I am on a savory pancake kick these days. There’s been batch after batch of my leek and pea pancakes, a (less than stellar) attempt at sweet potato latkes, corn and chive shortstacks ordered at State Bird Provisions. Lately whenever I look into a produce bin, I start picturing the veggies griddled and dolloped with crème fraîche or tzatziki. Can I turn that into a pancake?
And at least for zucchini, friends, the answer is yes. I fudged Nigel Slater’s ode-to-the-garden recipe a bit (I think mine are a little sturdier and easier to flip) but kept the lovely essentials: mild, vegetal zucchini, a bright hit of dill and salty-crumbly feta. If you’re the type (guilty!) to amp up the seasoning in a new recipe, aim for restraint here, as zucchini’s delicate flavor is easy to overwhelm. You can serve these tender cakes as a satisfying main (figure 2-3 pancakes per person) with salted tomato wedges and a green salad, or maybe as part of a Greek-style meze, with marinated olives, grilled lamb and smoky baba ganoush. Let the kick continue.
inspired by Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries, 2006; yields 6 pancakes
- one pound zucchini
- kosher salt
- 1/2 C onion, finely chopped
- 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
- 1 scant tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- olive oil
for the batter:
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- one egg + one egg white, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup milk
Coarsely grate the zucchini into a colander placed over the sink; toss with 3/4 teaspoons salt and let sit for about 30 minutes. (Meanwhile, prep the aromatics and set aside.) Wring out as much moisture as you can from the zucchini and pat dry with paper towels.
Warm two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet or cast iron pan. Sweat the onion for two minutes; add the garlic for another minute. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, for about four minutes. Take off the heat, stir in the herbs and season with black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
Wipe down your skillet with a paper towel. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Warm the skillet over medium-high heat with enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. To the dry ingredients, add the egg and milk and whisk to combine. Fold the vegetable mixture and 1/2 cup of feta into the batter. With a 1/4 cup measure, scoop portions of batter into the skillet; cook each zucchini cake for a few minutes on each side until well-browned. Serve warm with Greek yogurt or tzatziki.