Dealing with Zucchini

I told the old Midwestern joke at Veggielution about not leaving your car unlocked in the summer, lest someone leave a bag of zucchini on the front seat, and was surprised that it was new to my captive audience. I like zucchini, but I’ve decided over the years that I like them best when they’ve had some of their moisture removed, either through grilling or roasting, or, if I’m going to use them as an ingredient, pressing and draining. And for someone who brings so many fresh vegetables into her life, I also go out to eat, probably more than is wise. This afternoon, I was thinking about what was most critical to use, and decided to make zucchini pancakes.

Those with a perhaps unhealthy interest in the contents of my refrigerator will remember that I got two kinds of summerf squash on Thursday, a light-green, rather blocky, but still recognizably long zucchini, and a round squash of the same color. I didn’t plant these, but I would guess that the cylindrical one is Gray Zucchini, and the round one is Ronde de Nice. I like stuffing the round ones, as I said, but had already committed to the pancakes for tonight. To remove the moisture from the squash-to-be-stuffed, I scooped out the insides.

and baked them upside down at 400 F for about 20 minutes. Then I put them away in the fridge for a later dinner.

The rest of the zukes, plus the scooped insides

I shredded and salted

and weighted in a colander with a bowl full of water, to squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

The I separated three (TLC, of course) eggs and whipped stiff the whites.

The yolks I combined with half a bunch of cilantro, chopped fine, a small onion (ditto,) 4 ounces of crumbled feta cheese, a handful of flour, two crushed cloves of garlic, about ½ teaspoon of ground cumin and some ground pepper. I did not add more salt, after salting the zucchini. I should have added more flour (probably ½ cup,) as became obvious later on. When this was all mixed, I added the drained zucchini, and folded in the whipped egg whites.

I cooked the pancakes in hot olive oil until they were brown on the bottom, and flipped them.

Well, I say “flipped,” they flopped more often than not. These pancakes were exceptionally tender and fragile. Not a bad thing to eat, but more frustrating to cook. This recipe was originally from Mollie Katzen, and called for mint and scallions. When I make them that way, I serve them with applesauce, but no applesauce was to be had tonight. So I changed the seasoning to vaguely Mexican, and served them with a simple salsa made from the other half of the cilantro, a red onion, a chipotle chile from the fridge, and four tomatoes from my own very garden.

I know my food styling needs work, but I was happy with how it all came out.

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Working to build a local, sustainable food system in San José