I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for Spring to arrive. Like for reals, not just on the calendar. We’ve had a couple 40 degree days, but for the most part Vermont is hovering in the mid-30’s. Not super cold, but definitely not Spring.
Maybe that’s why I couldn’t resist buying zucchini at the market last week. It made me think about the warmth to come, about planting seedlings in the ground and then harvesting the fruits of our labor on a summer afternoon. Last year we didn’t have room for a zucchini plant in our snacking garden, but this year we are so going there.
I used the zucchini in an easy cornbread recipe that only only takes a few minutes to put together, especially if you use a food processor to shred the zucchini. This fluffy, golden bread has a beautiful crust and just a touch of sweetness. Not enough to make it a dessert bread, but enough to make you want more than one serving. Maybe two or three?
For the main dish I made a vegetarian chili that is one of the munchkin’s favorite bean dishes. He wasn’t always a fan, but then my husband had the brilliant idea of telling him that eating chili would give him “super farts.” Never in a million bazillion years would I have thought of that. But my husband did and now the munchkin inhales this chili all in the hopes of one great super fart that will make him lift off his seat. True story.
Here’s to Spring and zucchini and the harvest to come! (And maybe even the idea of super farts if it gets our kids to eat chili.)
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus more for pan
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 large zucchini (about 10 ounces)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup medium-grind cornmeal
- Position a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter a 9x5x3″ loaf pan.
- Melt ½ cup butter in the microwave, about 30 seconds. If the butter isn’t melted continue cooking in 10 second increments. Set aside and let cool. Whisk in eggs and buttermilk.
- Trim zucchini ends. Coarsely grate zucchini, preferably using a grater attachment in your food processor. In a large bowl combine the zucchini and buttermilk mixture.
- In a medium bowl combine both flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Whisk in cornmeal. Add to the zucchini mixture; fold just to blend. The batter will be very thick.
- Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top. Bake bread until golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 55-65 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool completely on a wire rack.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into ¼ inch dice (about ¾ cup)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1½ lbs fake meat, Yves is a good brand (or ground beef for non-vegetarian version)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (28 oz) crushed or diced tomatoes, with their juices
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder (up to ½ tsp is fine, depending on tastes)
- 2 cups water
- Top with freshly grated cheddar cheese and/or sour cream if you like
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the onion and garlic are soft but not browned, about 1 minute longer. Add the fake meat, and break up the “meat” with a wooden spoon.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and add the cumin, chili powder, chipotle power and oregano. Cook, stirring frequently, until the ‘meat’ is heated, about 3 minutes. (If using real meat cook until browned, about 7 minutes.)
- Add tomato paste, black beans, pinto beans, diced tomatoes and 2 cups water. Bring the chili to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the chili simmer, gently stirring occasionally until thickened and the flavors are concentrated, about 45 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, then cook 5 minutes longer.
- Serve the chili hot with bowls of grated cheese and sour cream on the side, if desired. I like to serve this chili with cornbread like the one above, which I crumble into the chili.
- If you are not planning on serving the chili at this time, let it cool to room temperature. It can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.