When I saw the list of vegetables from Riverdog Farm today I knew what I would be cooking soon: it is what I cook when zucchini first swings into season, along with corn and the first tomatoes — pancakes made of grated zucchini and fresh corn, bound with egg and a little flour, seasoned with fresh herbs, fried in butter and olive oil and topped with halved cherry tomatoes and a spoonful of sour cream. Can you say summer? Even late summer, as it turns out., or early fall. The seasons are wacko in California this year, with long spring rains and chilly weather, so all of our crops are later than usual.
I first saw a recipe like this in Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood cookbook. As a non-lover of zucchini, I immediately saw the camouflage possibilities (My other go-to zucchini recipe is gingerbread muffins with grated zucchini). The first time I made it, I made it by the book. The next time I added fresh corn kernels and began topping it with tomatoes and sour cream, I love feta cheese — it is one of the cheeses I prefer to keep on hand, along with Parmesan, extra sharp cheddar and Gorgonzola — if I could only have four cheeses, those would be the four.
Why don’t I like zucchini? Does anybody care? I find the skin is often bitter and the flesh either bitter or insipid. I’m always disappointed when some Chinese restaurant fills their kung pau chicken with zucchini. I grew up eating zucchini baked in tomato sauce and topped with cheese and didn’t like that much either, but I am happy to make these pancakes whenever zucchini appears in the veggie box.
Zucchini-Feta Pancakes with Fresh Corn and Cherry Tomatoes
Grate 4 cups of zucchini. Salt it lightly and leave to drain in a colander for fifteen minutes.
While zucchini drains, separate 4 eggs, yolks into large bowl, whites into a small one.
Beat the egg whites until opaque and fluffy.
Add to egg yolks:
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (You can buy a block and crumble it with a fork or your fingers)
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
chopped fresh herbs to taste — I like mint and dill. Basil is also good, or chives if you like an onion-y presence.
kernels cut from 2 or 3 ears of fresh corn.
Fold in reserved egg whites.
Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Fry cakes in a mixture of butter and olive oil (I usually scoop 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter out with a measuring cup for each pancake).
Serve with halved fresh cherry tomatoes and a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt, or top with applesauce for a latke nouveau.
Notes: I often make just half a recipe, using two eggs and two cups of zucchini. And you don’t have to have zucchini — you can make this with crookneck squash, patty pan, or whatever summer squash comes your way, including mixtures of varieties.
If you don’t like feta, improvise with some soft cheese that you do like.
I haven’t tried this with grated winter squash or sweet potatoes yet, but it’s only a matter of time: you could even use summer and winter squash together as their seasons cross if you like both of them. And, of course, you can grate other things into them, but this is the way I like them.
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