Zucchini

Zucchini and yellow summer squash—if you don’t grow it, you’re bound to know someone who does. It’s as versatile as it is prolific: grilled, baked, pickled, fried, sautéed—the list goes on.

But besides pickling it, how do you save it? Grate and freeze is my choice: you won’t want to feature it on a plate, but it can be used in a range of recipes year-round. Grating is particularly ideal for zukes that seem to go from inches to feet long overnight. The recipes here use fresh ingredients for a light in-season meal featuring zucchini pancakes and cucumber-and-tomato salad. You can as easily adapt it for winter using frozen produce and different preserved accompaniments.
Summer squash

Zucchini Pancakes

  • Servings: 6 pancakes
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
1 medium zucchini (about 1 cup grated)
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup zucchini liquid and/or water
green tops from 1 onion, sliced
1/4 cup basil, slivered

Set the oven or toaster oven to warm; place a heatproof plate inside. Stack a bowl or measuring cup, colander, and a large-holed cheese grater, and then grate the zucchini, allowing the colander to catch the solids and the bowl or measuring cup to catch the liquid. Gently squeeze the grated zucchini to separate as much liquid as possible, letting it sit to drain.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Beat the egg in a measuring cup, and then beat in enough zucchini liquid and/or water to equal 1 cup. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients, mixing to make a batter. Mix in the zucchini, onion tops, and basil until combined.

Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium heat, add a bit of sunflower or other oil, and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Spoon about 1/3 cup of batter into the pan, and use the back of a fork to spread it evenly over the entire pan bottom. Cook about 2 minutes, until the top surface starts to form bubbles and become firm, and then flip the pancake; the underside should be lightly browned. Cook 2 minutes more, and then slide the pancake onto the warmed plate. Continue with the remaining pancakes in the same way, oiling the pan before each pancake. Makes about 6 pancakes.

Tips & Tricks
  • Keep a few small bags of grated zucchini in the freezer at the end of the season to make these pancakes on dreary winter days. Defrosting pulls more liquid from the zucchini, so grate and freeze it in 3-cup portions. For one batch of these pancakes, defrost 3 cups of frozen zucchini and use the grated and liquid parts as indicated in the recipe. Chives freeze quite well and can replace onion tops in winter. The final substitution is basil: Use a 1-ounce cube of frozen and defrosted Basil Pesto Base instead.
  • Zucchini and yellow squash work equally well, although I find zukes freeze better. As a variation, drop the zukes and just use onion tops. Grated carrot is another good substitution.
  • Vegans, you can easily drop the egg from this recipe—it gives a slightly smoother batter but otherwise adds little to the flavor of the final cakes. Just make sure your liquids equal 1 cup.
  • The pancakes are great snackers on their own; sometimes I make a batch to go with the dipping sauce I use for summer rolls: 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon each lemon juice and brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon each sesame oil and Home-Smoked Chili Paste or sriracha. But there are lots of other serving options, including Fresh Asian Salad (see below).

Twice as Tasty

Although there’s nothing specifically Asian about Zucchini Pancakes, I always seem to lean that direction, particularly when cherry tomatoes are falling of the vines midsummer. The pancakes are quite tasty plain, but adding this salad turns them into a full, light summer meal. For a vegetarian meal off-season, slather them with a savory jam and herbed goat cheese, serve them under a stir-fry, or pull out some frozen cherry tomatoes to make a sauce. Meat eaters can enjoy them at any time with shrimp or chicken marinated in Asian Dressing. Depending on how you top them, six pancakes can serve 2–4 people.

Fresh Asian Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, white and/or black
1 small cucumber, quartered and sliced
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
green tops from 1 onion, sliced
1/4 cup basil, slivered
soy sauce and rice vinegar to taste

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over low heat or briefly in a toaster oven, stirring frequently. Place the cucumber pieces and tomato halves in a bowl. Toss gently with the sesame seeds, onion tops, and basil. Add a bit of soy and rice vinegar to taste as a dressing. Serve the salad as a topping for warm Zucchini Pancakes or on its own. Tops about 6 pancakes; serves 2 on its own.

Tips & Tricks
  • As we pull and grill onions all summer, I cut off the onion tops and use them like scallions. If your onion tops have died back, you can replace them with actual scallions or chives.
  • I love the simplicity of this dressing, but you can always spice it up with a dash of horseradish paste, Home-Smoked Chili Paste, or fresh cilantro, garlic, and ginger.
  • For extra crunch in the salad, heat 1 tablespoon butter in the skillet and fry up a crushed 3-ounce package of ramen noodles with 1/2 cup slivered almonds and 1/3 cup sesame seeds, cooking for about 5 minutes, until golden. Pour the topping onto a paper towel to cool, and then toss 1–2 tablespoons with the salad before serving. The remaining topping keeps well in a sealed container in a dark, cool place for a couple of weeks or longer in the refrigerator.
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