Apr 13, 2009

zucchini

apparently, some people who cultivate the zucchini plant are overwhelmed by its plenitude, to the point where they creep up to porches in the dead of night to leave bags of the squash hanging, unwanted, from doors. i have never had this problem but, even if i did, zucchini pancakes are clearly the solution. the ny times recently had an article about zucchini pancakes but i found their version rubbery and insufficiently delightful. these i inflicted on the unsuspecting crowd at tory and elizabeth's easter dinner last night; happily, the modifications i made this morning (much less egg, much less flour) produced a truly transcendent version, delicate and crisp.

pancakes
2 medium zucchini
1/4 cup onion
1 egg
1 tablespoon dry dill (or 2-3 if fresh)
handful crumbled feta (large lumps are sort of nice)
handful grated parmesan

after grating the zucchini and the onion, salt liberally and allow to drain for about 10 minutes, then wring as much water out as possible. wrapping the mass of shredded zucchini in a clean towel helps. zucchini shrinks dramatically when wrung out. this is normal. in a medium-ish bowl, mix the zucchini and onions with the egg, dill, feta, parmesan. the mixture should be an appealing spring green and be a slightly runny mass. proceed now to make the sauce.

sauce
5 hefty cloves garlic
dash each cayenne, dry mint, cumin, black pepper
1 cup whole milk yogurt (thick greek style is best)

peel and mince the garlic, combine with spices and yogurt, refrigerate. this stuff will also slay a good lamb burger.

assembly
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

after putting the sauce to bed, dust off your local cast iron skillet and heat a tablespoon of oil in it. add the flour and baking powder to the zucchini and eggs. resist the urge to overmix. drop about a tablespoonful of the batter into the hot skillet and flatten it out (3" diameter is a good size). an 8-inch skillet fits 3 of these at a time. allow one side to brown before flipping using a thin metal spatula. drain on wire rack on top of newsprint or paper towels, and serve with sauce. these deflate in a particularly dispiriting way when they are allowed to get cold.

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