Please admit that you have been on the receiving end of one or more of those massive zucchinis that could easily be used as a) a baseball bat, b) a billy club, or c) a speed bump.
Veggies from gardener friends are typically a welcomed gift, but when someone rolls up with seven of those larger than life squashes, it’s a sure sign she was a bit overzealous when planting last spring. Chances are she’s already baked her way through more zucchini breads then she’d like you to know about. (Or maybe you received a few of those, too.)
Embarrassingly, I have been that friend – but only one year. I’ve since withheld from gifting out those enormous beasts – the ones that somehow get overlooked then triple in size overnight. But that doesn’t mean that a half dozen of them weren’t stockpiled on my patio table – these things need their own zip code, and I simply don’t have enough counter space. So, having had enough of the chocolate zucchini bread recipe I’ve been abusing all summer, I turned my thoughts savory.
Opening the fridge, I spied fresh Narragansett Creamery ricotta cheese, lemons, and a bag of shredded carrots. The wheels in my mind began turning: Did I have a little garlic, a scallion or two, some parmesan cheese, an egg, and panko breadcrumbs? Yep – had it all. If I shredded the mammoth squash, I thought, I could make a latke, except instead of potato, I’d substitute zucchini.
Lightly fried in olive oil, warmed in the oven and served hot, these put a smile on my face straight off the tray. They are crisp and crunchy on the outside, fluffy and light inside. The few that were left from the first batch made it until the following morning, when I ate them cold from the fridge and found them equally delicious.
Since the flavor of the zucchini is mild, just about any sauce works for dunking or dipping. I like a dollop of pesto or drizzle of balsamic glaze, but you could also add e fresh lemon juice and a hint of dijon mustard to further dress them up. No matter how they’re garnished, these pan cakes are a goodie I feel respectable leaving on on my neighbors’ doorsteps. Which isn’t to say that you won’t still get a zucchini bread or two.
Zucchini Pancakes with Lemon and Ricotta
makes about 4 dozen cakes
2 cups freshly shredded zucchini (about 1 overgrown zucchini or 3-4 average in size)
1 cup shredded carrots*
1 small onion, finely chopped (or substitute 1/3 cup green onions or leeks)
1/2 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
1-2 dashes of tabasco sauce
1 clove minced garlic
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
1 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, for frying
*mutli-colored carrots add great color to this dish
Set the oven to 220 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Stir all ingredients except olive oil together in a deep mixing bowl until they are combined.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a 12-inch skillet. Scoop generous tablespoons of the mixture into the pan, about 4-5 per batch. Using the back of a spoon, gently press down on the mixture to form a pancake shape. Fry for 2-3 minutes, or until the pancake is easy to flip. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until golden and pancake keeps its shape.
Place cooked pancakes onto the baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. Continue to cook mixture in batches.
Cook’s note: If the pancakes are cooking too quickly, turn down the heat. This will require them to cook longer on each side, but will allow the to become crisp and golden. If the pancakes are crumbling when you flip them, add more breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together.