Zucchini and Chard Soup with Basil

I don’t typically post recipes on the weekend.  Family life is full plus my publishing cycle centers on delivery day.  Occasionally there’s an exception though, when we cook up something truly special that makes use of the week’s delivery in a way we hadn’t anticipated earlier in the week.  A dish that warrants sharing.  This soup follows that pattern.  It was born of a crisper drawer loaded with leafy greens and a growing pile of zucchini, as the usual cadre of go-to recipes fell flat with my audience.  Something entirely different was needed.  A reach.  Despite its obviously healthy complexion, even those who wouldn’t normally give green soup a chance in this house were welcoming.

Zucchini and Chard Soup with Basil

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Zucchini Chocolate Muffins

We’re heading out of town this weekend on a road trip and looking for a killer line-up of treats to sustain us for close to seven hours along the highways of the Central Valley. The unsuspecting squash averse will be none the wiser as they tuck into these double-chocolate gems (mum’s the word).  The zucchini and buttermilk create a moist, tender crumb, and who would argue with chocolate chips? They’re also eggless—if there are any allergies you need to work around.

If you enjoy these muffins, you might also be interested in their distant cousin, our favorite Chocolate Beet Cake.  Yeah, you read that right.  It’s another well-kept secret.

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Farro with Roasted Vegetables

This versatile vegetarian dish serves equally well as a main course or a hearty accompaniment. Substitute whatever produce you have on hand — zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes and peppers in the summer or carrots, parsnips, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower and winter squash in colder months. Whatever vegetables you choose, the flavor is sure to be deep, complex and oh so good. Roasting takes any ordinary veggie and intensifies the flavors, delivering taste that’s utter magic.

Farro is an ancient wheat grain from Italy. It has a chewy, soft texture and nutty flavor when cooked. It’s worth seeking out — you’ll find it at Whole Foods and other quality markets.

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Mung Bean Pancakes with Summer Squash

This dish is comfort food in our family – made by my mother-in-law and recreated in our own way at home.  We enjoy these pancakes for a simple supper meal with tomato, cilantro or coconut chutney and yogurt raita.  You could add a chopped vegetable salad (tomato, radish and cucumber would be traditional) on the side if you like.  To find the split yellow mung beans (moong dal) you’ll need to make a trip to the local Indian grocery – worth the drive if you haven’t already checked it out.  Pick up some bulk spices while you’re there – as cheap as you’ll find anywhere.

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Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

A great use for the largest giant zucchini, that have a way of turning up in the garden just when you turn your back.   This is a moist spice bread that uses whole wheat flour, agave and honey.   You can increase the whole grain content, by reducing the white flour and increasing the whole wheat flour by the same amount.  I would not vary by more than 1/2 cup or so though, or the texture will not be nearly as nice.  Agave nectar is a mild tasting sweetener made from the desert agave plant.  It has a lower glycemic index than sugar or honey and therefore has a less negative impact on blood sugar levels.  You can easily substitute sugar for the agave though, if you don’t have it.  A little grated apple is nice in this loaf (it’s always great to sneak in more fruit and veggies when you can), and if you like nuts increase to as much as one full cup.  If you prefer a sweeter bread sift some confectioners sugar over the cooled bread, or dress it up with a simple sugar glaze.

For muffins, bake at 375 degrees in prepared muffin tins (greased or lined with paper liners) for about 20 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean).


  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (either finely or coarsely chopped as you prefer), optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.
  2. In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.
  3. In another bowl mix water, honey, sugar, agave, eggs, oil and vanilla until well blended.
  4. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just moistened.  Do not over mix.  Add shredded zucchini and nuts, and gently stir to combine.  The batter will be thick.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
  6. Cool to touch in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack.  Cool completely before storing.  Cover in plastic wrap or store in an air tight container.