If it seems I am obsessed with zucchini lately, rest assured I will move onto other things once the frost comes. In the meantime, however, I’ve got some zucchini to prepare.
I pulled out this great zucchini and carrot latke recipe (see below) I cut out from the newspaper years ago and decided to make it for dinner along with some steamed kasha as a whole grain side. Latke means pancake, traditionally made of potatoes, but this recipe offers more vegetable goodness than plain potatoes.
The first thing I noticed in the recipe is that it called for “4 large zucchini.” I had to literally laugh out loud and ask the anonymous recipe writer, “Just what do you mean by large, girlfriend?” Here are the three zucchini I had recently harvested. The smallest could be rightfully considered “medium,” or even “large,” at least by supermarket standards. And the largest shown is actually half of what it once was (notice the plastic wrap on the tail end). If one half is that huge, just imagine what the whole thing looked like.
The really scary part is that this was the smaller zucchini of the two I harvested after vacation. The larger one I actually cradled in my arms like a newborn as I delivered it to a neighbor’s house. I had warned her that it was enormous, to which she had cockily replied, “Bring it on! I’m not scared!” Her eyes were pretty wide when she answered the door to a squash the size of a cricket bat! I trust she was up to the task.
I decided that the remaining half of the large zucchini would suffice for the “4 large zucchini”. I shredded it in the food processor, and then did a few handfuls of baby carrots. I dumped them in a large bowl, added 2 chopped scallions and eggs and mixed. The dry goods came next, but I didn’t have any cardamom and couldn’t think of a good substitute, so I just skipped it. No one commented on its absence!
The recipe recommended frying them on the stovetop with oil spray and some peanut oil. Out of peanut oil, but I found some macadamian nut oil that added a different sort of nutty flavor — very enjoyable. I greased up the non-stick griddle I rescued from a garage sale and started to fry tablespoonfuls of batter until they were golden brown.
I wanted to make them small, appetizer-size rounds so they would be fun for the kids to eat, but it took way longer than I had anticipated to fry all those little pancakes: more than 2 hours of constant activity. The kasha idea went the way of the protein, leaving the latkes as the only element of our evening meal. Sigh. The best laid plans… Yes, it’s always good to be reminded as to why I love one-pot meals!
Luckily, the kids scarfed them down almost as quickly as I could make them. They dipped them in organic, unsweetened ketchup, while my husband and I topped them with a dollop of sour cream and a smidgen of seaweed-based faux-caviar called Caviart that I found at a food show and we love. Yum. We ate every single one, and there were many.
I realized about half-way through the frying that it would have been better to use our little fry-baby and deep fry these latkes at high heat in a mix of canola and nut oils. They would have been crispier. I love doing this with potato latkes.
There was one Thanksgiving where I had purchased 10 lbs of potatoes to make mashed potatoes for 40 and learned that morning that someone else had already done it. That was pre-children, when we used to host an annual “Day after Thanksgiving/Home for the Holidays” party for everyone we knew who was in town (often more than 75 people came!). The next day I turned those potatoes into piles of deep-fried mini-latkes, helped immeasurably by the early arrival of my sister- and brother-in-law who took over the frying and allowed me to dress for the party. The latkes were a huge hit with the party guests.
The other thing I wished I had done would have been to set the shredded zucchini into a colander to drain for about 15 minutes before using. The zucchini released so much liquid that by the time I reached the end of the veggie shreds in the batter there was about a cup or more of watery liquid left in the bowl. I would have prefered to have had a drier batter.
Regardless, these Zucchini and Carrot Latkes were a huge hit at our house for dinner, and I was happy to see both kids ingest a good amount of vegetables without a sqabble!
Zucchini and Carrot Latkes
4 large zucchini
4 large carrots
1/2 cup chopped green onions
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour (try using whole wheat flour for a healthier version)
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground pepper (I used white ground pepper — my current fave)
vegetable cooking oil spray
peanut oil for frying
Using the shredding blade in a processor, shred the carrots and zucchini. Transfer to a large bowl and add the green onions and beaten eggs. Blend well. Add the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cardamom, salt and pepper.
Spray a large frying pan with a vegetable spray. Add a little peanut oil and with a large oval mixing spoon, drop by spoonfuls into the hot oil. Allow the pancakes to set before turning. When crisp, remove and place on paper toweling to remove any excess oil.
These can be made in advance. Place on a cookie sheet and heat in a 400-degree oven when ready to serve.