Zucchini (Baby Marrow) Oat Muffins
These tender, fragrant muffins are sweetened primarily with dates, which, besides sweetness, provide deep flavour and valuable nutrients. Made with whole grains and healthful oil, the muffins have a wholesome sensibility and hearty texture that steps away from the dessert realm into the daily sustenance category, in a good way. They not only taste good, they are a nourishing and energizing way to start your day or fuel your afternoon.
MAKE AHEAD: The date paste can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks in advance.
1 cup packed pitted dates
1 1/4 cups coarsely grated zucchini (1 medium zucchini)
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup neutral-tasting oil, such as light olive oil or canola oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Place the dates in a medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over them to cover and let soak for 1 hour. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the soaking liquid, then drain the dates well.
Combine the dates and the reserved liquid in a food processor (mini, preferably) and puree to form a smooth paste, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides, as needed.
Place the grated zucchini in a colander in the sink; let drain for 20 minutes, then gather it up in your hands to extract as much moisture as possible.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a standard-size, 12-well muffin pan at hand. Lightly grease the wells with cooking oil spray or line them with baking paper cups.
Stir together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl.
Stir together all the date paste, eggs and oil in a mixing bowl until incorporated, then stir in the grated, drained zucchini. Add the flour mixture and stir until no trace of it remains, then stir in the walnuts.
Divide the batter evenly among the wells. Bake (middle rack) for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Serve warm, or at room temperature.