Friday, September 23, 2011

Zucchini Pancakes - 2 Ways

The end of summer is approaching, and in gardens and farmer's markets everywhere, the attack of the giant zucchini is commencing!

 To be frank, these giant zucchini have lost the tenderness and sweet appeal of the manageable zucchini the require only one hand to pick up. When they start to out weigh small pets and babies it is tempting to pass them by, or send them straight to compost (where they will faithfully grow your first zucchini plants of the year).

Five Acre Farm from Whidbey Island
is starting to see the monsters!
What if there were a recipe that actually took advantage of the drier, starchier, large zucchini, and possibly some other late summer veggies?

 Well, it turns out there is! Zucchini pancakes - and the versatility is impressive.

 One mixture gives you two pancake options - a flat, griddle/sauté pan pancake, or something more along the lines of a pan fried latke/potato pancake option.
 And there are do ahead/make ahead and customization options as well.

 1. You can make this recipe start to finish and consume everything in one go.
 2. You can grate the vegetable matter in the summer, freeze it... Only to bring it out in the fall or winter, thaw it, drain it, and mix up the pancakes from there.
 3. You can make lots of pancakes, freeze the extras and reheat them as you need them.
 4. You can flavor these pancakes to better suit their use, with your own add-ins, dill, basil, oregano, parsley and jalepeno peppers have all particularly successful.
 5. These are a great side dish, and make the best base for huevos rancheros - ever.

Zucchini Pancakes with bacon and (greek) yogurt for breakfast.
A great start to a day spent replacing faucets.

The Recipe: Zucchini Pancakes - 2 Ways 

This is a proportional recipe - all around 2 Cups of grated zucchini.
I'm going to guess you will have a different amount. Double or triple or halve as you need.
The best news is the recipe is very forgiving, and a little more or a little less is not going to mess things up. And I have yet to figure out how to add half an egg.

Large knife
Cutting board
Mixing bowl - medium or large depending on how much zucchini you are taking on
Grating Device - I highy recommend a food processor for this one
Salad spinner or collander
Non-fuzzy cotton kitchen towels
Measuring cup
Mixing spoon/spatula
Flipping spatula

 Griddle/sauté pan
 -OR- Dutch oven/deep sided skillet/fryer

2 C grated zucchini
1 C grated potato
1/2 an onion - also grated
1/2 C flour - gluten free flours/flour mixes work well here, you need the starch, not the stretch
1 egg Pinch of salt and pepper
Handful of your favorite herbs, roughly chopped (start with dill if undecided, that's the classic.)

Oil for cooking - amount varies by method (Canola & vegetable oils are fine.  Definitely no place for fancy oils)


With the large knife, chop the large zucchini into manageable size pieces.
If the seeds look particularly spongy and dry, scoop them out.
Grate the zucchini, and place the result in your salad spinner/collander for the first round of draining. Go ahead grate it all, you can freeze the extra.

When it is all grated, spread out a thin layer over you kitchen towel,

roll it up and squeeze mercilessly to get out extra water.

You may need to do this in several batches depending on how much zucchini you have.

Measure out your 2 cups, and put the rest in a zip top bag, squeeze out the air and stash in the freezer. Grate the potato and onion.  Use clean hands to stir these together*, add in the herbs, flour, egg, salt and pepper as well.

Combine until just mixed.  (My hands were too goopy to take the photo... and I was getting hungry.)


1. Flat Pancake way - heat a griddle/sauté pan over med-high heat. Give it a light coating of oil.
When a bit of the pancake batter sizzles raucously on the surface, it is hot enough. (about 3-4 minutes) Spoon heaping tablespoons of batter onto the griddle. 
Press down with your spatula to flatten then out.
After a minute or two, peek and see if the bottom is browning nicely. If yes, flip! If no, wait until it has, then flip.
Set aside on a cooling rack or paper towels. Eat the first one as hot as you can with some pepper. 

2. Fried Pancake way - heat 1/4 to 1/2 inch of oil in a Dutch oven or other high-sided, heavy pot to 350˚F, or until a dot of batter sizzles merrily, and cooks by the time you count to ten.
(You should be well below the smoke point of you oil, turn it off if you start to see smoke.**)
Fry zucchini pancake patties that are about 2 heaping tablespoons in size. Only cook 2 or 3 at a time so you don't cool the oil down too much.
Each pancake will take about 3 - 4 minutes on each side to get golden brown on the outside, and soft and wonderful on the inside.
Eating of several test pancakes may be required.
 Drain on a cooling rack over paper towels.

For Both Ways -

When you get the timing down,  cook all the rest.
You can keep these warm in an oven that has been preheated to 250˚F and turned off.
Don't cover them, or they will get soggy.
Extras can be refrigerated/frozen, and reheated in a toaster.

*you can also stop and freeze the ingredients here.
** Always have a large lid on hand and a kitchen fire extinguisher when frying.  And NEVER use water to put out a grease fire.

Some quick suggestions: Pan fried zucchini pancakes with lots of dill and a little mint are a classic middle eastern food.  Enjoy with hummus, or yogurt with cucumbers and mint (tzaziki).

Add a north African flair by adding smoked paprika and turmeric to the flour. And serve with the North African version of crockpot food, a Tagine

Add a little sugar, cumin and cardamom for a sweet/ breakfast version, and use a sweet onion instead of a regular one.

Make tiny pancakes, and serve with smoked salmon and a little dilled sour cream for zucchini based party food.

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