Why zucchini bread is an abomination (and how to make baked zucchini fries instead)

By Tom Havran

Tomato chocolate chip brownies, anyone?

Every summer I’m usually blessed with a lot of tomatoes. I’d never consider mixing sugar, chocolate, flour, oil and eggs (five to one) with all those tomatoes to make brownies. So why would I do so with my bounty of zucchini squash; a perfectly delicious and nutritious vegetable with a long culinary history in savory dishes — like my gluten-free baked zucchini fries (recipe below)?

Zucchini plus dessert does not equal “healthy”

Every summer, I see recipes touting zucchini as an arbitrary addition to desserts, including brownies, quick breads, muffins, pies, cakes and cookies. These recipes are positioned as clever ways to get rid of extra zucchini or to somehow make dessert “healthy.” Dessert is fine, but I’m left wondering how we think it can legitimately subsume delicious and nutritious zucchini. I figure if you have a whole lot of zucchini, why not just make a whole lot more healthy, savory recipes with it and let dessert be it’s own fabulous, decadent thing?

zucchini-brownies

Also, I’ve never understood why we lament zucchini’s tendency to yield so much of its fine self. Such a noble vegetable doesn’t deserve to be “used up” in a dessert recipe. It’s like taking a bountiful blessing and turning it into a saccharine curse in the application. Adding a bit of zucchini to a mountain of dense dessert calories does not diminish the number of calories, nor does it somehow transform them into “healthy” calories … and it certainly doesn’t diminish your mountain of beautiful fresh zucchini squash. 

I’m also certain it doesn’t improve the taste of the squash or the desserts. Zucchini in a dessert application is a culinary abomination. It doesn’t help you honor or enjoy the true nature of your food — or eat it more consciously or healthily.

zucchini-Havran

Et tu, Mom and Dad? Leota with her zucchini brownies and Dale with his fresh-picked zucchini.

I’m basing my opinion on experience. Confession time: I have eaten zucchini bread, muffins and brownies and they ARE delicious, especially when one of the best, most-loved cooks I know (my mom) uses zucchini from one of the best, most-loved gardeners I know (my dad). But Mom’s brownies and Dad’s zucchini are just as delicious when the two aren’t so bizarrely conflated. Mom’s incomparable brownies aren’t any better with the addition of Dad’s fantastic, well-grown zucchini and vice versa.

Gluten-free baked zucchini fries recipe

The rich, nutty flavor and creamy texture of zucchini, (known as “vegetable marrow”) make it worthy of its own spotlight. I encourage you to seek out the many healthy, alternative ways to cook with the vegetable. I adapted one such recipe to create these healthy and delicious gluten-free baked zucchini fries.

baked zucchini fries

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • 3 tablespoons Frontier All Purpose Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups crushed gluten free quinoa or rice crackers
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil cooking spray

baked zucchini fries

 Instructions:

  1. Cut zucchini into 4 x ½ inch sticks and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine quinoa flour, All Purpose seasoning and salt in a sealable bag.
  3. Place zucchini sticks in bag of seasoned quinoa flour and toss to coat.
  4. Place buttermilk in one bowl, mix crushed crackers and Parmesan cheese and place in another bowl.
  5. Spray olive oil on baking sheet (for more even baking, use a wire mesh baking rack on placed on top of a baking sheet).
  6. Dip floured zucchini sticks in buttermilk, then dredge in cracker crumbs and arrange on baking rack. Spray prepared zucchini sticks with a light misting of olive oil and place in oven.
  7. Bake until crisp and light brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serving suggestion: We loved the flavor of these with Simply Organic’s new Greek Yogurt Dips, especially the Mediterranean Herb.

What are your favorite (non-dessert!) zucchini recipes?

Tom_headshotAbout the author: Tom is communicator of natural living for Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia brands. In other words, he’s a very imaginative copywriter. A local boy, raised on a farm just down the road from the company’s headquarters in Norway, Tom enjoys drawing, plant hoarding, cooking and living the simple life in the beautiful state of Iowa.

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