Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bounty from the Garden-- Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini is not only a summer delight but also an edible challenge for me. How many ways can I cook them? My triplets spread their huge leaves in lush splendor.  At this point in the season, it is the only vegetable ready to be twisted off. I inspect them in the mornings, pleasantly surprised to see an abundance of flowers and finger-sized squash hidden under leafy canopies. The idea of stooping down to snip squash blossoms is exhilarating. Culinary ideas float through my mind. Finding blossoms with tiny squash attached, is a bonus. Green summer squash fools the eye all the time. And sometimes that results in elephant trunk-like baseball bats instead of the real thing! But the season is young so I have a chance of finding that baseball bat. Not this month though. I reach for small squash peeking under thorny stems. Who would've associate thorns and zucchini? They have nasty prickly stems that will scratch unexpectedly. 

Today I pick flowers and small zucchini. Ideally, mornings are best to pick squash blossoms. By 8 am they have their dentist moment in the sun. I see some from the window, gaping yellows, peeking between shades of green. At noon they clam up, petals closed, protecting their virtue. Basket in hand, I find more than I need. I cut flowers with thin stems, the females. I leave the male flowers which grow into green batons.  I shake the flowers vigorously and see a number of bugs fall out. Ants love to nestle deep inside the petals. I open a blossom and out pops a fly. As I move the sharp leaves and stems I spy small squash well hidden. The camouflage fool's Shauna often. Not me though. I spy with my eagle eye....several tender zucchini!!! My basket is full and and my arms are barely marked.  So it's back to the kitchen.

I think I will make zucchini pancakes. We all love them. And what's not to love. A crispy nugget full of zucchini, goat cheese and an unexpected addition....Fava beans.

Zucchini Pancakes 
Makes 12 small pancakes

2 small Zucchini
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
I Egg
3 tablespoons Flour
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Lemon zest.
1 large pinch Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Goat cheese
1/2 cup cooked Fava beans
3 to 5 tablespoons Canola oil
Sour cream

Grate zucchini on a small holed grater. I find the small holed grater works best for me. The larger holes will work too. It's your choice.

Place zucchini in a colander and salt. Let the zucchini sit in the colander to drain for 2 hours. The salt allows water to leach out of the veggies.

Squeeze handfuls of zucchini to remove as much liquid as you can . Place the squeezed zucchini in a bowl.

Add egg, flour, baking powder, scant salt, lemon zest and black pepper and stir well to mix. 

Roughly chop the fava beans.

Crumble goat cheese and add to zucchini.

Stir in fava beans gently.

Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large non-stick saucepan on a high flame.

When the oil is hot, a few minutes later, add dollops of zucchini batter and flatten slightly. You should be able to drop in 4 or 5 pancakes at a time. 

Let pancakes turn brown and crusty before you flip them.. This should take 3 to 4  minutes. Once flipped cook them for a minute and remove the pancakes to a paper towel lined sheet pan.

Finish the remaining batter the same way.

Eat the pancakes warm, with sour cream. 

There is something so wholesome about eating the bounty from your garden. You forget the sweaty effort that goes into digging vegetable beds. You watch and wait in eager anticipation for your plants to grow, to flower, to fruit. And the moment comes when you pluck the first zucchini or tomato, as it is in my case. Today we eat pancakes, knowing full well what comes next. Zucchini bread. Squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese. Grilled zucchini. Zucchini stir fry. Zucchini kofta curry. Squash blossom tempura. Inspiration and perspiration all summer long!