A few weeks ago, Nate and I had a three-day weekend that didn’t feel much like a weekend at all. It was filled with company and commitments that we both could have done without and by the time Tuesday morning rolled around we felt like shells of ourselves. Nate trudged off to work and I headed to the fridge.
I knew that behind the door I would find perky lettuces, homemade nut butters and hummus, bowls of cooked grains and jars of herby dressings. They were there in anticipation of precisely this kind of moment and I cursed my foresight. I took a minute to ponder the idea that maybe someone had broken in during the night and left behind a plate of bolognese or perhaps a large slice of chocolate cake. When I opened the door I found that it was as I had left it.
As luck would have it, I found a rather sad looking zucchini in the produce drawer. It was past its prime and destined for baking. Watching Jack chase a few blocks across the kitchen floor, I shredded the squash into cold, wet shards the color of new grass and set them aside to drain. I reached for whole wheat flour and maple syrup and at the last minute brought the olive oil down from the cupboard. Soon the house was filled with the scent of comfort and the very idea of the warm muffins, slathered in butter, began to revive me.
This is your basic muffin recipe with a few healthy upgrades. It tastes good enough to will you out of bed but is substantive enough to carry you through the day. These are best eaten or shared the day they’re made, but can go an extra day or so if tightly wrapped. They also freeze well and you can enjoy them one at a time, as needed. Toast, top with butter, and you’re good as new.
OLIVE OIL AND ZUCCHINI MUFFINS/ makes about 18 muffins
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups toasted pecans, roughly chopped
turbinado sugar, for topping
Preheat your oven to 350F and line two 12-cup muffin pans with 18 or so paper liners.
Grate the zucchini into a bowl or colander and set aside to drain.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sugar, maple syrup, salt, orange zest and eggs. Add the flour, baking powder and soda and stir until just combined. Fold in the zucchini and pecans.
Fill the muffin liners nearly to the top and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and spring back slightly when touched.