The first time I ever had zucchini bread as I child, it kind of blew my mind. “Wow, you mean you can turn a vegetable into dessert?!” I said. A few dozen years later, remixing notions of what ingredients go together is my favorite way to create new dishes.
This week’s clearance basket from my local produce market, held a pair of battered (though still salvageable) zucchinis. Having gotten a little zucchinied out this summer, I resolved to turn them into a loaf of chocolate zucchini bread. Still, after a few days of holiday baking I wasn’t really in the mood for something sweet and I had a lump of cheddar in the fridge that needed to be used before I head to Saudi Arabia for a few weeks.
That’s when I thought to myself “If you can surprise people by putting zucchini in a sweet bread, why not put it in a savory bread?”, so that’s exactly what I did. Vaguely reminiscent of a frittata, this bread uses a lot of eggs, giving it a moist crumb that’s redolent of olive oil and thyme. Rather than mix in shredded cheese that would melt into oblivion, I wanted the cheese to have a big presence. That’s why I cut the cheddar into big chunks, layering the blocks of cheese into the middle and on top of the bread.
When it comes out of the oven, the cheese on top forms a crispy golden crust of browned cheese, while the chunks in the center leave hollow pockets in the bread lined with savory melted cheese. Unlike many baked goods, this one is definitely better the second day, so it’s a great make-ahead brunch dish. When I made this, I wanted something simple that I could snack on and take on the plane with me, but if you’re making this for brunch, adding crumbled sausage or bacon is fair game. This would also work great in a muffin tin because the batter is pretty thick.
Equipment you'll need:
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