Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Zucchini Cornbread

Well, it’s that time of year. Time to go back to school. Time to think about winding down the summer activities. Time to figure out how to cram all that zucchini with which you’ve found yourself into something, anything. To test the concept that just about any baked goods can be made to accept a healthy dose of shredded zucchini, I tried it in cornbread. Not bad, I must say.

This cornbread, which is based on the buttermilk cornbread in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and a zucchini cornbread loaf in Bon Appetit magazine, is very moist, but not mushy. (I’ve found that such is the trick with zucchini additions.) It tastes like good cornbread, with just that little bit of vegetable flavor from the zucchini.

I really like to bake my cornbread in a cast iron skillet. It tends to bake quickly and evenly while still getting nice brown and crunchy edges. This cornbread, for all its extra moisture, was no exception. I added a little spice in the form of cumin and chili powder to perk up the usually bland zucchini, and the buttermilk gives it just a bit of tanginess.

This is a savory cornbread with very little sweetener (just 2 tablespoons of honey). I’m sure you could make this a sweet cornbread by simply increasing the honey. As it is, this moist, savory cornbread is a good accompaniment for a saucy, spicy chili. Or the simple corn and bean skillet pasta dish that I made recently. More on that soon.

Shortly after I made this cornbread, a kind neighbor gave me a very large zucchini, so I think I’ll be stuffing zucchini into even more dishes. Luckily I have a good handful of proven ideas!

Zucchini Skillet Cornbread

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1 teaspoon powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons honey
10 ounces shredded zucchini (from about 1 medium-size zucchini)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. While the oven is heating, place the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and place it in the oven. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, cumin, chili powder and salt. Whisk to combine well. Set aside.

2. In a medium-size bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk. When the butter in the skillet has melted, brush it all over the bottom and sides of the pan. Gradually whisk the remaining butter into the eggs. Whisk in the buttermilk and honey until well-blended. Stir in the zucchini.

3. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until just combined and all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into the buttered skillet and spread the batter out evenly.

4. Bake at 375 F for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with no moist batter clinging to it. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan. Slice and serve warm from the pan or cool completely.

Makes 8-10 servings.

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