Adventures in Zucchini

“We’re sorry ma’am. But, the new TSA regulations don’t allow you to carry on liquids, cheese, or zucchinis the size of your head.”

Good thing I flew back from Illinois on Monday, before all the new airport security chaos, or I’m guessing that I would have had to ditch this monster of a squash at the airport. As it was, all I got when bringing a bag full of just a couple of zucchinis from my great-aunt’s garden was “What the heck is that thing? Oh, it’s a squash.

On the plane, I started to ponder… is it still local produce since I was flying back to Seattle anyway? And, is it still organic since I took it through an x-ray machine? No matter. It’s still garden grown squash of the enormous variety, and what’s more fun than that?

Back home, I decide to try my hand a second time at making the courgette and cheese patties recipe in Fresh magazine (July 06, p18). The first time was a bit of a disaster. They ended up well flavored, but watery and mushy. This time, after grating, salting and soaking the zucchini in water, I made an extra effort to squeeze out the water. Cheesecloth would seem to be the best choice for this task, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I used a strainer and mashed the zucchini shreads until they were fairly dry. Still, after adding the listed quantities of flour and eggs (and a substitution of freshly grated parmesan for the feta), the batter was still really moist. Too moist to hold up into the cakes that I was picturing. So, I added a bit more flour, and then a bit more, and even more still. Finally, the batter was starting to resemble a thickish pancake batter so I stopped. There was still no way I was going to be able to mold these into little rounds, but on a hot griddle, they held together and browned like potato pancakes would. Unfortunately though, while they were not watery and the flavor was tasty, they were still limp… without any of the crispness I was hoping for.

I’ll include the recipe here, but honestly, I can’t recommend it. Maybe the third time is the charm, but I think I might try to find a different recipe this time. If you’ve made these before and have some tips on how to end up with crisp little bites instead of rubbery rounds, please let me know!

Zucchini and Cheese Patties
(Serves 6 as a side)

3 zucchini
2 t salt
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
3 eggs
6 T all purpose flour (I used about 12 T)
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
2 t chile flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste
Oil for frying

Shred the zucchini, with the skin on, with a cheese grater and in a large bowl sprinkle the salt over and mix well with your hands. Cover with a damp cloth and let sit for about 10 minutes. Then rinse, and drain very well by wrapping the zucchini in cheesecloth and squeezing until no more water comes out. Then, let the zucchini rest for another 3 to 5 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil to medium, and then add the onions and garlic and reducing the heat to low. Add the zucchini, and cook for about 10 minutes until just softened. While that is cooking, beat together the eggs and flour to make a smooth batter. Add the cheese, herbs, chile flakes and salt and pepper. Then, beat in the zucchini mixture (it will still be warm).

Heat a flat bottomed skillet or griddle to medium-high and add the frying oil. When hot, drop about a quarter cup of the batter per cake, giving a bit of room between each. Fry each patty on one side for about 2 minutes and flip. When golden brown on both sides, place on a paper towel to remove any excess oil before serving.

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