Monday, March 15, 2010

Zucchini Pancakes: Making Veggies Fun

My friend and fellow Les Dames D'Escoffier chapter member Julie Darling of Just Call Us Catering seems to be everywhere these days when it comes to volunteering to feed people in San Diego. Her latest project is to teach kids how to cook straight from the garden. And, she didn't have to twist my arm to help. So, on Tuesday I'll be with her at the Olivewood Gardens at the International Community Foundation Center's property in National City.

I can't wait to see their garden, where right now they're harvesting lemon grass, nasturtiums, oregano, rutabagas, leeks, celery, zucchinis, cauliflower and many other fruits, vegetables, and herbs. We'll have about 60 elementary school kids from the neighborhood there to learn about planting in the garden, maintaining it, and nutrition. I'll be doing a cooking class for them. What am I making? Well, with all that zucchini, why not zucchini pancakes?

This is a great way to turn a vegetable many kids and even adults may not like into something they'll enjoy. In fact, it's why I make them. Zucchini's fine, but I don't love the texture when I find it sauteed or in ratatouille. So, early on I started making these pancakes. And, come the end of summer when you can't seem to find enough ways to use them up from your garden, this recipe comes in handy. In fact, you can use this recipe for many other vegetables and the kids can help make it.

Zucchini Pancakes

Ingredients

1 pound of zucchinis
1 large yellow onion
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup of Panko or seasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil or olive oil for frying

Directions

1.     Cut off the ends of the zucchinis and grate each one coarsely, using the big holes of a grater or your food processor's grating blade. Put the grated zucchini in a colander and the colander into a bowl and let the liquid drain from the zucchini.
2.     
       Cut the onions in half lengthwise and remove the skin from the onion. Then grate each onion coarsely, using the big holes of a grater. Add the grated onion to the zucchini in the colander to drain. Feel free to gently but firmly squeeze the grated vegetables to get out as much liquid as possible.


3.     Put the vegetables in a large bowl and add the Panko, baking powder, the oregano, the garlic (if you’re using it), and the salt and pepper. Stir it all together to fully mix ingredients.
4.     Add the eggs and mix well. The mixture should be moist but not runny.


5.     Heat ¼ inch of oil in a hot pan. Place a tiny bit of the mixture in the pan. If it begins to sizzle, the oil is ready for the mixture. Drop a large spoonful of the zucchini mix into the pan and flatten into a pancake. Don’t crowd the pancakes by putting too many in at one time. 


      Cook them for several minutes on each side until the pancakes are golden brown. Put the pancakes on a plate with paper towels placed on top to drain. Then serve with applesauce, creme fraiche, or sour cream.
 

Makes about two dozen, three-inch pancakes.


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