Vegetables for dessert. Seems almost like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But, then again, is zucchini actually a vegetable? Botanically speaking, summer squash such as zucchini is the mature ovary of a flower, including the seeds and protective covering. That makes it a fruit. But under this same definition, tomatoes, cucumbers, even tree nuts are also technically “fruits.”
I think British journalist Miles Kington put it best when he stated, “knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing that a tomato doesn’t belong in a fruit salad.”
In the culinary world, fruits and vegetables are determined not by their physical characteristics, but rather by their taste and cultural usage. Under the culinary definition, vegetables are savory in taste and are typically featured in main dishes, appetizers, or salads. Fruits, on the other hand, are sweet or tart in taste and are generally used in breakfast foods, beverages, snacks, and desserts. And that, my friends, is why we put tomatoes on top of pasta and not cupcakes.
But where does this leave zucchini? Based on its traditional usage in savory dishes such as ratatouilles, stir-fries, and salads, zucchini is considered a vegetable. And yet some brilliant soul discovered that this “veggie” could be used as a delicious addition to sweet dishes as well. Today, zucchini is featured just as often in quick breads, muffins, and cakes as it is in side dishes and main entrées. So is it a fruit or a vegetable?
Personally, I think I’ll just take the Juliet Capulet approach and say that a zucchini by any other name would taste as sweet. And here’s your sweet proof: Coconut Zucchini Bread. In this recipe, the traditional zucchini bread has been jazzed up with the addition of chopped walnuts, shredded coconut, and just a dash of spice. And to top it all off, a sweet cinnamon drizzle adds not only an impressive finish but also a delicious boost to the flavor profile of this delectable treat.
For the “Zucchini is a Fruit” enthusiasts among us, this is a perfect treat for breakfast, tea time, or dessert. And even for those of you who are persistent “Zucchini is a Vegetable” advocators, I’m sure you can find a way to eat this for dinner as well! But whichever way you lean on the fruit vs. vegetable debate, I’m sure we all can agree that zucchini in sweet breads is simply delicious.
Coconut Zucchini Bread
Yield: 2 9×5-inch loaves
3 cups GF Flour Mix*
1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups zucchini, shredded
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped walnuts, plus extra for garnishing
1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
½ tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans. Line bottoms with parchment or wax paper. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together GF Flour Mix, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light and frothy. With beater running, slowly add in canola oil and vanilla followed by the zucchini and coconut. Add in the dry ingredients, a little at a time, followed by the walnuts. Beat just until incorporated.
Divide batter between prepared pans and garnish tops with extra chopped walnuts, if desired. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool 15-20 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely.
To prepare the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, cinnamon, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl (if mixture is too thick, add a bit more milk to thin it out). Drizzle over the top of each loaf.
*GF Flour Mix
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch