up at farmers markets, as well as taking over gardens. My favorite way to use this overflowing harvest is in baked goods — specifically, zucchini brownies and zucchini bread. Vitamin-packed zucchini stands in for much of the oil in both of these recipes, adding extra moisture and nutrition without extra fat or calories — with zero vegetable flavor.
Zucchini can vary in moisture content, depending on if they were picked from your garden or store-bought. I’ve found that those from the garden have more moisture. As well, larger zucchini tends to be a bit drier, while medium and small ones have quite a bit more moisture.
Using a box grater to grate the zucchini makes the task super-easy. Brownies need moisture, so there’s no need to squeeze out the liquid from the zucchini. Quick breads don’t need as much moisture, so it’s best to squeeze out some of the liquid for this type of recipe.
This brownie recipe uses a combination of melted chocolate and cocoa powder to pack in extra flavor — definitely a favorite in my household! Gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour can be used in place of regular flour (Bob’s Red Mill is an excellent brand).
Enjoy the last days of summer with these recipes!
Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownies (makes 16 brownies)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips, divided use
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (about 1 medium) finely grated zucchini, grated on the medium holes of a box grater – do not squeeze out the moisture
1⁄4 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper or foil for easy removal.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
Melt 3⁄4 cup chocolate chips in a large, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; stir until smooth. If needed, microwave an additional 10 seconds, stirring until smooth. Stir in sugar, zucchini, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Stir in flour mixture until combined. The mixture will initially appear too dry, but as the zucchini releases its moisture, the batter will thin out.
Spoon mixture into prepared baking pan; spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle remaining 1⁄4 cup chocolate chips over top.
Bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Lift brownies from pan; cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Tip: For easier cutting, once brownies are cool, place in the freezer for several minutes and then cut into squares. To freeze leftover brownies, wrap brownies individually in plastic wrap and then place in a heavy-duty airtight freezer bag. To thaw, simply place at room temperature for about an hour.
Late Summer Zucchini Bread (makes 1 loaf)
Always popular, zucchini bread is one of the easiest recipes you can make. Most zucchini bread recipes call for cinnamon, but I prefer adding lemon zest, especially for end-of-summer baking. Enjoy this moist, flavorful quick bread for breakfast or a snack.
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Freshly grated zest from 1 large lemon
2 cups (about 2 medium) grated zucchini, grated on the large holes of a box grater
2 cups all-purpose flour
3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
3⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3⁄4 cup toasted chopped walnuts, optional
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, optional
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9-inch loaf pan with baking spray.
Combine brown sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl; stir well. Place zucchini in the center of a paper towel or clean dish towel. Gather ends and twist to squeeze and remove some of the moisture. Stir zucchini into the sugar mixture.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Add zucchini mixture to flour mixture; stir just until flour is no longer visible. Fold in walnuts, if using. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if using.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in bread comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in pan for 30 minutes before cutting. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Tip: To freeze zucchini bread, allow it to cool completely. Wrap bread tightly in plastic wrap or foil, and then place in a heavy-duty airtight freezer bag. Bread will be good for at least 3 months in the freezer. To thaw, place at room temperature for a couple hours.