Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One last hurrah for summer

Ok, so I'm excited that fall is here, but I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to summer entirely, mainly for one reason: I promised to make something with zucchini before it was over and here it is. I've got 2 recipes for you. The first is Vegetable Pancakes, which I was grateful to be able to put together quickly last night, having come home late from work. I cooked for one and so these were perfect. These would be ideal for lunch, served alongside a nice big green salad.

The other is a Zucchini Relish, recipe compliments of my mother. I have not tried to make it yet, but might venture to do so this weekend. We had just been talking about making it again when the L.A. Times ran a story on zucchini relish and posted their version. My mother gave me a small jar of her version after she had made a batch, and it was tasty. It's great alongside anything you want, really, but I think it would be good with cheese and crackers, on grilled chicken or fish, or on top of eggs or a tofu scramble.

The Vegetable Pancakes should really be called Zucchini and Ricotta Pancakes, for that is what they are. However, I'll start with the basic recipe and then list what I added for my variation.

Vegetable Pancakes

About 1 pound of turnips, carrots, zucchini, winter squash or sweet potatoes, peeled if necessary (about 2 cups packed)
1/2 onion, grated, or diced really fine
1-2 eggs, depending on size, lightly beaten
3/4 cup flour, more or less
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Milk, half and half, or cream as needed
2 Tbsp. melted butter or EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), plus more for the pan (to fry the cakes)

Grate the vegetables by hand or with the grating disk of your food processor. Empty into a bowl, adding the onion, egg and flour. Mix together. Seaon with salt and pepper. Then add just enough milk to the mixture so that it all holds together nicely without being too wet. Recipe said to stir in the butter or EVOO but I omitted this step.

Heat a non-stick griddle or saute pan. Add some butter and/or EVOO and when melted, drop the batter in spoonfuls into the pan. Use a fork to spread the veggies into an even layer. Cook turning once, until nicely browned on both sides, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Zucchini and Ricotta Pancake Variation
Use grated zucchini as the vegetable, and instead of milk or half and half, use 1 cup ricotta cheese.
Finely chop some basil and sprinkle on top once they are cooked. Basil and zucchini are good friends and make an ideal combination for these cakes. Serve with creme fraiche, sour cream, or as I did, with a little goat cheese. YUM-MY!

Other Variations: if I were to make these with sweet potatoes, I'd use red onion instead of white or yellow for a touch of sweetness. Another combination, and this I've got to try, would be butternut squash or pumpkin, and adding 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts to the batter. Sounds like a great breakfast or dessert, served with maple syrup!

NOTE: I was just checking out 101 Cookbooks, an excellent food blog, and look what she's got on her site! Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake.  This sounds great. Nearly the same ingredients as my pancakes.

Now for the second recipe:

Zucchini Relish

3 pounds zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
2 onions
2 Tbsp. salt
11 oz. wine vinegar (I'd go with white)
2 Tbsp. mustard seeds
1/2 Tbsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp. paprika, mild, not hot
2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
a little water
8 small glass jars

Chop onion, zucchini, and bell peppers into small dice, salt and allow to sit in a colander for 30 minutes to draw out the liquid. Drain.
Place vegetables, vinegar and mustard seeds into a saucepan and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Add the remaining spices and simmer another 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine a little water with the flour to make a paste, add to the vegetables. Fill glass jars and secure tight with lids. Turn jars on their heads and allow to cool.

The small jars are great to give as gifts. Else, put it all in 1 or 2 larger jars for yourself.

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