The grand thing about cooking is you can eat your mistakes. -Julia Child

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zucchini Pancakes with Garlic-Yogurt Sauce

I kind of went overboard when shopping for veggies last week. I hadn't made the effort to go to the food coop where I usually buy my produce in a while, and then I found myself there twice in one week. I can't walk out of there without buying something green, so I wound up with an overflowing veggie crisper. The more delicate things got eaten first - the chard, the asparagus, salad greens, kale, peppers, eggplant. Finally the most durable-seeming vegetable of the ones I purchased last week was up to be cooked - zucchini.

I usually just saute zucchini with onion and garlic(mom-style) and call it a day, but I was in the mood for something a bit more fun. I also had some feta I purchased in the aforementioned trip to Astoria, and some dill I bought for another recipe. Those ingredients were all I needed to make something I'd seen a recipe for a few days prior - zucchini pancakes. A quick word about the feta - it was a very smooth, creamy feta. Still salty and tangy, but more delicate than all the feta I'd had before. I have to get more!

Okay, they weren't exactly all I needed, but they were the only things on the list that I don't always have on hand. This recipe comes by way of a New York Times column called "The Temporary Vegetarian"; it suited this permanent vegetarian quite nicely. Serve this Turkish-origin dish alongside a salad with vinaigrette dressing to make a complete dinner out of it, or just serve it alone with the yogurt dipping sauce as an appetizer.

Wine: I'm no expert on wine, so don't look to me for pairing recommendations for everything. However, I did visit my neighborhood wine shop and ask them to recommend something to go with this meal; their choice was so good I thought I'd share it with you: a 2007 GrĂ¼ner Veltliner from Theirry-Weber (Austria). The guy in the store described it as having unripe pear and white pepper notes. I often enjoy a glass of wine with a meal, but rarely does a pairing work out so well. The flavors of the wine enhanced the flavors of the meal and vice versa. So if you want to go all out - look for this and enjoy it with the pancakes! Okay, back to the food...

Modifications from the original: None really. Actually, I'll say to reduce the amount of garlic in the yogurt sauce because it is super garlicky. Also - I actually only had two zucchini on hand instead of the three the recipe calls for, so I scaled down the rest of the ingredients accordingly. It still worked beautifully. This recipe also gave me a chance to attempt to season my new cast iron skillet by pan frying in it - hurray!

Zucchini Pancakes

Adapted from
Serves 4 (about 12 pancakes)

3 medium zucchini, shredded (use your food processor, it is worth hauling it out)
freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon baking powder
vegetable oil as needed

Preheat oven to 250.
Mix zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place in a cheesecloth and squeeze to extract as much water as possible from the zucchini (volume will shrink to about half the original).
Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add zucchini and stir well with a large fork.
Add flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, olive oil, feta, scallions, dill, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir well.
Stir in baking powder.
Add enough vegetable oil to a large skillet to cover the bottom. Heat over medium heat until oil is shimmering.
Place heaping tablespoons of the batter in the skillet and press with a spatula to pancake form, about 3/8 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter.
Fry until golden brown on one side, then flip and brown other side. Pancakes should be slightly crisp when done.
Remove pancakes from skillet and place on a paper towel lined plate. Keep plate in oven until all pancakes are ready to serve.
Top with Garlic-Yogurt sauce below.

Garlic-Yogurt Sauce
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients together and serve on the side or on top of the pancakes.

Verdict? Full of flavor. There is a hefty dose of dill and scallion flavor, mixed wtih the more subtle earthiness of the zucchini and pulled together with just the right amount of tang from the feta. These were so good I ate the leftovers cold straight out of the refrigerator. Please do try them with the wine pairing listed above - you'll be happy you did!


merrill said...

Wow! These sound so delicious...I am definetly going to try this recipe. I was curious about the wine you is interesting to learn what wine has to go through,just for our consumption. I usually stick to drinking a chardonay, but now I am going to try this Gruner Veltliner! Thanks:-) M-

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