Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

I have come to an important realization:  carefully planting that wee little seedling of a zucchini plant this spring was officially signing a deal with the devil.  I didn’t get it at first, mind you. Why would he barter with a measly little green shoot when I’ve been offering up my soul for years (in exchange for very important things, of course, like a 40 of whiskey after last call)?

Now that I’ve realized a zucchini a day does NOT keep the doctor away, I finally get it.  He’s a smart man, that Be’elzebub.

(Pssst – hey you!  Yeah, you with the cloven hoofs!  Here’s another G.D. zucchini recipe.  Now can I PLEASE have that bottle of Jack?  I need it for….some shrimp…..really…)

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

Serves 8 -10 as a side

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini *
  • 1/4 cup butter + more for pan
  • 2 .5 cups milk **
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers ***
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups fine yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 150 g white cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese (2 cups shredded)
  • salt and pepper

* If you have a plague of gargantuan garden zucchini, 1 of them will be about 2 cups shredded.  If you’re using more moderate purchased zucchini that don’t look like they’d be kicked out of the NBA for steroid abuse, about 1.5 of them will yield 2 cups when shredded.

** Whoops!  Photographed the French side of my milk.  ”Lait écrémé” does not mean “cream”, this is actually skim milk.  I suppose you could use 2% or even whole milk for a richer flavor and a denser texture, but do you really want a denser texture for spoon bread?  This bread is dense enough, believe me.  And skim is all we ever have in the house, so I guess that settles that.

** If you’re a bit heat conscious then you might wish to use less.  For a mild heat you can use 2 jalapenos and be sure to remove the ribs and seeds.  I like a bit of kick so I use all 3 and leave the seeds and ribs intact.

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

Preheat your oven to 350ºF with your rack set in the center.

Shred the zucchini using a box grater.  Salt it lightly and place it in a colander to drain for 1/2 hour.

Peel and grate the red onion and finely chop the jalapeno (minus seeds and ribs if that’s how you roll).

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

In a smallish pot heat the milk, honey, grated onion and minced jalapeno.  Finely mince the garlic cloves (or, if you’re as lazy as I am, grate them out on a rasp) and add them as well.  Heat the mixture through until the milk is scalded and just starting to foam slightly around the edges, which will only take a couple of minutes on moderately high heat.  Take the milk mixture off of the heat and let it cool slightly.

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

In the mean time, whisk your two eggs in a large mixing bowl, beating until they’re pale and frothy.  Slowly add a half ladleful of the milk mixture to the eggs, whisking vigorously as you do so.  Add a little bit more milk, whisking constantly, before pouring in the rest.  While you’re pouring in the rest of the milk?  Yup.  You got it.  Whisk, whisk, whisk your worries away.

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

In a separate bowl combine the fine cornmeal, oregano, cumin and baking powder.  You can season the mixture with salt and a generous grinding of fresh black pepper if you like.  I rarely measure how much salt I add unless I’m making bread or pastry, but if I were to estimate I’d say I used about 3/4 tsp of kosher salt and 6 good grinds of pepper.

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

Whirl your fingertips around in the bowl of dry ingredients until everything is combined.  This also has the advantage of adding some air to the mixture so your cornmeal won’t clump together when it gets damp.

In a slow, steady stream add the cornmeal to the milk and eggs.  Are you tired of whisking yet?  Because this is the last time, I swear.  Whisk the mixture steadily while you add the cornmeal to make sure that it’s getting evenly incorporated and there aren’t any big, dry clumps.

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

Finally, squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the zucchini.  Shred the cheese and add both to the mix, stirring until combined.

Generously butter a 9×13″ baking pan or casserole dish and poor the batter in, smoothing the top if necessary.Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

Bake the spoon bread in the center of your oven for about 45 minutes (check on it at 40, it may need another 10), or until the top is golden brown and a pick inserted into the center will come out clean.

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

Let the spoon bread cool for 5 minutes before dishing it out, quite literally, with a big spoon.

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

Leaving the seeds and ribs intact for the jalapenos gave this bread a moderate heat, but the smoky sweetness of Tex Mex flavor still shone through.  The zucchini?  you wouldn’t even know it was there, except that the bread is a bit denser than many of the other spoon breads that I’ve loved over the years.  And as much as I really DO love zucchini, at this time of the year not knowing that it’s there is not necessarily a bad thing….

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread

Zucchini and Jalapeno Spoon Bread
  • Hellcat13

    Oh my god. I just got about 8 large jalapenos from my sister-in-law’s garden, and I was going to make a double batch of the cheddar jalapeno bread this weekend. Change of plans: I am now adding yellow cornmeal to my grocery list.

    • Hellcat13

      And rubber gloves, because I learned my glove-free jalapeno-dicing lesson the hard way the first time I made the bread.

      • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

        The way it gets under your fingernails and then hours later, you rub your eyes (if you’re lucky and you haven’t rubbed anything else) and it’s PAIN OH GOD NOTHING BUT PAIN?

        Yeah, I learned that one the hard way, too.

        • sarah

          uh yea, well try changing an internal “feminine hygiene product” a few hours later…! yeeeeeooooooooowwwww.

  • JennyM

    This looks super tasty. Hellcat13, I feel you. Ask my husband about the time he came home and found me smashed because I had made the mistake of dicing jalapenos sans gloves, with a papercut, and also managed to rub my eyes WITH THE BACK OF MY HAND, because I’m not completely stupid, just moderately so, and apparently that was still a mistake. So I tried every remedy in the book and eventually just decided to crack open a bottle of wine and drink it — at least I wouldn’t care about the stinging!

    Also, Be’elzebub visted our house with the tomatoes and cucumbers this year. Those little plants are so teeny when you pick them up from the nursery! They ought to come with a big warning: ONLY PLANT ONE OF THESE. NO, SERIOUSLY. I’ve never seen cucumbers this big or plentiful — it’s been almost grotesque.

  • J-Bird

    Yum! Have you tried zucchini pasta? It sounds health food-y, which I’m generally against, but with fresh pesto it’s shockingly delicious. Ours had an unexpected peppery bite to it, which we loved. Added bonus: it takes about 5 minutes to make.

  • http://workout-then-cook.blogspot.com Cookie

    What a wonderful recipe! We don’t have an abundance of zucchini but I’m seeing them on sale at the market so I’ll be sure to pick up a few for this bread. It sounds delicious!

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Hellcat13 – I see your pain and I raise you one. I was chopping up habaneros to make some refried beans (without gloves, of course, because apparently I think I’m invincible) and washed my hands afterwards as per usual. Then I went to the bathroom. Thirty seconds later Mike heard me SHRIEKING and came running upstairs to find me lurching from side to side with my pants around my ankles yelling, “The PAIN!! IT HURTS!! IT HURTS SO BAAAAAD!!!” The effort of trying not to laugh had brought tears to his eyes, and all he could think of to say was, “Uhhh….do you want me to get you some milk?” Yeah. MILK. Because that’s going to help the RING OF FIRE on my backside. I spent the next 10 minutes in a most undignified position of ass-end in the tub rinsing my bits with cool water. Now that, my friend, is why one should always wear gloves when chopping up peppers. Because pain? It goes away. But humiliations like that one last a lifetime.

    JennyM – I love that we attended the same school of coping strategies! Nothings seems quite so bad with a glass of wine in one hand. That’s too funny about the cucumbers, and I totally know where you’re coming from! At first you’re thinking, “Ooh, pickles and tzatziki and salads and chilled soups and-” but after a few weeks you’re thinking, “You bastard, GET OUT OF MY GARDEN.”

    J-Bird – That sounds delightful! We’ve made zucchini ribbon salads and carpaccio, but not a cooked pasta. What size/shape ‘noodles’ did you cut them into, and did you have difficulty getting them to hold together when they came from the central pith?

    Cookie – consider yourself lucky! Each summer I get so tired of zucchini that I don’t even want to think about eating it again until April…..which is probably why I forget my annual woes and grow it again.

    • Hellcat13

      Oddly enough, I can sympathize, but not quite to the same degree of pain, I imagine. I had a similar experience with a groin pull and Tiger Balm. For the record? No matter how carefully you apply it and how long you let it dry, THAT SHIT TRAVELS. Girly bits protested. Luckily, I wasn’t with my husband at the time, so no one witnessed that genius move.

    • http://mariam.elnaggar.googlepages.com/ marm

      …The milk might have helped. It’s the casein that is the active guy in the fire extinguishing, though, so if he offered soy milk THAT would have been laughable. But yes: use gloves!

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  • J-Bird

    Sorry, was a bit slow on the response here; I just used a peeler, going around and around the zucchini – they seemed to stay a manageable size, but as long as you feel ok with it I don’t see that it matters. We didn’t use the pith; I chopped it up and shoved it into a vegetable soup I was making at the same time. Once it was all “noodled”, I just stirfried it with a bit of olive oil for a ouple minutes (until just translucent, but still holds its form and has a bit of crunch. The al dente of zucchini), and then just added the pesto and ate!

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Thanks J-Bird!! That sounds great. We do our raw salads the same way, but I can’t wait to try it cooked. And…judging by the size of the beasties in our back yard, I won’t have long to wait. Another hour oughta do it…

  • http://www.potomacrivergoods.blogspot.com Justine

    Mine’s in the oven right now, and it smells delish! I think it’s another way to get some veggies in to those who might not otherwise! I couldn’t see where the butter was added (maybe I missed it??) so I added it to the milk when I heated it. I’ll bet chopped red peppers would be nice in it as well. Oooh, and black beans, too!

  • http://fortunavirilis.blogspot.com Katie

    I made this last week and LOVED it!! I even ate it for breakfast several times because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.