It's the season of the zucchini. The prolific, green, slightly sweet, slightly nutty summer squash abound in the garden, at the farmers market and in your CSA box. Mostly, zucchini will be consumed small and tender--sautéed briefly or perhaps shaved into thin, raw ribbons that are so refreshing when drizzled with lemon-herb vinaigrette. But, it's inevitable; some will grow beyond babyhood and into unwieldy teenagers. In the most well tended squash patch, zucchini can hide under leaves and swell unnoticed to the size of zeppelins. There isn't much the cook can do with extra-large zukes--the skin is too tough, the seeds too big and fibrous, but even the tender-skinned foot-long zucchini, and the sheer quantity of smaller squash, can be a challenge to the cook.
You could make zucchini bread, but do you really want to? A summer squash soup with a pistou swirl is good, but why not try something different? Hot-off-the-griddle pancakes loaded with fresh zucchini and herbs with olive-oil-fried edges are an easy treat.
Here's a great way to use two pounds (six cups!) of grated squash. The recipe is simple: a few eggs, a sprinkling of flour, a crumble of feta for those concentrated bites of salty-melty-gooey, lots of green onions and your choice of mixed fresh herbs. The pancakes, napped in yogurt make a satisfying and flavorful vegetarian main-dish, a tasty starter for grilled lamb, and really shine as part of a mixed meze dinner. However you plan to serve the green hotcakes, you'll get an opportunity to make them again, very soon.
Zucchini Pancakes with Herbs and Feta
Note: This cook uses Romanesco zucchini from her garden. Romanesco is a ribbed heirloom variety with firm, sweet flesh and variegated green and white skin. You can grate the zucchini, chop the herbs and crumble the feta ahead of time. Just don't mix the batter until you're ready to fry the pancakes as the grated squash can get watery. Serve the pancakes with plain yogurt.
Serves: 4 as a main course or 8 as an appetizer
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup unbleached flour
2 pounds zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated (about 6 cups)
1 ½ cups chopped green onions
½ cup chopped mixed fresh herbs such as mint, basil, dill and cilantro
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Plain yogurt for serving
1. Whisk the eggs, garlic, salt and red pepper until well blended in a large bowl. Mix in the flour. Stir in the zucchini, green onions and herbs. Carefully mix in the feta cheese.
2. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil on a griddle or in a well-seasoned large iron skillet (enough to create a thin layer) over medium heat. Drop the batter onto the griddle by ¼-cup-fulls, spacing evenly. Spread the batter so the pancakes are about ½-inch-thick.
3. Fry the pancakes until golden brown on the bottoms, about 4 minutes. Carefully turn the pancakes and continue cooking until brown on the second side and the zucchini is tender, about 4 minutes longer.
4. Transfer the pancakes to a platter and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more olive oil as necessary. Serve the pancakes with yogurt.