If given the choice between sweet and savory, I will almost always veer at full speed toward sweet.
But a dinner four years ago at San Jose’s The Table had me backpedaling.
That was when I had Chef de Cuisine Anthony Jimenez’s take on zucchini bread.
It wasn’t served for brunch or dessert, but as an accompaniment to roast chicken. The slab of zucchini bread had been sliced, then griddled until it was slightly crisp on the exterior. Its sweetness had been remarkably dialed down. It was tender with some parts soft, some crispy — and it reminded me very much of Thanksgiving stuffing.
Who knew zucchini bread could be enjoyed quite like this?
Katie Sullivan Morford, for one. A Bay Area food and nutrition writer, she’s written a new cookbook, of which I received a review copy: “Rise and Shine: Better Breakfasts for Busy Mornings” (Roost Books). The lovely photos are by Bay Area photographer Erin Scott.
It’s filled with 75 inventive recipes for the most important meal of the day. Some can be made in a flash, such as “Orange Almond Date Lassi.” Some are remarkably time-saving, such as “Better Than Boxed Instant Oatmeal” and “Make-And-Freeze Buttermilk Waffles.” And some are designed more for weekends, such as “Big Joe’s Huevos Rancheros.”
Her “Cheesy Zucchini and Olive Bread” is one that is better made either on the weekend or the day before since it does take more than an hour of baking time.
There is no sugar in this zucchini bread. Instead, it’s loaded with savory ingredients such as aged cheddar cheese, Kalamata olives and green onions.
It bakes up with a light crust on the outside and an interior that’s moist, soft, tender and fluffy. The onions hit you first when you take a bite, followed by the other flavorful ingredients.
You could even mix some chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in for a different variation.
The zucchini bread is delicious just sliced as it is. Popping a slice in a toaster oven or griddling it in a pan, then adding a smear of soft butter, makes it a little less cake-like and a little more stuffing-like.
Sullivan Morford considers this breakfast. But I could just as easily see it getting a starring role alongside roast chicken or a grilled pork chop or even a hearty bowl of minestrone.
Breakfast? Or dinner? Either way, it’s divine.
Cheesy Zucchini and Olive Bread
(Makes 1 loaf)
2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
3 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts only
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/3-inch cubes (a little over 3/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with oil or nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Put the zucchini into a colander set in the sink. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and use both your hands to toss together. Leave the zucchini in the colander to allow the salt to draw out some of its liquid.
In a large bowl, whisk together the white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, black pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, yogurt, and milk until combined.
Returning to the zucchini, squeeze it thoroughly to extract excess liquid, allowing it to drain through the colander. Do this several times to eliminate as much of the moisture as possible. The zucchini will remain moist but should not be wet. Add it to the egg mixture. Add the scallions and olives and stir well with a spoon.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently with a spoon just until the streaks of flour disappear. Add the cheese and stir just enough to distribute it throughout the dough, being careful not to overmix.
Transfer the dough to the prepared loaf pan and use a spoon (or your fingers) to smooth the top a bit. It will be rough and craggy.
Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the loaf is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If you aren’t sure if it’s done, remove the loaf and pat it firmly with your hand: it should sound hollow.
Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the bread, tip the pan over, and gently dislodge the bread onto the countertop. Set it upright and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve sliced, toasted, and spread lightly with butter.
Boost It: Top the toasted bread with smoked salmon, if you like.
From “Rise and Shine” by Katie Sullivan Morford
Another Katie Sullivan Morford Recipe to Try: Chickpea Panini
Plus More Zucchini Recipes to Try: Zucchini, Carrot, and Cranberry Muffins