By Sarah Lagrotteria
I’ve been exploring whole-grain baking through Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain. Her book is genius* because it’s organized by grain with one chapter each devoted to whole-wheat, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, kamut, multigrain, oat, quinoa, rye, spelt and teff flours. Which means you can buy a bag of rye flour and actually work your way through it all. Much better than making one rye-based recipe and leaving the rest to go stale in the back of your cupboard. Thanks to Boyce, I’m actually getting to know (and like) rye. Again, genius.**
So enamored was I at the thought of using rye in this zucchini bread that I hardly considered the effect of adding basil and mint to the mix. While the rye deepens the overall flavor and adds a malt-like softness, the herbs take center stage. As my friend Marah said, it’s like pesto bread without the cheese. It’s yummy with soft butter and a sprinkle of sea salt like I served it for my literary ladies book club.
But the zucchini bread is truly fantastic when layered with other savory flavors, such as when it’s toasted and used as a base for a tartine. I had it for lunch the next day with avocado, sprouts and tomato.
Next time I’ll toast and top it with slow-scrambled eggs and wilted spinach or a smear of soft chèvre and a sprinkle of chives.
Now, who wants to come for brunch?
*Do you remember when Carrie was living in Paris with the Russian during the last season of SATC? My favorite moment of that otherwise sad chapter was when she accompanied him to his gallery walk-through–when he let her hand go after promising he wouldn’t– and the young Parisian curator with the glasses and floppy hair came walking toward them, clapping his hands in awkward slow motion and calling out “gén-IUS, GÉN-IUS” in an ever-more booming voice. His is the voice I hear when I taste, see, hear or learn something inspiring. Makes me smile every time.
Savory Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours by Kim Boyce
Butter for greasing the pan
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons basil, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon mint, roughly chopped
2 medium zucchini, grated on the largest holes of a box grater
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used nonfat Fage Greek)
2 large eggs
1 cup rye flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9×2-inch loaf pan.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chopped herbs. The herbs will flavor the butter while you prep the other ingredients.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the grated zucchini, yogurt and eggs. Use a whisk to mix thoroughly.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients–rye flour through salt–stirring to combine.
Add the herb/butter mixture to the zucchini mixture and stir to combine.
Fold the herbed zucchini mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. It will seem like you don’t haven enough “wet” ingredients–the herb/butter/zucchini mixture–but just keep folding gently and the wet will eventually moisten all the dry ingredients.
Add the batter to the prepared pan, smoothing the top to even out the loaf, and bake until golden brown, rotating the pan once halfway through cooking, about 60-65 minutes total. When done, a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Remove from the pan and let cool at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
Enjoy at room temp. This bread is even better the next day, when the flavors have had time to meld.