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Savoring the Seasons: Zucchini works great as pancake base, pasta alternative



For The Recorder
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Whenever I think of zucchini, I remember when I was 7 or 8 years old and my mother grew too much zucchini. I didn’t start out liking it much, and after that summer, I didn’t want to eat zucchini again for a long time. I wish Mom had known that zucchini makes really yummy pancakes, waffles and is a delicious pasta alternative.

Recently, my friends Edie Daly and Jackie Mirkin invited me over for dinner. I was intrigued with one dish they served: shredded zucchini lightly sauteed and then tossed with pesto like you’d toss pasta. It was a lovely, light version of that wonderful summertime basil treat.

I told my sister Martha about that zucchini “pasta” and she said her favorite way to eat zucchini was in pancakes. Of course, I asked for her recipe!

Then, I saw my Conway neighbor Amy Dryansky’s Facebook post about improvising a zucchini waffle recipe from one she saw online (http://f52.co/2fXTD1M). Dryansky said she added fresh herbs and Feta, instead of Parmesan cheese, and drizzled them with pesto oil.

I wish I could share these zucchini recipes with Mom, I bet she’d love them!

This week we’re eating ...

Zucchini pancakes: by Martha McClintock, Seddon/Melbourne, Australia

One of my favorite ways to develop new recipes is to try replicating the tasty food I get in my little local cafes. Seddon is a real cultural melting pot, and Advieh, run by a wonderful Turkish family, is a favorite cafe. I love all their food, but I always end up ordering their zucchini pancakes with a bit of tzatziki. In cheap zucchini season, I said to myself, “I could make these at home, without the burpy garlicky bits!” The online New York Times’ great cooking section gave me the perfect “starting point” recipe. Here is my version catering to my stomach’s dislike of black pepper, garlic, and scallions. — Martha McClintock

Ingredients

3 medium zucchini, shredded

Salt

3 large eggs

½ C. flour (wholemeal spelt was used)

1 T. oil (peanut oil was used, most prefer olive oil)

1 C. crumbled Feta cheese

1 or 2 stalks celery, finely chopped

⅓ C. finely chopped parsley

1 tsp. baking powder

4 to 6 T. cooking oil (peanut oil was used)

For the tzatziki yogurt sauce

⅔ C. plain thick yogurt

1 tsp. celery seed

½ tsp. salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Strain shredded zucchini in colander over a bowl and mix with ½ tsp. salt. Drain for at least 5 minutes. Transfer to a kitchen cloth and squeeze hard to get more moisture out. Squeeze a second time, should be half the size they started out.

Combine squeezed zucchini and eggs in large mixing bowl, mixing well with fork. Add flour, ½ tsp. salt, oil, Feta, celery and parsley (add black pepper, if you like). Mix well, then add baking powder, mix again.

Use cast iron or heavy bottom skillet on medium heat. Add 2 T. peanut or vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Place heaping tablespoons of zucchini batter in pan several inches apart. Flatten as necessary with spatula, until ⅜ inch thick and about 3 inches in diameter. Fry until golden on one side, flip and repeat. Flip a few more times, a total of 5 to 6 minutes, so they are quite crisp. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and keep warm in oven. Keep frying batches, adding oil to pan as needed. Serve hot.

For tzatziki yogurt sauce: Combine yogurt, celery seed, and salt. Mix well and serve on the side or dollop onto the pancakes.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to: mmcclinto@yahoo.com.