Hide your loved ones, because terror looms. It lurks beneath the foliage, running rampant through the dirt patches, growing exponentially more gigantesque everyday until it fills your entire kitchen and bursts through the windows: a menace to the home vegetable garden. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have squeamish stomachs avert your eyes for I give you…THE ZUCCHINI BEHEMOTH.
This dark green mammoth attacked my porch last Saturday after I returned home from my first week at Phantom Lake thanks to Dana, my neighbor and good friend since the age of two, who had ventured to the Galapagos Islands in search of rainforest ziplining, scuba diving, and numerous other mind-bogglingly astounding activities to induce my deep jealousy. Obviously, since her family currently basks in the salty Pacific air, Dana cannot attend to her bountiful backyard veggie patch bursting with deep purple japanese eggplant, sweet cherry and ovular roma tomatoes, crisp green beans, sage, basil, rosemary, mint, and colossal zucchini. The avid garden-lover and gracious neighbor that I am, I eagerly agreed to harvest her homegrown cornucopia to prevent the beautiful crops from shriveling into late-summer dust. To commence my vegetable hoarding, Dana delivered a thank-you basket to my house brimming with beets, their greens, and of course, the prodigious zucchini.
Now, I hate to say it, but I’m not the most enthusiastic zucchini eater. Most of my favorite veggies I prefer to eat raw in meal-sized salads, but the oddly bitter and slightly watery aspects of zucchini do not lend themselves well to an enjoyable salad experience. I much prefer the green summer squash grilled, sauteed, or in a tofu scramble, but coaxing out its fleeting delicate flavor requires effort and energy that sometimes, frankly, I don’t want to expend.
Thus, I stared contemplatively at the beast wondering how best to tame it. A triple batch of ratatouille to freeze for the winter? A worthy idea, but simmering the Provençal stew heats up an already sweltering summer kitchen in no time. Raw zucchini alfredo for the next two weeks’ lunches? Delicious, but the recipe doesn’t keep very well in the refrigerator. Can you puree zucchini into a smoothie? Eew, clearly zucchini delusion crept upon me. Finally, I inquired of my mother: the prophet of all my food problem-solving. “Zucchini bread?” she suggested. Yes. Yes, mother. I bow at your feet.
Remembering my previous surprisingly successful mini-muffin excursion, I swapped the zucchini bread solution for the bite-sized treats. I used the same three flours as in my Apricot Almond Quinoa Muffins, just a touch of agave nectar, dates to account for the rest of the sweetness, and my newly acquired raw cacao nibs that I’ve been dying to try to create another oil-free, energy packed, dense, unbelievably moist, and wonderously satisfying muffin.
Buckwheat Zucchini Date Muffins (Gluten Free if using GF flours, Oil Free)
Makes about 40 mini muffins or 12 regular muffins.
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup other whole grain flour (I called upon oat and amaranth flour to aid me, but choose what you like.)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water
1/4 cup soy milk (can substitute any non-dairy milk for a soy-free recipe.)
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 1/4 cup shredded zucchini
Which daring climber will next scale the dreaded Mount Zucchini?
6 dates, chopped finely (the next time I make this recipe, I may experiment with pureeing the dates first and omitting the agave nectar.)
1/2 cup raw cacao nibs (I mean, I GUESS you could use vegan chocolate chips, but that’s way less cool. And way less healthy since they’re usually sweetened with sugar. Besides, the nibs add a pleasingly bitter crunch to the nutty, slightly sweet muffins.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F and fill 48 mini muffin tins or 12 regular tins with paper muffin cups or just lightly oil the tins.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
Whisk together applesauce, flaxseed mixture, soy milk, and agave nectar, then pour them into the dry ingredients. Fold ingredients until relatively moist. The mixture will seem clumpy and dry, but will loosen to adequate muffin consistency once you add the considerably wet zucchini.
Fold in the zucchini, dates, and cacao nibs and mix just until well-incorporated.
Scoop the batter (about 2 tsp per mini muffin, a little less than 1/4 cup per regular muffin), into the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean (15 minutes for mini muffins, 20 minutes for regular muffins).