Monday, October 26, 2009

The best of fall...from zucchini bread to roasted pumpkin

With the chilly weather of the past few weeks, I've taken to turning up the oven and keeping things warm with some great fall comfort foods (my apartment building has yet to turn the heat on so I figured I'd rather cook than freeze to death). Cold weather comfort food obviously has a different meaning for everyone - whether we're talking mac n' cheese or a plate full warm brownies. For me, it's memories of my mom's pumpkin bread, steaming bowls of split pea soup and my dad's infamous spaghetti sauce. Here's the first post in a mini round-up of recent recipes from my own kitchen that take advantage of fall's seasonal produce and the cool weather.
Zucchini Bread with Walnuts
I tend to get overly excited at the farmers market and buy a little too much on occasion, so when I found two lonely zucchinis sitting in the fridge, I couldn't bare to let them go to waste. Zucchini bread seemed like the perfect use--I'm a sucker for a warm, toasty slice with a tiny dab of butter. I adapted the recipe below from Smitten Kitchen and swapped half the flour for whole wheat, half the oil for applesauce and tossed in walnuts and a nutty-cinnamon topping. The result is a killer bread that's a tad lighter, packed with fiber and vitamins A and C from the zucchini and heart-healthy fats from the walnuts.
*Makes 2 loaves, about 10-12 servings per loaf

3 eggs
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 small zucchini)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1/8-1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts + extra (about 1/4 cup) for topping
1/4 cup brown sugar for topping
1/4 tsp extra cinnamon for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 loaf pans.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and add in oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla. Mix well.
3. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and powder, salt and nuts in a separate bowl. Stir into the egg mixture and blend.
4. Pour batter evenly into two pans. Mix extra walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle atop each loaf.
5. Bake loaves for 60-70 minutes until golden brown and a tester or toothpick comes out clean if inserted into the center of each loaf.

Up next tomorrow, just in time for Halloween...Balsamic Glazed Pumpkin with Lentils, Goat Cheese and Crispy Fried Shallots.

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