Monday, April 29, 2013

Savory Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini is by far my favorite squash. It's mild flavor makes it incredibly versatile, and can be made into a variety of dishes. My favorite is my mother's zucchini fritters. It is the one recipe of hers that I can't seem to duplicate no matter how hard I try. She doesn't use any eggs, cornmeal, flour, or any binder to speak of. Simply relying on the high moisture of the zucchini, she adds salt, pepper, a little minced onion, and quickly shapes the shredded zucchini into cute little patties and fries them in a very shallow amount of oil. The result is sublime - crisp zucchini outside, perfectly tender and fresh tasting inside. I guess I'll just have to accept that what makes her fritters so lovely is her slight of hand, and hope that one day I'll be able to come close.

What I've come to depend on as being my zucchini staple is the savory pancake. I've made these from scratch, and I've also cheated by using a pancake mix. With a not-quite-yet-2 year old toddling about the house, I definitely rely on the cheat way pretty often lately. I don't feel any shame though, since I've never had any zucchini pancake quite this good. They come together in a flash, make a ton, and are very filling. Paired with some green onion and greek yogurt dip, they are exceptional.

If you have the luxury of planning ahead, I do recommend grating and draining the zucchini the night before. Simply add a heavy pinch of salt and place in a non-aluminum colander over a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let hang out in the fridge. Saving the released pale green liquid and adding it to the liquid needed in order to mix up the pancake mix (or scratch pancake batter) really bumps up the freshness of these indulgent little babies. 

3 medium organic zucchini, 
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper,
depending on taste
1 large egg
1 cup water, or zucchini liquid mixed with water to make 1 cup
1 3/4 cup Trader Joe's Buttermilk Pancake Mix
Canola, grapeseed, or other neutral tasting oil

Grate the zucchini directly into a colander over a glass bowl. If you have the time, salt well and cover with plastic wrap and let hang out in the fridge over night. If not, add a healthy pinch of salt and let sit for 30 minutes. 

Using your hands, squeeze the zucchini out into the bowl, leaving the squeezed out zucchini in colander. Add the liquid to a liquid measuring cup and fill it the rest of the way with water (or other liquid of choice if making pancakes from scratch) till there is 1 cup of total liquid. Add the egg and beat lightly.
*An egg is called for in the mix, so I have it listed in the ingredients. If you don't use eggs in your pancake batter, there is no use for one. 

In a large bowl, add onion and garlic powders, pepper, cayenne, and pancake mix/dry ingredients. Pour in the egg/water/zucchini water into the dry ingredients and stir until not quite combined. Add the zucchini and mix till there are no streaks of the dry mix. 

Heat 1 - 2 tbsp oil in a large non-stick skillet, or well seasoned cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the batter in 1/4 cup increments to the oil, smoothing the batter on top with the bottom of your measuring cup. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes on the first side, 2 - 3 on the second till both sides are crisp and golden brown. Remove pancakes to paper towel lined plate and immediately sprinkle with kosher or coarse sea salt. Continue cooking up the pancakes till there is no batter reamaining. Yes, you need to add 1 - 2 tbsp of oil to the pan before each batch. There is a reason why these are so good.
You can serve these immediately, warm, or at room temperature. A super fast and thick sauce for these pancakes is kind of an essential in our house, and it helps cut through the richness of the cakes. Simply combine 1 cup of non-fat greek style yogurt, 1 green onion finely chopped, a pinch of salt and pepper, 1 tsp dried dill or 1 tbsp fresh, and a spritz of lemon juice.

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