At this time of year zucchini is normally going bonkers around here. Picked small they are tender and delicious, eaten raw or cooked. This year there isn’t a vegetable garden at our place on the Sunshine Coast due to the epic construction project that has been going on over the past 12 months. In previous years there was always a zucchini patch on the lowest level of the property, and little green and yellow zucchini would make regular appearances in our meals all summer long. I always liked showing up at the property a few weeks after the summer visits had mostly ended, and finding the remaining zucchini that had been left to run a-muck. The bigger ones, while long past tender, are amazing for baking with, and hold an incredible amount of moisture. If you don’t have access to a zucchini patch, hit up the farmer’s markets. You’re bound to find a bargain bin of way too big zucchini that the growers are looking to off-load for cheap. Grated zucchini freezes really well. I like to freeze it in 1 cup portions, and then I’ve always got it on hand for baking through the winter.
Chocolate zucchini loaf really isn’t anything new. A deep dark chocolate loaf is a good place to hide the green or yellow flecks of zucchini, especially if you’ve got people in your life who you’re trying to sneak the vegetables past, and the squash offers a considerable amount of moisture to the loaf. Still, many of these seemingly healthy loaves end up loaded with sugar and oil, and are really just cakes masquerading as a healthy snack. Loaf myth, maybe?
I ended up with a large-ish zucchini after I happened to catch one of the UBC Farm’s campus sales on a day I rode my bike to campus to sell some text books and buy some others. I by-passed the smaller squash, opting for the bin of larger ones that were screaming to be baked into something. I was more than happy to oblige.
I’ve been reading a fair number of recipes for various baked goods which incorporate quinoa in some way, and I wondered if I combined grated zucchini with some cooked quinoa if I’d end up with the super moist loaf I was after, without relying heavily on added fats. Indeed, it turned out quite nicely. Normally when I cook quinoa I cook it a little on the dryer side (1 part quinoa for 1.5 parts water), as I’d much prefer it to be fluffy than soggy. Here I’d suggest going on the soggy side a bit (more like 1 part quinoa for 2 parts water) because the bits of quinoa around the exterior of the loaf ended up a bit crunchy – which I didn’t mind, but may not be the texture you’re going for.
I tested this loaf out on a class of 16 year old Lifesaving Instructor candidates I was teaching, figuring that was as good a test audience as any for a healthy-ish chocolate loaf. I was totally frank with them about the ingredients, letting them know it was a relatively low fat and low-ish sugar loaf, and explained about the zucchini and quinoa. At first I thought they might be sucking up when they were telling me how much they liked it, but when things nearly came to blows over the remaining slices, I realized they were being genuine. Good.
I will say, the loaf was definitely better the second day, after an over night rest in an air tight container. Any crunchy bits of quinoa around the crust had softened up, and it was moist and delicious.
Chocolate Zucchini Loaf with Quinoa recipe:
If you are using frozen grated zucchini, don’t discard the liquid. Thaw in the bowl you’ll be using for mixing, and take full advantage of all of that moisture. Sometimes I can be a bit of a lazy baker and skip sifting the dry ingredients, but I always sift when cocoa is involved. Recipe makes 2 medium loaves.
3 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup grape seed oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare two loaf pans with parchment paper.
Sift dry ingredients together in a medium bowl, careful to eliminate any lumps from the cocoa powder. In a large bowl combine zucchini, eggs, sugar, oil, quinoa, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir to combine, careful to not over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips. Distribute the batter evenly between the two prepared loaf tins. Bake for 60 min, rotating pans half way though. A cake tester (toothpick, sharp knife) should come out mostly clean when the loafs are done, and the tops should be firm. Cool on a wire rack.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2010